This means a brand’s macro audience almost certainly has several micro-communities within it that purchase the same product for different, heavily nuanced reasons. It’s why personalization has become such a priority for consumers, and their expectations are quite clear. According to Forbes:
66% of consumers say content that isn’t personalized would stop them from making a purchase.
70% of consumers say that understanding how they use products and services is very important to winning their business.
70% of consumers say an understanding of their personal needs influences their loyalty.
67% of consumers say it’s important for brands to automatically adjust content based on their current context for a real-time personalized experience.
Personalization can’t happen without intimately understanding the cultural context of your consumer on a macro and micro level. Addressing the shared values and interests of the majority, while accounting for the nuanced needs and experiences of consumer subcultures, clears a pathway to build brand trust and affinity. At the end of the day, consumers want to feel seen and considered—tactfully.
Craft content to serve metrics that matter
A wise marketer’s eye is fixed on using content to deliver thoughtful messaging to distinct audiences while allowing meaningful metrics to inform the level of trust being established and using KPIs indicative of the state of consumer trust. Comments, replies, shares and time spent can all serve as trust indicators. Some 66% of customers are more likely to purchase a product if it has some form of social proof (likes, reviews, mentions, testimonials, public endorsements) that it is a quality item As long as you identify the human truth within the data, rather than getting tricked into a false state of success by vanity metrics, key metrics can be your north star.
Conversation: If people are talking with and about your brand with positive sentiment, trust is being built. Especially if it's a productive conversation in response to your brand perspective or offering. Substantial conversation leads to better ranking in the social media news feed. Social platforms also consider the volume of people replying to comments, with posts garnering comment replies receiving high ranking in the news feed as well. The algorithm supports dialogue, but the human eye decodes the dialogue for an inkling of the conversation sentiment.
Sharing: 93% of consumers prefer brands recommended by friends and family. Add that to the fact that word of mouth marketing drives $6 trillion in annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales. When audiences deem your brand credible enough to share with their own personal networks, you’ve crossed a threshold of consumer trust that has a purchase decision on the other side.
Time: Watch time, low bounce rates, returning visitorship and time spent are all metrics that indicate interest in a deeper relationship with your brand—and trust for the information being consumed.
In the era of payola, we’re seeing that conversation, sharing, and time are the last frontiers of audience engagement because they can’t be bought. If audiences exercise either of these actions, it’s an indication of trust worth further investment.
Strategize from the top down
Knowing that digital channels (especially social media) are the primary consumer touchpoints, many marketers make the mistake of working backward through a bottom-up strategy. They form a channel strategy before a content strategy and a content strategy before a messaging strategy. This is a sure-fire way to waste time and resources. In the spirit of building consumer trust, a top-down strategy is necessary. Distinct audiences require distinct messaging, content, and distribution tactics. The top-down approach takes into account the big picture and how it is communicated through all channels, depending on the audience in question.
Be a destination, within your means
Reports show 68% of consumers expect brands to be clear about their values and take a stand on them. Given the current social climate, marketers likely perceive this insight within the context of social and environmental causes. Let’s take the marketing hat off and think like consumers. What does an expectation for brands to communicate and stand on their values really mean? It means consumers trust brands that offer some form of niche perspective on their product/service or the industry/consumer culture they operate within. Fenty sells makeup just like Maybelline and Kylie Cosmetics, but Fenty’s inclusion of a wider range of skin tones makes it a trusted destination, warranting sales 5x greater than competitors.
Brainstorming about impactful ways to plant a flag in the market is exciting, but it’s imperative not to romanticize the brand positioning process—especially with regard to content development. All budgets aren’t created equal, so this isn’t a suggestion to develop content beyond your means of production and distribution. Fenty used social channels—YouTube tutorials and partnerships—to establish a narrative worthy of making it a standout destination. Red Bull, on the other hand, built an entire extreme sports editorial site with designated social profiles for each sport. To get a firm grasp on what’s realistic vs. idealistic in terms of content marketing, consider production limitations such as budget, personnel, timeframe, bandwidth and external partners.
As technology continues to transform how brands connect with consumers, content will be the centerpiece of those interactions. The collision between new media, technology and brand marketing helped facilitate consumer distrust. Wise marketers have the power to make those same three elements a solution to the problem.
See all the winners of Ad Age's 2021 Small Agency Awards here.