5 keys for unlocking trust in content marketing

Monarch butterfly in a person's open hand, symbolizing trust.When I was pregnant with my daughter over three years ago, one of the first things I did was look up parenting advice online. Anyone who has gone down this path knows how much information exists to varying degrees of legitimacy. It ranges from pure myth and lore to technical videos on the different kinds of baby poop you may encounter. Most of this scared the poop out of me, until I found a current content resource that included a network of doctors, child experts as well as other knowledgeable parents.

I signed up for the weekly emails that told me the size of the baby growing inside me compared to various fruits and vegetables, and my excitement and knowledge expanded with my expanding belly. I sort of noticed the banner ads on the website (as much as I notice them on any website), but to be honest I typically filter out anything on a site that doesn’t relate to the main content. At the very least, when I scanned the ads, I didn’t find them obtrusive or distracting so this kept me hooked on the website compared to others I had checked out.

It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I started reading more about content marketing and realized that I had been an unwitting consumer. In other words, the parenting website I had found was an effective example of a brand that communicated and engaged with prospective clients in an approachable and helpful way. If there was any product placement or promotion, I didn’t feel like the company was trying to sway me in one direction. Instead, I felt that I was getting advice from other concerned, like-minded parents and it was framed as a suggestion with avenues for finding out more information.

Fast forward to today – I now have two little ones, and I provide content marketing consultation to companies looking to stand out as thought leaders in their areas of expertise. I’m also plugged into bloggers and business communicators who are involved in content marketing on behalf of brands. What I’ve noticed is how many different approaches there are – from writers who review and recommend products, to  those who represent and promote brands, to content sites where little branding is involved and the focus is on sharing tips about a broad range of topics. The key ingredient to each approach is establishing a relationship built on trust, and my take on building trust involves the following:

  • Be relevant – in the topics you cover and the concerns you address. Look to the forefront of your industry, and explore directions where information is leading, not simply what the current thinking is.
  • Be helpful – in tone, insights and recommendations.
  • Be legitimate – draw from your own expertise if you are a qualified expert, or include statistics and subject matter experts to lend authority.
  • Be consistent – in voice, themes, quality and frequency.
  • Be clear – about your approach, why you’re choosing to engage with people in a particular way, and what you want them to take away from your content. If you aren’t clear on this, your readers won’t be either and you won’t be able to effectively measure the success of your efforts.

If you’ve blogged for a brand or written content marketing material, would you add anything to this list? As a consumer, do you follow blogs or bloggers? Do you use product reviews from bloggers to inform your buying decisions? How do you feel when a blogger writes about a product or tries to sell a product through their blog posts?

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