Content Marketing, Earned Media, Owned Media
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Earning the consumer’s trust is one of the most difficult undertakings that we as marketers are tasked with. But once you earn a consumer’s trust, they are far more likely to do business with you, engage with your brand, help spread the word and recommend you to others. Trust is elusive, but it is also extremely powerful.

At inPowered, we’re obsessed with trust, what establishes it, what nurtures it, and how it can be maintained long term. So we decided to enlist the help of Nielsen to create a study that would help determine what type of content consumers trust most.

The Research

Our goal was to determine which types of content were needed at different stages of the consumer’s decision-making process so that we could develop a content marketing strategy that pairs the customer with the right content at the right time to establish and nurture trust. We commissioned Nielsen to do a live, in-lab study to measure the effectiveness of the following types of content:

  • Expert Content – Credible, third-party articles and reviews.
  • User-Generated Content – Reviews from users, like product reviews on Amazon.com.
  • Branded Content – Any content developed and owned by the brand.

These content types were measured for their lift throughout the following stages of the consumer buying cycle:

  • Brand Familiarity
  • Brand Affinity
  • Purchase Intent

What Nielsen revealed throughout the course of several months of in-lab surveys was fascinating, and provides solid guidelines for anyone determining where to focus their collective content energy and budget in the quest for consumers’ trust.

It’s All About Trust

Several key findings from the Nielsen research indicate that the credibility and unbiased nature of the content were critical for consumers:

  • 85 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content – credible, third-party articles & reviews – when considering a purchase
  • 69 percent of consumers like to read product reviews written by trusted experts before making a purchase
  • 67 percent of consumers agree that an endorsement from an unbiased expert makes them more likely to consider purchasing

Overall, the Nielsen research showed that expert content – articles from credible journalists – was the only content type to exhibit a strong lift in all 3 areas of the purchase cycle. And the driving force behind that lift was the level of trust the consumer had in the different sources of information.

Building Trust is Critical

What the Nielsen study reveals is that all brands – no matter what category – need to employ a mix of Trusted/Expert Content, User-Generated Content, and Branded Content to establish trust, educate consumers, and help them navigate the decision-making process. As a result, Nielsen recommends that all brands implement a blended content strategy to better serve the information needs of consumers:

  • Build trust – Begin with trusted content from credible, third-party experts in order to establish a foundation of trust with the consumer
  • Share your story – Once trust is established, utilize branded content to further connect and engage
  • Continually reinforce – Maintain your efforts by encouraging customers to generate user reviews, and by continuously utilizing more trusted content

The fact that building trust with the consumer is the most effective way to influence their decision-making process may seem like common sense. But in a marketing landscape that is forced to simultaneously deliver on multiple metrics – from social media engagement, to site traffic, to brand awareness, and more – it can be easy to get distracted and pursue the wrong content marketing mix.

But the fact of the matter is that all of those metrics – and your revenue – will increase as you build a community of consumers who trust and value your brand.

This post originally appeared on The inPowered Blog.
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