Don't try to trick your readers. Just produce solid, honest content that can be corroborated.
When you're producing content for your company's blog or website, these are the pillars for success, according to Kentico Software CEO Petr Palas.
"Content emanating from all parts of a business must be consistent and honest in order to maintain the delicate trust of customers, especially in the age of the Internet where everything can be fact checked at the click of a button," Palas told CMSWire. "This just goes to show that content marketing and transparent marketing go hand in hand."
Some of the findings in Kentico's new Content Marketing Survey, the latest installment of Kentico’s ongoing Digital Experience research series, speak to these points about content marketing.
Kentico surveyed 325 US residents 18 years old and over in May. It's part of an ongoing survey series that also includes a Mobile Experience Survey, Email Marketing Survey, Website Marketing Survey and Digital Brand Interactions Survey.
Some findings from the content marketing survey include:
- 74 percent of the general public trusts content from businesses that aim to educate readers about a particular topic
- Signing off an otherwise objective blog post or newsletter with a product pitch will bring the content’s credibility level down by 29 percent
- 60 percent believe a company’s size has no bearing on the credibility of its content marketing
- 29 percent do feel educational content from smaller businesses is more trustworthy than that of larger businesses
- Can’t be corroborated with other non-company sources: 46 percent
- Doesn’t address other perspectives or viewpoints: 17 percent
- Isn’t clear that it’s coming from a particular company: 15 percent
- Talks down to the reader: 12 percent
Palas told CMSWire he was surprised that brand loyalty had very little do with customer trust in educational content. The survey revealed that 85 percent of those surveyed aren’t any more trusting of educational content simply because they buy from the company that posts the content.
The metric that surprised Palas least was that of those surveyed, 49 percent will generally trust what a company says about a particular topic but will also corroborate with other sources.
"With superfluous amounts of information coming in from so many different sources, it’s hard to know which is credible and which isn’t," Palas said. "It makes complete sense that consumers will cut through the noise by corroborating with other sources, especially when they have the Internet at their disposal."
The Value of Promotion
So what's the happy balance between education and product promotion? Companies have to promote products at some point, right? Where do you draw the line?
"I think one of the key takeaways from the survey results is that content marketing and product marketing must be kept separate,' Palas said. "The goal of content marketing is to educate customers while earning your place as a trusted information resource. Ultimately, you want the customer to then reward you by purchasing your product or service, but if you include promotional pitches in your educational content, that content ceases to be credible and no longer serves as a launch pad for the more promotional content that drives sales."
Corporate bloggers basically need to be like objective reporters (pats self on back). They "need to put their reporter hats on and be as objective as possible."
"This may create," Palas added, "some internal friction with other marketing stakeholders, so it’s important that bloggers and the marketing team agree up front that it is not the blogger’s job to sell product. Rather, it is the blogger’s job to create content that drives readership for greater community growth and engagement. And you do this not by limiting yourself to the confines of product marketing, but to anything that informs and captivates people enough to want to continue reading your blog."
Forget you're writing for a company, Palas said, and realize you're writing for the company’s target audiences.
"Yes, you represent the company, but you also represent the people," he said. "Write for them in a way that informs honestly or else risk hurting the credibility not only of your company’s brand but your own personal brand."
Don’t write in a vacuum. Cite your sources. Include metrics when you can.
"Remember, your blog is competing with every other blog out there,' Palas said. "Make sure it’s providing more information than can be found elsewhere, and make sure it’s sound."
Who should be involved in the process?
"We find being able to post in a frequent, timely and informative manner requires a bit more autonomy than many companies are used to allowing," Palas said, "but this has changed considerably with more bloggers proving they can write with integrity and still support a company’s marketing goals."
Asked to cite some strong blogs, Palas referred to some Kentico-run blogs: