July 11, 2018
Comms Best Practices
/ by Cision Contributor
It’s safe to say that nearly every business seeks to be more data-driven these days. Being able to back up your statements and decision making with cold hard statistics is a great way to build trust between your brand and your customer base.
However, a brand story cannot be built on data alone. After all, a brand is more than numbers; it is made up of feelings, experiences and relationships.
Unfortunately, a business that prides itself on storytelling and communication may feel threatened by the influx of data-driven PR and marketing methods that leave little room for creativity.
However, this opinion is not only wrong; it’s contradictory to a strong PR strategy. Data supports storytelling by bringing credibility and reliability to the message your PR content is putting out.
Here’s how to ensure that your PR strategies are able to incorporate data into the storytelling aspect.
In general, people do not trust what businesses say about themselves. In fact, according to Edelman’s trust report, 48 percent of consumers do not believe the messages that businesses put out, especially when it comes to paid media.
But people do believe other people. 85 percent of online shoppers rate customer reviews as reliable as a recommendation from a trusted friend, making customer feedback an important tool for trustworthy PR messages. However, how can these be used for a data-driven story? Easy. Look for the patterns and transform it into data points.
For example, if the majority of your reviews are positive, then you can turn those messages into a percentage.
“88 percent of our customers report a ‘positive experience’”
“Nine out of ten satisfied customers would recommend us to a friend or colleague.”
Of course, gathering this kind of positive data is easier for some brands than others, especially if you have no system in place for gathering and analyzing reviews. Tools like Trustpilot can be of great assistance here. Not only does this tool encourage customers to leave genuine reviews by offering a simple feedback platform, it can help your brand sift through and identify commonalities. It also compiles the data points from customer reviews into analytical reports that can help your team measure the responses.
Take a look at the messages that your customers are leaving. Where are the overlaps? What words are commonly used and what is the general sentiment from your audience? You can even design your questions to be easily translated into data, such as asking their likelihood to repurchase or including a star rating.
By incorporating data-driven statements straight from your customers into your PR messages, other consumers will be far more likely to trust your brand and engage with it. Let your audience tell the story by sharing their experiences, results and feelings. Then use their own unbiased words to attract future customers.
Chances are that your customers are already organized by specific segments to help your PR team get into the minds of the consumer. This strategy enables brands to get a clearer picture of their audience by transforming them into “personalities” — rather than just generalizations.
These segments can also help to identify certain pain points that your customers face to support data-driven storytelling. In addition to looking at reviews, the best way to do this is by listening to what your customers have to say with social listening and media monitoring software. By observing the conversations each segment is having about your brand, product, or industry, you can easily identify the top concerns, objections, and talking points.
For instance, say that your B2B company offers inventory management software to small-to-medium enterprises. Some of your segments may be by industry, such as companies that service retail, agriculture, or online entities. By tracking the trending topics in each of those segments with monitoring systems, you have the exact data-sets you need to support your PR direction.
From here, your PR stories can talk about the fact that 75 percent of retail vendors do not have inventory management software in place, and that 60 percent of companies regularly over-order supplies. Share with your audience the fact that 80 percent of e-commerce businesses struggle to maintain inventory balances, but those that use inventory management software (like the product your business sells) report a 25 percent increase in profits.
Media monitoring can also help you keep track of how your customers are relating to your brand. Any time your brand name is mentioned online, whether it be through social posts, blog mentions, or media inclusions, you can be notified and track the message’s reach and response. This information can certainly help your team identify pain points directly related to your company or product and allow for more meaningful responses.
Segmenting your audience into specific categories helps you understand their needs and desires, which is why many marketing and PR teams divide customers into incredibly specific niches. This strategy is not only incredibly helpful for organizing and attracting groups to your brand; it can also help you clarify pain points to guide your PR campaigns with the data to back it up.
Influencers can be the best storytellers of all, and they are without a doubt an essential piece to the PR puzzle in today’s market. But making data-driven partnering decisions can be more complex than just finding the influencers that some of your customers may be interested in.
Unfortunately, the majority of marketers find that identifying the best influencer accounts to reach relevant audiences is their top challenge with this type of strategy. Influencers are incredibly niche-driven, so their reach may only cover a portion of your business’s audience.
The best way to judge whether or not an influencer will reach relevant audiences is by looking at their content, rather than their followers. More importantly, look for the overlaps in which their messaging and vision matches yours. The topics they focus on and their niche authority is far easier to identify, and it can prove whether or not a promotion of your brand will be a relevant fit.
Tools like Cision’s influencer platform can help you narrow down the possibilities and segment influencer accounts into their clearest niches. From here, you can get a better sense of the type of content they share and see whether it is thought-leadership driven or brand-focused. Cision’s influencer platform makes this step easy by compiling content from all online sources, including social media sites, YouTube video content, blog articles, etc., into one report for an exclusive look at their range of topics.
Be sure to look out for content similarities that would contribute to a successful partnership. After all, if that account covered the same topics that your business included in previous content, a brand mention on their page would fit right in.
Simply stating a message is not enough. With consumers’ continuously losing trust in the media and businesses, you must be able to back up your statements and choices with objective facts. Weaving data points into your brand’s PR storytelling strategies is the best way to establish trustworthy and relevant messages to catch your audience’s attention and maintain their interest. Ultimately, the goal of this is to create loyalty.
Taral Patel is a digital marketer at E2M Solutions Inc with a focus on creating high-quality content and strong content marketing strategy that helps businesses to improve their overall online presence.
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