Jun 11, 2024 Chris Kelley

Build Trust with Your Customers Before They’re Customers

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Build Trust with Your Customers Before They’re Customers
6:19

The marketplace is teeming with options and distractions, and the noise is shifting how consumers and businesses interact. Brands used to be confident in a formulaic marketing approach: attract attention, influence perception, and seal the deal. But today, consumers are a different breed – more informed, more skeptical, and significantly harder to win over. With the surge in consciousness over data privacy, the ubiquitous presence of “cookie-less” ads, and the ease with which users can shield their online footprint, trust has become a business currency that is arguably more valuable than the dollar. However, as metrics change and paradigms shift, the question remains – how do brands build trust enough to tip the scales and earn their customers’ business?

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The Knowledgeable Shopper and the Engagement Conundrum

Gone are the days when a casual consumer would step into a store, gaze at the shelves, and buy decide on their purchase based on colorful packaging and suggestive promo tags alone. Shoppers today have more brand options and are bombarded with marketing messages on multiple media. The savvy shopper can independently research a product or company on their phone before even considering a purchase without setting foot in a store or speaking with a sales rep. Whether it’s poring over customer reviews, comparing competitor products, or mining online forums for real user experiences and reviews, the modern shopper’s due diligence rivals that of a detective. While a boon for the consumer, this knowledge poses a hurdle for businesses. In an environment where consumers increasingly control their own buying cycle, marketers must become more astute content navigators to provide information that both informs and persuades.

The Privacy-Aware Consumer

The rise in data privacy awareness and subsequent legislation has limited the options for consumer tracking. GDPR, CCPA, and other consumer privacy laws have significantly hampered a business’s ability to discover and memorize the consumer’s online activity, ushering in transparency and consent-based engagement as the new norm. Without detailed third-party digital breadcrumbs, marketing engagement must be earned from first-party interactions and not collected by cookies and calculated by algorithms.

In this new era, trust has become the gatekeeper of commerce. Research shows only 50% of consumers have confidence in the brands they do business with, levels that have not recovered since 2016. To court the consumer, a business must first court the consumer’s trust. This requires a two-staged transaction – one for trust, and one for the actual good or service. Trust, once hard-won and easily lost, is now a commitment that businesses need to make before they can expect their customers’ commitment in return.

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Strategy for Brands to Build Consumer Trust

So how can businesses build trust in this new environment? It begins by understanding that trust is not a commodity or a one-time transaction. It’s an ongoing relationship that requires effort, transparency, and authenticity. Here are some ways brands can start building trust with their potential customers:

Transparent Communication
  • Product Transparency: Provide honest, comprehensive, easy-to-understand information about your product or services. Ensure all product descriptions, benefits, and potential limitations are communicated clearly without making exaggerated claims.
  • Policy Clarity: Clearly communicate your company's values, policies, and privacy practices, including policies regarding returns, warranties, and customer support. This will help consumers feel secure and valued and more comfortable sharing their information with you.
  • Consistency Across Channels: Maintain uniform messaging across all platforms. Whether online or in-store, customers should see consistent branding and receive the same information regardless of where they engage with your brand.
Precise Personalization
  • Leverage Your Customer Data: Leverage customer data from your company CRM or contact lists to create personalized marketing experiences. This includes tailored recommendations, targeted offers, and relevant marketing content that speaks to individual customer needs.
  • Dynamic Interactions: Use customer interaction history to enhance engagement. For example, sending personalized follow-up emails based on past purchases or an abandoned shopping cart or displaying digital ads based on web browsing behavior can show customers that you understand and value their preferences.
  • Loyalty Programs: Implement programs that reward repeat customers with personalized perks and benefits to incentivize loyalty and build a stronger emotional connection with your brand.
Ethical Data Handling
  • Commitment to Data Privacy: Clearly communicate your commitment to protecting customer data.
  • Transparency in Data Use: Inform customers how you use their data to benefit them. Transparency is key here, whether improving product recommendations or enhancing user experience.
  • Secure Data Practices: Protect your customers’ contact information with robust cybersecurity measures. Update your security protocols regularly and conduct audits to ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Implementing these strategies can help your brand build and sustain consumer trust, foster loyalty, and drive long-term growth.

Trust is Your Competitive Edge

The modern marketplace is evolving fast, with familiar marketing strategies and customer acquisition methods becoming relics of a bygone era. To convert the intangible asset of trust into tangible ongoing profit, businesses must recalibrate their marketing to sustain business interactions. Now more than ever, marketers are the guardians of brand trust, the architects of consumer engagement, and the nurturers of lasting customer relationships responsible for cultivating the buyer’s journey.

Published by Chris Kelley June 11, 2024
Chris Kelley