In the age of fierce competition and high brand standards, building customer loyalty is key for small businesses. You want buyers to return to your company again and again because of what your brand has to offer. In order to obtain this loyalty, your brand will need to start by building customer trust.
Trust and loyalty are hallmarks of good relationships with your customer base. To accomplish these things, you need buyers to find value in your brand—not just in your products or services, but the company’s existence as a whole.
Unfortunately, it’s tougher than ever to have in-person interactions with customers, so you’ll need to shift your relationship-building efforts to new platforms and modes of communication. The best way to do this, and to build loyalty and trust along the way, is to use content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and delivering valuable, relevant content to your customers on a regular basis. Content marketing can take on many forms and be delivered through a wide range of platforms. Most importantly, content marketing is used to engage, excite, educate, and delight your customers in order to build those lasting, trusting relationships.
Why content marketing? The approach has a number of purposes:
Attract and engage customers: Posting content on a regular basis provides something for your current customers to engage with and enjoy, but it also provides more avenues for potential customers to find you and encourages them to give your brand a shot.
Demonstrate value: Customers don’t just turn to your brand for your products and services. They’re looking for value, whether in the form of entertainment, education, or expertise. Through content marketing, you can demonstrate your brand’s thought leadership and deliver consistent value.
Nourish and strengthen relationships: Creating engaging content helps to foster relationships with your customers, then continue to nourish and strengthen those relationships by remaining consistent and valuable.
A lot of brands misuse content marketing and are disappointed with their results. This is largely because of a misunderstanding of what, exactly, content marketing should be used for.
Content marketing is not about completing transactions. It’s not an ad that will close a sale or entice a customer to purchase right away. Rather than using content marketing to drive sales, use it to give your audience what they need and want. Whereas ads might turn people off or seem pushy, content marketing offers something interesting to the audience and positions your brand as an expert or an inspiration.
There are tons of ways to do this, from blog posts to videos to eBooks and infographics. Any type of useful, creative content can be incorporated into a content marketing plan.
For instance, if you run a clothing boutique, you might share photographed look books to inspire buyers’ fashion choices. If you run a plant nursery, you might create a series of videos teaching gardening basics. No matter what type of content you choose, it should inspire, teach, and engage a specific audience: your customers.
Using content marketing to build trust and loyalty
So, how do you use content marketing strategically to build trust and loyalty among your customers? There are a few ways you can approach it.
Be authentic: One of the most important things to remember about content marketing is that all your content—whether it’s a video series, webinar, or photos—should be authentic to your brand. Stick to the same messages, style, and voice you use in other aspects of marketing. You don’t want your content to come off as forced. Instead, it should feel familiar and approachable.
Tell a story: Nothing is quite as engaging as a good story, and storytelling is a great way to build emotional connections with your audience. Use content marketing to tell stories relating to your company. You could tell your brand’s story and history or even the story of a customer who found success by using your products and services.
Show how you do good: Is your business committed to giving back to the community? Does your brand support a particular cause, or do your employees volunteer for a local organization? Show customers how and why you choose to do good in this way. Done correctly, this type of content can build trust and loyalty by proving to the audience that you’re dedicated to more than just making money.
Humanize your brand: More and more customers are interested in learning about the faces behind their favorite brands. Content marketing gives you the perfect opportunity to humanize your brand by showing off the people behind your operations. For example, you could create employee spotlights or share photos of company events.
Allow customers to interact: The best content is that which allows customers to actually engage and interact with your brand. Try to incorporate interactive content into your marketing plan to open up a two-way conversation. Fun things like quizzes work well on social media, while webinars and workshops allow a smaller segment of your audience to get even more value from your company.
Give your customers what they need
You don’t want to make content just for the sake of making content. The most important aspect of content marketing is ensuring that you create and deliver content that’s tailored to your audience. Rather than push information and ads on customers to drive what you need and want, give them what they need and want. Doing this will show your customers that you have value to offer and will build more trust and loyalty.
To do this, you need to understand who your customers truly are. Drill down on their demographics and psychographics to determine the specific segments of your audience. Then, create content specifically for them. They should find everything you share useful and relevant.
The content for every brand will be different, but to narrow down on the focus your content should have, ask yourself:
What challenges do my customers have, and what solutions can my brand offer?
What topics are relevant to my audience?
What does my audience care about?
What can I teach customers that will add value to their lives?
Most importantly, don’t use content marketing to sell. Although your content should always be relevant to your brand and might even mention your products and services, its main focus should be on the engagement and value it delivers—not on your brand making a profit. When done correctly, content marketing will convince customers to check out your offerings on their own because they trust you and appreciate the value you have to offer.
Everyone pays more attention to content that’s tailored to their specific interests. By focusing your content marketing strategy around what your customers truly want, they’ll learn that your brand offers immense value. Continue using different types of content to nourish and strengthen the relationships you have with your customers; trust and loyalty are sure to follow, at which point you’ve created a customer for life.