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August 13

If we are truly in the age of data, what are companies doing to a) identify and capture the right data, b) understand what it means and c) do something meaningful with it to help their business improve?

In this next instalment of Manchester B2B PR agency Metamorphic PR’s post-pandemic business recovery blog post series, Karen Williams of Tribe highlights data learnings from Covid-19 and what companies should now be doing with data insights.

During the pandemic, many companies have seen customer attitudes and behaviour changing beyond recognition – and that having access to data insights is essential.

Within a fortnight of lockdown, the majority of content associated with brands in online news was dominated by Covid-19. This wasn’t surprising, given the effect of the pandemic on travel and the retail/hospitality sectors.  

This meant businesses wanted (and needed) data analysis to understand what was being said about them in the Covid-19 context and how this might impact their reputation and market positioning. It was vital to know how consumer perception of a brand would shape future buying behaviour.

For example, in one sector that continued trading in lockdown – building and construction – we tracked what became a consumer backlash from the public, family and friends of construction workers, who felt they were being put at risk.

At the retail end of construction, we tracked social media data to understand whether the public felt a particular retailer should be trading at all – and this helped tailor the messaging about how outlets were managed in terms of social distancing and the way company representatives (e.g. delivery drivers) should behave.

Karen Williams of Tribe

Combining this with granular analysis of customer reviews on Trustpilot – shining a light on what was driving positive and negative sentiment – we could tell which bits of the customer experience were working and which were not.

And while some companies panicked, shutting down social media platforms to stem negative customer comments, we recommended the value of keeping social channels open and sharing content that demonstrated real empathy, such as mental health initiatives.

Understanding the data behind what unhappy people are saying online – because they’re probably complaining for a reason – means you can identify and fix things that are going wrong.

Listening to and learning from data in future

Unfortunately, a lot of companies might listen but then don’t take the learnings, even when they have data coming out of their ears.

However, smart businesses now realise they need to be nearer to real-time data about what people are thinking and feeling to manage situations effectively.

Data is vital, but companies probably need to be more selective about what they’re looking at, which means re-engineering their data gathering and analysis methods to see the missing pieces in the jigsaw.

So, what are the types of data that are most relevant, valuable and actionable for businesses now? 

  1. Competitor data

Benchmarking your company’s reputation, market positioning, public relations and marketing communications effectiveness against the competition provides an early warning of whether you’re falling behind or where others are winning where your business won previously.

  • Customer perception

Knowing how you stand in the mind of the customer based on what they’re exposed to online gives you a grasp of what they’re thinking about your company.

  • PR and marketing communications impact

Capturing and analysing what appears online and in Google search tells you what your audience is actually seeing, engaging with and is influenced by. So, this measures the actual impact of your PR and marcomms activity.

Understanding this is becoming ever more important, as the reliance on online news increases and the generation who are your future customers are almost entirely influenced by what they see online.

Using data – a word of caution

Having the ability to base your PR, marketing and customer experience activity on data is important.

However, that involves being focused on the right data. Otherwise, you risk making bad business decisions – and that includes the briefs you provide to creative teams about which messages and channels will get the best results.

Ultimately, you want your data insights to help you select the best PR and marketing mix that will deliver business outcomes and a return on investment. Really understanding the underlying data will help you to not pour money down the sink at a time when no business can afford to.  

Data-driven improvement

In all areas of corporate life, leaders and teams are looking for improvements and evolution, whether on the production line or in brand reputation, marketing and sales. In a world driven by customers who are more demanding of companies than ever – and who aren’t easily fooled – having access to data and insights is part of making business perform better.

The great strides PR and marketing professionals have made in measuring the impact of their work is now becoming more ingrained in the way company leaders think and will be part of business improvement going forward.

This means data and insights are a permanent fixture now; but organisations still have a way to go in knowing how to use data insights effectively for financial health, reputation and customer satisfaction.

For expert data capture and analysis for business email Karen Williams at Tribe or telephone 0845 437 9340.

For support translating data into PR activity email Metamorphic PR or telephone 0161 672 7000.

Also in the series:

#1 Brand strategy for post-pandemic business recovery

#2 Video content for post-pandemic business recovery

#3 Media relations for post-pandemic business recovery

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