As part of our The Question of Trust research, we spoke to marketing leaders from a host of B2B tech businesses. We got their insights on trust building, how to do it, how to overcome any challenges and how the process of maintaining trust and customer loyalty were affected by the pandemic.
This is what Martijn Groot, VP Marketing & Strategy at Alveo Technology had to say:
“I think what we saw during the pandemic was that it is very easy to engage on a superficial level in the sense of filling up webinar rooms, at least initially.
I think during the year, there was a certain fatigue of webinars and online events.
At the same time, I think there’s this digital bombardment of mailings, and everyone is taking pot-shots at buyers or influencers in companies.
But, in that war for attention using creative subject lines as well as tactics, there have been big developments in marketing automation, in the personalisation of websites or portals that people go through.
It’s easy to send content and get reactions and get downloads and get webinar attendance. Getting one-to-one meetings, that has been hard because things were postponed during the year and there wasn’t a reason for the buyer to engage.”
Q: What are the best ways to build trust?
The brand is important. Comms are important, so try to come up with relevant content, certainly be consistent in your messaging.
The best content in my view, and I’ve also been a buyer on the other side, is case studies, testimonials, or insightful commentary on challenges that I would face as a buyer. Anything from relevant peers which is the most credible content. Together with that kind of content, it’s anything from trusted third parties.
Part of our outreach has also been to the rest of the ecosystem, so people that we have a shared interest with, for example, selection consultants, or services companies that complement what we do in adjacent fields, both from the perspective of using them to help us in direct influencing, but also to team up to offer a more comprehensive solution to target accounts. Our outreach is not only to prospects, but also to influencers in the ecosystem.
In terms of building trust, I think it’s targeted comms on what you do, what’s coming down the pipe to your clients, report on service levels. We share roadmap information, so try to be transparent and consistent. Also, of course, you have to do what you say that you will do to your clients.
To prospects, it is as I mentioned, about, if possible, show them something that one of their peers has solved using our solutions, that will work best.
Q: Did that kind of approach change at all over the pandemic?
I think it changed in the sense that, on the marketing side, which is my department, we’ve certainly done more to get more out of our marketing automation toolset. Like HubSpot and making sure we’re using the content properly.
We’ve also accelerated micro-targeting that I mentioned, using our partner network, and still trying to make it all more personable, even though it’s digital.
We also have the comms come from the salesperson and offer something like brief consulting sessions with an SME, 30-minute or an hour call, where you’re not trying to sell them something.
Overall, we tried to be relevant. Have relevant content and then build on that.
Q: What are the biggest barriers to building trust with customers and prospective customers?
It’s been harder to get meetings, again, probably because early on pre-pandemic, it was easier to just have a coffee with somebody, sit down and interact more, let’s say, informally.
On the bright side, maybe the pandemic has, I guess, changed the etiquette of business meetings a little bit, that it’s now a custom to have video chat immediately. Maybe two years ago, we would have had this conversation over the phone or in person. There was this, I would say, an intermediary step that you can look each other in the eye, but it’s still digital.
On the digital side, the biggest challenge has been gauging the intent of people. I think marketing and market automation can play a bigger role.
Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for PR and marketing in building trust?
For the customers, it’s clear concise communication and regular updates. Don’t bombard them. Be selective in what you send to people and be relevant. Transparency is helpful.
For the prospects, it’s pretty much the same. It’s wherever possible, of course, and this is, to me, the most valuable content. You have to make sure that you give them what they need to go to the next step or make them think, which is more the thought leadership, and make sure the lightbulb goes off and they have this aha moment and they will look at you. Maybe otherwise they would not have ever considered it.