Finding Out What Consumers Really Want

How social media and public online data have created a golden age for modern consumer insights

For decades, finding out what consumers wanted was like the horizon — always just out of reach. Not anymore. There’s plenty of data available and sophisticated tools to make sense of it.

Where’s all this data coming from? Well, organizations hold quite a bit, which they’re learning how to use with great effectiveness. But the real game changer in terms of consumer data and the insights it generates has been the internet. It’s created two sources of consumer data — public online and social media — which, when combined with enterprise data, allow businesses to “triangulate” consumer preferences very accurately.

  • Analyzing real-time consumer conversations about almost any topic
  • Collecting campaign and product reactions
  • Identifying emerging consumer trends and preferences

But, keep in mind that overall sentiment about a topic on social media may contradict the sentiment among your customers. Social media insights are extremely valuable as one — of many — sources of consumer opinions.

Public online data

Public online data (forums, reviews, news, blogs, etc.) reveals detailed insights about products, campaigns, companies and industry trends, including the opinions and knowledge of thought leaders and subject matter experts. Public online data is appropriate for:

  • Tapping into reviews and forums for targeted insights
  • Understanding the news coverage around your brand and product
  • Providing demographic insights on an industry level

Enterprise data

Enterprise data (call transcripts, support tickets, CRM data, etc.) connects the dots between what customers think and how they behave. When combined with social and public online insights, it becomes an even better source of context from which to make better decisions, evaluate risk, and find ways to engage and keep customers. Enterprise data is good for:

  • Uncovering trends and patterns within customer communications
  • Combining voice of the customer sources for unified analysis
  • Connecting POS data to other sources of consumer conversations

Organizations use enterprise data in many ways. For example, insurance companies use libraries of photographs from car accidents combined with claims information to predict claims payouts. Some companies have also been able to monetize their data assets. A case in point, Equifax aggregates payment records and sells credit history information to institutions looking to support financial decisions.

Data, Data Everywhere

When combined, these three data sources can deliver what all businesses want: a true understanding of their customers. Social media conversations offer authentic opinions about important topics; public online data gives more focused consumer insights about trends, companies and products; and enterprise data ties these insights to brand-specific information that’s related to your customers.

But, having data or access to it is not the same as having insights from it. That’s where technology and tools come in — especially tools that leverage the analytical potential of artificial intelligence.

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