How to Use Sentiment Analysis to Transform Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The goal of sentiment analysis is to increase customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction. Moreover, it helps put the right brand messaging in front of the most interested eyes.

Sentiment analysis is a fascinating concept.

Brands use it to better understand customer reactions, behaviors, and opinions toward their products, services, reputation, and more. The goal of sentiment analysis is to increase customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction. Moreover, it helps put the right brand messaging in front of the most interested eyes.

Before the digital age, gauging and understanding sentiment was an incredibly cumbersome process. It typically involved sending out surveys manually, going to the streets and asking people, or gathering focus groups in one place at one time. The big data-infused model of sentiment analysis we know today hit its stride on the political scene in 2010. Since then, it has morphed into a key tactic in marketing plans. These days, most of the grunt work is automated.

However, even with all of the advances in areas like martech, voice search, conversational commerce on social media, virtual assistants, and big data analytics, understanding how to actually use sentiment analysis to improve the bottom line is a complicated task.

Here are a few key approaches to help you get the value you need.

Know the Terms and Phrases That Indicate Intent

Most businesses today (hopefully) don’t even begin their digital branding and marketing efforts without a list of keywords relevant to their industry and a plan on how to target their audiences. You should have a good idea of the terms and variations that bring you traffic to your website, when used in conjunction with your brand and products. If you run an auto repair shop, people are likely finding you on the web through terms such as: body shop near me, auto repair, replace brake pads, etc.

Google Search Console gives you a great, fairly accurate idea of what’s bringing people to your website:

google search console
Credit: Author’s own

In terms of sentiment analysis, to gain actionable insight, you need to know how people are using these keywords in a way that indicates interest and engagement potential. Now, this is perhaps the biggest gray area in sentiment analysis, because not all positive sentiment equates to sales. Just because there are a lot of positive words around luxury cars doesn’t necessarily mean people are about to buy.

However, there are certain terms and phrases that signal people have entered your buyer’s journey. Let’s say you run an SEO agency and one of the terms you’re tracking for sentiment analysis is “Google update.” If you notice that a lot of people are searching for things like “what to do after a google algorithm update?” or “how to recover from a google penalty?” it’s a good indicator that they might need your services at the moment; you should target them accordingly.

Spot Patterns in Product Reviews

At its core, sentiment analysis is a game of pinpointing patterns and reading between the lines. Simply put, the more genuine and meaningful feedback you get on your product, the better insights you will gain into your customers.

Of course, gathering such high-quality feedback is easier planned than executed; especially for newer or smaller companies. Only 10% of customers will review or rate a business after a purchase, while half of consumers will leave a review only some of the time. However, the number of reviews jump significantly to 68% when a company asks the customer directly to leave one.

In order to find fruitful, up-to-date patterns, you need to make it a marketing process to consistently seek out new reviews. Then, you’ll want to start by searching for common adjectives. These should include words like:

  • great, simple, easy,
  • or awful, difficult, poor, etc.
trustpilot review
Credit: Capterra.com

In the above image, there are a good amount of reviews that include the word “great” for this product. Looking at the context around this term, we notice recurring patterns around components, like features and usability, and “not so” great opinions on customer service.

Finding recurring themes in customer sentiment will give you a better picture into the positive and negative aspects of your business or product. These can indicate the level of trust people have in your brand and how likely they are to give you a recommendation. When you are looking for patterns, try to come up with several adjectives that shed light on both sides of the spectrum.

  • What words are commonly used to describe their experience?
  • Is there an issue that forces multiple people to leave negative reviews?
  • What part delights them the most?
  • What’s preventing you from solving common problems?
  • Which products or solutions are users comparing yours to?

The answers to these important questions can help you understand user sentiment better and build a customer-focused marketing strategy.

Look to Social Media for Unabashed (Unfiltered) Opinions

Oftentimes, social media is one of the best places to get raw opinions, where people don’t hold back —  both in positive and negative lights. Knowing how people feel in an unfiltered environment can be a great way to tell which parts of your business are working very well —  and not so well.

