Marketing would have been much easier if we were able to read people’s minds. Just imagine knowing exactly what the customer wants and needs! You’d be able to create the perfect products, say the right words, and, practically, swim in market demand.
While this is just daydreaming and is quite impossible, sentiment analysismay easily be the next best thing.
It allows you to find out how your customers feel about your brand and products, put a finger on their attitude towards your campaigns, and, overall, keep track of which way the wind is blowing.
These types of customer insights are invaluable when devising your marketing strategy and can provide you with a significant competitive advantage. After all, the brand that better understands the customer is always the one more likely to win them over.
In this article, we highlight the six most prominent benefits of sentiment analysis in marketing, and how to leverage them in your business.
However, before we delve into the details, let’s first establish the basics:
What Is Sentiment Analysis?
Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, is a machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) technique which is used to analyze text and understand the moods and emotions behind it.
Depending on how advanced the artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm is, the different types of tools approach the process in different ways:
- Rule-Based. The system relies on a set of rules provided by humans and identifies the sentiment based on them. For example, there can be a list of polarized words that the algorithm should recognize as “good”, “bad”, or “neutral”. According to their presence and saturation in the text, it can assign it a positive, negative, or neutral feeling.
- Automatic. The algorithm uses machine learning to improve its understanding of the way that the words are used and how they are related to and combined with other words. It is trained to correlate phrasing with the sentiment humans see behind it, and learns to do it alone. The more data it has, the better it becomes at extracting the true meaning of the text.
- Hybrid. This approach combines techniques from the two others.
Sentiment analysis is a very challenging task for AI. And who’s to blame the computers – it can be equally challenging for humans to understand what another person means, especially in written text and outside of context.
When it comes to tone of voice, sarcasm, puns, and wordplay, defining the sentiment can be really difficult.
However, with the evolution of machine learning, modern tools are becoming more advanced and can now provide reliable information. Furthermore, in merely minutes, they can process amounts of data that a human can’t possibly go through in months. As a result, they make text processing quicker, easier, and more efficient.
The Benefits of Sentiment Analysis in Marketing
Sentiment analysis in marketing is used to monitor and understand how the audience feels about brands, track what people say, what topics they associate the products with, and so on.
As its other name – opinion mining – suggests, it’s a way to look into the word on the street and make sense of it.
However, what makes sentiment analysis invaluable in marketing is the scale at which it operates. You can process all the data you have from different channels, and obtain a broader perspective of how the audience feels about you.
Or you can segment the analysis by channel and see how different audiences feel. By correlating the results with the unique factors that apply to each streamline (such as context, demographics, content, etc.) you can understand what affects your position with the customer.
Furthermore, if implemented regularly, you can see in real-time how the opinions of your audience change over time, and immediately understand why.
See where we are going?
If you are still not sure, let’s have a look at the top benefits of sentiment analysis in marketing:
1. Stronger Connection with the Customer
One of the most important benefits of opinion mining is that it provides businesses with additional insight into customer behavior.
You can understand how your audience feels at any moment and put the results into context – what made them happy, excited, angry, disappointed, or indifferent? Did you do something wrong? Or, even better, maybe you did a great job on your latest campaign and people can’t get enough of it!
Word of mouth can spread like wildfire on the internet, and with the right tools, you can stay in the loop without having to go through each comment, tweet, and mention one by one.
Once you’ve analyzed the results, you can consider how to act upon them.
Aside from the direct effect, this insight can have on your campaigns and marketing messages, you can use it to strengthen your connection with the customers. You can empathize with them, console them, celebrate with them, help them feel better, and, of course, relate on a whole new level.
2. Improved Product
By keeping an ear out for what people are saying about your products and services, you can find out what makes them unhappy, and implement improvements that change this attitude.
Sentiment analysis is especially useful when you are launching a new product and still don’t have enough feedback from the audience.
You can collect and analyze data from different digital channels and find out what the audience thinks about your product, its branding, and the marketing message. Based on the results, you can conduct additional market research to see what the issues are, and how to eliminate them.
Opinion mining can also be used during the R&D phase of product development as it can make it easier to analyze the data from the voice of customer research.
