The world of marketing has been an exceptionally exciting landscape over the last 15 years. Many CMO’s will remember delivering strategies that historically invested the full marketing budget into offline channels such as TV, Radio, OOH (ATL) and Direct Mail (BTL), accompanied with marketing messages built to appeal to the masses.
For marketing leaders that have lived through the shifting landscape towards digital marketing, it’s often hard to believe how quickly the pivot to primarily online strategies with hyper-personalised messaging has taken over.
The digital revolution has delivered incredible advantages for marketers, with more insights into return on marketing investment (ROMI), access to real time customer feedback, evolving martech stacks and the development of new marketing roles to name a few.
However, just as new technology has aided marketers, it has also aided the rise of digital scams, such as phishing or social engineering unlawfully encouraging individuals to divulge personal information. Digital scams can tarnish a brand’s reputation in the blink of an eye. In an age where digital mistrust is on the rise, the role of the marketer has had to evolve to ensure that communications lead with transparency and that businesses deliver ethical data practices and marketers have taken the lead in building and maintaining trust with their prospective and existing customers.
At Atomic.io, we have spent this year talking to and researching with some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading CMOs across the Financial Services, Telco and Insurance industries about the ever-evolving marketing landscape. The constant theme that has come up across the board has been the topic of Digital Trust and the role of CMO’s to build and maintain the integrity of a brand.
What does trust mean to a marketer?
Trust builds the foundations of a brand’s success and can be described as a firm belief in the reliability, truth or the ability of someone or something.
A brand can gain trust with their intended audiences through transparency of communication, authenticity of a brand or when defining the company purpose, all of which fall squarely into the wheelhouse of a marketing department to develop and maintain.
When you have a group of customers that align with your purpose, the level of trust rises along with brand loyalty. In a recent Brand Trust report, Edelman found that 59% of consumers are more likely to purchase new products when they trust the brand, even irrespective of price and 67% are more likely to stay loyal to and advocate for a brand they trust.
But what happens when trust is fractured and what is the role of the CMO to rebuild this trust?
67% of consumers are more likely to stay loyal to and advocate for a brand they trust
– Edelman Brand Trust Report
The rise of digital mistrust
Following the pandemic, the levels of trust that Australians have in government, media, search engines and social media have fallen considerably. In fact, the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer reported that 55 per cent of Australians say their default position is to distrust something first.
An increase in data breaches and online scams from many large institutions has forced consumers to question how their data is being used and protected, resulting in the rise of digital mistrust.
That creates an increasingly difficult position for marketers when your role is to build trust to help drive brand loyalty, deliver cut-through-content or support a sales pipeline.
Surveys suggest that 81% of consumers lose trust in a brand after a breach, while 25% completely stop interacting with it. The role of the CMO’s is pivotal in defining and maintaining a brands integrity, but currently the spotlight is on their teams to do more due to this trend in digital mistrust.
Digital scams have forced marketing teams to adapt and allocate resources to prevent, mitigate and respond to fraudulent activities. This can impact a marketing team’s ability to focus on growth and customer engagement, making it crucial for marketers to understand their pivotal role in building trust and loyalty every single day, not before it’s too late.
A recent report released by RFI Global reflected on the impact of data breaches on trust. Their data showed that after the Optus data breach in late 2022, trust in the telco industry fell 11% in 6 months, from 32% in June to 21% in December. They also found that the decline in trust was not isolated to one industry, but was evident across a wide range of institutions, including financial services.
As marketing leaders, there are different ways to think about how you can influence internal strategies to build, maintain and rebuild trust to prepare for when, not if, digital trust is corroded.
Five steps for Continuous Customer Trust
There are a number of ways that marketing leaders and their teams can build and deepen trust at every interaction with their prospective and existing customers.
We recommend 5 complementary strategies to implement with your marketing team:
1. Use content to build trust and authority early
Win customers over and build long term loyalty with great content. Engaging customers early in their buying journey allows you to educate and inform customers, influence decision making, identify needs and pain points, nurture leads and gain mindshare over competitors. Content can also be your competitive edge for building the foundations of trust between you and a prospective customer, especially if you are able to speak with authenticity and authority on the subject your customer needs help resolving. Demonstrating to your prospective customers that your values align with theirs is also important in laying the foundations of trust for the future.
