As a marketer, I’m always on the hunt for relevant statistics that support my content and promote brand marketing trust. I’m also a former journalist. With that in mind, I make sure the statistics come from original and credible sources that I can cite.
Not everyone is as careful.
That’s bad for brand marketing trust.
People want to know they can trust your brand. Trust is key in purchasing decisions. If prospects can’t trust your brand, they won’t buy your products and services.
Brand Marketing Trust Falls Short
The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer is a survey of more than 36,000 people. What did it reveal about trust? It showed that nearly two-thirds of people distrust organizations. More than 60% of people are inclined to distrust until they see evidence that something is trustworthy.
So what’s the takeaway? If you don’t fact-check data and be transparent about where your information came from, you’ll undermine trust in your brand marketing, and the audience you worked so hard to build.
Read on for tips about how to verify content.
1. Seek statistics from credible sources to build brand marketing trust.
Above all, scrutinize sources. Check their “About” pages to see who they are and what makes them reliable. How do they know? What’s the date for their stats? Can you verify the information elsewhere?
Where to find credible sources:
- Google Scholar indexes original scholarly research. Search results are narrower than you’d get with a regular Google search.
- BASE is a search engine for academic resources. It provides access to more than 240 million documents.
- Google Books is a searchable database of books and magazines.
- Public library for electronic and print resources.
- Contact an expert.
- The Society of Professional Journalists’ fact-checking database. It has a plethora of tools, resources and guides.
- Open data sources online. Many governments and groups share free access to their data. Google “open data sources and free.” The result will be a long list of free databases you can access.
- Statista has more than 1 million statistics on more than 80,000 topics. The caveat is it requires a paid membership.
2. Cite original sources for your statistics in your brand marketing.
Did you find a statistic that credits another source? Keep digging. You need to make sure you find the data from the original source. Secondhand information isn’t reliable and may be incorrect.
For example, I went down the source vetting rabbit hole. I was trying to find attribution for this statistic from Marketo:
“93% of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies.”
What’s the problem? The blog post where this statistic appears cites Forbes as the source. Forbes credits Marketo for the information. That means there’s no original source. As a result, this makes the information impossible to verify.
3. Screen for bias in your brand marketing.
Say you’re looking for statistics that show a direct return on investment from content marketing. They’re not easy to find. That’s why many marketers cite this Demand Metric stat:
“Content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing.”
What’s the problem? Demand Metric sells marketing software and solutions. They have an interest in promoting this information. In addition, it benefits the company. Before using any statistics, ask yourself, “Are they biased? What did they omit? Do other reliable sources challenge their data?”
Moreover, here’s another issue with the Demand Metric statistic: It comes from an infographic. The infographic lists four sources at the bottom. Only two of the four source links work. None mention that content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing.
Where did the information come from? Who knows?
In addition, the infographic doesn’t include a date. There’s no way of knowing how old the statistic is. The Marketo blog post uses the same statistic from the infographic. Repeating groundless data perpetuates errors. Moreover, it negatively affects brand marketing trust.
4. Provide context and the full data picture.
It’s misleading to use statistics without context. Let me give you a basic example. What number of people took part in a survey? Without this number, you cannot establish the data’s significance.
For example, this LinkedIn article includes numerous stats that portray the value of thought leadership. The problem is it doesn’t say how many people responded. The article states:
- 88% of decision-makers agree that thought leadership is effective at enhancing their perceptions of an organization.
- 47% of C-suite executives say they shared contact information after reading thought leadership.
- 61% of C-suite executives say they’re more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that has articulated a clear vision.
What’s the issue? It says that 88% of decision-makers believe thought leadership is effective. Yet, we don’t know the sample size. Eighty-eight percent of 150 participants isn’t significant. Eighty-eight percent of 15,000 participants carries weight.
In conclusion, the lack of context is misleading. Another example is using data without comparisons. If you say the use of thought leadership increased 70% in 2021, you’re leaving readers hanging. This begs the question, “from what?” Was it a 70% increase from the prior year or was it from another period?
Cherry-picking data that supports an agenda is another tactic. What if you only select data that supports your conclusion? You’re being insincere and trying to sway readers. That’s not acceptable, especially if you’re trying to build brand marketing trust.
5. Don’t use data from surveys that paid participants.
Paying survey participants introduces the perception of bias. It erodes brand marketing trust. A few years ago, before COVID-19, I wrote an article about remote work. It was easy to find many benefit-driven sources. Yet, I wanted a more balanced view, so I kept digging. I found an author whose recent book focused on work-from-home challenges. I reached out to him.
His LinkedIn page looked credible. It featured him in national media interviews and included accolades from established companies. He even had endorsements from colleagues and many of his followers. Too bad his book was based on a study he conducted. Even worse, the fine print said that study participants were paid. I was fortunate that he didn’t respond to my interview request.
Incentives can enhance recruitment for surveys and influence responses. Have you filled out a survey to receive a free Visa gift card? Then you know what I’m talking about.
Embrace Transparency for Brand Marketing Trust
Using statistics to support conclusions elevates your content. Be sure to validate for relevance, authority and credibility. Don’t forget to cite original sources. Your brand’s reputation depends on it.