A social listening platform is an important tool to keep in your portfolio for monitoring online mentions and gathering important datasets. Tools like Mention, Talkwalker, and Brand24, not only keep an ear on social mentions, but also turn these comments and hashtags into valuable customer analytics to help your marketing team understand your customers even better.

For instance, the online gaming developer Wargaming used brand monitoring techniques to analyze its customer’s desires and see which products performed best. The company tracked its users’ social media conversations to see what they were looking for, what parts of the games they liked or disliked, and any suggestions they offered for improvements.

Similarly, you can use a social listening tool to combine all your brand mentions into one database, giving your marketing team a bird’s eye view of audience sentiment on social platforms and identify areas to work on.

talkwalker
Credit: Talkwalker.com

While gathering this sentiment is good, the most important thing is knowing what to do with it. About 83% of customers who make a social mention of a brand —  specifically, a negative one —  expect a response within a day, and 18% want one immediately. Unfortunately, a majority of these mentions go unanswered, which can really impact a brand’s image. By utilizing an effective real-time social listening program, you can not only stay on top of social buzz, you can intervene and reply to any negative sentiment right away.

Some of the next steps will be fairly obvious, especially when you’re dealing with negative feedback. For instance, if your customer sentiment from social listening reveals that people are having trouble updating their software or there are issues with the product itself, this indicates that some redesign is necessary. However, don’t get too comfortable when you are getting positive reactions —  these tend to trick companies into thinking that no improvements are needed.

This kind of feedback can support a stronger marketing strategy. Let’s say your business sells pool supplies. While your customers may not be tweeting about your great chlorine chemicals, they are more likely talking about the fun pool floaties and games your website sells. Therefore, it would be helpful to highlight these fun accessories, as well, by listing them more prominently on your page and even including UGC to promote them.

poolfloatz
Credit: Instagram

Use Predictive Analysis to Spot Trends and Automate Actions

Now that you have all these valuable insights, you need to know how you can use them to shape your current and future business strategies.

Plugging your sentiment analysis into a predictive model is crucial for spotting trends, getting a feel for how opinions are progressing, and determining your next steps. Predictive analytics use machine learning and AI technology to not only gather, but analyze loads of consumer data and make accurate projections. These systems gauge historical behavioral data to help determine the best plan of action in the future.

In fact, customer segmentation and targeting (which is the logical next step after you analyze your audience’s sentiments) is one of the areas where applying AI and predictive analytics has the highest chance of working well for business.

applications of AI
Credit: Emerj.com

In order to develop an optimal predictive model for sentiment analysis, ask yourself:

  • What do you want to know?
  • What is the expected outcome? What do you think your customers are thinking?
  • What actions will you take to improve overall sentiment when you get the answers? How will you automate these actions?
  • What are the success metrics for these actions?

The Wrap

Chances are, your customers are already telling you what you need to make improvements to your business. By gathering as much data as possible on customer sentiment, your marketing team can understand just what needs to be done to provide a better experience, tweak campaigns accordingly, and acquire and retain more customers in the process.

Be sure you know what to data to collect, how to mine it, and how to apply it to keep raking in the revenue.

Are User Reviews Hurting or Helping?

A 2016 research study conducted by Censuswide for the Chartered Institute of Marketing found that 25 percent of consumers claim they’ve seen a fake online review — and the problem seems to be getting worse. What can you do to ensure user-created content is seen as truth-worthy?

Search and Success: How to Make Your Website, Content and SEO Pay OffI have long been fascinated with neuroscience and the role it can play in marketing ever since that legendary case study of an upscale hotel in Amsterdam selling a hamburger for $20 (in the days when one was typically sold for under $3). In that case, the restaurant presented its menu in a very heavy block of transparent plastic, and discovered that “haptic sensations” (the sensation of touch) created a positive impact on the customer and thus the over-priced burger had a perceived higher, more positive value.

In 2016, as more and more decisions are made digitally — without the benefit of a tactile encounter — marketers have been seeking ways to tap into a consumers subconscious. When, in 2004, Yelp provided a platform for user-generated reviews, brands quickly discovered that the court of public opinion could make (or break) a small business.

