The importance of being earnest

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We explore why your content marketing communications should be authentic.

Scott Elmslie

People are increasingly turning to brands as reliable sources of content. That’s because well-done brand content gives readers exactly what they want. It solves their problems, it provides them with valuable information and it entertains them. 

But how important is it that this content is authentic? Very! 
Your audience is savvier than ever. At a minimum, they want to be able to trust you. In fact in a recent report by Stackla, 90% of consumers claimed that authenticity is important to them when deciding what brands they will like and support. However, while 92% of marketers believe that most or all of their content resonates as authentic, only 49% of consumers are satisfied with the authenticity of the content they read. 

A woman and man reading an ipad together
With the rise of misinformation online your audience are more prone to question what they are seeing. Earlier this year Edelman released its annual trust barometer report, which showed that only 40% of the Australian public trust the media. The term “fake news” is so ingrained in our lexicon that we’re now using it to dismiss anything we deem as questionable. 
So what is authenticity? As Simon Sinek puts it, “authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe”. 

In its simplest form, authentically means being you. For an organisation, it’s about being true to your business mission statement and being true to your customers. People want to buy from companies that share their values. Companies that they can depend on – and most of all, companies that are truthful and put the customer first.   
Build that trust and you will be rewarded. In its report on the value of emotional connection for retailers, Motista found that customers who feel an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, rather than the average rate of 45%. 
Until they are at the pointy end of the sales funnel people really don’t want to be sold to all the time through traditional advertising and sales messaging.   
Empower them by giving them information and creating scenarios where your products will shine. Our strategy director Kate Thompson constantly reminds us that we have to give the audience something to buy into before we give them something to buy. Being authentic and genuine is vital to build trust – and it also gives your brand an identity. If your company has an engaging and compelling message to share it will draw new customers in. And if they find your content engaging, they will develop an affinity for your brand and keep coming back.  
Arguably there has never been better time for companies to be more authentic in their marketing communications.  
Here are five ways I think your business can be more authentic with its content marketing. 

1. Don’t have an ulterior motive

If you’re creating content for your customers give them something that will be valuable to them. It doesn’t always need to have a linear path to a sale. Be there for them in the micro moments when they are asking “how do I…?” or “where is…?” 

By solving problems for them you will improve their sentiment towards your brand, and when it comes time to make a purchase, your company will be top of mind. After all, most purchasing decisions are based on emotion, not logic. Work on building those genuine emotional connections.  

2. Keep the channels for customer dialogue open

There is no better advocate for your company than a happy customer. In fact 84% of millennials say that user generated content from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy. So ask your customers for their opinions and encourage two-way communications. They will help you create rich, believable content like testimonials, social media posts and letters to the editor. 

Readers have more trust in a business when they see their peers endorse it, but they also trust brands more when they feel that their opinions are being valued and heard. Let them see that your brand is made up of real people and it’s not just a faceless collective.  

3. Be original

There is no point regurgitating content that is already available. What your audience wants is for you to give them something they can’t get anywhere else. This will help you build credibility in your brand and demonstrate that you are a knowledgeable thought leader. If your content is informed, creative and entertaining there is also an increased chance your audience will share it with their network.  

4. There shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all for your content

A recent article by editor Emily Tatti looked at the importance of creating customer personas. By tailoring your content to a specific persona, it will feel more personal and genuine. It’s also what people expect. According to Stackla, a significant 67% of consumers say that it’s important for brands to provide them with a personalised experience.  

5. Most importantly – be truthful

While there is the expression “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”, this does not apply to content marketing and you will inevitably get caught out. Honesty is definitely the best policy. It will help you build loyalty and keep your customers engaged.  

Scott Elmslie, account director 

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