Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 45 seconds

Marketers’ distrust of advertising platforms was highlighted in 2017 when Procter and Gamble CMO Marc Pritchard said the megabrand company was curtailing its digital marketing due to a lack of transparency and potential for fraud.

Since then, distrust has spread from marketers to the general public, a result, in part, of a series of blunders at Facebook. Those mishaps include privacy violations, meddling from Russia in U.S. elections, fake news and, most recently, a data breach.

In some ways, digital marketing is like the Wild West, with government officials struggling to regulate advertising while fighting fake news. But, few industry observers expect to see any substantial improvements in the industry in the near future.

Brands, however, can build trust among consumers by engaging in public relations and providing appropriate content through various digital channels. Trust, of course, is an essential element of marketing. Indeed, a recent study by PwC found that more than one in three consumers said “trust in brand” was a top reason for selecting certain retailers, maintains Ignite Visibility, which is a marketing agency.

Public relations that succeed in placing stories in the media can be a powerful strategy for building consumer trust, reports Business 2 Community. Simply put, consumers place more trust in comments about brands that come from industry observers or journalists than from brands’ own marketing departments.

Many journalists, furthermore, believe that press releases are a reputable source of information. In the Cision 2018 State of the Media Report, 44% of journalists said press releases are the most trustworthy source of brand related information. The same article recommends that brands also compete for industry awards. Any awards can then be promoted with press releases.

Brands should also ensure that content they produce inspires trust by providing useful information to prospects or potential clients. With this in mind, brands should leverage their own experts to create content, according to a sponsored column published by the American Marketing Association.

Internal employees probably already have expertise from developing products and can therefore provide useful information and insights for readers. The goal is to provide content that seeks to help readers rather than simply push products. The practice is very common in the finance industry with portfolio managers frequently providing commentaries on market conditions.

Marketing agency Ignite Visibility also maintains that brands should work to develop “social proof.” Outside of digital marketing, crowded restaurants are an example of social proof. The theory is that consumers are more likely to visit a crowded restaurant because crowds imply that the restaurant is worth visiting.

Digital marketers can develop social proof by displaying follower counts and numbers of subscribers. Brands should also collect and publish reviews and customer testimonials. Working with influencers can also be a form of social proof.

In addition to compelling content, brands need to take appropriate steps to ensure that their websites are safe and then communicate to the public that those actions have been taken. Ignite Visibility, for examples, explains that brands should use Https secured websites rather than Http sites.

Brands that accept online payments should take the extra step of having HSTS websites. Brands can also qualify for security badges that can be displayed on their websites.

Organizations that provide such badges authenticate websites prior to providing the badges. The badges are then displayed, usually where shoppers checkout online.

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