One short year later, a user-generated content (UGC) strategy had gone mainstream, but with the brand itself firmly in the driver’s seat. These days, sites ranging from Amazon to the local car dealership encourage customers to provide feedback immediately after purchase. But to what end?

In 2014, a research firm called Impowered partnered with Nielson to study which type of content was most instrumental at various purchase stages in terms of driving a purchase decision. The result? Eighty-three percent considered “expert content” to be more valuable than user reviews.

If expert content is the hero influencing brand purchase decisions, why do companies continue to persist in their pursuit of user-generated content?

Eighty-four percent of Millennials report that UGC on a brand’s website has at least some influence on what they buy, compared to 70 percent of Boomers. In fact there are many purchase decisions, both big and small, that Millennials won’t make without UGC. In fact, one report claims that UGC is the best way to push Millennials further down the conversion funnel since they trust it 50 percent more than any other type of media.

But in a new twist, a 2016 research study conducted by Censuswide for the Chartered Institute of Marketing found that 25 percent of consumers claim they’ve seen a fake online review — and the problem seems to be getting worse.

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent government department, cracked down on a company that was caught posting more than 800 fake reviews on behalf of 86 small businesses across 26 different websites. And Samsung agreed to pay a large fine to Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission for posting fake positive reviews about its products, and fake negative reviews about its competitors’ products.

Assuming that most brands are not trying to game the system, what can you do to ensure user-created content is seen as truth-worthy?

  • Encourage your customers to provide honest, genuine feedback. Don’t try to unduly influence outcomes in the way you ask the questions. One client asked us to remove the 1-10 rating range of “likelihood to refer” (a Net Promotor Score strategy) and replace it with a yes/no option because in their mind, they knew everyone was “happy” so why not lay claim to 100 percent happiness?
  • Acknowledge all reviews — don’t ignore the negative ones. Instead, turn them into opportunities to educate that customer and prospective customers who will see the review, demonstrating your brand is respectful of all opinions, and is thoughtful about resolving them in a fair and positive way.
  • Timing is everything. Unless it’s a review of a restaurant, don’t send out a survey 24-hours after the product is delivered. How could you possibly get an honest response when the buyer has barely had time to open the box, let alone experience your product? When a mattress company sent me a survey after only one night’s sleep on it, my response, of course, will be positive considering I was replacing a 20-year old incumbent.

Using Video Production as Part of Your Customer Retention Strategy

Video is a tool designed to communicate with your customers. If you follow the statistic “80 percent of your future revenue will come from 20 percent of your current customers,” you know that the greatest part is to keep your customers happy so they keep coming back. The best way to preserve your clients is to keep them engaged.  You can keep your clients engaged by offering new videos about your product or service

How strong is your relationship with your customers? Do you have a customer retention strategy in place for your business? What are you doing to maintain your customers loyalty?

These questions are extremely important, and it’s up to you to come up with ways to maintain a healthy system designed to keep your customers and help them grow with you not against you. These hints will give you some fresh ideas that you might not have considered to plan on growing your client retention.

Video is a tool designed to communicate with your customers. If you follow the statistic “80 percent of your future revenue will come from 20 percent of your current customers,” you know that the greatest part is to keep your customers happy so they keep coming back. The best way to preserve your clients is to keep them engaged. You can keep your clients engaged by offering new videos about your product or service. Be careful not to over due it with the social media. People will get angry if you spam them out on Facebook and the like. Thinking of new ways to communicate to your clients is a big responsibility, but with a few solid ideas, you can give your customers a dose of encouragement and keep them wanting to know more about what you can provide for them.

Video can be a great answer as it’s good for promotions, technical issues, special discounts, customer appreciation, etc., etc., etc. Keeping the client engaged is one thing, but the end goal should be to keep your clients devoted to you and your brand. Video allows you to communicate with the message you want them to receive while sending that message to more of your clients. Although this can never take the place of the human element in communication, it can be a terrific alternative for when you need to send the message to the masses.

Here are some ideas that will help gain trust with your clients, keep them remembering your products, and accepting your messages.

