To be successful with a content marketing program, your content needs to do a lot of things. It needs to be compelling if you want to attract new people (and particularly if you want to acquire in-bound links). It needs to be informative if you want people to come back to you. It needs to be entertaining if you want people to keep reading. But if you want people to become more loyal to your brand, and eventually buy from you, there’s one trait that’s indispensable: trustworthiness.
Trustworthy content will always perform better than questionable content because its information will be held in higher regard, and your brand, as author, will be more trusted and respected in turn. While building trust with people isn’t always easy, there are some simple ways to make your content more trustworthy to the public:
People trust other people far more than they trust corporations, yet I still see many businesses posting blogs with a corporate brand as the author. This is a mistake; instead, establish a handful of personal brand profiles and embellish them in your blog. Include names, bylines, and brief bios so people know who’s writing all your content. Readers can follow their favorite authors, hold more trust in the information being provided to them, and ultimately form a closer relationship with your business. You can even invite other, outside personal brands in as guest writers.
You may know a lot about your industry and have years of expertise fueling your claims, but that won’t mean much to a new reader who’s never met you. To add real substance and authoritative power to your writing, cite outside authorities on the matter, and include references for any data you received from an external source. It will make your content seem stronger, better researched, and more reliable than if you just wrote off the top of your head. The more valuable the source, like a national publisher or a leading expert in the industry, the better.
Outside sources are great, but if you can cite personal experience—specifically—it’s going to make your content even more trustworthy. The key here is to recall specific instances; vaguely indicating that “I’ve seen this before” or “I’ve found that” isn’t going to cut it. Tell a story about the events that led you to this conclusion, step by step if necessary, and explain it in a context that will make sense to your reader. The more specific you can be with this, the better.
When it comes to logical information, quantifiable data is always better than qualitative data—at least when it comes to persuading someone. For example, stating that most marketers are currently using content marketing as a primary strategy isn’t as powerful as stating that 62 percent of most marketers are using content as a primary strategy. If you don’t have this information immediately available, try to find some backing for it in an external source. If that secondary research fails you, try to quantify it in a less precise way—for example, you could say 3 out of 5 marketers you’ve spoken to have stated that content is a primary strategy. Numbers almost always make your content more trustworthy.
It might be tempting to earn more visibility and traffic with a sensational or slightly misleading headline; doing so can earn you more clicks, but be aware that those visitors will almost immediately distrust your brand as a result. It’s better to write strong, compelling headlines that are accurate and straightforward about the content you have to offer. They won’t earn you as many clicks or visits as a gimmicky strategy, but they’ll earn you a lot more trust.
When exploring a given topic, be as thorough as possible, even if it means compromising your position. For example, if you’re arguing in favor of adopting a new technology in a given industry, don’t stop after the main points of your argument; include the main points of a counterargument, and possible objections your readers might raise. Admit if you don’t have all the information, or if there are things you aren’t sure of. Nobody’s perfect, and nobody has all the answers—admitting that is only going to make you seem more trustworthy, so give your audience the full picture whenever you can.
People don’t respond well to advertising. They don’t like being sold to, and if they feel like your content is primarily intended to make you more profitable, they aren’t going to continue reading. Remember that ads take on many forms—those flashy banner ads are probably the first and most important thing to remove, but also avoid making any hard sales pitches in the body of your content. Ending an article with a phrase like, “be sure to buy one of our great products today!” instantly destroys any credibility you might have built until that point. You can still encourage conversions, but do so subtly if you want to preserve your reputation.
Put these elements into practice and your content will almost instantly become more trustworthy. As your readers continue to read more of your material, becoming more familiar with your brand in the process, that trust can only stand to grow. Prioritize trust as one of your top objectives in your SEO marketing campaign, and you can’t go wrong.