How to Measure Consumer Behavior in 2016
By now, Big Data is a term uttered with frequency by tech execs and marketing creatives alike. And while data has long been a fixture in the marketing tool belt—rife with consumer insights and details into the purchasing journey—precision now trumps information overload when it comes to gathering consumer data, says Heather Read, director of social as a service at New York-based data technology platform Sprinklr.
Sprinklr has emerged as a fast-growing partner to brands like Samsung, Microsoft and Virgin America looking to wrangle social data from many platforms to a single command center. Read says that marketers are taking a more intentional approach to data-gathering this year, refining the way they track traditional metrics to determine the success of their brands and the satisfaction of their customers. Here, Read shares her outlook for the new and constantly evolving ways that marketers will use data and analytics in 2016.
Q: Social media and other platforms that allow customers to interact with a brand provide great opportunity for listening and responding. What changes in social data-gathering and analysis do you see for 2016, and how will they impact the way brands are tailoring customer experiences?
A: We’re seeing more advanced versions of the data-gathering that companies have done for the last couple of years, as well as some new reporting strategies. Companies are upping their game as they measure segmentation of brands. Some, like retailers, are very interested in understanding location-based or franchise-based performance. They’re paying attention not just to how many ‘likes’ they got on Facebook, but they’re taking a meaningful look at organizing data and tracking back to the elements of the brand that drive customer behavior. A lot of Sprinklr’s customers are targeting segments through paid social channels and publishing. On Facebook, for example, you can choose audience criteria, which allows you to measure how a segment is reacting to your brand and analyze behavioral differences so you know the right moment to provide content to customers. One objective of social strategy is directing customers to your website where they will buy a product, look at content, or [engage in] some other desired behavior. Companies want to measure that journey from social to sales.
Brands are also working with digital marketing agencies to measure favorability, brand affinity and amplification, and they’re using unique KPI measures to do so. This customized scoring is specific to social data or in between social and digital data, grouping the metrics from owned social platforms and listening metrics to illustrate ROI. Some brands care more about certain social channels or functions on social channels. Where some focus on sharing capabilities for amplification of content, others are tracking actions such as “likes.” The requirement they’re putting on their vendor is to support these KPI measures in a way that’s unique for them.
Q: Even though data and analytics are not new concepts, managing them can still be an unwieldy task. How can marketers analyzing a wealth of social data weed out the noise and respond to the relevant interactions with their customers?
A: There are some companies that want to extract and archive everything. My recommendation is to store only the data that will be useful for your reporting. Your first step has to be to determine the business objective, which will be unique to your brand. Whether your objective is to focus on customer service or the performance of a campaign, whenever you approach analytics, a clear business objective will define what you can measure. There are many social metrics that may or may not align to the objective—we have roughly 6,000 metrics on our platforms between paid, listening and owned data—so you can eliminate much of the irrelevant data by ensuring that what you’re collecting is tied to the objective. Finding the right grouping methodology for those metrics is key. Are you measuring at a brand level, franchise level, location level or campaign level? Five years ago, it was fine to report the number of retweets on Twitter, but that’s very rudimentary. To use best practice in social management now, you have to think about the way to organize your social data to meet business objectives.