Building Brand Trust in the Age of Big DataBY Jacob Butko // Account Director
As data becomes the driving force behind many of today’s B2B marketing strategies — and for good reason — the result, when executed properly alongside brand-driven initiatives, is a customer-centric experience, personalized to not only result in sales, but to extend beyond the sale to loyalty and amplification of the brand through advocacy. Collectively, these components drive ROI and brand trust. With a seemingly unlimited number of options for today’s buyer, the modern marketer must understand how data can play its part to contribute to brand trust and propel a brand to its fullest potential, while simultaneously unifying internal teams to communicate in a shared brand voice.
“…THE UNDERLYING ENGINE OF A BRAND IS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, TRUST.”
The identity of a brand is multifaceted, and consumer and business decisions to engage with a brand (or not) are no less limited. For instance, one may gravitate towards a brand based on a number of variables: Industry knowledge, price point, perceived quality, and word-of-mouth are just a few examples. And while each provides the opportunity to differentiate, the underlying engine of a brand is, and always will be, trust. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 75 percent of those surveyed said that they value trust more than trendiness. While evocative ads invoke an action, trust invokes an instinct, which allows all value propositions to mature in the market alongside key product or service attributes. Trust is the heartbeat of a business, and in modern marketing, sustained trust is the result of utilizing data to understand the most effective ways of uncovering customer needs while bolstering brand truths that will resonate with the market.
Data serves the brand as a catalyst for growth. It provides the brand with opportunities to reinforce trust among current and potential customers by demonstrating a clear understanding of customer challenges and needs for the brand to address. To garner trust, it is required to understand the buyer’s needs, to magnify aspects of the brand that may resonate in the market based on those needs, and to evaluate and optimize the customer journey to ensure consistency and value during each stage. The result is a positive customer experience that supports the brand promise and meets growing buyer expectations.
“WHEN A BRAND EXHIBITS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, ITS RETURNS ARE THE QUANTITATIVE FRUIT OF A QUALITATIVE SEED”
According to findings in the Creating Epic Customer Experiences report from Marketo, an Adobe company, the top three purchasing drivers for business buyers now include brand transparency (78%), brand-purpose (68%), and personalized customer experiences (49%). As more trust in the brand is achieved, the more opportunities emerge for the brand to build even stronger connections (and stronger data for personalization). For example, a trusted brand can enrich data through a conversational and approachable voice. When your customers feel as though they can talk to you, they will — enriching your data with potential key findings that would have otherwise been lost outside of a typical form-fill. When a brand exhibits emotional intelligence, its returns are the quantitative fruit of a qualitative seed, enabling brands to have relevant, meaningful, one-on-one conversations with their audiences across different channels of communication in a more engaging way. And because brand relevancy surpasses the importance of brand popularity, this level of engagement is critical to sustain brand loyalty and continued advocacy.
Data is leveraged to drive the strategy and content by which the brand will engage, and trust is initially built through valued, data-enriched content. The brand is built through the dissemination of this content, and solidified through its personalization and the messaging that supports it. Relevance is acquired by ensuring the delivery of content at the right stage of the buyer journey. The right data, for the right strategy, for the right people, at the right time, all converging to build brand equity. When effective, this feat is typically achieved through both external resources as well as by an internal culture that encourages various departments to openly collaborate.
While some departments within an organization may focus and specialize on one piece of a larger goal (Sales, SEO, SEM, PR, Demand Gen, etc.), their efforts can be stifled without a brand guard that can ensure all aspects of messaging are working together in unison to accomplish set marketing and sales objectives. As the working pieces and groups grow, so grows the importance of having brand steward in place to ensure alignment and clarity of goals in cross-functional settings. When this is successful, the various channels and teams have a shared voice and provide the opportunity to build off of each other’s success and learnings. A highly coordinated marketing team is essential and is why, as reflected in the Salesforce State of Marketing report, highly effective marketers are 12.8 times more likely to heavily coordinate marketing efforts across channels, using data as the common language for disparate teams. Siloed teams equate to siloed data, which dilutes opportunities for the brand to fully reach its potential – but the ability to cross-reference insights across multiple sources delivers a holistic view of an organization working in tandem, and allows the brand itself to thrive as the united voice of teams aligned to common truths.
“OPENNESS WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION SEWS THE GROUND FOR TRUST WITHOUT.”
Coordination for successful companies in turn extends beyond marketing’s walls to cross-functional teams within the organization, most importantly, Sales. Companies who empowered Marketing to collaborate with Sales enjoy an 86% YOY growth rate, and an 87% YOY growth rate when Marketing and Sales share common goals and metrics. In B2B especially, Sales often dictates Marketing, however, in today’s changing landscape marketing must also influence the messaging that Sales delivers to avoid disconnects from messaging that may have nurtured the prospect through all previous stages of the journey. Always be Selling evolves to Always be Marketing, and the ability for Sales to take on this responsibility rests in the data and information shared across the organization. And just as data should not be siloed in external resources or platforms, the same is true for internal departments and systems. Openness within the organization sews the ground for trust without.
When brand truths can be consistently communicated and exhibited internally and across the various stages of the buyer journey, while being supported by data, trust of brand becomes the default result. It often takes a village, but when organizations invest in both the systems and culture to bridge communication gaps, they can begin to fuel the foundation of a trusted brand that will enjoy the returns well into the future.