It all starts with the customer. This is something that marketers have always recognised but which has never been more true than today – customers are in in control and want to engage with brands when and how they like. They compare notes and can champion a brand or tarnish a reputation with the click of a mouse.
Brands are rapidly adapting to this new reality, giving rise to a whole new era of digital eavesdropping in a bid to listen to customers’ online conservations, opinions and recommendations. And as a result social media monitoring has become one of the fastest growing parts of the digital industry.
However whilst the value of ‘listening in’ is obvious when it comes to brand reputation and customer engagement, the ability of social media data to drive actual conversion is questionable. In short, the difficulty for brands today lies in trying to collate, measure and interpret data of this kind and integrate it into something which drives better informed business decisions that can impact on the bottom line. One of the key issues in this respect is the fact that social media interactions provide a rather narrow a view of customers reflecting a specific and distinct mode of people’s lives – Facebook for community, Twitter for promotional activity and LinkedIn for career development for example.
Used in isolation it doesn’t deliver a complete account of customers online and offline behaviour and importantly just because someone has posted a Like on Facebook about your brand, it doesn’t mean they are planning to buy.
The bigger picture can only be created using multiple data sets from different channels – what customers are reading, what sites and pages they are looking at, what they are shopping for and which search terms they are using. This combination of data builds a powerful and insightful understanding of customers, making it possible to identify behaviours that demonstrate intent.
And it is in the effective interpretation of this integrated data that marketers can add real value to their business – value that goes way beyond using the data as a tool for campaign analysis. Its ability to enhance audience targeting allows marketers to develop messaging around individual customer preferences and behaviours using real time data. Of course brands already own some of this data within their own websites and digital marketing platforms.
And in order to understand what customers are doing in the wider marketplace outside of your brand, 2nd party (from your bought media) or 3rd party data (from price comparison sites or publishers for example) can be acquired.
Technological advancements have provided an ability to create data rich digital marketing platforms which allow brands to integrate all this diverse information to provide actionable brand intelligence. And at AudienceScience we are able to extract and analyse billions of data points which provide valuable insight into how consumers engage with brands and predict an intention to buy.
There’s no doubt that social media data provides a new and exciting insight into customer behaviour. Measuring it is important and the experts in this field deliver real value in this respect. However data intelligence has to be the ultimate goal enabling brands to bring all their customer interactions into one place, interpret what the information is saying and provide roadmap for monetization and customer conversion.