Today’s consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to where and with whom they make a purchase, and overwhelmingly, transparency seems to be a key deciding factor.

In an Edelman survey of 16,000 consumers in eight global markets, 81 percent of respondents globally and 80 percent of U.S. respondents said that trust is integral to purchasing decisions. In fact, ranked among the 11 top buying considerations, brand trust came in just behind product quality, convenience, and value, outpacing good reviews and corporate reputation as major factors in whether or not a purchase happens.

You don’t have to have been in marketing long to know that being transparent is one of the most effective strategies you can have. In this article, we’ll discuss why transparency is so important for your brand, plus tips for being more transparent in the content you create.

The Value of Transparency

Being well-liked is a good thing, especially in business. Digital marketing has broken down the conversational divide between brands and the people who buy from them, in turn increasing expectations around likeability and trust. Getting buyers to feel that way about you isn’t something that just happens on its own, though — it requires transparency and plenty of it.

Transparency begets trust, trust begets likeability, and likeability begets strong, sustainable connections. Regardless of your niche, your audience, or the product or service that you’re selling, prioritizing transparency in your outreach is crucial for forging productive relationships and becoming a trusted brand. It has real benefits for long-term profit too, with 75 percent of respondents to the Edelman survey saying they value trust over trendiness and 66 percent saying they’d rather stick with a brand they trust than switch to a more innovative or technologically advanced competitor.

When it comes to honesty, show and tell. It’s the best way to take control of the dialogue over your brand’s likeability, and a necessity for maintaining an edge over your competitors.

How To Be Transparent In Your Content

Transparency is about words as well as actions. Here’s how to build more trust with your audience through your content, so you come off as likable as possible.

1. Don’t Be Promotional

If it’s not sales content, don’t use it to try and sell something. Promotion isn’t transparency, and it can actually backfire by showing your audience that you’ve got alternate intentions with the content that you’re creating. And while certainly all of your content is driven in some way toward making a sale, you have to know when to take off your promotional hat and put on your engagement hat, using your content to inform and connect instead of just touting how great your product or service is.

2. Understand Your Audience

One of the best ways to show your audience how much you value them is to know who they are, what they’re looking for, and what they want to read. Which makes sense, since how can you build trust if you don’t know who you’re trying to build it with? Understanding your audience is a good marketing practice in many ways, especially when it comes to transparency. Collaborate with your sales team on coming up with accurate consumer personas, do some survey research, and use marketing automation and a CRM to understand the behaviors and needs of your audience better so that you can deliver content that checks off all the right boxes.

3. Always Strive to Deliver Value

Trust must be earned. And to do it, you’re going to have to show a willingness to give something in return. Delivering value should be at the center of your content creation process, with every piece that you publish driven to benefit its readers in some way. So before you decide on a topic or campaign, ask yourself: what will readers get out of this? Have an answer that goes above and beyond just having more incentive to purchase from you. Value can be information or expert insight; it can also just be entertainment or enjoyment. What value you strive to deliver in your content is up to you, but per the first tip on this list, it should never be purely self-promotional.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you’re an honest company putting out a great product or service, then displaying it to your audience will only be an advantage. A lot of the work that you’ll do to be perceived as trustworthy and likable will be done on the backend, but your content tells a story about who you are and what your values are too. Put transparency at the top of the priority list to show your audience that you’re as committed to your relationship as you’re asking them to be, and enjoy the benefits of being liked for all the right reasons.