Does Your Brand Have ESP?
By Jeanette McMurtry August 4, 2015
Remember when personalization was the coolest thing in direct marketing, and we couldn’t wait to cash in on the increased ROI from writing customers’ names in the clouds and detailing their transaction history in letters, PURLs and email copy?
And then personalization became commoditized and we all tried to find the next big rush to higher ROI. For many that is retargeting, or monitoring individuals’ Web activities and placing ads about recent interests on random pages.
Even with privacy concerns, behavior tracking seems to be working wonders. We consumers seem okay to see ads on our Facebook page about products we just abandoned in a shopping cart or on a Google search page moments later. Consumers of all ages seem unfazed by such monitoring and retargeting activities that Baby Boomers might call Big Brother and Millennials call Big Data!
Regardless of whether your customers are in the Big Brother or Big Data generation, personalization through retargeting is the most effective way to build sales today. Right? Or maybe not so much?
According to Andrew Shebbeare in an article published on AdExchanger, retargeting is not the end-all answer to incremental sales. In fact, retargeting might be more of a waste than a bonus as most predictive analytics tools recommend products the shopper is likely to buy at some point, anyway. So marketers could be spending big money to get sales they’re poised to get anyway.
Thankfully, we still have transactional data that drives incremental sales by restating specific aspects of a customers’ relationship with our brand in our marketing communications. That’s still working, right? Or could it be traditional data systems based on transactional or browsing histories miss a key driver in consumers’ decision processes?
To me, that missing key driver is ESP, and I’m not talking that sixth sense or psychic ability to detect paranormal behavior. I’m talking about another ESP — emotional selling propositions — or messaging about the emotional vs. functional value of a product, which have helped me achieve anything but “normal” results, including triple-digit increases in revenue and response rates. However, the trick is finding technology that truly gives you that sixth sense about which emotions drive behavior, and then enables you to personalize messages accordingly during the actual purchase process.
Finally, we’ve arrived. New technology can track individuals’ specific interests and emotions while they are shopping, enabling us deliver personalized messages that are relevant to both their conscious and unconscious minds in real-time, while they are shopping — not just thinking about it. This alone is taking ROI to a whole new dimension.
According to Ari Ginsberg, co-founder and CMO of Cognilyze, an e-commerce personalization system, when marketers use data to trigger the likes, wants and needs of the unconscious mind, they can get sales they would not have otherwise. By appealing to psychological thought processes that occur in our subconscious, marketers can create interest in products completely unrelated to those currently being browsed and considered, and thus get true incremental, or unplanned sales.
“By taking a very different approach to big data and sales, we can show consumers products they did not even know they wanted or needed, and generate sales retailers would have otherwise have missed out on,” says Ginsberg. “We do this by assigning an emotional value to a product, not a person.”
Huh? Emotional attributes for products? Instead of showing products like socks to buy with new running shoes which has become expected, Cognilyze’s system analyzes the emotional values of the products a given shopper is browsing. It then quickly identifies products with like values that have been assigned by Cognilyze’s research team, and shows the shopper these products, as well. It could be as counterintuitive as showing a consumer shopping for a couch a car seat for a baby. Not at all related in terms of function or style, but very much related to the emotional values of creating a safe and comfortable setting for a family. As Ginsberg says, this approach is so effective at generating valid incremental sales it could be disruptive to the entire big data industry.
Cognilyze tested its approach to assigning emotions to products vs. shoppers among a group of Sears’ "Shop Your Way" customers. They gave participants a list of recommended products across a category. The top 10 recommended products were then matched to the online shoppers’ responses about products they liked, needed, and already had. Many of the top 10 recommendations triggered by Cognilyze’s emotional/psychological model ended up in shoppers’ list of desired products.
Explains Ginsberg, “When you consider we were blind to any statistical correlation or categorical affiliation, its pretty telling just how powerful it is to tap the unconscious values associated with purchases than just the conscious ones obvious from past transactions.”
Another group that is disrupting the way marketers use data to understand and influence behavior is BehaviorMatrix, creators of real-time marketing software that monitors consumers’ attitudes and feelings through another form of ESPs – their patented Emotional Signal Processing technology and a contextual Natural Language Processing Engine. By monitoring conversations on social media channels, they can determine consumers’ emotions about an issue, brand or product, on a minute-by-minute basis. Marketers can then deliver content and offers that are relevant to a consumer’s current state of emotions, not just their shopping interest at a given moment.
BehaviorMatrix goes one step further to assure accurate interpretation of the data collected. Instead of just monitoring social conversations on various public channels, they monitor the context of the stimulus, or how it was presented in a specific situation. In other words, they can filter out sarcasm, and identify anomalies in attitudes that might not reflect a consumers’ true attitude. I'm not sure you can get a much more precise look inside the minds of your consumers to see what is moving them at any given moment.
Imagine the implications. Your customers are feeling euphoric about a new technology that you happen to offer, and you deliver a message to them with an offer at the very moment of heightened interest. Or you discover many of your customers are engaged in social media conversations about environmental issues that are associated with your brand, and they support the opposing viewpoints. Time for an educational campaign you didn’t know you needed to execute.
Take ESP to the second power — emotional selling propositions with emotional signal processors, and the results can be out of this world.
According to Bill Thompson, co-founder, chairman and CEO of BehaviorMatrix, emotional-tracking technology is not just game-changing for brands, its disruptive to the entire direct marketing industry. With 90 percent of our thoughts driven by our emotions, per many neuromarketing studies, he could be on to something really revolutionary.
“Transactional data models deliver standard results for direct marketers, which are typically around 1 to 3 percent response rates,” says Thompson. “Our technology has consistently delivered double-digit open rates and conversions, giving marketers a much higher ROI.”
Its just not the ability to communicate emotionally in real time that drives sales in today’s digital markets, it's also a brand’s ability to tap who and what influences consumers’ behavior. This is what puts BehaviorMatrix at the forefront of what could be the next revolutionary change in direct marketing. And this vision actually came to Thompson when he was having his own kind of “blue ocean” experience.
“When scuba diving, I was intrigued to find that groups of fish reacted to my presence differently, yet they were all fish,” recalls Thompson. “I concluded that, of course, we as consumers are like animals. Groups of consumers may look alike, but could be programmed to interpret stimuli and act very differently.”
Thompson asked his team of mathematicians to create algorithms that can technologically observe human behavior and identify reactive patterns into which most people fall, and to find ways to identify the influencers for each of those groups.
“We discovered four crowd types in which most people fall,” continues Thompson. “When we can identify the influencers of those crowds and their emotional values, we can predict behavior within groups with a very high-level of precision and that, in turn, enables organizations of all kinds to influence behavior and achieve ROIs not reachable before.”
Again, think of the implications of being able to influence your customers’ influencers in real-time and with high emotional relevance? This kind of personalization and ROI was unthinkable just a few years ago.
Wayin, a social media intelligence firm, recently surveyed 200 marketing executives engaged in real-time marketing. Of respondents, 98 percent claim they are achieving a positive ROI and 89 percent say they can fully tie real-time marketing results to measureable business goals. Results like this validate that real-time personalization is mission-critical for just about any business today.
- Marketers in all industries need to build their brand’s ESP powers:
- Utilize emotional sensory processers to monitor consumers’ actual emotions about your category and brand.
- Define your brands ESP messaging, or emotional selling proposition, that presents the hidden emotional fulfillment of your products or services.
- Assign corresponding emotional attributes to your products so you can personalize recommendations that make sense to unconscious and conscious drivers.
- The results are something any of us can get emotional about!