In crowded marketplaces with dozens of competitors fighting over the same consumers, being able to actively engage customers is critically important. Research has shown that one of the keys to driving customer engagement and finding success with online marketing is to promote brand authenticity through content marketing.
Promoting Authenticity Via Content
Conversions drive revenue. Engagement drives conversions. And authenticity drives engagement. If you were to draw it out on a chart, it would look like this:
Authenticity > Engagement > Conversions > Revenue
While most businesses know they need to engage their customers to drive conversions and revenue, very few fully appreciate the importance of authenticity and the role it plays in connecting with the modern customer. But when you study the data and analyze the trends, it’s actually pretty obvious.
According to this infographic from Bonfire Marketing, authenticity is significantly more catalytic in driving consumer behavior than product utility, brand appeal, and brand popularity.
“Honesty resonate with global consumers, employees, and investors,” Bonfire explains. “It builds loyalty and trust among a brand’s social communities, and it’s valuable for increasing profit margins. 63% of those surveyed buy from authentic brands over competitors that hide their true selves. And while 47% would seek employment from a transparent brand, 23% would financial back such a brand.”
While we’re predominantly talking about authenticity in the form of digital marketing, it’s important to note that it’s just as important to be genuine and transparent offline. InMoment’s 2017 Retail Trends Report reveals that half of all consumers value in-store interactions with friend and knowledgeable staff, while positive, transparent interactions can raise customer satisfaction by 33 percent.
Your Content Is Your Brand
An authentic brand is a company that is forthcoming and honest at all times. It promotes transparency for the purpose of engaging stakeholders, even when it’s possible to hide something potentially negative or damaging. In other words, authenticity is about being fully known, no matter the costs.
There are lots of different ways for brands to promote authenticity, but in today’s marketplace, it begins and ends with content. Your content is your brand. If your content is authentic, then your brand is authentic.
3 Tips For Creating Authentic Marketing Content
In order to consistently deliver authentic content to your audience, you must come up with a plan of attack. Here are some tips and tricks to get your brain churning:
1. Actually Talk To Your Audience
“In this high-tech world, we rely too often on texts, social media posts, and email. Marketing is about creating two-way conversations with customers,” content marketer Stephen Dupont writes. “If you want to fuel your content marketing program, the most efficient way to do that is to pick up the phone and have a conversation with a customer, business leader, or influencer. One-to-one conversations help you uncover context to create more powerful content.”
If you want a good idea of what this looks like in practice, check out the content Rush University publishes. From a story highlighting a Muslim Ph.D. student’s experiences on campus to a piece about a former EMT who decided to enter the nursing field, the content Rush University produces uses one-on-one conversations with students, not generic, recycled topics.
2. Publish Social Proof
When you say something, your audience listens. When your existing customers say something, your audience really listens. The more you can publish social proof, the more authentic your brand will look. Examples of powerful social proof include surveys, polls, reviews, ratings, and testimonials.
3. More Mentor, Less Salesman
“To gain business with your blog you should stop thinking like a salesman and start acting like your reader’s mentor,” says Henneke Duistermaat of Kissmetrics. “A salesman wonders how to get his next sale. A mentor cares about his students. He wants to help them get ahead and live a more fulfilled life.”
When you adopt the mentality of a mentor, everything else changes. Instead of trying to force a hard sale, you start to care about nurturing your audience. Ironically, it’s this nurturing attitude that ultimately leads to more sales.
What Do The Numbers Say?
Not sure how you’re doing in terms of authenticity? One good measure is to look at customer engagement. If you feel like there’s a disconnect in your overall engagement with your audience, then there’s a pretty good chance you’re coming up short. Keep chipping away and you’ll eventually see some progress.