Agencies that don’t get results won’t have clients for long. Understanding the voice of the consumer is the key to understanding how to build campaigns that keep your clients – and you – in business.

What we’ve found at Ames Scullin O’Haire Advertising is that the better we understand what our customers’ customers like and don’t like, the better we can relate to the audience and craft performance marketing campaigns that give them what they want.

Prepare to be surprised

One of our clients is an entertainment vertical and happens to be one of the largest attractions in the Southeast – a regional attraction with international scope. Their goal was to obtain insights to drive better creative through listening to the voice of the consumer.

We find social intelligence is one of the best ways to do that because it offers a true, holistic, panoramic view of the consumer experience and voice. Consumers on social aren’t self-conscious as they might be in a focus group situation – they’re speaking naturally and emotionally about their likes/dislikes around brands and products. Social listening allows us to be the proverbial fly on the wall – observing and unseen.

We use NetBase because it allows us to efficiently and effectively filter the social stream and turns that huge amount of unstructured big data into insights – by clustering and associating themes around user emotions, offering up conversational trends, themes, and more.

For instance, with this client, we could understand what motivated consumers to go to the attraction – and what kept other consumers from going. That’s the information that directs the performance marketing campaigns we create – and what types of offers and creative we craft for each segment.

What we discovered about the consumers not going to the venue was revealing: It wasn’t that they didn’t like us – they didn’t think they could afford to go.

Prior to that we thought our client had a very engaged customer – but what was validated for us in looking at the Brand Passion Index – NetBase’s measurement of consumer sentiment – was that there were consumers in the general public who really loved the brand, but were reluctant to try it based on the price question.

At that point we knew how to approach driving more consumers to the venue. Understanding that this segment needed a little push, we were able to craft promotional offers for the consumers who wanted to go but didn’t think they could afford to. We launched a performance marketing campaign that included paid search and display media, resulting in double digit click-through rates, double-digit conversion rates, and ROI in excess of 4 digits.

Simply by caring about the consumer and listening to what they wanted.

It’s a nice place to visit, but our audience doesn’t live there

But social listening doesn’t just show us where to target – it shows us where not to target as well.

When we looked at geo-targeting of the conversations we were monitoring, there were areas where we thought we’d have an audience, but it turned out we didn’t. This saved us effort on media placements that would have been wasted.

Once we saw this, if we suspected we had a segment that was not online, we created two campaigns – one for the designated marketing area (DMA) and one for outside the DMA that excluded the DMA.  This allowed us to test the two campaigns and adjust investment in each based on response – essentially A/B testing based on geography.

These are just a few ways NetBase knocks social listening out of the park. Their tools are intuitive and simple, yet powerful. As impressive as the volume of posts you can analyze is, the quality of the Brand Passion Index is where you really get to see how the attitude of consumers toward the brand evolves or devolves over time.

The value of real-time social insights

By monitoring keywords and themes around brands, we can receive notifications when events start, or negative mentions occur during a campaign, or about the brand in general. Receiving these alerts in real-time lets us make informed decisions – like whether to optimize a campaign, or just keep an eye on things.

Being able to stay on top of how consumers are reacting and conversing online is what makes us valuable to our clients – we’re the lifeguard on duty at the beach of their brand. For example, around key holidays, we noticed an uptick in consumers talking about wanting to visit the entertainment venue of our client above slightly before we had scheduled to launch our performance marketing campaigns. Because we knew about these conversations as they were happening, we were able to alter the timing of our paid performance campaigns with holiday themes to entice trial.

If we’d waited to see metrics from end-of-month reports, we’d have missed those opportunities.

And we’ve seen these off-the-charts numbers even during our client’s dead season. That’s the benefit of being able to respond in the way consumers desire, quickly.

NetBase helps us meet our clients’ needs by decoding the social data – which we then refine further using other tools within the platform, like geo-targeting. We use the entire platform across a host of social channels to understand what’s happening around the brand, its products, and the industry prior to starting a campaign.

It’s vital to look back a good 24 months to see what trends have emerged over time, and use that information to guide you as you explore the creative. It’s important to understand the geography of where consumer conversations are coming from. When you can refine media investment by understanding this rich consumer data, you can properly plan investment, place it smartly, and maximize ROI.

And isn’t getting results without wasting resources always the name of the game?

Image from Jim Bauer

Ted Tagalakis is Director of Marketing Science and Digital/Social Media Strategy at Ames Scullin O’Haire Advertising

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