Eight Steps to Align Brand Listening with Future Sales

Tennis player hit shot tennis ball The other day, we were sitting in the VO2 office working, when one of the software engineers came in giddy about a video he saw online about U.S. Olympic tennis star Sam Groth. Seems he has the fastest recorded serve of all: 163.7 miles per hour.

That’s faster than a $108,000 Tesla P90D roadster can zoom.

One of the branding pundits returned the software genius’ volley.

“Yeah, he said, but it would still be easier to return one of Groth’s serves than to get a social media mining platform to return metrics that predict future sales.

Loud laughter ensued.

The mirth was partially because we at VO2 spent considerable effort in recent years building a brand-expert-informed software platform that cracked the nut: routinely yielding predictive online-conversation metrics mapped to moving the needle.

It’s true. With VO2 you can get a 360 into approaching in-market performance. But we don’t really think it’s funny that many listening software’s can’t.

How do we know? Our customers came to us frustrated by their inability to find that insight. But don’t take our (or their) word. A recent bi-annual CMO Survey stated “Only 11.5 percent of marketing leaders report they have proven the impact of social media quantitatively.”

That’s damning enough. But the CMO Survey went on to add, “Companies are not integrating customer information from purchasing, social media, and other communication channels. On a 1-7 scale, where 1 = not at all effective and 7 = very effectively, the average customer integration rating across these three sources is 3.4, which is a poor showing and lower than last year. This means companies do not yet have the critical 360 that could help them increase customer acquisition and retention.”

That drove us to the whiteboard to make a list of what your online-conversation listening must do to connect with patterns that align with actual business results.

We do our magic by pulling and weighing conversations from top social media platforms, but also major e-commerce, review sites, chat and other places.

We obviously aren’t going to spell out precise ingredients of our secret sauce. But we’ll let you peek through the little software-kitchen door porthole, to glimpse our engineers and brand health experts, working side-by-side, adding ingredients.

If you, like so many corporate professionals, are tired of drowning in the social media data fire hose, and dread when marketing and sales have to sit next to one another at company meetings after weak quarterly returns, here are the great eight:

  1. First, jettison billions of invariably noisy, vague and meaningless conversations in your returned analytics. (Don’t tell us you’re still wasting time on vanity metrics, such as happy-sad, likes, dislikes and follows?)
  2. Demand a tool properly configured to deliver Qual and Quant insights. (This is the only way you’ll get enough leverage to take MARCOM action.)
  3. Likewise insist on brand-expert rigor in conversation data mining. (There are as many as a billion dialogues a day on Facebook alone. You need to know you can relate net conversations to real, useful analysis.)
  4. Only use software that thinks like a veteran brand analyst. (We’re not going to tell you how to accomplished that. But, take our word, your listening-platform provider needs to deliver that kind of veteran intelligence.)
  5. Have a rock-solid brand-expert analytics protocol. (Only a brand-health configuration is going to give you a solid idea of customer emotions and probable actions that tie to their most likely actions in the near term.)
  6. Accurately weight all data sources. (They are not all created equal.)
  7. Make sure the algorithm understands and correctly measures brand attributes. (Yes, software can be taught to glean those things.)
  8. Tie it all up with a bow that looks like a health index. (It’s the only true way to see where you are vis-a-vis competitors and where you’ll be in the near future.

Sound easy? It’s not.
As someone in our office observed, it’s about as easy as returning a blinding, 160-plus-mile-per-hour tennis ball.

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