A recent study by the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) shows that trust in UK brands is falling, with half of UK consumers now struggling to know which brands they can trust. While the overall decline was 3%, the impact was most reported by the audience of 16- to 24-year olds, where trust was down 5%.
For brands trying to acquire new customers, this provides an opportunity and a threat. While more mature brands must now fight harder to maintain the trust that gives their brand power, newer brands can try to steal the crown but must do so in a way that earns trust.
Luckily, the modern digital toolkit gives a savvy marketer plenty of choice to combine acquisition marketing with the messages and tactics that can build trust.
Why Do People Change Brands?
Loss of trust is one thing, but for your brand to reel in new customers it’s important to know the pain points that make people move. While another DMA survey showed that most people will stick with brands they know, there is a still a healthy proportion who will consider new brands that they’re not familiar with, especially in retail sectors.
Of these people, 76% are searching for higher quality when considering switching to a new company, while the same number are just looking for cheaper prices. This is relevant from the perspective of building trust as each conveys a slightly different angle for your market positioning:
- If you’re the cheaper brand, you need to earn trust that you provide comparable quality at a lower price.
- On the quality angle, you need to demonstrate not only the greater quality you provide but that the increase is worth the same price or more.
Customers are Going DIY
In looking for new brands, research shows that customers have adopted a DIY attitude, using a wide range of resources to find their way. In fact, one study found that consumers typically spend 7 hours over 11 interactions in 4 locations researching a brand or product before making the decision to purchase.
Every single one of these touchpoints is a chance to gain or lose trust so it’s vital to have a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that’s visible to the right people at the right time.
Bring Your Story to Life
As you create your position, scrutinise why you are different, whether it’s quality or price and bring that to life across the site and all your advertising.
Give your site has a thoughtful, engaging About Us section. If your story is personal, introduce yourself, the team and elaborate on the values and vision that shape your approach. From James Dyson’s passion for problem solving through engineering (or Nick Grey for Dyson challenger Gtech) to a local locksmith, there’s great power in revealing the faces behind the product. You could use photos, video, images or a timeline here to help illustrate the journey you’re on.
If your difference is about products or techniques, then showcase the science or craftsmanship with personal stories and insights. Think of rich content here that could be channelled into advertising and across platforms. For example, you could invite your current fans or customers to visit the plant, see a provider or trial a new product and then record it for your social, onsite and advertising content.
This story needs to be applied across all your acquisition channels, from organic search to digital PR. Even Google Shopping ads ultimately lead to your site and your story, so make your story a good one!
Reviews and Credentials
It is impossible to overstate the value of customer reviews. As researchers, potential customers use reviews not only to understand if a product is good or bad, but to understand why. What use cases was the product a success or failure in and do they apply to the browser?
Make it easy for people to both review and discover your product, looking at:
- Onsite product reviews,
- Google My Business service-level reviews – and make sure you have a review strategy to reply to both positive and negative reviews
- Third party reviews through magazines or news media
- Vlogger, blogger and influencer collaborations where they can have an experience with the product that they can share; remember that these must be authentic to your brand and the blogger’s audience
- Third party review site reviews like Feefo and TrustPilot
Positive reviews and experiential content can be used across your acquisition marketing so consider quoting customer feedback in your ad copy or amplifying vlogger footage through your paid social channels. Add onsite reviews and third-party reviews to your organic rich snippets and Shopping ads to make sure a potential customer can always see how good you are from their first interaction with your brand in the search results.
Building Engagement and Word of Mouth
While reviews help people find out more about you in their own searches, you can boost your acquisition marketing by going to where your potential customers are.
If you operate in a niche, find and interact with your most relevant audiences on their forums of choice. For example, headphone brand RHA would offer free copies of their headphones in highly authoritative audio communities for the users to review and discuss on the platform. By doing this, they created trust in the product, got valuable feedback and built a meaningful rapport with the tastemakers in a space riddled with lookalike brands. They also ensured there was lots of content online for future searchers to find, read and use as a basis to trust the brand.
Similarly, use your own social channels to talk – and listen – to your fans, followers and critics. Once you have invested in building up a base of followers, you need to interact and respond to them to develop a trusting relationship that leads to both sales and potential brand evangelists.
Don’t be afraid of criticism. Remember that customers learn more about the truth of a brand when the going gets tough and people will notice and point out good, respectful customer service. Follow our tips for managing your social media reputation.
Make Unhappiness Easy
Consider the people who want to try your product but need further reassurance. Guarantees give a sense of craftsmanship and how long a manufacturer expects a product to last while a generous returns policy gives customers a safe space to trial a product – and all make good points to add to your acquisition messages.
For example, the 100-day return policy that Casper promoted on their mattresses was a key part of their launch advertising and has quickly become an industry standard.
Know Your Audience
The survey reported that when people receive relevant messages, they are more likely to trust that brand in the long run. In other words, brands will earn trust and new customers when they understand their audience and create relevant messaging.
So, think about and segment your audiences for your new customer acquisition strategy considering:
- Why is your story or product relevant to them?
- What is the purpose, application or emotional need your product supports?
- What is the timing for reaching them that matches their need?
- What are the locations for reaching them that they would respond to? For example, the survey reported that younger audiences put more trust in YouTube and social media while older audiences seek out traditional media and in-store/physical experiences.
Use these elements to build a marketing funnel around a story that engages and inspires potential customers, taking them on a journey with you that feels natural, drawing on your reviews, brand story, communities, fan-created content, proof points and more.
Once acquired, keep it going with social and email. Acquisition is hard but customer lifetime value is the true goal and that requires trust to keep going. Follow my contributions to the blog to find out more about marketing in a digital world, or sign up to the ThoughtShift Guest List, our monthly email, to keep up-to-date on all our latest guides, advice and blog posts.