The Emotional Value of Data 5 Critical Actions to Take

Emotional consumption has recently been identified as one of the social trends shaping how we live and work – now and in the future.

“The shift to emotional consumption has huge implications for employers and marketers,” wrote Marc Emmer in a LinkedIn post. Emmer is a strategic planning consultant and author of the book, Intended Consequences.

“In a time when we are blitzed with thousands of messages daily on multiple devices, people have a hunger for an emotional connection. Watch for shifts in marketing messaging to greater emphasis on empathy and community.”

Getting Emotional with Your Data


Companies are paying more attention to how emotion can help them understand and connect with their customers and employees, target their messages and move ahead of the competition.

To shed some light on how organizations can leverage emotions through better use of analytics, CMSWire consulted the leaders at Networked Insights, a big data and analytics software company named one of 2012's Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.

“We think it’s very important that brands use and understand the emotional aspect of their conservations,” said Jaime Brugueras, head of analytics for Networked Insights. “Emotions drive a deeper insight into what consumers feel about the product and the brand.”

So, how can companies use data to better understand the emotions of their customers?

1. Go Beyond Net Sentiment

According to Branding Magazine, net sentiment represents the ratio of positive to negative sentiments voiced about a brand based on natural language processing of posts, comments and mentions – a method Networked Insights leaders say is inadequate for getting a complete picture of what people feel about a brand.

“Currently, the only way brands understand how consumers feel about product is sentiment analysis,” said Brugueras. “This only gives you a bipolar view of whether a comment was positive or negative. With emotions, you can get a 360 view.”

Networked Insights helps their customers get this full-circle view by using emotional classifiers to assign emotions such as love, irritation, anger and excitement to social media posts.

“It’s different to be angry and irritated versus negative,” said Brugueras. “Differentiating the two is important. Emotional classifiers give deeper insights into how to improve the customer experience.”

Dan Cropsey, EVP of product and development for Networked Insights, commented that companies could miss out on providing the best customer experience when they focus solely on net sentiment.

“Customer experience, by nature, does get to the human side – the emotions, perceptions and passions that really drive choice,” he said.

“In the history of using social media data such as from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums, the industry has been too generic in positive and negative sentiment. This has not been super helpful.”

2. Find Out What Your Audience Really Cares About

“Knowing what audience interests are beyond the brand is important,” said Cropsey. He added that brands should understand customer preferences for entertainment, as well as their hobbies and interests.

“Companies can use those as a backdrop to messaging, which can also help drive that connection and emotion,” he continued.

For example, if you know your customers are committed to being eco-friendly, then including elements from nature into your creative pieces can generate emotion, he explained.

“It’s not only what people say, but what they use in context,” he said.

Brugueras added that, when content triggers certain emotions, people are more likely to share it, which saves companies valuable resources in the long run.

“By understanding what people care about, you can leverage that into more engaging and interesting content,” he said. “Organic virality is extremely useful because I can reach more people than if I’d spent millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad.”

3. Use Emotion to Gauge the Competitive Landscape

Networked Insights did a study a few months back in which they analyzed more than 20 million conversations on Twitter, comparing how often consumers used emotion in relation to the top 200 most talked about brands (share of voice).

The study illustrated how brands can use emotion to better understand their competitors.

“Emotions provide a better view of the competitive landscape,” said Brugueras. “You can analyze the competition with the same type of analysis, and see how different customers perceive your company as compared with your competitors.”

For example, in a share of voice analysis involving Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, the study showed that when talking about Southwest, consumers indexed high on amusement, while for United, most consumers expressed boredom.

Armed with this data, Southwest could use it to their advantage, perhaps incorporating into their messaging that travel can be fun.

“If a competitor has a vulnerability, then you can use that as differentiator,” said Cropsey.

4. Associate Your Brand with an Emotional Event

Because brands are reliant on creating awareness, they pay for keeping top of mind and for keeping their sales up, said Cropsey, making them vulnerable.

“If you can attach your brand to a family gathering, then you don’t have to over-rely on continued spend to keep your brand top of mind. It becomes more innate,” he said.

“You can lower spending levels, and maintain that bond that humans can provide.”

5. Be Consistent Across Channels

“Anything related to customer experience and emotions has to be authentic,” said Cropsey, which means brands need to be consistent in their messages regardless of the communication method.

“Marketing over the last few decades has been fragmented – search, TV, social, – it hasn’t been optimized across all customer touch points,” he said.

“You need to be consistent across all messages and channels,” he continued. “Forrester has done studies around how different channels are stitched together through the purchase journey. If your connection is consistent and reinforcing each step of the way, that will make all the pieces better."

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  MaxIFaleel