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Transforming Unstructured Data into Market Intelligence: An interview with WiseWindow

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

At the end of last year, I sat down with my good friend and former colleague Marshall Toplansky to talk about how he is driving marketing innovation at WiseWindow- a company that he helped found and now runs as President.   WiseWindow is a company that is taking the unstructured data found on the Internet and social media and turning that into streams of useful data that marketers can use to track customer attitudes around brand and brand attributes.

You will find excerpts from the interview in the video clip below.  We talk about the evolution of sentiment analysis, how WiseWindow is driving innovation in this area(7:45),  and the benefits that accrue to companies that have chosen to innovate using his technology(12:30).

My core insights from our discussion included the following:

  • Sentiment analysis is rapidly gaining acceptance as an alternative/supplement  to traditional methods of measuring consumer attitudes including voice of customer, customer satisfaction, and net promoter score.
  • In many ways, sentiment analysis is superior because it can account for a much larger population sample on a broader array of topics than traditional methods and do it continuously.  This creates the ability to track the changes in attitudes based on tactics that a company might employ to improve positioning in the marketplace.   In short, the fact that sentiment analysis  is orders of magnitude faster and cheaper, is leading to new paradigms in terms of how companies can track sentiment nearly real time and then focus resources to respond.
  • Related to the point above, the predictive power of sentiment analysis is unleashed when companies are able to find relationships between customer attitudes and business performance.
  • WiseWindow is driving innovation in this area by using pattern recognition technology to address the fact that different word combinations reflect different sentiments depending on the  context in which  a company operates. In sum, it is using web crawling technology in conjunction with natural language processing algorithms to not only track what people are saying about its clients, but also what they are saying about the specific attributes of the products, brands, and competitors.
  • While financial services businesses have been early adopters of this technology, successful case studies are emerging in media and entertainment, autos, and election tracking.

For access to the full interview (a little over 60 minutes) I have included a podcast version of the talk.  Enjoy!

Transforming Unstructured Data into Market Intelligence: An Interview with WiseWindow

 

Video from Wharton San Diego Panel Discussion on Analytics

December 11, 2011 Comments off

Wanted to finally post the video from a panel discussion I hosted a few months back onto my site.  Great discussion and stellar panelists.  I will update this post on my key takeaways, as well as create a short form of the talk with highlights, but for now, here is the full-length, unproduced video.

It’s been a while since I have had time to do much on the blog- have been spending the last few months ramping up new clients and also working on a new initiative that I will be launching next year.   Stay tuned, there is more interesting and exciting stuff on the way…

Publish or Perish- The New Paradigm for B2B Marketing? (Part 2 of 2)

A few weeks ago, I posted on the importance of getting your business to think like a publisher. Presuming you buy into the need for this mindset, what do you do about it?  If you are a B2B marketer, how exactly do you think like a publisher?

Here are some thoughts:

Create targeted content- It goes without saying that you need to create high quality content.   However, you could have videos produced by Steven Spielberg that generate little or no interest from your audience.  To build relevance, organizations need to build a range of content that appeals to the broad array of stakeholder interests and concerns associated with what you sell.

Here is what I mean by this.  Consider a complex technology solution sale and the number of people who can get involved in the process.  Is the content you produce and manage adequately oriented around the business owners, IT personnel, line managers, and contract/procurement teams that all have influence in the buying decision? Is it organized in a way that these influencers can easily learn about the issues that are central to their function in the buying process?

In my own practice, I have observed lots of companies who are trying to reach multiple stakeholders with the same message, through the same channels.  At best this results in a mishmash of generalized information that proves to be only marginally useful for engaging the influencers in the buying decision.  As well see in an upcoming example, segmenting the message creates an opportunity for better focus and more relevance.

Consider not only who they are but where they are in your relationship-So much of what companies do from a content perspective is oriented around prospecting and closing new business.  For businesses whose model is subscription based (e.g., SaaS models), information about how users can generate more efficiency and value from the solutions they already buy can be even more important to the long-term health of a business by further cultivating the relationships they already have.

Make full use of the channels at your disposal-Today’s content distribution mechanisms give you a wide range of options for targeting who you talk to and what you say.  Use them to segment the content that you feed to the various constituents you are trying to reach.  For example, Dario’s company (from Part I) uses a blog for driving awareness and education and the company home page for driving sales.  This   bifurcation of purpose allows his company to be extremely focused in messaging and UI design.

Give it to them in the media format that they want- There is lots of choice now on how you communicate with your audience, so don’t force white papers on customers as the only way to learn about your offerings.  Besides, have you heard about the Forrester report that states that video increases the likelihood of a front page Google search result by 96%?

Give your audience a voice- I heard a very interesting statistic from SplashMedia, that stated that only 14% of prospective customers were inclined to believe the marketing messages that came directly from the selling organization, while 78% of prospects tended to believe the opinions of other customers.  To be sure, giving your customers a voice is a big risk, and may not be such a great idea for companies who are not highly responsive to customer needs and complaints. Then again if you can harness the enthusiasm that people have for your offerings, (as implied by the statistic above) customers can be a great way to generate complementary content that helps close new business.

