Trust in B2B Digital Marketing

In a time where skepticism has become a societal norm, trust is a precious asset. This is particularly true in the B2B buyer journey, where prospects seldom interact with a vendor rep and trust is largely built through branding and digital platforms.  As trust and technology expert Rachel Botsman points out, “Most businesses we interact with are built around money, and money only goes so far. Money is the currency of transactions. Trust is the currency of interactions.” The B2B buying cycle is complex: in addition to a multitude of internal conversations, buyers will seek referrals, try demos, consult third parties, and read user reviews in the process of considering a new purchase. In this intricate environment, B2B marketers have the sensitive, but important task of building trust with their prospects to increase brand engagement. 

Marketers can build trust with their prospects by honing in on three basic elements: Consistency, Conversation, and Cadence.

Relevant outbound messaging focused on these three “C’s” will keep your business top-of-mind with prospects, and help them feel confident in taking a leap of trust with your brand. Let’s take a closer look at what these 3 C’s mean to B2B marketing:

1| Establish Confidence Through Consistency 

Consistent branding and messaging across channels is the baseline for building trust in a digitized economy where direct contact can be rare. It may seem obvious, but establishing brand recognition across multiple platforms is essential to maintaining  trust with prospects. Your overarching message and aesthetic should run like an axis through your content, providing your audience with a very clear sense of what your brand represents. When those prospects do interact and delve deeper into your content, you have a valuable opportunity to continue building trust on that baseline level of familiarity. 

Every touch-point your prospects have with your brand should feel like part of a larger dialogue that positions your brand as a thought leader rather than simply another vendor. Anticipate what your customers want to know and lead them to a content stream that is relevant and familiar, not generic or sales-driven. Focus on influencing and advising with authentic research and insights rather than going for the hard sell. By developing branded content that empowers buyers to make an educated decision, you will increase the credibility of your brand and build a stronger relationship with your audience.

2| Craft Conversations that Build Trust

When a prospect entrusts your business with their contact info, leverage that trusted data to craft a conversation that values the connection they have made with your company. Be proactive, staying abreast of what interactions your prospects have had with your brand – whether it’s on your website or with a rep at a trade show – to provide information that anticipates their needs before they have even asked for it. Show you know more about your buyer with every interaction: when it comes to sharing information, add value to the relationship by focusing on what is relevant to your buyer at every stage. Knowing your prospect’s journey and anticipating their interests shows that you care about your customers and increases the trustworthiness of your brand.

Consider a university launching a campaign to increase enrollment in their business school by targeting managers in large corporations. The business school hosts an event with talks from their top faculty, garnering a solid attendance and contact list of prospective students. Following the event, the school sends out emails that are focused on the topic of the event, the key messages of their speakers, and its connections to professionals in management roles. Rather than sending out a generic link promoting their programs and upcoming courses, the campaign focuses on driving further engagement and seeks to influence the prospect. The email is tailored to include courses based on the booths visited by the prospects. The content stream maintains the familiar style of the university’s brand and the prospect feels like they are immersed in meaningful, legitimate information that speaks to their unique interests. A trusting relationship with the school has been built upon their experience of consistent, navigable, and relevant information. Feeling self-assured that the business program is directly relevant to their ambitions, the prospect is empowered to make the right decision – to enroll in that particular school. 

3| Hit the Right Cadence 

Hitting the right cadence in B2B digital marketing can also play a key role in building trust between your brand and audience. Carefully timing the frequency of communication through the buyer journey makes prospects aware of the solutions your company provides at the most opportune moments. Ultimately, your goal as a marketer is to leave your buyers with a positive feeling towards your brand and avoid coming across as too aggressive or disinterested in their business – or they may they take it elsewhere. 

Establishing the appropriate frequency in communication entails tracking your buyers to understand where they are in their buyer journey. Use what you know about your prospects’ digital body language to determine when you should amp up or slow down your communication. Check unsubscribe, bounce, and spam rates to see if you are communicating too much, and monitor what pathways your buyers take after opening an email. If you have prospects that are highly engaged, ratchet up your communication to maximize the attention they are giving you. If you have contacts that are not making connections with your brand, hold off and re-consider your next approach rather than communicating irrelevant messages that result in a loss of trust. Lower the frequency of your content and reach out when you have something relevant to tell them that is based on their previous activity.

Create Rapport, Build Excitement 

Advancing a purchase in B2B marketing means developing relationships and facilitating interactions that position your brand as the most credible in the crowd. Following the 3C’s of trust building in digital marketing – consistency, conversation, and cadence – will bring your marketing team closer to creating a positive rapport with your audience. Trust building in B2B digital marketing is about establishing a consistent brand presence across channels, creating an ongoing conversation with your prospects, and setting the right cadence for communication.

At the end of the day, it is the job of marketing to get target accounts and audiences eager and enthusiastic about a product or service. Trust is essential to getting that level of excitement from your prospects – without confidence in your brand, they may never make that critical emotional connection. Without the emotional connection, they will ultimately find it with your competitors, even if your product or service is the best one out there. 

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