Social media has dominated my working life since its inception.

It’s been fascinating to see the evolution of brand communication as it moved away from brands talking at people, towards the creation of a dialogue with customers, fans and followers.

But now it’s time for the next step.

Emotional analytics allows brands to connect with people on a deeper, more personal, level. Unlike sentiment analytics, which simply allocates responses into broad positive, neutral or negative categories, emotional analytics tells brands what people are feeling and why. This, I think, makes all the difference.

I might take to Twitter after a bad experience with customer service, and while the post could be defined as negative in a sentiment analysis report, how useful is that “negative” tag to the brand? My post will be lumped in with tons of other “negative” posts, depleted of all context which could make it actionable for the brand.

Without deeper context, the brand can’t solve any problems. It can’t see that certain business practices make me frustrated, or that many other customers are experiencing a similar frustration for the same reason.

Brands that don’t know why a customer feels the way they do can’t tailor their products and services to meet specific needs and wants.

How emotional analytics delivers results

By using emotional analytics, brands can see if there’s a disconnect between the emotions that we want the brand to create, and those that real customers are experiencing.

A brand’s marketing team may want to promote the brand as inspirational and exciting, but how can it tell if it’s really delivering on this? Emotional analytics looks at how people are feeling, examines what topics they are having feelings about, and allows marketers the chance to change the narrative. 

Three ways brands use emotional analytics

1. Personalisation 

As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, EasyJet used emotional analytics to discover what its customers felt about previous journeys they had taken.

It then used these insights to send customers personalised emails featuring their own history with the airline.

These emails were opened 100% more than regular email campaigns, with the word “love” being the most common word used by recipients to describe how they felt about it.

2. Compliance

Bloomberg allows its clients to track the emotion in text and voice communications, helping them prevent market abuse and remain compliant.

Think of all the times that we don’t say what we mean. When we say we’re fine, when really were angry. By analysing our emotional responses, brands have a better chance of spotting any hidden meaning behind our messages.

Businesses can apply this technology to their own internal communications and identify irregularities before they become problems.

3. Improved experience 

We’re starting to see more wearables that track our emotional responses. For retailers, these offer a way to improve and tailor their in-store customer service – from sending assistance to frustrated shoppers to knowing which customers would be more open to special offers.

When eBay launched its pop-up store in late 2016, it wanted to track how people felt when they shopped for Christmas gifts. The answer? Stressed. 88% saw their heart rate jump by 32% during their shopping experience.

Ebay wanted to use this data to take the stress out of shopping, and use the emotional insights to show shoppers what products they had connected with. The ecommerce giant tracked this data using wearables and in-store experiences, but it could gather the same sort of data online using emotional analytics.

Emotional analytics: using humans to turn emotion into action

From managing a crisis to refining a customer’s retail experience - if you understand the emotion that your brand elicits from a customer, you can take positive action.

Using human insight to get under the skin of the data means you can turn analytics into action, transforming your marketing, customer service and experience to resonate with customers. You can win not just their heads, but their hearts. 

Tamara Littleton

Published 10 February, 2017 by Tamara Littleton

Tamara is CEO and founder of social media agency The Social Element and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (3)

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Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Insight at Jack Wills

Great article. I think a lot of brands still miss that understanding the sentiment of a comment / response is largely irrelevant unless you a) know the context and b) do something about it. Simply reporting that 24% of your responses are negative takes you nowhere but do something about it and engage these customers / change things for the better and understanding that sentiment or emotion is suddenly invaluable...

about 1 year ago

Tamara Littleton

Tamara Littleton, CEO at The Social Element

Totally agree Matt and thanks for your comment. We need to get away from data snow blindness and focus on linking back to concrete business objectives.

about 1 year ago

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Pauline Ashenden, Marketing Manager at Eptica

As you say Tamara, understanding emotion and acting on it is increasingly the only way that brands can build long-term loyalty with customers. And this needs to happen across all channels, not just social media. There’s some interesting Forrester research on how to capture and use emotion in this Eptica blog post http://www.eptica.com/blog/why-emotion-central-driving-customer-loyalty

about 1 year ago

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