2018: Chatbots will unlock new era for marketers with unseen data potential

A new untapped marketing channel, effective content distribution, always online and personalisation at scale. These are the four primary benefits people often speak of when promoting chatbots. While I agree wholeheartedly, I do think one of the most significant benefits often remains overlooked.

Unparalleled business intelligence and data.

With a chatbot, brands have more information than ever at their fingertips. In fact, they have so much data it will quickly become overwhelming if they do not know what to look for and what to do with it.

There are five core areas of data a chatbot can provide:

Sentiment analysis

Chatbots are talking to people all day every day. Some people will be grumpy, and some will be happy. Wouldn’t it be great to know what topics of conversation, products, places, circumstances or “things” make a particular brand’s audience grumpy? Wouldn’t it also be great to see what promotions, prices, products, situations and events make them happy? This enables brands to start working towards doing less of the things that frustrate their customers and more of the things they like.

Analysing and measuring the sentiment of inbound messages a chatbot receives gives you an instant, always available, pulse of consumer sentiment.

No more “how would you rate us out of 10?” or “what did you think of XYZ product?” A chatbot’s conversations give insight into what people are thinking.

Sentiment analysis can help across lots of areas of a business too. Product managers understand successful features, Marketing can assess the impact of marcomms and promotions, and Customer Services are able to isolate and identify problems and produce relevant support material.

Understanding busy times

When is a bot working the hardest? What countries and territories have most conversations? What times of the day are people talking about certain things? Knowing when people are talking to a chatbot, where they are and what they are talking about provides insight into their behaviour.

This is valuable for preparing content, service and sales. If brands know when people need help, they understand the best time to deliver support and/or marketing collateral pre-emptively.

It is invaluable for marketing (right person at the right time with the right message), useful for service and even for development teams to know when to push updates to the platform or services.

Knowing who are the biggest brand fans

A lot of money and time is spent identifying and segmenting power users. Brands want to be able to understand the audiences that interact with them the most, spend the most money or bring in the most referrals.

The chatbot gives insight into the type of people who talk the longest, interact the most and give the highest feedback scores. Brands can analyse and collect the data these power users provide to find and attract more people who behave in a similar way to them.

The insight also helps to improve the chatbot experience because seeing what the typical power user experience looks like means it can be recreated for others. It is a bit like that famous case study by Facebook identifying that power users add seven friends within ten days.

Assessing usefulness

The data a chatbot also provides gives insight into whether it is pulling its weight and doing its job. They’re designed and launched to be a useful tool for your consumers and the business so put that to the test.

Standard metrics like retention and engagement are very useful; for example how long people talk with the bot for, how often they come back and if they switch channels. However, combine these with more bot-centric metrics like fall-backs to human, conversation blocks and “I do not understand” errors gives a unique ability to assess how useful a bot is.

These metrics help to ensure the chatbot is meeting its one true goalbetter than any other channel could.

Time to end-result

While we’re talking about goals, the time taken to reach the chatbot’s goal is also a good insight. If a chatbot is designed to sell, how quickly did it sell something? Does changing the flow/persona/style of conversation make it better? Do some upstream channels or marketing efforts lead to a faster time to sell, do some upstream channels not convert?

It gives insight into what channels create sales-ready-leads and which create cold leads.

If a chatbot is designed to help people, perhaps in a customer service capacity, then how quickly did it help? Did the user have to go through a 15-minute conversation before they got an answer? Or did they get it in 2 seconds? Is the chatbot getting faster at helping over time? Or is it getting worse?

The importance of chatbot data

These insights, data and analytics not only provide the power to A/B test, improve and iterate a chatbot, but they give never-before-seen insight into a brand’s audience.

This insight is not a quantitative “8 out of 10 people would refer you to a friend”, but a qualitative “I liked X, I disliked Y and I’d really like you more if you did Z” type data.

