Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics

The State of Trust in Marketing

The State of Trust in Marketing
“Step up on the railing. Hold on, hold on. Keep your eyes
closed.” Jack is holding Rose around her waist, cautiously
lifting her up to the Titanic’s bow. “Do you trust me?” He
was a stranger up until days earlier, but still, her response is
almost instantaneous. “I trust you.” Moments later, Rose opens
her eyes and she’s flying, arms outstretched as the mighty liner
propels her forward. She and Jack hold hands; they kiss. Celine
Dion’s music wafts in the background. Teenage boys in the theater
start gagging, while romantic types swoon. There’s a good chance
you lived through this very experience. James Cameron’s 1997
cinematic landmark Titanic was an unprecedented hit, holding
the title as highest-grossing film of all time for 14 years. The
scene described above is perhaps its most famous — the linchpin
in a love story sparked by deep, genuine trust that materialized
almost out nowhere. When I say, “Everyone and their mom saw this
movie,” I mean it a bit too literally because I actually saw it
with my mom, as a 12-year-old, and it was… awkward. With that
embarrassing story out of the way (I swear there’s a reason I
mentioned it, and we’ll get back to it later), let’s move on to
one you might actually care about: The state of trust in
Strap on your lifejacket and prepare for a journey
through these choppy waters… By the Numbers: The State of Trust
in Marketing At the outset of 2016, trust toward all four
institutions measured by
Trust Barometer
reached their highest levels since the
Great Recession, with businesses seeing the largest spike.

State of Trust 2012-2016 According to Edeleman


Things looked good. Confidence was high. We were all cruising
merrily along. Then, we hit the iceberg that was 2016. You might
remember that year not-so-fondly, for
any number of reasons
. The following year, Edelman
that “trust is in crisis around the world,” citing
an unprecedented drop across all four institutions. The 2018 research
revealed “a world of seemingly stagnant distrust,” with no
rebound to be seen. Things weren’t merely stagnating everywhere,
though… In 2018, only 48% of people in the United States said
they trust businesses, down from 58% in 2017. (
Polarization of Trust in 2018


This was a point where people were frantically piling into
lifeboats. I think I just saw Billy Zane kick a little kid off one.
What a jerk. Anyway, this is a problem. [Side note: If you’re
noticing a lot of Edelman citations thus far, it’s because their
Trust Barometer is such a valuable resource for the topic, and
offers a consistent baseline to show the progression of trust. But
there are plenty of other sources to come.]
63% of people
agree with this statement: “A good reputation may get me to try a
product—but unless I come to trust the company behind the product
I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.”

Oh, and: 68% of adults in the U.S. say that trust in a brand has
“a great deal” or “a lot” of influence on their decision when
making a big purchase. (
I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between “a great
deal” and “a lot,” but alas… We’ve reached an era where
people at large are digitally adept and savvy. They know they have
a world of options at their literal fingertips, and can thusly hold
brands to the highest of standards. Trust strikes a deep emotional
chord. “The digital era has fundamentally shifted assumptions for
how individuals will do business and engage with companies,”
Kevin Cochrane, Chief
Marketing Officer at SAP,
wrote at Harvard Business Review
last year. “Once trust has
been lost, it’s nearly impossible for brands to rebuild
sustainable, honest relationships with their customers.” In other
words: once the ship has sunk, it ain’t coming back up. [bctt
tweet=”Once #trust has been lost, it’s nearly impossible for
brands to rebuild sustainable, honest relationships with their
customers. – @kevinc2003 #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]
Some of the damage has already been done. A few months ago,
Accenture released its
Bottom Line on Trust
report, which uses an “Accenture Strategy
Competitive Agility Index” to “quantify the impact of trust on
a company’s bottom line.” Scoring more than 7,000 companies, this
system found that… 54% have experienced a material drop in
trust at some point during the past two and a half years,
“conservatively” losing out on $104 billion in revenue.
Line on Trust
) “In today’s world, it is no longer
a question of if a company will experience a trust incident, but
when,” the report asserted. This is getting grim, I know. But we’re
not underwater yet. There is
time yet to turn this troubling tide
, and as the primary
conduits between customers and brands, marketers can and must be at
the forefront. Marketing executives at B2B and B2C service firms
rank “trusting relationships” ahead of “low price” and
“superior innovation” among their customers’ priorities.
CMO Survey
) CMO Survey Results on Customer Priorities


