Brand Publishing

May 27th, 2014

Study: Self-Promotion Kills Consumer Trust in Branded Content

Don’t be self-promotional. While content strategists have been pleading those words to brands for the past decade, many brands have remained skeptical. But now, there’s a study to back up that simple—but crucial—advice.

According to a new Kentico Software survey, customer trust in content marketing is high, but it plummets the second a brand tries to push a sale.

The survey of 325 U.S. residents found that 74 percent of the general public trusts educational content from businesses on a particular topic. But “[e]ven signing off an otherwise objective blog post or newsletter with a product pitch will bring the content’s credibility level down by 29 percent,” reports Kentico.

“Even signing off an otherwise objective blog post or newsletter with a product pitch will bring the content’s credibility level down by 29 percent,” reports Kentico.

The risk of falling off the credibility cliff doesn’t end there. Forty-nine percent of consumers will check a brand’s facts with other sources. If they can’t corroborate the content with non-company sources, 46 percent of consumers start losing trust in the content. Not addressing multiple perspectives, talking down to readers, and not clearly stating that the content is coming from a particular brand also impede consumer trust.

“While customers will, for the most part, give a company’s content marketing the benefit of the doubt, businesses must take care in not breaking that trust with information that can’t be corroborated or strays from the truth altogether,” says Kentico CEO and founder Petr Palas. “In this way, content marketing and transparent marketing must go together at all times.”

The good news? This study is great ammo for content strategists who are desperately trying to convince brands to resist the urge to be self-promotional. It’s also ammo for advocates of staffing brand newsrooms with trained journalists. Kentico found that 57 percent of consumers said educational information from a company is more credible when the content contains verification from named sources.

The study also underlined the importance of shareability. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said content discovered through a friend or family member was more credible. Ultimately, it all fits together. After all, consumers are unlikely to share content if the brand is pushing a sale and thus loses their trust.

What’s the deal with The Content Strategist? At Contently, storytelling is the only marketing we do, and it works wonders. It could for you, too. Learn more.

Image via Charlotte Cowles


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