Brand trust is not a new concept. Organizations, from local businesses to Fortune 500 corporations, have long been attuned to the need to carefully build and manage a brand that earns their customers’ trust.

Yet, today, the need to nurture brand trust is more critical than ever. Recent statistics show that customer trust has been on the decline — with trust in businesses among the lowest ranked categories.

Forrester, in 2017, warned of this trend with projections of high customer confidence and low customer trust. In other words, customers are more willing to buy products and services. However, they’re less likely to trust businesses — a mindset that could negatively impact sales. A more recent study is backing up those projections. Most customers (58%) don’t trust businesses the way they once did, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Numerous factors contribute to a lack of customer trust.

With the speed and reach of social media, one customer’s bad experience can be shared internationally within minutes. Leading brands like Facebook, Starbucks, KFC and Papa John’s faced this type of scrutiny in 2018, with bad publicity related to privacy scandals, racially insensitive behavior and, in the case of KFC, a shortage of its most essential ingredient.

And it’s not just product or service shortcomings that seem to be the problem. Questionable digital marketing tactics, including clickbait and poorly executed content strategy campaigns (little relevance, poor timing and poor quality), also contribute to overall customer distrust. For example, content filled with CTAs and product mentions, can come across as too salesy and self-promotional. It’s not designed to address the customers’ needs and, therefore, adds to the problem of customer distrust.

Whether you’re engaging in those strategies or not, you may suffer the broader consequences of customer distrust.

When developed authentically around the goal of gaining customers’ trust, a content marketing strategy can enable marketers to meet customer expectations, generate solid leads, differentiate the company in a competitive environment and, ultimately, enhance brand loyalty.

It’s possible to gain a solid foundation for brand trust with a content marketing strategy that integrates the following best practices:

Lead with the needs of your customers in mind. A customer-focused content strategy, one that seeks to understand the challenges of your customers, may reveal the need to build more resources around certain topics. This information may have little to do with the advantages provided by your solution, but it is exactly the type of content that is critical for building brand trust and differentiation.

When you devote time and resources to creating relevant content that is exhaustive in answering customers’ questions, customers will be more likely to trust your company to provide a quality solution when it’s time to make a purchasing decision.

Use data insights to identify content themes that are relevant to your customers but have not been explored extensively in the content published by your company, its competitors or leading industry resources.

According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the most successful companies are prioritizing the informational needs of customers in this way. In addition to serving your prospective customers, this approach contributes to better search results, better awareness among your audience and more qualified leads. It also establishes your company as a trusted expert.

Perfect the timing of content delivery. Another way to gain brand trust is to create highly personalized buyer journeys, ones that deliver the right messages to the right customers with the right timing. Customers will appreciate that you understand them and their specific needs. The goal is to make it easier for them to get the answers they need to confidently make a decision.

Delivering that type of experience requires comprehensive personas that are effective in capturing the roles of your customers within an organization, as well as their unique challenges. A deeper exploration should also identify the timing and content types that reflect customers’ preferences for how they want to interact with your brand.

These data insights can be used to generate customer empathy at different stages of their buyer journey. With more insights, creative teams will be able to better capture each customer’s unique point of view. They should be able to visualize your customers as real people with personalities and needs.

Build authenticity through third-party validation. Authentic customer testimonials that demonstrate ROI and other benefits from partnering with your brand can carry more weight than any other content.

It can be an effective way to gain brand trust early — at the awareness and consideration stages, according to a recent Vennli survey. Yet, the survey respondents also revealed that marketing teams may be missing more opportunities to leverage third-party validation like customer testimonials, analyst reports and references.

Consider ways to present the perspectives of customers who are willing to contribute to case studies and other content that showcases their experiences with your brand. Prospects are more likely to trust the word of your customers; it’s an effective way to provide validation to your brand promises.

Advocate for brand consistency. Consider every aspect of your brand — visual assets, content, mission statement, employees, CTAs, blogs, social media posts, white papers, all of it — as something that can be scrutinized by customers looking for evidence of trustworthiness.

Whether or not it’s a conscious practice, customers are forming a picture about your company with every interaction with your company. A content strategy that effectively and consistently communicates the brand promise sends the right message about your trustworthiness.

Set up internal training to reinforce the importance of all staff members following through on brand consistency with content, brand visuals and all other aspects of your brand guidelines. If necessary, give a group of employees the task of monitoring adherence to the brand guidelines.

With a content strategy that consistently reflects a deeper understanding of your customers, it’s possible to establish and maintain brand trust in a competitive environment.

Learn how content intelligence can give you the actionable insights to understand your customers and what they need at every stage of their buyer journey. Contact us for a free demo. We’ll show you how content intelligence can help you enhance brand trust.