Consumers expect transparency about how you will securely protect their personal data, so good communication early on in the buyer journey is key. In this digital day and age, it’s important that brands are transparent about their data security strategies, in fact, it could be your unique point of differentiation if your competitors are not talking about their own.
The data security strategy is also an excellent opportunity for collaboration across your internal departments, as building and maintaining digital trust is not down to one team alone, responsibility falls to everyone within the organisation.
2. Be respectful with data collection
Customers entrust organisations with their data and are increasingly concerned with how that data is protected. Make a good first impression the first time you ask for the data of a prospective customer. Consider what information is truly needed at each step of the marketing and sales process to bring a customer through the funnel, many organisations are still guilty of asking for every piece of personal data in return for an ebook.
Customer expectations are shifting and the expectation is that when the data is no longer required by organisations that it is not retained.
Atomic.io subscribes to three proven strategies to drive Digital Trust with customers:
1. Halt on the default “collect data endlessly” mentality
2. Consent to data collection is key, whilst making disclaimers straightforward
3. Use authenticated channels to communicate important messages
3. Build trust at every touch point
Every touch point is an opportunity to build customer trust, whether that channel be online, in-person or through media.
BNZ recently rallied their entire organisation to be advocates of digital security for their customers by launching their annual Scam Savvy Week to raise awareness of scams and help their customers to be safer online.
Consider the amazing opportunity ahead of you if you activate your entire workforce to become brand ambassadors. In other words, everyone from your Sales, Customer Support or People team can build trust in every customer interaction. It requires everyone in your business to understand your brand purpose and your company’s stance on building and maintaining trust, but once you’ve trained them, you have yourself a powerful team of trust builders across every department.
4. Use authenticated channels to get cut through
After spending so many years in purely digital environments, it’s a great time to go out and talk to your customers again and get them to help you reset your communication channel strategy.
You may find that your customers want to communicate only through authenticated environments where they feel most secure.
A recent survey by Atomic.io asked banking customers what they consider to be their most trusted digital channel. Nearly half (44%) responded that it was their web or mobile app.
Marcus Wild, CMO of Fisher Funds, recently shared with Atomic.io the power of one-to-one outreach when communicating to a customer “Delivering the right content at the right time in order to rejuvenate customer engagement and trust is a business priority. We want our customers to feel that each outreach is 1:1… and secure environments deliver that hyper-personalisation for us”.
5. Be authentic when trust is fractured
So what is the role of the CMO when trust is fractured? The answer we have most appreciated recently is ‘be authentic’. Don’t go quiet on your customers, continue to openly and transparently communicate until a fix is in place (although we do recommend you mute any inappropriate PR or brand campaigns that may backfire if you push ahead and the timing is off).
We loved this timeless advice from Forbes “Think about people as people. People want answers and want to know that their company is being forthright and careful with their information.”
Using all your channels, whether it be PR, your frontline teams, your emails, SMS or authenticated environments will help to reiterate a consistent and authentic message to your customers is important and speed to communicating is key. Many businesses now have a data breach crisis communications plan mapped out in advance to ensure the right message is communicated to customers consistently and quickly to provide them comfort and help you contain the message and mitigate further brand damage.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve before us, trust will remain the linchpin of every businesses success where digital mistrust is increasingly prevalent. The role of marketing has never been more strategic nor critical to that success.
By strengthening trust and making it a core component of the marketing strategy, CMO’s and their teams will grow stronger and more resilient brands. In turn, consumers will come back for repeat business and build advocacy for the brand, delivering a stronger bottom line for the business and an enviable reputation amongst the industry.
Atomic.io is an in-app customer engagement platform that provides personalised, actionable and most importantly, secured messages to your customers. If you’re interested in learning more about how Atomic.io can supercharge your existing digital channels, we’d love to talk. Only Atomic.io can help your customers get things done in one tap, increasing your customer response rates and engagement instantly.