How do you feel when you buy something amazing from your favorite store? Or get a delicious meal from a new restaurant? Are you so excited that you want to share that feeling with the world through reviews? That's online sentiment.
Online sentiment is the emotion people experience when engaging with your brand, product or service. Whether a customer is making a purchase from your online store, writing a review about your business or mentioning you in a social post, it is always somehow driven by emotion. The goal for a business owner is for this to be a positive emotion, which will in turn help grow your brand and reputation and lead to the overall success of your business.
What is sentiment analysis?
Measuring online sentiment is a vital way to chart those emotions by tracking the tone, context, and feelings behind the words your customers type into their keyboards. The act of measuring sentiment is called sentiment analysis. It is simply a way to more accurately understand how people really feel about your brand. Are they happy that it exceeds their expectations? Are they upset or disappointed in your product? Or are they still withholding judgment and support for some reason?
It can be done using technology, interacting with your customers or simply by reading and monitoring posts, reviews, and other mentions of your brand or company online.
- Most online posts are emotionally charged, whether positive or negative – online sentiment provides a way to measure that.
- Online sentiment can affect whether or not people will purchase your products and can even predict market changes and economic downturns.
- Tracking online sentiment allows business owners to discover what people like and don’t like about their products. It’s a valuable tool to measure and allow you to act on customer satisfaction.
- Why measure online sentiment?
- How to measure online sentiment
- Tools for sentiment analysis
- Sentiment analysis FAQs
Why measure online sentiment?
Measuring online sentiment unlocks key customer satisfaction information that will help you make more informed business choices in the future. Improving sentiment is one of the key objectives of reputation marketing and can lead to higher trust in your brand, better employees, and, of course, higher profits.
By understanding how customers feel about your company or brand, you can determine which areas of your business might need improvement, as well as how to focus on the things your brand is doing correctly. You’ll be able to create products, marketing materials and social media content that both your customers and prospective customers will be more receptive to and avoid missteps in customer service and marketing.
Here are a few more reasons why it is important to measure online sentiment.
- Better gauge customer satisfaction: Knowing how satisfied people are with your product enables you to make as-needed adjustments to create products customers will be sure to love and will appeal to a larger consumer base.
- Improve customer loyalty: Tracking online sentiment can reveal who your most loyal customers are and what types of engagements positively resonate with them the most. This information will even allow you to create loyalty programs that offer discounts or promotions targeted for a specific emotional impact and tailored to your unique client base. This interaction will in turn snowball into more positive online sentiment.
- Predict the likelihood of continued engagement: If a customer is happy with your brand, they will not only be more likely to continue purchasing from you but also share their positive experiences online. If they’re not, you will be able to engage with them in an effort to change their minds. This allows you to manage the process and guide your sentiment growth.
An eye to the future
Until now, we’ve mainly covered what online sentiment means for your brand. But sentiment data extends beyond individual brand health to the larger economy and consumer trends. This information can be of the utmost importance to you and your brand and can provide an incredible advantage for your business.
A study by Cornell University recently found that sentiment indicators can be used to forecast future recessions because it provides a direct measure of the polarity of the information consumers and producers are exposed to.
This can be vital, especially for a small business, because it allows them to make course corrections or be prepared for changes in a public sector. You can also chart social changes that will allow you to make adjustments to your business model to be on the cutting edge of your industry. Even the smallest preparations or insight into future trends can give you massive advantages, allowing you to be proactive with your business plans and not trying to catch up with your competition. In fact, if implemented properly, they may be trying to catch up with you.
How to measure online sentiment
The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to create engaging experiences, market efficiently, and create a product they'll want to talk about online. Their emotional state when interacting with your brand is key here. Measuring and tracking online sentiment will help you better understand your customers and their buying behavior.
Here’s how to measure online sentiment:
- Monitor reviews: Reviews can be very polarizing since most people only leave an online review if they either love or hate something. For this reason, it is usually pretty easy to determine the sentiment behind reviews. By carefully monitoring reviews, you can determine if the overall sentiment around your brand is positive, negative or neutral. Remember to respond to both positive and negative reviews to show that you are engaged with your customers.
- Monitor social media: Posting on social media is so quick and easy that people often emotionally post in the heat of the moment without thinking too much about it. This is why it’s important to monitor the sentiment behind social media posts to respond quickly and professionally to what your customers are saying. Since social media is such a collaborative platform, there are plenty of sentiment metrics to track, including the comment tone or emotion, frequency of comments, number of likes and number of shares, mentions and overall engagement.
- Direct customer feedback: It is also important to measure the sentiment of direct customer feedback. There are two main sources of feedback; either a customer will reach out to you through support emails or chat functionality or you can ask them for feedback through in-app rating prompts or text or email campaigns. You can assign tags to these conversations to score each one on its sentiment. Often this feedback will be detailed and personal since the respondent feels they are talking directly with a person from the brand, versus sharing a review that is aimed at the online public.
- Calculate your Net Promoter Score: Your net promoter score (NPS) measures customer experience by asking your customers the question: How likely is it that you would recommend [your brand] to a friend or colleague? They’ll respond with a number between 1-10, with 1-6 meaning they are unhappy with your brand, 7-8 meaning they are neutral, and 9-10 meaning they are enthusiastic and likely to promote your brand.
Your NPS is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. If your NPS is high, you likely have a positive online sentiment and customers who are willing to actively promote your brand.
- Research your competitors: Compare and contrast your company with your competitors to see what the industry standard is. This will help you better understand what's expected, what's unusual, and what's outright fake when measuring your company's online sentiment. Research what people like and what they don't, and what some of the common complaints are. Also investigate the reactions that people have and what positive and emotional connections customers have with the companies and brands.
Tools for sentiment analysis
Here is a non-exhaustive list of sentiment analysis tools.
- Sprout Social
- Critical Mention
- Parallel Dots
- Hootsuite Insights (UberVu)
- IBM Watson Tone Analyzer
Once you have begun to monitor and track online sentiment, it’s time to act on the information you’ve acquired. These customer insights are only as valuable as you make them. Measuring online sentiment provides key insights into customer engagement's tone, context, and feelings.
Always listen to what your customers are saying about your brand and you can better serve them, which will improve your online reputation as well.
Sentiment analysis FAQs
What is online sentiment?
Online sentiment is the emotion that people feel when engaging with your brand, product, or service.
How do you measure online sentiment?
You can measure online sentiment using sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis often uses artificial intelligence to identify the emotional tone of an online mention such as social media posts. It's important because it can be used to monitor the feelings and opinions that people have about your brand. You can also gain insight on your own from reading and actively interacting with reviews and contacts regarding your business or product.
Why is online sentiment important?
Measuring online sentiment unlocks key customer satisfaction information that will help you make more informed business choices in the future. You can better gauge customer satisfaction, improve customer loyalty and predict the likelihood of continued engagement. It can also provide you with insight into potential downturns in your sector or industry and make preparations or business course corrections, potentially putting you ahead of the curve.
How do you measure online sentiment?
You can measure online sentiment by monitoring reviews, monitoring social media, and calculating your net promoter score.
What is net promoter score?
Your net promoter score measures customer experience by asking your customers the question: How likely is it that you would recommend [your brand] to a friend or colleague?