Understand your market, understand your business
The days of historical reports and traditional market research sampling methods are over. Now, to be competitive, businesses need online reputation management data included in the business intelligence (BI) mix, delivering real-time information and insights.
So says SaidWOT MD Philip Mostert.
Noting that businesses need to move faster and that there has been a shift in terms of brand ownership, Mostert says companies need both internal and external BI insights in real time, in order to act on them quickly and remain competitive.
"We now truly operate within a market-driven economy. Consumers own your brand and marketers have got to relinquish brand custody. Therefore, you need to understand what the market wants, what forces are at play in the market, and what the current sentiment and perception is around your brand.
"Businesses also need to understand what their competitors are doing, and capitalise on this information quickly. There has been long, vigorous debate around the true impact BI can have, says Mostert.
"If BI is not used to its full potential, and you don't understand all the external factors in the market, ultimately, you don't understand your business."
However, gathering real-time data across the entire market can seem like a daunting challenge. Traditional information gathering entailed lengthy market research projects and monitoring news. These processes were slow, delivered limited, sample-based information, and may have produced results that were outdated by the time they had been compiled into a report.
Mostert, whose company specialises in online reputation management, says tracking and analysing market sentiment and conditions online allows companies to vastly expand their information sources - quickly and efficiently, and most importantly, more affordably than with old-style market research.
"By scoping the entire universe, you get a true indication of what the market wants. And this doesn't just serve for marketing. It can benefit the business across the board. You could, for example, track employee behaviour, redefine distribution opportunities, improve R&D, and seek out macro trends that could ultimately impact the company's bottom line.
"And because you can do it in real time, you can act quickly, before the market changes."
The data delivering these valuable insights comes from millions of sources, says Mostert. "Much of the volume of market information sits in social media - mostly Twitter and Facebook. But it also comes from sources such as mainstream news media, video and image-sharing sites, consumer forums and blogs."
This is an area that is constantly growing, and varies according to what each company needs to track, says Mostert. And not all sources have equal weight, he notes.
"You have to consider the reputational impact of sources and focus on those with greater reputational or PR impact."
Mostert says companies are increasingly seeing the benefits of online reputation management through a specialist ORM partner who can offer tracking, customised reporting and analysis services.
However, some, such as those with contact centres, may prefer to run ORM functions in-house, to enable agents to remain always alert to issues, and respond to them immediately. This also reduces the time, cost and potential frustration in managing customer feedback.
While real-time access to changing market sentiments does deliver greater insights, Mostert points out that acting appropriately on these insights is crucial.
"Understanding the market won't necessarily solve your problems - it will just help you understand them," he says.
"Quality output that delivers continued exceptional experiences, quickly and efficiently, is what counts," says Mostert.
Mostert will discuss online reputation management at the upcoming ITWeb BI Summit. For more information about this event, please click here.