TechBytes with Collin Holmes, Founder and CEO at Chatmeter

TechBytes with Collin Holmes, Founder and CEO at Chatmeter

How have customer sentiments evolved in the last two years?

In the last two years, customer sentiment, and the analysis of it has evolved dramatically. Traditionally, a company may have conducted surveys and analyzed the feedback to gauge customer’s feelings towards the brand. This is not only time consuming, but it also provides the feedback of a very small subset of the customer base, as only ~5-15% of people take the time to respond to a survey. Those who do respond often feel extremely passionate about the brand (either positively or negatively) and therefore, the results can be skewed.

Now, businesses are able to gather hundreds of online reviews and social media mentions to gain a more accurate and all-encompassing picture of how their brand is perceived. Granted, businesses need a strong technology to help collect and analyze that data, but given the tools out there, this is possible.

Having a more thorough and more accurate understanding of a customer’s sentiments has allowed brands to monitor and address all feedback simply and more effectively than ever before. By being engaged with so many customers, brands can elevate themselves to be seen as more relatable and likable – thus increasing overall sentiment and consideration.

How much have the new trends in Social Media Advertising influenced brand-customer relationships?

Social Media Advertising has enabled the brand-customer relationship to evolve dramatically in two ways.

The first is the hyper-personalization of ads. Social media, and the algorithms that giants like Facebook/Instagram and Google have implemented, allow customers to see not just ‘women’s clothing’ ads but specific items and stores they searched for, styles they like, and even clothes that are available nearby and in their size. This ultra-targeted and locally influenced advertising technique makes consumers feel understood and can increase loyalty to a brand as well as to drive purchasing decisions.

On another level, social media advertising empowers the customer journey. With the ubiquity of connected devices and Voice technology, customers expect nothing short of a seamless online-to-offline experience – which, when successful, starts with being able to find what is advertised online in a nearby store. To do this, brands are increasingly relying on technology that enables accurate and optimized local search rankings and business listings to drive a customer to physically complete their purchase journey in-store.

Tell us more about Shoppable Images and how they can boost Content Marketing efforts. 

Shoppable images are an engaging and critical way with which the marketers can make their content actionable and more likely to convert customers from search to sale. The content marketing efforts that go into optimizing local business pages, social media accounts, and SEO keywords can now come to life, to stand out from competitors and reach potential customers with a visual result for a query. While this is a great new benefit of content marketing, it also requires the diligence of maintaining accurate information across each location of the business so that a ‘scroller’ can both shop your image and find your location to continue their purchase path.

How does User-Generated Content amplify brand reputation? How are these UGC loyalists/customers changing the paradigm in Influencer Marketing? 

User-generated content is most influential when it comes to brand reputation—in fact, our research found the majority of consumers report, a business’ star rating is the biggest contributor of trust, followed by the quantity and sentiment of other consumer’s online reviews.

One of the biggest challenges marketers face today is reaching the consumers who have stopped listening to or acting on marketing messages altogether, and are instead trusting these seemingly unbiased opinions of their peers – from word of mouth to social media and influencers.

Now we are seeing another paradigm shift, in which consumers are becoming weary of influencers, who have become so standardized that they present like another ad. This means brands need to go back to the basics to meet their customers where they are: searching through review communities Google, Facebook, and Yelp. It’s up to businesses to view this user-generated content in the same way as consumers do – as a direct reflection of the brand itself. This is where CMOs and brand managers can get smart with the tools they use and the teams they put in place to prioritize how their company shows up on these sites and engages with its customers.

How do Shoppable Images impact Local and Global Search results? Which brands and retailers have managed to derive the highest ROI from their efforts? 

Shoppable Ads (and the images associated with them) outrank local search results and global search results both on traditional platforms like Google and on Voice-technologies like Amazon Alexa. They may come in the form of a ‘sponsored image’, but they are at times what the consumer sees first. On the contrary, if someone is shopping through an image search, shoppable images don’t have an effect on these rankings as much, seeing as it is a different style of search.

