If you are a marketer, you know that taking a whole day out of your work life to attend a ‘marketing event’ is most of the time extraordinarily difficult. It’s a hard choice between getting work done and getting inspired to get even more work done. When I choose to get my dose of inspiration, I typically come back with a long list of things to do and one major takeaway. This takeaway is rarely groundbreaking, but rather a clear theme running  throughout speaker keynotes that stands out as a trend the marketing community cares deeply about.

At the recent Inbound Con in Toronto, the message was explicitly and implicitly about trust. For me, I learned that the concept trust had fallen prey to familiarity. The speakers consistently went deeper into the concept and I learned more about trust than I thought there ever could be when it comes to marketing profession.

1. Context impacts trust and the action that follows.
The way content is presented primes the way an audience receives it. To illustrate her point, April Dunford cited a famous experiment where the famous classical violinist Joshua Bell played, largely unnoticed, for a busy crowd on the subway. Joshua Bell played by a trashcan, dressed casually, with no orchestra surrounding him, a setting which primed the commuters to see him as a common busker rather than the true phenomenon that he is. 

The attention span of our own audiences is not much longer than that of subway commuters. That is why, how we present our company image in our content can build or destroy trust. In every situation from interactions with customers to sales pitch meetings, April recommends setting the context deliberately and diligently. Base it on what makes you special, love it and own it. To me, this supports the universal idea that humans want authenticity and that it is a cornerstone of trust in personal relationships and in business.

2. Build trust first to earn the right to present your products.
This idea was one of the focal points of Dev Basu’s keynote. Take the concept of human trust and bring it into your relationship with your audience and customers. Do you have a person in your life who has your back? Be that person for everyone you want to care about what you say now and in the future. Care about them and they will listen and take action.

3. Personalization builds trust.
Oh, personalization! We marketers have a love/hate relationship with it - we know it works, but we are afraid to overdo it and turn into creepy stalkers, which does the opposite of building trust, eroding it with false intimacy.

While personalization was not new to me as many speakers discussed it (on landing pages, emails, creating personas etc.), but the extent of Vidyard’s tech was new and exciting, as presented by Kimbe MacMaster.  Vidyard creates personalized video with the recipient’s name embedded in the video, and whose Christmas campaign we discuss in another blog post with more detail.

Less flashy, but potentially more broadly applicable, a personalization solution presented by Cara Harshman provided great examples and tools on how to personalize website and landing page experiences, using visitor data. While personalization was her topic, she was primarily there to showcase their tech, which leads me right onto the next point.

4. Trust your own products and your market will trust you.
At Telmetrics, we use our own tracking numbers throughout all our own campaigns. Even in content such as eBooks, we report on sources of calls, analyze conversations, and use all integrations that we offer to our clients. We do this to know exactly what our clients’ experience is like and add relevant optimization suggestions to our backlog all the time. “Use your own products” (to promote their quality, too!) sounds like Optimizely’s motto. The example of how this experience personalization platform uses their technology on their own website is great because you can check it right now - visit the site and tell me if your page looks different from mine: optimizelyscreehshot.png
5. Trust is not enough - forget “delight,” astound your audience! You must have heard the attention-span-of-a-goldfish analogy. Of course it was brought up at Inbound Con, and of course the conclusion for us busy marketers is that we cannot get away with simply (simply!) delighting our customers any more. We have to astound them to get them to pay attention. Astound them! Chris Stolz gave several tips on how to achieve this effect:

  • Make it fun or funny
  • Make it easier than anyone ever has, ever
  • Give them something they really, really want
  • Call out the status quo, then crush it
  • Surprise or shock them

I think at this point the B2B marketers in the audience felt a bit upset, since performing this routine for business decision makers is a delicate balancing act. Whether a B2B brand can be funny or shocking is a function of its brand and marketing channels, and most of the time B2B marketers err on the side of caution. But we all agree that giving the audience something they really, really want is a must to build trust. And making the experience easy and smooth is also a great tip we could all use a little help remembering when creating websites, content, and other experiences.

My favourite part of the “astound them” check list is “call out the status quo and then crush it”. This statement echoes one of the marketing strategies mentioned by April Dunford: create your own category and be the leader in it. In terms of establishing trust as the leader in your new, unique category, delivering on promises and being 100% authentic with the audience will go a long way.

6. The market will only trust you if you provide enough information.
All kinds of information - about your product, your team, your leadership, corporate values, history, culture, roadmap, you name it. People work with people, even if they represent a company, and therefore, the marketers’ job is to create a complete and cohesive image of the organization that includes the people that work there. However, that information shouldn’t neglect product just for the sake of people. , any reports and analytics that come from the product itself better be complete and easy to understand and use.

A speaker from CallRail started his talk with a medical diagnostics analogy, where, clearly, decisions should not be made without complete information about the condition. Likewise, decision makers today pay more and more attention to how vendors disclose information and the type of analytics they provide.

7. Reputation builds trust.
This is almost a play on words that almost mean the same thing, but building reputation in the digital era has become a separate marketing discipline. Online reviews, social media following, influencers, customer advocacy programs, positive or negative publicity around the leadership team - all of these things impact the level of trust. Marketers should be aware that everything they do affects reputation, as the web accumulates information and may store the good, the bad and the ugly for a very long time.

8. Trust in your audience’s judgement.
Marketers in many disciplines have been trained to utilize smart tricks and tactics to increase conversions. Orange call to action buttons, form on the right, personalized email subject lines, active verbs, these are only a few examples of what we automatically do when pushing out campaigns. But the most important thing to remember is that these tricks will only increase the number of conversions, but not the quality of your leads.

Also, on their own, they will not lead to a better experience of the prospect. The deadly sin that Wil Reynolds talked very passionately about is ‘writing content for Google’ to boost SEO results. We have all done this and we will keep doing this to a degree until the algorithms prove to have become so advanced that no trick can fool them, but let’s step ahead of this change and think about the visitor first. Let’s build trust by acknowledging that our website visitors are smart and will see the difference between good, useful content, and SEO soup.

9. Finally - a no-brainer in 2016 - educate first to build trust.
The good thing about Inbound Con was that it did not sound like a collection of sales pitches even though all presentations were delivered by vendors and consultants. Every presentation had several great takeaways and was inspirational. So, let’s do this in our own events and in all of our content - provide value first and then enjoy the respect you have earned in the mind of your audience.

If you want to see all decks from the event, they are posted in this blog post. As the blog post author, Matthew Hunt, put it - ‘read this slowly and luxuriously over a cup of coffee’. Hope you trust me that this read will be worth your coffee break.



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