Consumers generally trust brand content, but marketers need to keep that trust through unbiased research and straightforward reporting.

Why does content marketing work? Because it allows brands to educate prospects and keep customers engaged. Today’s consumers are empowered to seek the information they need to make intelligent purchasing decisions – and companies are racing to provide the answers customers expect to find.

In a recent survey from Kentico Software, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the general public said they trust educational content from brands, as long as it seems objective and helpful. Specifically, skeptical consumers are looking for citations from outside sources as a sign of credible content.

A case for links in custom content

On a quest for thought leadership, a lot of marketing teams wonder whether it’s valuable or risky to cite outside sources in their custom brand content. There’s the chance readers will click an external link and leave the company’s website before converting, which seemingly diminishes the value of the interaction.

74 percent of the people said they trust educational content from brands

The results from the Kentico study imply there’s more reward than risk where citations are concerned because 46 percent of consumers are less likely to trust an article that isn’t supported with outside context. As another notable finding – 57 percent reported they consider a business’ content more credible when it’s supported by recognizable sources and subject matter experts (doctors for a blog about health trends, scientists for news on an energy development).

  • This blog post also references the importance of including links in web content as a way to build credibility and uphold editorial standards. 

When to pull the shameless plug and stick to the facts

Self-promotion is another mistake that brands make when attempting to build trust with readers. According to survey participants, content’s credibility is diminished 29 percent when companies make sales pitches at the end of an otherwise objective article.

Adding a promotional element at the end of content won't help companies close deals - it will alienate readers.

Readers don’t have patience for the bait-and-switch approach. They know there are other places where they can get the data they want without having to sift through factual and promotional copy. Despite this reality, a lot of marketers still struggle to leave their sales pitches at the door because they want their blog content to keep leads warm and drive conversions. What they need to realize is that there’s an audience for educational articles and another for promotional pieces.

As a content marketing strategist put it, there are plenty of times when it’s appropriate to talk about yourself, your best features and accomplishments – but it’s not during those first few crucial encounters when you need to make the right impression.

Marketers who want their corporate blogs to become informational hubs must work to build their brands’ reputation as a credible, authoritative and straightforward resource by consistently delivering valuable content and upholding editorial best practices.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.