AI is making its way into numerous areas of business, including digital marketing since machine learning technology has a lot of uses there. To take advantage of this technology, companies are relying more on data-driven marketing, which proves to be extremely effective.
Data doesn’t lie, and using its potential is vital for keeping your business afloat and thriving. Since collecting information is easier than ever, the data-driven trend growth is pretty much set in stone. One of the ways marketers use the data is with sentiment analysis.
What is sentiment analysis and how does it work?
Simply put, sentiment analysis is the process of determining whether a statement is positive, negative, or neutral. Some of the more sophisticated algorithms are able to discern emotions like sadness, happiness, angriness, indifference, skepticism, etc.
Sentiment analysis requires a dataset to work upon. Collecting mentions of various keywords online is one way to access data. There are softwares that can help you do this and will store the information in one place. Then, looking at the statements, algorithms classify each one of them as positive, negative, or neutral on the basis of lexicons, machine learning, NLP technology, and so on.
Social media proved to be the best and largest source of mentions. These are often the most telling, as the comments are made by your customers or members of your community. Still, gathering mentions from other places like blogs or press releases is also useful, as it can tell you what the press and authors think about you or your brand.
The scale is easily divisible so that distinguishing between a mildly positive comment and a totally enthusiastic one is possible. For instance, somebody might call your product “pretty good,” while someone else might praise it as “the best.” The scale allows for assigning a sentiment score to each statement.
While this is an excellent piece of technology, it’s worth noting that sentiment analysis is not free from some drawbacks.
This can prove to be difficult, as certain types of negations may fool the algorithms. While straight-up negations are easy to assign a sentiment to, things like double negations might prove problematic. Sentences like this one:
The sentiment is obviously positive, but the algorithm might think otherwise.
Sarcastic statements are often mistakenly taken as real opinions even by humans. Machines are even worse at associating a sentiment with them.
It’s pretty common to see statements that contain both positive and negative words. Again, this sort of sentence is challenging for the software.
Sometimes, words have a different meaning depending on the context, which not always can be determined:
How to use sentiment analysis in digital marketing (and why)?
There are two primary ways of doing market research, and these are qualitative and quantitative. The former focuses on experiences, social and historical meanings, and political or collaborative perspectives. In essence, qualitative research investigates how people feel — it’s entirely subjective. Whereas the latter consists of the analysis of hard data to find out what’s the general statement.
These two schools have their ups and downs. On the one hand, qualitative research is thought to be invalid by some. On the other hand, quantitative research is said to be merely useful to reinforce current paradigms, not discover new ones. Now, sentiment analysis can be seen as a combination of the two.
As a marketer using sentiment analysis, you’re presented with valid customer opinion, actionable insights, and thoughts. Analyzing them can be rapid, as tools currently do all of the calculations in a matter of seconds, so you don’t waste any of your time on that.
Another advantage of sentiment analysis is the fact that customers don’t really know that their statements are being gathered. This eliminates the possibility of them reacting differently due to them being informed of such a process. You could say that the opinions are as close to reality as you can get since you’re gathering them from a natural online environment.
You get to find out what people think about virtually any aspect of the market: products, brands, industries, objects, places, etc. Identifying current market and industry trends can prove to be immensely useful for your marketing strategy.
“We’ve been using sentiment analysis for our market research efforts for quite some time now, with astounding results. Since we’re one of the major software houses in Poland, we need to be on the lookout for any IT trends and the sentiment associated with them. That way, we can always be on top of new technology and establish the direction we are going to grow towards more conveniently.” comments Jack Zmudzinski, a senior associate at software development company Future Processing.
Monitoring keywords associated with your competitors allows you to peer into the opinions about them. This can give you valuable insights into their strategies and help you find customers who could benefit from your services.
For instance, you see that there’s a buzz concerning one of your opponents because you’re alerted of a sudden drop in sentiment about their brand. Now, you can react to that by answering the concerns of your competitors’ customers and promote or advocate your brand.
Product and brand monitoring
In essence, you’re simply analyzing what the sentiment of your brand is. This can allow you to mitigate any PR crisis seeing that you can react to them almost immediately. Finding out what people think about you can lead to new insights and possibly help you devise a marketing tactic.
Assessing whether a buzz around one of your marketing activities or new products is positive or negative improves your knowledge by a significant margin. You get to see for yourself people’s response concerning whatever you’re doing. This is tremendously useful for the growth strategies of your brand, such as brand reputation management, product development, or predictive analysis.
“Looking into the current trends can help you find insight as to what you should write about them. If you’re a shoe company, and the majority of your audience thinks that using real leather for shoes is bad, you shouldn’t break out with a positive statement about that. Sentiment analysis can help you with staying on top of any major buzzes and reacting to them appropriately” remarks Max Babych, CEO at SPDload.com
With sentiment analysis, you could identify new trends that nobody from your competition has yet picked up on and be the first one to describe or give an opinion about. This reinforces your position as an expert in the industry.
Recap: Sentiment Analysis in Your Digital Marketing
As you can see, sentiment analysis has quite a bit of use for marketers. Communication with your customers becomes much easier and more adequate if you know exactly what they think. You get to be more accurate with your content and marketing strategies as well.
While sentiment analysis is certainly not yet perfect, the longer the algorithms function, the more accurate they get. This could be a good time to jump on the bandwagon and start using it to your advantage. There’s a lot to gain from utilizing sentiment analysis, and the chances are that this could be the missing ingredient for you to overtake your competition.