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The author

Tom Salmon

Managing Director

A search marketing blog talking about trust? Is that odd? Woolly? Not for me. 

It demonstrates that understanding customer motivation is one of the crucial elements of successful digital marketing, especially search.

It has a direct effect on click through rates, conversion paths, the impact of content marketing, cost per click (just look at the CPC in some of the least trusted sectors of our economy) and many other facets of our work.

Understand what a trusted brand is made up of and how that relates their customers, and you have the groundwork for a great search campaign.

At face value it might seem odd that marketers are still trying to figure out how to ‘create trust’. Fortunately, the marketers that I was lucky enough to share a table with at last night’s Yorkshire Mafia Roundtable completely ‘got it’ and were happy to share stories about how their brands went far further than simply creating trust as a marketing tactic.

Trust cannot be artificially manufactured. It’s the outcome of a relationship and not the outcome of the veneer of an advertising or PR message. I was reminded last night of a HBR blog post by Fast Company magazine founder Bill Taylor that I read in 2010.

His post describes his experience talking to a group of American marketers working in the banking sector and features a line that, for me, is at the heart of every company that takes trust seriously. “The new "power couple" inside the best companies, I concluded, was an iron-clad partnership between marketing leadership and HR leadership. Your brand is your culture, your culture is your brand.”

There are a whole host of factors that demonstrate this idea, and lead to sustainable business growth, when you find a way to make them work practically in your business. The list below is far, far from exhaustive.

  • Empathising with your customers
  • Building affinity with your customers
  • Being an advocate for your customers
  • Taking advocacy seriously;  you want to be the brand that your customers recommended
  • Figuring out who you’re for, and giving them what they want
  • Recruiting the right people and working hard to retain talent
  • Ensuring your internal communications bring your company’s culture to life
  • Developing processes and interfaces that demonstrate empathy and affinity with your customers
  • Recognising, acknowledging and rectifying your mistakes

And an equally non-exhaustive list of factors that destroy trust;

  • Not keeping your promises
  • Lying (Lance Armstrong’s yellow jersey of trust)
  • Failing to deliver against people’s expectation of you (Horse burger anyone?)
  • Doing things that you don’t have permission to do
  • Failing to recognise error, responsibility or fault

So why should a search marketing agency be an advocate for this approach? Well, I hope it’s clear.

It’s the right thing to be trusted. It feels good and it supports sustainable business. But if you still need convincing of the hard business case for digital marketers, just remind yourself of this classic Google video.