  1. Product review
  2. Customer support, repair, assembly
  3. Customer conferences
  4. Customer testimonials
  5. Employee testimonials
  6. New product launch
  7. Webinars
  8. Video newsletters and blogging

Video featuring your product or someone talking about a focused area of your service can be extremely effective, not only by gaining a lot of attention on YouTube, but also developing trust by demonstrating your product online. Remember to have a lot of cutaways and b-roll (the images that support the dialogue).

Customer support, repair and videos of assembling a product can not only be useful to post online, they can save you money by not hiring staff to answer specific and common questions. There is customer service 24/7. More companies are using Vine for this type of video communication. Vine is great because you can create video with your cell phone. However, remember that these can only be short videos. Companies like The Gap have found this to be a unique tool to their culture.

Customer conferences are great and you can get some exposure through press releases announcing the conference. Depending on the success of the conference, often times you can gain some additional sales through word of mouth. Word of mouth is the best advertising possible.

Testimonials are always terrific for people looking to do business with new companies. Testimonials can be effective by selecting real clients, with real stories that they can relate to. Also, give your interviewee enough time to prepare what they would like to say. Remember not everyone is comfortable around the camera. Even a cell phone can be intimidating when you aren’t sure what to say.

Any time you have a new product a video, it should be on your marketing strategy. People love to read about new products, but they love it even more when they can find out pertinent information about that product for 30 seconds. Disney Collector BR on YouTube discovered a way to make a living from product reviews. She has over 800,000 subscribers who want to know what the toy features before buying it.

When it comes to B-to-B marketing, one of the best ways to make an impact on your clients is by hosting a webinar. Incorporate video subscription to those that want to attend but cant, so that they don’t miss your important message. Webinars are great because they are informative as well as valuable.

Last but not least is the use of video blogs. When your clients are interested in what you have to offer a newsletter or blog keeping them updated helps to build a relationship with them. I know many executives that utilize this method of communicating to their teams overseas and abroad.

There are thousands of terrific ideas for using video as part of your customer retention strategy. Video can always be measured by viewership and analytics. In any case if your goal is to get your clients to be loyal to your brand then using video as part of that net will be sure to help you succeed.

Be the Wave—Or ‘The New Marketers’ Manifesto’

Don’t ride the wave, be the wave. A friend of mine named Devin, who works as a management consultant, recently taught me this phrase. I simply love it. I interpret it to mean: Make your destiny; don’t succumb to it. For marketers, I think this phrase has incredible relevance in today’s rapidly changing landscape.

Don’t ride the wave; be the wave. A friend of mine named Devin, who works as a management consultant, recently taught me this phrase. I simply love it. I interpret it to mean: Make your destiny; don’t succumb to it.

For marketers, I think this phrase has incredible relevance in today’s rapidly changing landscape. It’s no secret that the ground is quite literally shifting beneath our feet as a radical transformation takes place in the way people interact with companies, and marketers are being forced to pivot in a brave new world that is largely unknown.

What’s happened is the Buyer’s Journey has been turned on its head. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, I described it in a recent post. Buyer’s Journey refers to the process prospects go through as they make their decisions on which companies to do business with or buy products from. It’s is a complex evolution that spans the entire progression, beginning with identification of the underlying need, and ending with product selection.

Not long ago, Buyers were relatively uninformed, and the Buyer’s Journey was controlled lock-stock-and-barrel by the marketer. To be successful, marketers essentially needed to try out different approaches, through trial and error, and see what worked. Kind of like throwing stuff at the proverbial wall to see what stuck. Once you found a successful formula, all you needed to do was repeat it again and again.

Companies simply told their customers what they should buy and what they needed to know to buy it. Not surprisingly, firms didn’t really know too much about their customers. They didn’t need to. All they needed to know was what worked from a utilitarian point of view, not why it worked.