In the end, keeping these ideas in mind will help you think more like a publisher.  While your audience is not paying for your content, it is sacrificing its time and attention to read/listen to/watch what you create.  Orienting your organization around building specific messages for the right audience at the right stage in the customer relationship is most likely to generate the engagement that you need for driving and sustaining growth.

Leverage Ego to Build Content, Generate Leads

June 2, 2011 Comments off

One of many great pieces from Mike Michalowicz (blog here) on how to use the fact that people will stop everything they are doing to read and promote their own name.  I’ve written in other posts about the importance of being a publisher-as Mike describes in his article, using this simple truth can be used in both the offline and online worlds to not only generate great content, but also generate leads.

Link to article here.

Publish or Perish- The New Paradigm for B2B Marketing? (Part 1 of 2)

May 21, 2011 2 comments

I caught up with a long time friend and CMO, Dario Priolo a few weeks back and got to discussing best practices with him on B2B sales/marketing for software.  He markets web-based learning and training solutions, and I think is really on top of innovation and cutting edge trends in this area so I value his opinion and approach to leveraging social media in the B2B space (check out his blog here).

While we talked about several themes, one of the most important ones that we kept coming back to was getting the organizations we work with to think like publishers.

Now if you are in the business of selling enterprise software or solutions, you may ask yourself, “what does publishing have to do with my business?”  The conclusion that Dario and I kept coming back to in our conversation- Everything.

Consider the following:

Prospects are educating themselves. 90+% of decision makers have done some sort of web research on existing solutions before they talk to anyone at a vendor.  Decision makers are armed with the information that you provide and with materials that are being created by your competitors.

Awareness marketing is the norm.  Given the self directed nature of the modern day buying process, it is imperative that the people looking for the solutions that you offer can not only find you with minimal effort, but also find information that is useful to them.  To do this, you must create relevant and timely content that is useful to a broad range of constituents.  In sum, you are creating for a variety of audiences and needs.

Product knowledge is now easier than ever to share.  The proliferation of social media tools and their integration with how we regularly communicate with one another means that your content will reach more people in the purchasing process.  Your information isn’t static and doesn’t remain in the hands of the one person that found you on the web.  How you present your product/service moves and makes its way to other stakeholders in the purchasing process that you cannot control.  Further, the opinions of your prospects and users are now a part of the dialogue.

SaaS changes everything.  In on-demand models, product knowledge is increasingly driven by trial.  Long term profitability is driven by retention.  The role of the content that you produce and manage extends far beyond getting a foot in the door.  It is a meaningful part of maintaining an ongoing relationship with trial and paying customers.

It is critical to think carefully about who your audience is, what content you produce, how you distribute it and how to ensure that these consumers of your information continue to pay for this content with their time.  In sum, B2B marketers of software and technology need to think like publishers. Sounds basic I know, but most of the B2B companies I see out there don’t do this very well.  Does yours?

How Are LinkedIn Users Looking at Your Company?

Read an interesting research piece this morning on LinkedIn behavior by LeadFormix.  The company tracked behavior of nearly 300 of its clients’ LinkedIn profile pages to see how information posted there produced leads.

Interesting takeaways for me include:

  • LinkedIn Groups are an effective means of gaining customer engagement- 1/3 of visitors from groups filled in a form on the company’s website
  • Company/individual profiles are important in driving traffic to website- 1/2 of website traffic driven by linked in come from profile and company pages
  • Most common intent of visitors who access company website via LinkedIn Groups is to gain access to webinar

To be sure I think that much of the stats in the report are a result of what I believe to be the most common uses of LinkedIn, namely gathering intel for job hunting or targeting prospects or networking, but still some interesting ways of looking at the data.  Further, these data are driving me to think more carefully about how companies should be properly raising their profile and market traction through participation in the LinkedIn Group forums.

Report can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/juo0gf

FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn: the Big Three social media channels for SMBs

Came across a research report on use of social marketing published by the Social Media Examiner.  I was initially drawn in by the fact that the report claimed to have insights on the differences in social media utilization between B2B and B2C companies.

Note that this is a report that will be most useful for people who want to understand the behavior of SMBs- 90% of the 3300+ respondents have less than 500 employees and the bulk of the respondents work for firms with less than 100 employees.

Main insights for me from this report are as follows:

  • Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogs and Social Video (YouTube, et al) top the charts in terms of social media utilized
  • Utilization of Groupon (6%) relatively low
  • Geo mobile (e.g., Foursquare) comparatively high (17%)
  • As expected, biggest variance between B2B and B2C utilization comes in their use of Facebook and Linked In (B2C using Facebook significantly more, B2B using Linkedin more)
  • B2B utilization of twitter very high (86%)

Link to report is here (will be inserting full report shortly):http://bit.ly/eGOrws

Biggest hole in research for me is more detail on effectiveness- as noted in an earlier post, getting people to read your facebook page doesn’t necessarily mean you are driving sales.  That said, research provides an interesting window into what people are using and how much time they are spending on these channels.

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