Why Transparency Matters in Online Marketing and e-Commerce

People are looking more and more for the truth and have less faith in marketers and marketing than ever before, according to recent surveys. In this episode of the One Minute Digital Podcast I discuss how to make it easier for your customers to verify your marketing messages and offer in B2C and B2B e-Commerce.

Telling the truth in online marketing . Picture: Light bulb



  • People want to verify what they read and offers they get, this is called “truthing”.
  • Marketing has a trust problem. In a survey by Gallup only 12% trusted marketing messages and marketers.
  • In Online Marketing and e-Commerce customers need to be able to verify the marketing messages and product offering more easily.
  • Companies need to provide greater detail, long-form content and not only focus on the short attention grabbing content.
  • Features to do this includes product/service reviews, linking to third-party comparisons, providing technical specifications etc.


Wow 2018 is already here! I hope you had some time to get some rest during the holidays. Myself I did a lot of reading, and eating these holidays. I didn’t read a lot of books, but rather magazines, blogs and podcasts. Almost all of them about online marketing.

One word that caught my attention was the word “truthing”. It means that people are trying to verify something that they have read online. It’s not a new word, it’s been around for quite some time. But according to Rohit Bhargava a trend curator at the Non-Obvious Company it’s somewhat of a trend for 2018.

This is because content is becoming more unverifiable and the spread of “fake-news”, and the very term “fake-news” that was coined during 2016 and 2017. People are more inclined to verify things that they read and hear online than they were before.

The problem for us marketers is that people are not trusting us anymore. Of course people haven’t been trusting marketing and marketing messages for quite a while. But according to survey by Gallup made in 2017 in the US, only 12% of the adults surveyed would rate honesty and ethical standards of marketing practitioners as high or very high.

So if we think about that for a moment, it means that only 12% of the people surveyed would actually trust us, would trust the marketing messages right of the bat. That’s actually pretty low, and according to the survey we as marketers are right down there with members of congress and used car sales people.
The highest rating in the survey was actually nurses, over 80% of the people in the survey trusted nurses. So you can see that we as marketers have a long way to go to be at the level of nurses.

What does this mean for e-Commerce? I think it means that people want to verify simple things, like is this the right product for me, is the price right, what do I really get? One of the most important features when it comes to truthing in e-Commerce, is really the product reviews. That you have reviews written by real customers that are trustworthy. Both on your own e-Commerce website, but also third-party reviews that may pop-up on influencer websites and other places where it’s easily verifiable for your customers.
Another consequence is that companies will have to re-align and not only think about the short-form content, you know the attention grabbing content that you put out on Instagram or promotions on Facebook; “buy this” or “buy that”.

You also have to focus more on the long-form of content, so that people can really verify for themselves.
What do I really mean then when talking about long-form content? Except for facilitating customer reviews I’m thinking more about interviews with customers or real users, comparisons, videos that are not promotional. But more walkthroughs of the products by customers that are happy with their purchase. You can use whitepapers and comparison by linking to third-party comparisions.

The overall game is to show your visitors that you are transparent, not trying to fake or trick them in to anything.

One good example of a brand that is good with their long-form content is Patagonia, an outdoor brand. If you go into their product pages you will find their YouTube videos, where there is a nice guy [or girl] going through their products so you can get a better feel for it. Their videos feel genuine and it really helps the visitor to get a good grasp of the product.

Another example of a brand that does this pretty well is CAT or Caterpillar. They are providing a lot of technical specifications, videos, photos and their full product assortment online. If you are buying heavy machinery like excavators or construction equipment you can go in to their website and easily get specifications and other information that you may need and compare their offering to other competitors.

OK, that’s everything for this episode. I hope to see you next time, in the mean-while have a great week!

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