Recent technological advances have completely altered the landscape—evolving it to a state that would have been unrecognizable a mere dozen or so years ago. For one, today’s marketer confronts a highly sophisticated, engaged and informed consumer who is comfortable with the digital landscape, and familiar with the latest gadgets and tools. Native to the Web and connected to multiple Social Media networks via the latest devices, today’s buyer may know as much about a marketer’s products as the marketer’s sales or marketing teams. For most marketers, this is a truly frightening concept.

Now add to the mix that many marketers are quickly discovering, to their great consternation, that the sale is often won or lost before the relationship even begins—as greater numbers of buyers educate themselves using the vast resources available on the Web, which include customer reviews , referrals from peers on Social Media, and so on. The Buyer’s Journey of yesteryear has been turned on its head.

This brave new world calls for a brave new approach—one that not only leverages the latest advances in technology, but more importantly focuses on the central narrative of the new way brands engage with their customers and prospects. No, having a slick website and a cursory presence on social media isn’t enough. Marketers need to use technology to transform how they do business.

Today’s firms not only need to get to really know who their customers are, but where they go, what they do, and what affinities they share; they also need to engage them where they’re comfortable, which is increasingly on their mobile devices and in the vast and constantly changing Social Media universe. I know it sounds daunting, but the good news is that marketers can learn to leverage the same technologies that created such change in the first place.

Let’s take a quick look at mobile. Let’s say, for example, I’m in Chicago on business, it’s dinnertime and I’m hungry. I spot a steakhouse across the street from my hotel. But because I’ve never been there, I pick up my iPhone and open up the Yelp App, where I pull up the listing to see what others have to say. Turns out that someone went there last week and had a really, really bad experience … and wrote a review trashing the place. And it’s the only review. Well, looks like I’m not going there tonight.

But fortunately it’s a double-edged sword. Let’s imagine instead that the owner had employed a strategy to drive customers online, specifically to give a review on Yelp. This strategy could involve placing a QR Code on the menu, along with a special offer for a free appetizer for all who give a review—or maybe a deal with Foursquare, Groupon, ScoutMob … or one of many mobile companies offering merchants tools to leverage this exciting new channel. Now instead of seeing just the bad review, I would see many good ones from happy customers.

And this is but one example of many. Another is the best-practice use of QR Codes for Augmented Reality by Best Buy and other electronic retailers. Armed with a smartphone, you can now scan QR Codes affixed to the in-store displays for products you’re interested in. You can obtain detailed product specs, warranty information … even detailed product reviews. Plus, by connecting to social media, it’s even possible to see what friends or followers have to say.

Okay, looks like I’m running out of space. But I guess the main message is: Embrace technology and use it to control your own destiny—don’t let it control you. And the good news is we can take this ‘philosophy’ and apply it to really any type of firm. Take a close look at your company and see how technology can be used to change the way you do business.

Instead of ducking your head in the sand, use new tools—whatever they may be—to give your customers new and improved ways to engage with your company and its products. Delight them. In the end, firms that do so will enjoy great success in coming months and years. Those that don’t … well, they might not be around. Be the Wave.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: Google, Bazaarvoice Partner to Bring Reviews to Google Search and Ads

I heard some interestng news this week: Google and social commerce firm Bazaarvoice announced an industry-first partnership to bring product reviews to Google search and ads.

I heard some interesting news this week: Google and social commerce firm Bazaarvoice announced an industry-first partnership to bring product reviews to Google search and ads.

Through the partnership and with client permission, Bazaarvoice said in a press release, it can now “share high-quality product review content from Bazaarvoice client sites on Google Web Search, Google Product Search, and Google AdWords ads.”

Bazaarvoice said the partnership will enable retailers and manufacturers using its services to “easily leverage their product review content to drive more high-quality traffic from Google, as well as provide brand exposure to qualified shoppers.”

What’s more, “consumers benefit from immediate access to opinions from other customers as they research and complete purchases, adding relevance and authenticity.”

The integration is immediately available as Bazaarvoice’s SyndicateVoice for Search offering.

To me, this is an important partnership. It elevates the value of user-generated content as a search tool. I imagine retailers will be excited about it, in that it will bring more exposure to their brands with minimal effort on their parts. What do you think? Any retailers out there care to comment? Let me know by posting a comment below.