For business operators, the value of consumer feedback can never be overstated. Interestingly though, the most valuable form of feedback takes place outside your organization’s walls and without your prompting. In order to harness the potential of this feedback, you need the right tool – one that will allow you to hear and understand the voice of the customer. That tool is sentiment analysis.
What is Sentiment Analysis?
Simply put, sentiment analysis is a tool that allows you to extract the emotion behind any text. Also referred to as opinion mining, it is a process used to identify the tone conveyed by any text. Other metrics may let you know what is happening, but oftentimes, they will not unravel the ‘how’ and ‘why.’ They might also fail to give you context, and that is where opinion mining comes in.
It essentially entails figuring out the general feelings about your business, demystifying the emotions that customers express when someone mentions your brand. Wherever there is user-generated content, with users freely speaking their minds, you can gauge sentiment. Some of the most common areas where this takes place include social media channels, product review sites and online communities.
How to Use Sentiment Analysis
It goes without saying that the type of sentiment surrounding your brand can either enhance business performance or work against it. The general mood surrounding a particular product or the overall image of a brand exerts considerable impact on its success or lack thereof. Thanks to the internet, buyers now have the advantage of carrying out extensive research before making a purchase. More than anything else, consumers trust user-generated content. This presents a worthwhile opportunity to create a positive reputation and drive business.
How can you use this tool to your brand’s benefit? Consider three main ways you could leverage sentiment analysis to enhance your business performance:
1. Detect and Manage Crises in their Infancy Stage
Even the best brands experience forest fires that rage out of control at one time or another. There are no guarantees that your business is immune. Instead of hoping and praying that it does not happen to you and getting caught off-guard, prepare for such eventualities ahead of time.
Analyze sentiment consistently so as to identify dropping moods as early as possible. Look at what users are discussing and determine the best approach to handle it before it all goes south.
Connect to the unhappy users to dispel allegations and doubts and let them know how you are working to resolve an issue. Keep in mind that negative emotions draw the most attention so work hard to address them.
2. Consistently Measure Reputation Trends
To get a clear picture of the public’s perception of your brand, make it a habit to measure reputations trends. Keeping an eye on it regularly will offer insights regarding your business performance at any given time. You want to see how the emotions around your brand evolve over time and the causes behind significant changes.
With this information on hand, you can relate the mood surrounding brand mentions to other metrics. For instance, you might want to assess how events such as marketing campaigns and product launches affect users.
3. Carry Out Competitive Analysis
In the same way that you always want to know the tone around your brand, it is also important to keep an eye out for the emotions surrounding your competitors. Whenever sentiment seems to favor the competition, you can draw inspiration to guide your own moves to drive similar feelings.
And when they turn negative, take advantage of the opportunity to generate new leads from unsatisfied users. Even in situations where the conversation is not about you, you can jump right in and collect some bonus points for your brand.
Benefits of Sentiment Analysis
Now that we have an idea of how we should leverage sentiment to enhance brand performance, take a look at some of the benefits you can gain from the exercise:
1. Better Decision-Making
Using the information that is rich with insights eliminates guesswork out of the decision-making process. You can base decisions on hard data. This approach holds a higher likelihood of customer satisfaction and retention.
It also becomes easier to adjust to prevailing market situations, foster dynamism and make immediate decisions based on automated insights. And whenever you have a new concept, testing it before implementation it is also easier.
2. Enhancing Customer Experience
Businesses thrive on customer gratification. Customers these days post their experiences with brands on social media and other online forums. Using this readily available data gives useful insights into aspects of your business that need improvement among other things.
3. Optimizing Marketing Strategy and Adjusting
It is important to know whether your marketing strategy or branding techniques are successful or not. Analyzing customer sentiment allows you to do so. You will also be able to quantify the success or failure of any given strategy.
In such cases, the kind of emotions you set off with your campaign can help you in developing a more appealing approach, making quick transitions when necessary.
4. Gaining Competitive Advantage
By analyzing both the sentiment surrounding your business and that of your competitors, you can create opportunities and get incentives to improve performance.
Furthermore, by putting into application the useful insights you derive, you can accurately predict customer trends. Doing so will allow you to develop suitable strategies to capitalize on such trends. At the end of the day, this might be all you need to get an edge over your rivals.
Automated Sentiment Analysis through Machine Learning
When you have a small amount of data from which you can analyze customer sentiment, simply reading through the text suffices. But this quickly becomes impractical as the amount of data expands in volume. This is where automated analysis through machine learning comes in.
A sentiment analysis algorithm essentially converts a flood of data into useful, actionable insights. In the past, machine learning models have had challenges in analyzing sentiment as they would fail to consider context. For instance, identifying rhetorical models such as irony and sarcasm has always been challenging.
However, thanks to advances in feature engineering, current models can now recognize tone, context and previous sentiment indicators. The result has been a far more accurate model that is better able to streamline the analysis process.
The technology behind the sentiment analysis algorithm incorporates natural language processing (NLP) to convert opinions into datasets. In order to achieve this, it assigns values to various emotions. It will either be negative, positive or neutral. After this, it processes the data to reveal trends over time.
Though gauging emotion is complex, machine learning offers varied approaches to the problem and is constantly maturing. Compared to human beings, machines can handle bigger amounts of data, can learn and perform various tasks much faster. As the technology keeps on advancing, businesses have the opportunity to benefit from the in-depth insights derived.
Make the Most of the Opportunity
In business, sentiment analysis is so much more than a trend. It holds the potential to provide a breakthrough and completely revitalize a brand. However, in order to achieve this, you would need to ensure that your approach is foolproof. With proper use, the tool has countless applications and offers limitless potential for driving business value. The key lies in creating a worthwhile strategy that lets you make the most of the opportunities it avails.