How to Bridge the Consumer Closeness Gap to Drive Growth

By David Low, CMO of Talkwalker

Marketers recognize how real-time consumer intelligence from social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube can inform their consumer marketing and engagement strategies. The problem for most brands today is that they are saturated with consumer data. Some would say oversaturated.

Rapidly changing consumer sentiment, expectations and demands have created a competitive landscape that evolves at unprecedented speed and is nearly impossible to keep pace with. But swimming in data about your customers is not a bad thing. In fact, with the right tools, brands can harness this ocean of social data to help them better understand their customers and what they plan to do next. Most brands listen to the frenetic parade of digital noise, but few are able to sort through all of the data in a meaningful way to make informed business decisions.

This “all ears and no action” approach hinders a brand’s ability to gain a deeper understanding of consumers and can lead to a gap between what consumers want and what brands deliver. Consumer intelligence empowers brands with the data analytics and AI tools they need to sift through the deluge of internal and external data from consumers and uncover valuable insights. Based on these highly relevant insights, marketers are able to continuously adapt marketing campaigns to deepen connections with consumers based on their preferences, sentiment and affinities. Forrester Research finds that businesses that emphasize this type of adaptive approach grow nearly three times faster than their industry average.

So, what can marketers do to bridge the consumer closeness gap and seize valuable growth opportunities? The key is to engage with consumers on their preferred social media platforms and digital channels, apply intelligent analytics and AI to better extract insights from the generated data, and take action upon those insights to build consumer closeness.

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That’s much easier said than done. To make this as concrete as possible, let’s dive into use cases that demonstrate how consumer closeness can be a major growth driver for brands.

1. Social

The first use case demonstrates how social teams can bridge the consumer closeness gap to improve social campaign performance, monitor sentiment, and grow brand awareness among key consumers.

A leading spirits company was looking to launch a new social marketing campaign but needed to better understand how consumers were planning parties – who, when and where its brand was being consumed. ​

Using social intelligence and advanced analytics technologies the brand team was able to tap into online consumer conversations across social, blogs, forums, and news sites to understand “path to party.” The spirits company learned that its audience associated its brand with “post-game” events or during “late nights.” By using image and video recognition technologies the brand was also able to recognize that many of its customers drink the brand’s alcoholic beverage on the beach.

With this analysis, the brand was able to deepen its understanding about its target audience – who they are as well as how, where and when they enjoy their beverage products. These insights are being used to continually refine their messaging and targeting for current and upcoming social marketing campaigns. ​

2. Public relations and communications

Public relations and communications teams can be closer to consumers to drive more impactful earned media campaigns, manage brand reputation​, and mitigate risks.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pharmaceutical company was struggling to sift through a flood of consumer data in order to gain a clearer understanding of how and where its product was being mentioned in consumer conversations about the virus. It also wanted to gain deeper insights into consumer comments and conversations about competitors.​

The company developed a focused issues and alerting framework with a consumer intelligence solution that helped it define, monitor, and track consumer comments and sentiment about COVID-19, its brand, competitors, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Real-time alerts notified PR and communications teams about consumer questions, complaints or misinformation about their brand. It was also able to monitor consumer sentiment about its competitors as well as competitor statements about vaccines and other information relevant to COVID.

Armed with this consumer intelligence, PR and communications teams were able to develop sensitive rapid-response messaging to directly address misinformation and to respond to consumer questions and concerns about its brand and COVID-19. These actions strengthened ties with existing customers, mitigated risks to its brand reputation, and helped restore and strengthen consumer trust in its brand during a time of great anxiety and confusion.

3. Research and insights

Getting closer to consumers by engaging with them on their preferred social platforms can help research and insights teams support sales.

A luxury brand knew that many of its target customers spent a lot of their time on Instagram, but lacked in-depth insights about specific consumer preferences and profiles that would be most likely to purchase its products on this social channel.

The brand combined existing customer data with social intelligence gathered from Instagram to gain deeper insights about how consumers viewed its products and to research the types of consumers likely to have an affinity with its brand.

These insights helped the brand identify a consumer profile of affluent Millennial Instagram users who are likely to purchase its products. This enabled marketing to zero in on this consumer demographic and increase Instagram sales by 17%.

These real-world examples illustrate the importance of asking the right questions. Why do people buy our products? Who are they? What social platforms and digital channels do they frequent? Why do people pass on our products and choose a competitor? Then with the right tools and technologies to put insights into action, marketers are able to bridge the consumer closeness gap and cultivate more profitable, long-term relationships with consumers.

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