Of course, getting this data is nothing new, we have all launched surveys, focus groups and consumer research campaigns. The difference is, a chatbot offers this data at scale. All day, every day and all the time. For free.

After launching a chatbot, brands have so much data they will not know how to analyse it all. Often brands will be drowning in conversations, sentiments and “what went wrong there” type information. The goal is to turn that into actionable intelligence

Much like all channels, it is crucial not to pivot, iterate and react based on hunches or personal feelings. Use the analytics and data to record, measure, understand and test.

Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

– by Dean Withey

Media intelligence: understanding the true meaning of press coverage and social sentiment

Today, organizations have more data at their fingertips than ever before and it’s influencing how they conduct business across the board. From identifying new product opportunities to potential new customers, data is becoming increasingly essential in both business and marketing efforts.

However, this rapid influx of information can be a double-edged sword making it essential to identify and analyze the right type of information. Communicators are now faced with the complex challenge of not only understanding basic facts like media reach or tone, but to also monitor public sentiment and whether opinions are coming from influential buyers or pundits or less-impactful individuals and what effect it has on your brand.

It is much harder to get that particular nuance and contextual understanding through pure volume of data.

Traditionally, companies have only been able to derive public perception through article reach, impressions and arbitrary indicators of tone. Now it’s essential to focus on what’s really important to the business by digging deeper into reputation drivers and customer sentiment.

So, what can CMOs do to understand the true meaning of press coverage and social sentiment?

Align with business goals

With tons of media data and metrics at your fingertips, you need to start with the ability to analyze the data that’s most relevant to your organization. Media analysis needs to be an integral part of the planning process.

By tying your goals and results to the overall goals of the business, you can better understand how to show that your work is impacting those goals. This is a critical step when creating the framework for collecting media information to analyze – for both social and traditional media. When you collect more accurately you can then trust what you are analyzing.

The caveat to aligning with business goals is that they are usually concept-based and vary from brand to brand. A consumer lifestyle company will have different goals than a national bank or large software company. Many enterprise-level goals align to topics like innovation” or thought leadership or Corporate Social Responsibility.

The communications team could set goals similar the following:

  • Decrease our negative SOV for our brand driver “workplace environment” against our peers in the southeast
  • Increase engagement with third party influencers (regulators, academics, pundits) who are mentioned in articles with high volumes of sharing and/or influential followers.
  • Create campaigns to increase our positive sentiment for our brand quality-themed thought leadership

Measure more effectively

Once you properly align analysis with your communication goals, you need to find new ways to measure traction and results. It’s important to note that all mentions are not created equal. When analyzing media results, so much more should be considered than just reach. It’s essential to consider the writer’s tone and article context.

For instance, as your experts build a reputation they’ll be tapped to provide insight into controversial or negative topics. Traditionally these articles might be identified by a monitoring tool as negative; however, the comments can be very positive for your organization.

Similarly, we often see sarcasm used on social media which can be misinterpreted as a positive mention when it’s potentially damaging. This can be challenging to detect and traditionally many programs stop short of actually contextualizing a positive statement in an otherwise negative article.

Comparison metrics need a good baseline. When planning and executing events, like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for example, Consumer Technology Association (CTA) monitors CES sentiment against other shows that cover similar topics. They can closely track the overall perception of the show, including positive, negative and neutral both year-over-year, and also against the competition. With the hope that the perception remains positive and increases over time, you can measure against the baseline and use data from past events.

To measure effectively you don’t need to boil the ocean, especially when you clearly understand the media that means the most to you. In both cases of B2C and B2B – you can focus data collection on specific publications to truly understand the value. For some organizations, a trade or industry publication may carry more weight with their audience than a large, national business news source.

Be proactive and predictive

It’s important to start analyzing and measuring immediately. Now that you’re aligned with business goals and assessing effectively, you can use real-time data to inform the communications program. Often, communicators only think to measure media impact after a campaign, but they miss a huge opportunity to alter and optimize results while the campaign is still active.