One of the most challenging parts of conducting this type of study is that you have to deal with almost exclusively quantitative data. This limits the scale of research as the more data you have, the more difficult it is to analyze.
However, by using a sentiment analysis tool, you can significantly improve the productivity of the process. Which means that you can afford to include a larger sample and reach conclusions that are statistically valid.
3. Better Customer Service
Providing a consistently top-notch customer experience is a difficult task, and becomes even more challenging when your business grows, because it may be difficult to maintain the same quality at scale and keep every customer satisfied.
However, the fact remains that each client is an individual person with their own needs, preferences, wishes, and desires.
As a result, it may be difficult to provide stellar customer service to each one of them.
And yet, we should strive for this nonetheless.
By analyzing the sentiment of your customers, you can identify which aspects of your customer service you are failing at, or at least not being good enough at.
This will allow you to improve your brand experience and show the customer that you really care about making them happy.
For example, more than half of the people don’t feel that brands provide a consistent experience across channels, and don’t speak in one voice. By analyzing the satisfaction of your own audience, and taking precautions, you can make sure that you will not lose them because of poor customer service.
4. Brand Image Monitoring
A company’s online reputation is easily the most important asset in its success.
Nowadays, more often than not, people research brands before choosing to trust them with their money, and if what they find out is not convincing enough, they may simply skip to the next one in line.
With the tremendous competition in the digital marketplace, taking your reputation lightly may cost you many a client.
Opinion mining can provide you with insight that not only indicates how people feel about you, but about how they feel about your rivals.
This knowledge can help you better position your brand in the marketplace, improve your image, and build a strong digital presence.
For example, if people are talking ill about you, you can try to figure out why, and decide on how to best counteract this negativity. Once you’ve implemented your strategy, you can check whether the mood of the audience has changed, and plan your next move accordingly.
And if people are happy with your brand, you can investigate what it is that they love about you, emphasize it, and encourage positive word of mouth.
Also, as mentioned, one of the most important things about sentiment analysis is that it allows you to build a strong connection with your audience. Brand advocates can be your most valuable asset in building a reputation.
5. Efficient Social Listening
Social listening can be a powerful tool to monitor what people are saying about your brand and your products on social media platforms. You can join in on the conversations and chat with your customers, drop witty comments, show off your brand identity, keep an eye out for negative feedback, and simply be involved.
This allows you to become part of your own community, and up your overall social media branding game.
However, when you become popular, there can be hundreds of comments and mentions about you and the topics you care about. There is simply no way to go over all of them and analyze them.
Opinion mining allows you to see the bigger picture and notice behavioral patterns. This way you can be more efficient and never miss important social developments involving your brand’s name.
6. PR Crisis Management
In PR and marketing, how you act in a crisis can make or break your brand’s reputation.
It’s not uncommon for brands to misjudge the way the audience will react to their campaigns, especially when using provocation as a tool in their campaigns. Maybe you misinterpreted an important pop-culture reference or overlooked an important cultural difference, or you thought you were being funny but you were actually coming across as offensive.
And that’s not all. When working with living breathing people, even if you are doing your best, you can often make mistakes.
Before the internet, these types of issues were not likely to have much impact because their effect was limited and affected a smaller number of people.
However, nowadays, a single poorly managed situation can cost a brand its reputation. If your mishap is documented and shared on the internet – and let’s be honest, it probably would be – it can become viral overnight.
Sentiment analysis allows you to detect a rising wave of negative comments and opinions surrounding your brand. It can track the origins of this negativity, and react in a timely manner. This way, you can stop the crisis before it is blown out of proportion, and offer up an apology, or manage a counter-campaign, or whatever else the situation calls for.
What people think and say online about brands matters. It has the power to build up a company’s reputation or level it to the ground.
Sentiment analysis in marketing allows to gauge how their audiences feel and provides them with the opportunity to take control of the situation if it gets out of hand. It allows companies to use the information they have gleaned to improve their approaches and strategies, navigate public opinion, and stay on top of everything.
While machine learning is not yet at a stage to be trusted completely, at least not the way you may trust another human being, it is advanced enough to ensure that opinion mining tools are useful and reliable. This makes them invaluable in a brand’s quest to build and maintain a solid online reputation, and powerful competitive advantage.