When it comes to local search, if a brand wants to be visible it needs to have the proper content on its local pages. This will help consumers see if products are available in-store or not, which is especially important if brands want to capture the moment-of-need shopper, looking to purchase in-store.

Additionally, well-optimized pages per location (local pages) have proven to help increase local search rankings – particularly through unbranded keywords. Incorporating shoppable images tied to these unbranded product keywords into your local pages are a great way to climb the rankings for product searches.

Apart from Shoppable Images, which other digital assets will continue to benefit retail sales?

All the user-generated content, from reviews to social shares, and local business information, including listings and social pages, must be considered critical digital assets in a retailer’s strategy. Consumers research before buying more than ever before, which has created a long period of consideration in which these assets become the deciding factors between you and your competitors. Losing sales to competitors is a problem as big, if not bigger, than growing sales, which means the pressure is on to rank at the top of mobile, desktop and Voice searches so your brand gets primary consideration.

Voice search is where we are seeing this become the most paramount, as more and more consumers are turning to assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home to make a search. Success in the Voice-first requires success online, since being the number one Voice result requires having the reviews, rankings, customer responses and accurate local information that place a business at the top of search engines.

How do you see the growth of AI in retail? What are your observations on the role of Brand Managers and Social Media Managers in making AI go-to solutions for Retail Analysis and Brand Reputation Management?

Artificial Intelligence is going through a two-fold growth in retail. On one hand, it is learning to predict what consumers want and need, and on the other hand, it is learning to understand what consumers say and mean. In the Reputation Management space, sentiment analysis is at the heart of this to help retailers understand what their customers are experiencing, without facing the time-consuming task of sorting through all the reviews and social threads—which can easily reach the millions. The evolution is continuing to take that sentiment and use it to predict appropriate responses so that businesses can improve their engagement with customers and their appeal to both prospects and search engines.

Brand Managers will need to have tools in place that take advantage of the latest AI to keep a handle on sentiment and overall content.

What are the two major developments in your industry that you would like to share with our audience?

In my mind, there are two very clear developments that are rocking the industry.

The first is Voice Search and the resulting demand for Voice Engine Optimization (VEO). Studies forecast by 2020, Voice is expected to account for 50% of all searches, and that number will only continue to grow. As such, brands need to already be thinking in terms of how people speak as opposed to how they search traditionally. Often, this means optimizing for unbranded searches. For example, ‘boots near me’ cannot just show a retail location with ‘boot’ in the name such as Boot Barn, but rather needs to pull Nordstrom, Macy’s, and any other location nearby that can provide the consumer what they are looking for. Optimizing for this new era of search is a must for brands to work alongside goliaths like Amazon, rather than sit in their shadows.

The second development has to do with Sentiment Analysis. As consumers put more and more trust into user-generated content (i.e. reviews and social media), businesses need to be able to efficiently and accurately track the good versus the bad. The tricky part is that technology – even that of Google and Amazon – is still developing to be able to decipher between a cold beer (good) and a cold soup (bad). Artificial Intelligence is making headway, and we can expect to see more advancements in this across the board so that businesses can get smarter and faster about how they monitor, optimize and respond to their customer’s feedback.

Resourceful, goal-oriented Product Manager with proven performance in product development from concept to launch; including market analysis, requirements gathering, marketing/promotions, and product introduction. A creative individual with technical training and solid communication skills who has contributed significantly to several fast-paced and growing organizations.

Chatmeter is a local SEO platform that helps enterprise retail brands and agencies that are managing multiple locations to increase their revenue. Being the first Local Reputation platform in 2009, we now analyze and improve over 1,500,000 storefronts for their reviews, rankings, listings, and social media presence. We help retailers make a distinct impact on their revenue by identifying several areas in their online presence that drives customers to choose their stores over competitors. We take this a step further by offering the only integrated local visibility rank tracker. This makes it easy for people to measure ROI using the most complete local presence management platform in the world. The benefit for the clients is complete online presence management simplified into a single dashboard. We also power a white-label reputation management dashboard for many agencies across the U.S.