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Trust, marketing, and customer loyalty

Peter Bell Profile picture for user Peter Bell August 29, 2016
Personalization technology brings a new dimension to marketing's age-old quest to build trust and customer loyalty, writes Marketo's Peter Bell

Sales process as power buttons © Olivier Le Moal -
(© Olivier Le Moal -
When we are asked if we like advertising the answer is typically a resounding ‘no’. The tangible evidence of this is the rise in the use of ad blockers, with a recent IAB study revealing that 26% of desktop users use ad blockers to remove ads from websites. A backlash to terrible, intrusive and irrelevant ads that we’ve all experienced as consumers ourselves.

Yet if we’re asked what our favourite ad is then it often draws a very different reaction – generally positive, often recalling long defunct campaigns, brands and messages that have stayed with us. British Airways hasn’t used the brand tag line 'The world’s favourite airline' for over 15 years now and yet you wouldn’t know it, at least within age groups old enough to have been exposed to it, as recall remains high.

These contrasting reactions illustrate the power of trust in a brand’s relationships with consumers. The type of brand durability that BA’s long-lasting tag line displays is much, much harder to build today.

With the glory days of mass marketing now long behind us, to build a durable relationship with customers in today’s world you have to know their likes and dislikes at a much more personal level.  Not only is the customer better informed, more discerning and spoilt for choice the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), or its equivalent in other countries, requires your marketing claims are legal, decent, honest and true.

Trust is the glue

Trust is the glue that holds the customer relationship together – more than individual needs and wants, however important they are to each of us. With trust the relationship will survive those inevitable bumps in the road.

To build trust we have to look further than the regulatory requirements, we have to look at the world through the customers’ eyes and deliver an experience that delights over weeks, months and years. I do mean years, only occasionally will a single bump in the road cause a customer to leave where trust has been established, more typically it is eroded over a period of time through small cumulative interactions until they leave you behind.

Surrounded by innovative and ambitious software, as marketers we have the tools, platforms and data to begin to understand each customer, and build more individual and personalized experiences that over time earn the trust that results in durable relationships. Our role shifts to that of a strategist driving customer experience as a competitive weapon for growth, never leaving the side of the customer.

Building relationships

One market where this is hugely relevant is financial services, an industry where there has been a breakdown in trust in the sector as a whole and especially in banking. Turning this around will require building a single view of the customer, and ensuring that everyone in the business is acting in the customers’ best interests in a coordinated fashion. Those companies that take up the challenge to meet the current and emerging needs of currently underserved consumers will enjoy the greatest growth by building durable customer relationships.

At Marketo, we work with companies doing this, such as Charles Schwab. The investment advice group is cultivating prospective independent advisors at scale to drive business growth – by focusing not just on acquisition but also on retention and longer-term relationships with those advisors.  Those are relationships that will endure as trust is built over time.

Clearly (and thankfully) we’re a long way from the 1940s & 1950s where, in response to rising health concerns, marketing featured doctors to assure the consumer that their respective cigarette brand was safe with claims like 'More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette'. However, we are at a point where dialectical thinking is needed – we must carefully weigh up new approaches, just as companies like Charles Schwab, Jupiter Asset Management and others are already doing.

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