As we build relationships, we build trust. Edelman’s 2018 report
found that company content is twice as trusted after a
customer-brand relationship has been formed. Marketing has a lot of
functions (even a great deal of functions?) but this one will be
most vital in the months ahead. All of our efforts are doomed
without this crucial piece of the puzzle. So, how do we stay on
course and prevent relationships from sinking?
Well… 65% of business buyers say they’re likely to switch
brands if vendors don’t make an effort to personalize
communications to their company. 52% of consumers say the same.

of the Connected Customer
) This seems to be the the
sweet spot. Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in
the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate
alarms. Personalization comes in many forms. It can be as
sophisticated as using adaptive AI, or as simple as narrowing the
scope and voice of your content to resonate with very specific
audiences. Whatever the approach, customers clearly want it. And
the potential revenue benefits are undeniable. [bctt
tweet=”#Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the
digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate
alarms. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]
Personalization can deliver 5-8 times the ROI on marketing
spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more.
& Company
) Now that sounds like smooth
sailing. Research makes clear that marketers are wise to chart a
course for more personalized waters. Granted, that’ll mean
different things to different organizations and strategies, but it
simply must be a central focus if we are to stay afloat.
Personalized marketing is the byproduct of turning customer data
into useful insights. It’s the industry’s prime directive as we
speak. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish on this front in
2019 and beyond. I will leave you with one final word (statistic)
of caution, however. 79% of consumers will leave a brand if
their personal data is used without their knowledge. (
Hybris Consumer Insights Report
) SAP Hybris Insights Let’s steer
clear of that.
Transparency is now more essential than ever in marketing
Using data is not wrong — in fact, it’s requisite for
personalization — but the last thing you want to come off as is
sneaky or underhanded about it (just
ask Facebook
). Something as simple as a friendly, casual pop-up
message on your website informing visitors that you use cookies
(and why) can go a long way. By following the principles of
responsible personalization, we as marketers can right the ship and
play our part in building sturdy relationships that ensure
customers… via
Moral of the Story: Steer Toward Trustful Shores A bit of
good news: in the
2019 Edelman Trust Barometer
results, released a couple of
weeks ago, trust toward business increased in 21 of 26 markets,
including the U.S. where 54% of respondents voiced confidence —
one of the biggest jumps. Now, we need to stay that course. At a
high level, personalization should be the true-north on every
marketer’s strategic compass. But on a day-to-day tactical basis, I
believe there are three focal areas for continually building trust.
As it happens, I’ve attempted to incorporate each into this blog
post you’re reading. Storytelling. My goal here was to take
a set of statistics and
craft them into a coherent narrative
. For added effect, I
juxtaposed it against another extremely recognizable story. Your
mileage may vary on the wisdom and effectiveness of this particular
approach. Authenticity. For better or worse, this is who I
am. I’m the kind of guy who intertwines 20-year-old movies with
blog posts about marketing. (More seriously, I have a genuine
passion for the subject of trust in marketing, which is why I write
about it so frequently here.) Transparency. Even — no,
especially — when it’s information you’re not entirely
jazzed to be sharing. I didn’t love telling you all about sitting
uncomfortably next to my mom during the infamous “Draw me like
one of your French girls” scene at age 12, but I did so with the
hopes it’d signal an openness and candor in the writing to come.
Recently I
highlighted a company called Lemonade
that runs a
“Transparency Chronicles” series, in which they speak very
frankly about their experiences as a growing business — including
their failures and shortcomings. Customers are tired of hearing how
great and perfect brands are.
They want realness
. Content marketing strategies founded
on personalization, with storytelling, authenticity, and
transparency as cornerstones, will be primed to stand the test of
time in an age of digital disorientation. Maybe, one day, we can
finally restore the fundamental trust that’s been shattered ever
since some genius marketing mind came up with the “Unsinkable
Ship” slogan. Did you like this post? Want to read more
from me on trust and transparency in marketing? Check out these
past articles:

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of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by
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Source: FS – Marketing 3
Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics