“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen R. Coveney.
This is no less true in business. Building trust with customers is an important aspect of a successful B2B business. Long-term success is often founded on customer loyalty and satisfaction, no matter the industry of which you are involved.
A customer-centric approach to your content marketing strategy can help start-ups build trust and rapport with potential buyers. With 87% of UK marketing teams already engaging in content marketing, it is the perfect place to begin.
Firstly, it is important to understand what content marking is. When defining content marketing it makes sense to draw upon the Content Marketing Institute and their definition:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Creating the Right Content
Know Your Audience
Content creation is primarily aimed at engaging both customers and potential customers along their buyer journey. Identifying your target audience is the initial step to providing the content that will pique the correct interest. Knowing the interests of buyers in your intended market can help in creating content that will be useful to them.
The most popular types of content used by B2B companies are social media posts, case studies, videos, e-books/white papers, infographics, and illustrations. While all of these content formats are popular, many start-up companies will not have the resources to distribute them all.
Knowing who your target audience is can aid in narrowing down the content that is best for them. Custom content helps to build rapport and relationships with customers. Demand Metric reported that 78% of consumers perceive a relationship between themselves and a company using content marketing, and 82% feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.
There are numerous avenues where you can share your content. Understanding the platforms of which your target consumers are interacting is the first step.
For 84% of B2B buyers, LinkedIn is the most preferred network to share business-related content. This could be the perfect place to begin sharing your content. LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that can allow you to build connections with individuals in your field or with similar professional interests. LinkedIn also allows audiences to connect with the individual person behind the content. This personal touch can aid in building rapport.
Creating attention-grabbing headlines is a marketing strategy that holds force when producing content. During the buying journey, almost 80% of B2B buyers are currently spending more time researching products.
A well-constructed headline that catches the buyers’ attention during their research process can introduce your company into the pool of potential suppliers. Just over 70% of B2B buyers begin their research with an organic search. The headline of your content is the initial thing seen by these researchers in an organic search. Optimizing your blog posts for SEO can increase your chances of being seen in an organic search.
Have a clear identity and be creative
Clarifying your business goals are perhaps one of the initial stages when developing your business strategies. Unless you are clear about your business objectives and its identity, how can consumers know exactly what product they are buying?
Being consistent with this identity in your content is essential to building trust. Creating content that continues to maintain your core values over time can ensure customers to trust your business.
Everyone’s identity differs, and that is no different in the business world. Being unique with your identity can differentiate you from your competitors and be more identifiable to potential or existing customers.
Getting creative with content can increase the engagement of your audience. Embedding images and infographics along with videos to convey your message in written content proves to be essential. Including these colored visuals can increase readers’ willingness to read the content by 80%.
They also play a role in eliciting the viewing of content. Content which included relevant images and infographics received an increase of 94% in views compared to those without images.
Quality of content
While editing your writing before publishing it to your blog seems like an obvious port-of-call, it is such a vital aspect of building a relationship with your readers that I am going to reiterate it. Proofread, spell check, check the grammar, and proofread again. I can sense the eye-rolls, but written content with errors or spelling mistakes will just irate your readers and they will move on to somewhere else.
Thought leadership displayed through researched and educational content can go a long way in building trust with your audience. Providing readers with up-to-date research results and statistics within your written content or in the form of infographics can aid in establishing your content as a trusted source of information.
Of course, when including such research in your content always make sure to reference your source via a citation or a direct link. Making fleeting statements and throwing a few percentages in without a credible source can damage your reputation and destroy the trust of your customers.
Engage with customers
Creating the content is only part of the battle. As Stephen R. Coveney has said, trust is an essential factor to effective communication. Feeding your audiences with content is just the first stage of the journey to building a rapport with customers.
It’s all well and good to say your business is customer-centric, but how can you show this? Listening and engaging with those who are viewing your content is the first step in building trust with potential customers.
Encouraging audiences to interact and engage in the material you produce can promote the impression that you do value what they think. Creating the content that will answer the questions sought by buyers in your industry promotes the consensus that you are willing to help without slapping a price tag on it.
Call-to-actions and a section where readers can comment at the end of your blog posts can encourage them to ask further questions and converse on a one-to-one basis with the author. Be mindful of monitoring these comment sections on your website and across your social media channels to ensure you respond in a timely manner.
When conversing with potential customers be sure to address them by their name. Although many comment sections now enable you to reply directly to a certain comment by indenting your response, adding a personal touch can aid in developing a rapport and can encourage readers to return to view more of your work. This can, in turn, progress them through the sales funnel.
Trust is earned
Trust in the business relationship between company and customer is not all that different from the trust in our personal relationships. True trust is earned.
Developing a content strategy that seeks to put the consumer first, and to aid them in their challenges before giving in to your intrinsic desire to pitch or advertise to them can go a long way.
Nurture the evolving relationship through the development of consistent, high-quality, and educational content. Build a rapport with audiences, be it customers or not, and establish your business as a thought leader in your industry.