Content Marketing Examples that Lose Consumer Trust (and the Fixes)

It may take years to gain trust from consumers, but brands can lose it in an instant. Whether it’s with one big mistake or a series of little ones, your brand can go from hero to zero in a fast and furious way. Gaining back trust is no picnic, either.  

A notable 55% of consumers say they would never go back to a brand that broke their trust, resulting in a loss that affects everything from a brand’s reputation to its bottom line.  

To help you achieve and maintain a level of trust with your customers and fans, we rounded up six content marketing examples that illustrate how lose consumer trust – and how to fix the faux pas before it’s too late.   

Email Avalanche 

Inundating people with emails is a surefire way to lose trust, yet many organizations find new and exciting ways to do it all the time.  

Like the slate of unwanted emails you can expect to receive from Academia.edu after you create an account to access a research paper on their site.   

Check your inbox a few days later, and you’ll find a flurry of emails. Each one contains a different PDF download of yet more research loosely related to the original paper you accessed. 

And if unwanted email messages aren’t enough to erode trust, what about unwanted emails that are actually ads.  

The ads are merrily delivered to the top of your inbox daily, courtesy of Outlook. If you click on the ad to delete it, it opens instead. This practice does a double whammy for mistrust. You stop trusting Outlook since it’s jamming the top of your inbox with ads, and you stop trusting brands that would stoop to running those ads, as well.  

Content marketing examples of unwanted emails:  

Email flurry of PDF downloads received soon after downloading a single paper from Academia.edu.  

Ads delivered as emails to Outlook inbox:  

How to Fix It 

Stop with the sneaky “Opt-In” boxes that are mysteriously checked in advance every time a customer makes a transaction. Let the customers decide if and how frequently they want to hear from you – unless you like being flagged as spam. 

Why Subscribers Flag Email as Spam 

  • 45.8% Too frequent  
  • 36.4% Didn’t subscribe knowingly 
  • 31.6% Irrelevant content  
  • 10.4% Too impersonal 
  • 18.6% None of the above (Unspecified other)  

If you’re a frequent emailer, you may want to slow down a bit. Sending out one to five emails per month seems to be a reasonable rate. Also make sure the email content is: 

  • Personalized 
  • Informative 
  • Relevant to the recipient 

Segment your email list to ensure the right people are getting the content that suits them best. 

Lazy Automation

Automation can be fantastic for saving time and streamlining rote processes – as long as you take the time to set it up properly. Too many companies don’t, especially when it comes to automated emails.  

They’ll set up a system to slam the entire mailing list like clockwork, forgetting (or not caring) that not every email recipient is going to fit into the mold.  

This has been evidenced by emails that: 

  • Ask for your monthly payment, even though the customer set up autopay ever since they opened their account 
  • Tell you to set up autopay, even though you already have 
  • Demand a payment for a bill that was paid two weeks ago 
  • Remind that “You left something in your cart” every day for the rest of your life – even though you already purchased the item  
  • Deliver a hefty discount code for the item you just purchased 
  • Emails from car maintenance apps saying you’re overdue for some type of service even though it will be months before that service is needed 

Irate customers are not fond of handing out their trust, and any one of the above scenarios is a surefire way to make customers irate. 

Content marketing example of lazy automation:  

Automated email sent to customer after they already purchased the single item that had been in their cart.  


 

How to Fix It 

Understand that one size does not fit all. There will be exceptions to the rule when it comes to automation, or emails that should not be sent out to the entire base every single time. Establish automation with rulesets and triggers so certain emails are only sent to relevant recipients.  

Also remember that automated tools are meant to make your life easier. Handling dozens of calls from irate customers may be an even bigger hassle than manually sending out an email blast to the right people. 

Debris Overshadowing Content 

A consistent stream of quality content builds trust. But your visitors have to be able to see it. Some companies are so focused on cramming as many ads, pop-ups and other potentially money-making distractions onto a page that visitors can barely find the content, much less read it.  

Content marketing examples of debris overshadowing content: 

While recipe and entertainment sites are notorious for free-floating debris covering the content, once-respected websites are also getting in on the game.  


How to Fix It 

Fix the debris-filled screen by following ad placement best practices, or actually any practice other than bombardment.  

The number one rule of thumb for pop-ups is to refrain from covering the entire screen with them. Seems Forbes didn’t get the memo. The whole screen counts as covered since the pop-up takes center stage while a dark filter covers the background.  

