INBOX INSIGHTS, May 4, 2022: Listening to Audiences, AI and Data Science Jobs

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I had planned on writing about good and bad leaders this week. Actually, I have the post written and ready to go.

However, my gut was telling me that given everything going on, recent news about leaked drafts from SCOTUS, states making it illegal to be exactly who you are, wars that make us feel helpless…and on and on…it wasn’t going to hit the mark. It may even come across as tone-deaf. So I’m pausing for this week, taking a step back, and making sure I’m reading the room.

If you scroll down, Chris is covering Twitter data in the Data Diaries this week. I was asking him if he also felt that I should pause and take a breath this week. He looked into his data and the analysis validates my gut feeling that many of you are preoccupied with non-marketing topics.

So, with that, I want to give you space to focus your energy where it needs to be.

If you need the distraction, keep reading!

If you don’t, I’ll see you next week. Take care of yourself.

When to Stop Talking and Listen to Your Audience

I remember a few jobs ago we used to joke that one of the key stakeholders was an N of 1. Meaning that despite what anyone else wanted, whatever he wanted was what we had to do with our products. We begged and pleaded to talk to our audience, even went so far as to put together a plan to activate the audience with a Voice of the Customer initiative. What we got instead was a fruitless and expensive dinner for an elite group of prospects that had no intention of working with us. It was a waste of time and money, and we never really got to the bottom of what our customers wanted from us.

So what is the lesson here? If you aren’t listening to your audience, how the heck do you know what they want from you? You’re making assumptions and guesses. Gut feelings are a good starting place but they aren’t enough. You should be validating your instincts with data. Creating the wrong experience that no one asked for is not the way to be successful.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of different places where you can gather customer data. If you have a chatbot or support system you can mine those databases for sentiment and solvable problems. If you are on social media, there are social listening tools that can help you understand the conversations being had. If you run a community, well, you’ll know firsthand what people are talking about.

My friend Brooke Sellas is about to release a book all about this. Actually, she and I are going to be hosting a free webinar on May 24th, talking about Customer Care through the Customer Journey, and you’ll get excerpts from her book along the way.

In the webinar, we’ll be walking through each phase of the digital customer journey and sharing advice on how to really understand what your audience needs at that time.

You can register for the webinar here »

The short and sweet point this week is to stop and listen. Listen to what your audience is saying and what they care about. It may tell you that it’s time to pause because they can’t focus on you right now.

Need a distraction from reality?

Come find me in me in our Free Slack Group Analytics for Marketers »

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris discuss whether AI and machine learning will imperil the career of the data scientist. What is data science, and how much of it can be automated and handled by machines? Tune in to find out.

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s look at an example of how we should be using near real-time data to make marketing and business decisions. One of the tried and true tropes in business is that we should be listening to our customers, we should be paying careful attention to the voice of the customer.

How often do we do that? How carefully do we pay attention to our customers, to our audiences? Most organizations do a narrow form of listening, listening for mentions of themselves and possibly competitors. But that isn’t what our audience – you – are interested in or talking about most of the time. It’s the height of delusion on any CMO’s part to believe that we occupy more than a tiny fraction of our audience’s mindshare.

How would we go about knowing what’s on our audience’s minds? One of the simplest ways is through social media listening. With tools like the Twitter API and platforms like Talkwalker and Crowdtangle, it’s possible to monitor what’s being shared by a curated group of people, a segment of the audience, and see what they’re talking about.

For this example, we’ll use the folks who follow Trust Insights on Twitter. Why this audience? It represents people who want to hear from us in at least some capacity. Many of you follow us there, and just as you listen to us, we listen to you. We specifically want to know what’s on YOUR mind, not the public as a whole, which is why we like Twitter followers and lists for this specific purpose. For other companies, you might want to listen to Instagram or Reddit or Tiktok or the network of your choice, if the data is available.

Using Twitter’s API, we looked at your tweets over the past 30 days to see what you’re talking about. That data gets fed into topic modeling software (a type of machine learning), distilled down to a series of topics with the words and phrases broken out in each topic:

Topics on Twitter

Note that of our followers, a substantial number of conversations have cropped up just in the last 48 hours about the Supreme Court’s draft ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. A topic as prominent as this showing up in a large topic model indicates it’s a key point of discussion, one that you, our audience, care a lot about. In turn, that governed Katie’s content strategy for the opening letter in this week’s issue.

Should we attempt “business as usual”? Clearly not – two days of a single topic dominating an entire month’s worth of data shows that this is very, very important to you. Pretending it’s not happening would be the height of foolishness and would completely disregard your voice. If we went back in time two months, we would see the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia as a dominating topic in your tweets, and that reaffirmed our decision at the end of February to suspend our normal marketing for more than a week.

Here’s the key point: social listening software should be used for more than just listening for people talking about your brand and company. You should use it frequently to take the pulse of your customers, your audience, your people – then use that information to guide your overall communications strategy. To do otherwise not only disrespects your audience, but puts your brand and reputation at risk.

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