Another way to be strategically proactive is to identify whitespace. Based on current data, is there a topic in the industry that no one owns yet, not even competitors? Secondly, look at the authors and publications that write about your industry and peers to see who you should be targeting. Some writers may not post high volumes but their social sharing reach is very high, or they might be covering every company in the industry but you.

By actively identifying key areas of opportunity and shifting your mindset, you can measure and modify your program accordingly.

The key to remember is companies don’t need more datathey just need to utilize it better. Excessive metrics can look impressive but prove to be irrelevant and a waste of resources. By identifying business goals and measuring again them proactively, you can truly find the data sweet spot to inform strategy and lead to great results.

– by Ruth Wiederecht


Right here, right now: the power of location data

‘Location, location, location’; a phrase coined in the 20th Century in the real-estate sector, but one that’s never been more relevant to advertising. Nearly three quarters of people (73%) now allow apps to access their location, providing exact insight into consumer behaviour on mobile, and a competitive advantage for brands if used intelligently.

Location data is already being used successfully in some industries by established players, trying to fight off disruptors that are masters at using new technology to seize market share. And yet, according to recent research by Forrester, 94% of advertisers still have difficulty working with location data because they don’t know how best to use it.

If marketers want to be able to use data to raise awareness of their products or services, then there are some guidelines to follow to engage rather than enrage potential customers with badly targeted or irrelevant advertising.

Take advantage of calendar events

Events specific to locales offer particularly good opportunities to boost CTRs and conversions. Any brand can use a timely event to promote a product or keep the company top of mind in particular regions.

Location data is being used well in the taxi industry – where more established companies are having to work smart with data to take on agile competitors. Ahead of the 2017 Pride in London, for example, a well-known British taxi company recognised that potential customers would be looking for transport in the area, providing a great opportunity for the brand.

Using location data to discover who was at the event, they targeted people on Twitter with creative ads that incorporated the Pride branding and specific keywords such as ‘LGBT’ and ‘Pride Parade’ with a relevant discount. This resulted in higher engagement, volume of impressions and app installations, as well as delivering the lowest cost per impression, ultimately helping them compete with the likes of Uber.

When used in conjunction with popular calendar events, like in the example above, location data can deliver excellent results. Marketers should focus on producing well-targeted and personalised ads, using contextually relevant creatives tailored for individual platforms. The more relevant and targeted the better.

Play the long game

Location technology is constantly advancing and has already moved beyond just targeting people at a particular moment in time. It is now possible for marketers to measure and react to longer-term patterns of behaviour to inform longer term marketing strategies.

For example, brands can see if someone has been to a number of shopping centres or restaurants in the past few weeks or see which journeys they make regularly using historical location data, to build up patterns of behaviour in order to optimise targeting.

Further, a fast food retailer, for example, might use live location data to discover when a customer who is engaging with the brand on social media is walking near a restaurant, and deliver a tailored money-off voucher for that day only to drive them to purchase. Building a longer-term profile helps inform wider marketing strategies and enables you to target more effectively.

Use data responsibly

A recent study has shown that over three quarters of people (77%) will only share their location if they are confident that their personal information is being stored securely, and a further 34% of us will remove an app if we receive poorly targeted ads.

Being clear about how your data is sourced and validated and then ensuring you can blend it with sources from second and third parties will improve the targeting of identified audience segments.

There is no doubt that location data can be extremely valuable to marketers, but if they do not treat it with respect, brand apps and consumers will be turned off.

Brands understand that the consumer relationship with their mobile device is intimate, and getting mobile advertising wrong can both irritate and disengage potential customers. There seems to be some reluctance to adopt newer technology until it has been tested and any potential issues are ironed out, which is understandable. Yet brands that are adopting location targeting, and are doing it well, are already reaping excellent rewards.

Keep these three tips top-of-mind and trial using location-based marketing – it will surely pay off.

– by Amit Dar

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