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Why Trust Is the Key to Customer Loyalty

It’s Marketing 101: The marketer’s two jobs are customer acquisition and loyalty/retention. When it comes to retention, there’s an often-overlooked factor that plays an over-sized role: trust.

Trust comes from a relationship and it builds over time, with every interaction and at every touchpoint. Over time, someone’s trust in the complete consumer experience with a merchant may be more important than other factors, like selection or price. If someone becomes convinced that she’ll always get a reasonable deal with no hassle, she may make that merchant her go-to and stop worrying about price comparisons.

You can lose trust easily: Over-marketing, irrelevant content or ads, or not offering value in your communications are common ways to rupture the relationship. But let’s look at ways to build trust.

Trustworthy tactics

  • Provide useful information. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, provide solid, unbiased information that may help them not only in the purchase decision, but also in their daily lives. Quality content, delivered via third-party distribution platform or email, cements your authority in people’s awareness.
  • Be available. In this world of self-service and lean organizations, customers are often expected to help each other via forums and questions. Offering a clear way to reach customer service or tech support lets people know they can rely on you.
  • Create case studies. A recent Gartner study found that people are more than 2.5 more likely to make contact or buy from a company if they see a case study or use case.
  • Encourage referrals. Customers are much more likely to trust a company that’s been recommended by an entity they already trust.
  • Offer an explicit, money-back guarantee for merchandise returns. On the enterprise level, that might mean offering a proof-of-concept engagement before a full contract.

Trustworthy email

  • Let them opt out. Of course, you must provide an email opt-out mechanism to comply with CANSPAM. Make sure our opt-out is clear, simple and works immediately.
  • Make the most of your data. Make use of as many factors as you can in first-party and third-party data to segment your customers in meaningful ways.
  • Be recognizable. Make sure your emails come from a branded domain that customers will recognize. Enforce digital design parameters that provide the look and feel customers are accustomed to.
  • Use dynamic formats. Make sure your email platform delivers your messages so they appear correctly across devices and environments.

The power of retention

A greater sense of trust leads to better customer retention. Using email to build trust is effective and cost-efficient. Consider Google and Facebook. A massive percentage of their revenue comes from companies that retarget customers and prospects on their platforms. But for brands, this is expensive. CPMs for display video are $10 to $40; even CPCs for search can cost multiple dollars.

Email, on the other hand, costs just a dollar or two per thousand. Building a retention program via your ESP lets you use many of the same tools and techniques, such as location, time of day and purchase history. You can possibly include third-party data such as household income. Add to that dynamic content delivery and propensity modeling, and you can create a powerful retention program via email at $1 to $2 CPM.

Plus, this inexpensive and robust retention program will work much better if you can build trust.

Not all companies selling to consumers need to build trust. Some audiences may be more price-sensitive, always searching for the best deals. Meanwhile, for more considered purchases, shoppers may spend more time researching, so their decisions will be based on facts instead of emotion.

But for many, this unconscious value can be the key to consumer loyalty. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I’m only going to buy from brands I trust.” But people unconsciously see more value in brands that they do trust. Trust is a powerful motivator that’s well worth investing in.

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