With customers demanding more from companies — transparency, ethical practices and legitimate brand promises, marketers must pay closer attention to what it means to build brand trust.

Even when a company is delivering an amazing customer experience, fulfilling its brand promises and performing ethically, customers may not even notice in today’s competitive environment. It’s the job of marketers to make sure the right messages are communicated effectively through content marketing strategies

As part of a content marketing strategy, it’s critical to convey to customers that they can trust your company to consistently deliver on its brand promises. Use the following guidelines to build a foundation of brand trust over time.

Get to know your customers. A content strategy designed to build brand trust must include a deeper understanding of your customers — who they are and what they’re looking for. Use data to gain a better understanding of your customers. The more resources you can invest in this process, the more you will understand the insights needed to develop relevant content that provides what customers want as part of their buyer journey. Content intelligence, for example, can provide the insights needed to build content experiences that engage your customers … at the right time with the right message.

The most successful companies are investing in ongoing efforts to understand their customers, determining what they want now and anticipating what will make their lives better in the future.

An intense focus on understanding customers is what contributed to Airbnb transitioning from a struggling concept to a multi-billion dollar operation that is scheduled to go public this year. When the company initially failed to produce the results they were expecting, Airbnb’s co-founders packed their bags and headed to New York to talk one-on-one with their customers — the people who had signed up as hosts.

Those meetings revealed further insights about how to enhance their business model — improvements that eventually led to the company’s ultimate success.

In an email sent to an investor during those early days, Y Combinator founder, Paul Graham, had this to say about Airbnb’s founders: “It just seemed a very good sign to me that these guys were actually on the ground in NYC hunting down (and understanding) their users. On top of several previous good signs.”

The pursuit to understand your customer must be ongoing, especially since customers’ needs will continually evolve. As a result of deeper research, you also may make new discoveries about your ideal customers. In some cases, narrowing the scope of who you’re targeting can lead to more concise messaging and, as a result, more meaningful connections with your customers.

Research also can reveal opportunities to attract new customers you may not have previously considered. Build out personas that capture details of roles, business processes, challenges and potential solutions that customers may be exploring.

Give customers what they want. It can be challenging to produce enough content to fulfill all of your prospective customers’ queries as they search for the ideal solution. However, companies that are able to give meaningful answers to their customers’ top challenges are the ones who will be more successful at gaining qualified leads. Customers will identify these companies as trustworthy because they have already established that they can be relied on to deliver valuable, relevant expertise at the right points in the buyer journey.

The software company Moz built a reputation as a brand that could be trusted on the subject matter of SEO. As companies struggled to understand the fairly new practice for gaining search traffic, Moz responded to its customers needs by publishing content on SEO in an engaging, reader-friendly format. The Beginner’s Guide to SEO — an instructional guide to understanding and performing SEO — became one of the most read pieces of content on the internet. At last count, Moz reported, the guide had been read more than 10 million times.

Research can help you identify themes that address specific challenges customers are having in your industry. Establish your company as leading experts by publishing content on a subject that has not been adequately covered by your company or competitors.

Regularly seek input. Diligently continue the process of getting to know your customers — long after they have purchased your solution. Develop a company approach to soliciting customer feedback, including data research, surveys or one-on-one conversations with your customers.

Use that information to guide you about the ways you can support your customers, providing them with experiences that build deeper levels of brand loyalty. By investing the time to show that you genuinely care about the customer’s experience with your company, you can effectively build deeper levels of brand trust — especially if you follow through on their recommendations to improve your solution and customer service.

Use third-party validation. To gain trust at the early stages of the buyer journey, it’s important to provide some type of validation that your brand can be trusted. This can come in the form of the expertise you provide in content — the answers you’re providing in response to customers’ customers at the ideal times in the buyer journey.

Another powerful way to build brand trust is through third-party validation. Invest in content strategies that showcase customer experiences with your brand. Case studies, video testimonials and other types of content that highlight positive customer interactions validate your brand promises. Prospects are more likely to believe the testimonial of a customer over what you may have to say about your own brand.

Look for opportunities to be more transparent. Transparency is essential in building brand trust. And it must be cultivated internally and externally to ensure authenticity. Companies that invest in building a culture of transparency internally are better equipped to convincingly communicate those traits to an external audience.

Research what transparency means for your industry, particularly around the areas that matter most to your customers. Some customers may be more interested in how company processes are impacting the environment while others may be more concerned about sourcing, pricing or the ethical treatment of employees.

Quickly address issues. Mistakes and challenges will happen. Be prepared with a content plan on how your brand will address different scenarios. In some cases, the response may be that you don’t have immediate answers but you are working on a solution. It also should include a sincere apology and how you plan to repair trust.

In the wake of a mistake, faulty operations or a crisis, for example, the response should be swift. Boeing was recently criticized for being slow and bureaucratic in addressing issues related to crashes involving its 737 Max airplanes. An article in the Hartford Courant noted that Boeing “seemed overwhelmed by a social-media-driven news cycle that is measured not in days or even hours but in minutes.”

Maintain consistency. When building content around the company’s brand promise, maintain consistency with the messaging. A consistent brand presentation builds confidence among your targeted audience, as well as enhances brand awareness.

By consistently conveying your brand promise throughout your content, prospective customers also will be more likely to trust your company to follow through.

Earning brand trust over time

Developing a content strategy that helps your brand get your customers’ attention — as well as earn their trust — requires a deeper understanding of who they are and what they need from you. It also demands that you follow through with genuine, consistent interactions over time.

Content intelligence, an innovative software solution, can help by delivering more actionable insights about your customers. Schedule a free demo to learn how companies are using it build brand trust.