The 70/30 rule is a good one to follow for web pages containing ads. At the very least, 70% of your page should be comprised of content and only 30% of ads. Overloading on ads: 

  • Annoys the user 
  • Loses trust 
  • Can be far less effective than a single, well-placed ad  
  • Tanks your brand credibility and possibly your search engine rankings  

Trapping the Visitor 

The only thing worse than a full-screen pop-up is a full-screen pop-up that offers no easy way out. It’s either enter an email address or leave the site. Hint: a big chunk of your visitors will leave.  

Bad navigation or poor web design can also trap visitors in a place they don’t want to be, with no apparent route back to the  

Content marketing examples of trapping the visitor:  

This pop-up not only blocks the entire screen, but it’s cut off. Any escape route appears to be cut off right along with it. 


Visitors who (inadvertently) end up on Walgreens blog appear to have no way to get back to their shopping on the main site. Blogs are supposed to help you gain customers, not lose them.  

But if you’re shopping and hit a link to one of the blog articles, you’re apparently pulled away from the main site forever. The only menu items are different blog categories – nothing that takes you back to whence you came.  

How to Fix It 

Provide an easy way out. Please. Whether it’s an obvious X to close out a pop-up, breadcrumbs, or a header that always takes you back to the main site’s homepage, let your visitors move through your site without being cornered.  

Cornered animals attack. Cornered visitors simply don’t come back. 

Glaring Typos 

Yes, even content marketers (and copywriters) are human. That means you may find a typo here and there throughout a piece of content. While readers may be able to forgive a couple of minor errors, glaring typos are another story.  

This particularly holds true when someone forgets to replace the dummy text on a major landing page. Or the organization that committed the faux pas is the U.S. Department of Education.  

Content marketing examples of glaring typos:  



How to Fix It 

Double-check, triple-check and quadruple-check content. Hire a freelance editor if you need to. Make sure everything you publish is first reviewed by at least two sets of eyes. Typos are too easy to miss when you’re close the content. Make sure you spellcheck, fact-check and look up spellings of names of which you may be unsure. 

Hopping on the Bandwagon du Jour

If your brand has always believed in a cause or upheld certain values, by all means, let your readers know. But if you’re hopping on the latest bandwagon that you heard has become a marketing hit in the hopes of gaining customers from your faux support, you may want to think again.  

Consumers are smarter than ever and they’re quick to spot inauthenticity. It makes them angry. Really angry. There’s even a name for that extreme anger: inauthenticity aversion. No brand in their right mind wants to be on the receiving end of that.  

Hopping on the latest bandwagon can be done in a big way, an ongoing way, or in a way that it’s become part of an inauthentic brand’s daily spiel.   

Content marketing examples of inauthenticity:  

McDonald’s decided to show support for International Women’s Day in a big way. It flipped its “M” into a “W” at a Lynwood, California, location and on their social medial logos.  

Critics of the move immediately pointed out how the hamburger giant was accused of ignoring allegations of sexual harassment against women in the workplace. 

Many, many companies hopped on the “We’re here for you” bandwagon during the pandemic. The most atrocious example may have come from a phone carrier that reportedly touted the slogan ad nauseam yet promoted an accessories sale instead of helping struggling customers pay their bills.  

Some companies are also big on saying customer service is their top priority – even when customer emails go unanswered and there’s nary a customer service phone number to be found.  

How to Fix It 

Outline your brand values from the get-go. Then live them every single day. People notice and appreciate an unwavering brand that consistently upholds its values, no matter what bandwagon may be wheeling through town at the moment.  

Maybe your values will align with the current bandwagon, or maybe they won’t. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Instead, be the best version of you.

Summing Up

Consumer trust is earned or broken with every experience, according to the 2022 Adobe Trust Report. Your brand has the power to ensure every interaction is one that adds to, rather than erodes, confidence in your company. Start by avoiding the evident mistakes made in our content marketing examples:  

  • Send a reasonable amount of informative, relevant emails to people who actually want them 
  • Automate intelligently, making adjustments for anomalies that don’t fit into to the one-size-fits-all mold 
  • Never crowd out your content with a barrage of pop-ups and ads  
  • Make sure visitors have an easy way to move around your site without being trapped by bad navigation or impossible-to-close ads  
  • Quadruple-check your content for typos, erroneous facts and other mistakes before you publish 
  • Be authentic: Say what you mean, back up your words with action, and never hop on a cause just because you think it’s the hottest marketing ploy of the day  

Continue building trust by providing quality content that benefits your audience and responding promptly to their emails. For extra credit, you can give them an actual phone number to call and real person to talk to if they need additional help. Consumers are apt to trust companies that treat them with courtesy and respect, and they’ll return the favor with ongoing business and loyalty. 

Guest Author

By WriterAccess

Freelancer Ryn Gargulinski

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