Whether you’re new to content marketing or a seasoned pro, you’ll know that good content helps to increase customer engagement and, ultimately, boosts sales. But what exactly makes for good content?
With a promise of around 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing per dollar spent, according to the Demand Metric, content marketing is a powerful, cost effective tool that can be exploited by all businesses, regardless of size and budget.
But you’d be wrong in thinking that oodles of content will automatically rank you number one on Google and generate solid leads. After all, there’s already far too much of it out there and not all of it delivers the desired results. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 6% of B2B marketers believe that their organisation is effective at using content marketing.
You’ll hear a lot about good content being informative and engaging, which is true, but these both point to the underlying foundation of what makes content good.
Content marketing is essentially a matter of trust. It’s about establishing your brand as one that can be trusted to deliver on its promises.
Take an example for marketing in general. When you want a high-performance phone with a big dose of cool, you buy an iPhone because you trust that Apple will deliver on its promise of a better user experience. Of course, it helps that they have a history of wowing the public, by and large, but it still underlines the fact that people buy iPhone’s because they trust in the promise.
It’s also why celebrity endorsements are so powerful. After all, if David Beckham trusts that Gillette is the best a man can get, then so can I.
And according to Nielson’s Global Trust in Advertising survey, it’s also why personal recommendations are so effective, with 8 out of 10 people trusting recommendations from people they know:
And if that premise applies to marketing in general, it definitely applies to content marketing. In fact, good content is a vital ingredient in building trust at all levels.
In most cases, a buyer will go through a number of stages before making a purchase, as illustrated by hubspot’s buyer’s journey:
As we can see, content plays a pivotal role in the buyer’s journey because it helps to establish trust in a brand, in its credibility, and its ability to fulfil a promise to meet a specific customer need or desire. It’s not just about creating content that generates notoriety, or even goes viral; there are plenty of bad examples of this to illustrate this point.
But how do you best use content to engage potential customers and demonstrate that your brand can be trusted? On what should you base your content strategy?
The good news is that it’s not necessarily difficult or expensive to implement an effective content strategy. The challenge is that there are no short cuts. It takes time and perseverance, and you need a strategic plan.
We would recommend doing at least the following three things to generate trust through good content:
Demonstrate your expertise
Content marketing gives you an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your expertise to your audience. Even if you struggle to get near the first page of Google, you can still turn unique visitors turn into loyal customers by consistently providing relevant, valuable content.
Produce a regular newsletter to show people that you’re on-point with the latest industry developments, remembering to share your insight and opinion. Newsletters are a fantastic way of creating customer loyalty, with regular reminders of your expertise dropping into client inboxes on a regular basis.
Blogs also provide an opportunity to discuss the latest industry and company news, particularly if it can’t wait until publication of the newsletter. They give you a chance publicise any awards that you have may have received, or to discuss the lighter side of the industry or business. Remember that, unlike newsletters, blogs are a two-way thing that enable you engage in conversation with your audience, so make sure you leave space for feedback and respond as soon as you can.
Use case studies to reveal how you solved specific problems for specific customers, and try to include feedback from that customer. They are an excellent means of showing not only that you have the expertise people are looking for, but also that you understand your customers’ world and needs.
Two things to remember
When producing expertise-based content, you must make it relevant and valuable otherwise it can have a negative impact. According to a study carried out by Edelman and LinkedIn, decision-makers said that in 56% of cases, they don’t receive valuable insights from thought-leadership.
And remember to kiss (keep it simple stupid)! Albert Einstein once said “if you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.” The point of sharing your expertise is not to make you look clever, but to make your audience feel clever. You do this by explaining complex principles in a simple, enjoyable way.
A good friend of mine and recruiter that’s worked for some of the world’ biggest firms once gave me some valuable yet simple information about interviews. It revolutionised my approach not only to job applications, but to working with people and doing business in general. He said that the first thing interviewers want to know is can I work with this person? Before anything else, they want to know if they’ll like you.
And if you’ve ever read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, you’ll understand that the basic premise behind making a good impression is to make the other person feel valued and important.
This may be a challenge for some of us! So if you struggle with your likeability, whether in person or through your content, consider asking someone else to generate content for you.
By providing valuable information in a simple, engaging way, you make other people feel smarter and you have a chance to reveal your business’s personality. This doesn’t mean stuffing jokes into every piece of content, but it does have to be authentic and it must resonate with your target audience.
“Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely”
People read content so they can increase their knowledge and apply it. So in every piece of content, provide information that will help people make more informed decisions. Create heavyweight content that people can download, such as e-books, whitepapers and other resources. It can be tough to give away free information or industry insights, but this has the triple impact of demonstrating expertise, showing trustworthiness and encouraging reciprocity.
As one of Cialdini’s six rules for understanding human behaviour, the reciprocity principle says that we pay back in kind what we have received from others. So if you offer free advice or practical takeaways, the odds are that your audience will either buy your products, share your content or leave you their email address. Just make sure it’s worth their while!
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