Trust has always been important in the relationship between brands and their customers, but it is now higher on the agenda than ever. According to advertising group, Edelman, “Marketing to consumers only works if they trust you. And trust in brands has risen to the very top of the agenda, second only to price.”
By: Gavin Laugenie, Head of Strategy & Insight, dotdigital
Consumer trust has now become critical since the pandemic. For example, in our own research undertaken in early 2021, 56% of 2000 U.S. consumers said they had become more mistrustful of how companies use data over the last year, while 51% said they had become more aware of how their data was used by brands as they had been shopping online more often. While 44% of U.S. consumers trust brands to store their data safely, a quarter (25%) still didn’t trust that brands would store their data safely.
Trust is particularly threatened as communications with consumers become more personal. In the same research, 68% of consumers were worried that their data would be passed on to third parties for marketing purposes, while a further 69% were concerned that their personal information would be passed on to other companies without their consent.
Consumers were also concerned about being on the receiving end of poorly managed communications with 86% of shoppers reported having received unsolicited texts or email messages from companies they’d not provided their data to. And 36% said they’d continued to be marketed to by brands, even after they had asked to be removed from the database.
Trust is not just about reputation but about revenue. 45% of consumers in the research had unsubscribed from a brand’s mailing lists because they received too many marketing messages.
Understanding the parameters and hurdles of trust
The route to winning and retaining trust starts with a better understanding of what customers want. This is not an easy process because consumers are so much more demanding than before, even to the extent of acting paradoxically; they want communications to be personalized but they also want privacy.
Understanding this mix of factors and their relative importance to consumers is critical to building communications and campaigns that engender, earn, and sustain trust — especially as we head into one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.
The next hurdle to clear relates to regulation that appears to get in the way of brands personalizing the communications and the experience for their customers. GDPR regulations still apply, and the spirit of the original legislation is being adopted by more and more countries.
In addition, two recent changes have given consumers more power to browse online more privately. Specifically the latest operating systems updates from Apple which enable consumers to opt out of tracking and Google’s move in 2020 to enable users to take control of ad settings to prevent their data being used by Google Analytics to make ads personalized.
However, brands need to embrace these changes because ensuring compliance naturally fosters trust, which is the key for consumers to willingly share their data with a brand. If a consumer trusts a brand, then they will be engaged. And most importantly from a commercial point of view, the value of the relationship will increase.
Three key tools for enabling this include double opt-in, which is an automated confirmation email that asks the customer to confirm that they want to receive marketing emails, ensuring that the database is full of engaged contacts. As well, live chat is an essential channel to enforce the connection between the brand and its customers as it promotes two-way conversations that can be used to form stronger connections with audiences. Additionally, SMS can be used as a marketing channel as it is one that has never relied on “opens” to measure success. And, with read rates of 98%, its success is undeniable. In light of the iOS 15 update, brands should be adding SMS to their marketing mix as a necessity.
Fostering brand trust
The world is changing and the shift to consumer-friendly privacy rights cannot be ignored. Embracing these changes and ensuring compliance naturally fosters trust, which is the key for consumers to share their data with a brand.
Gavin Laugenie is an experienced strategist with over 10 years’ demonstrable experience of solving complex marketing and technology problems. Gavin has worked closely with both B2B and B2C brands in the travel, financial, and retail sectors — on both sides of the Atlantic — to finesse their marketing programs and drive CLV, loyalty, and ROI.