It's every marketer’s dream to have an open window into how a customer feels when interacting with the product or service they are promoting. And while marketing strategists can gain in-depth knowledge into consumer demographic data and online behaviours, customers’ emotions are still the one component of buying decisions that it’s hard to measure.
Emotional data, also referred to as customer sentiment data, allows brands to gain a better sense of their customer data and draw actionable insights.
So, how is it possible to collect such information? As it’s often the case, technology comes in our help. Thanks to facial recognition, haptic touch and wearables, biofeedback data can be gathered to analyse and interpret consumers’ emotions at a given time. For marketers, it’s a great opportunity to tap into customers’ emotional state across different touchpoints – when they make a purchase or interact with a brand online, in person, or on social media.
One of the biggest challenges of event strategists is to measure the return of experience and understand how attendees feel like and engage with the different components of a live event, be it a session, an activation, a networking moment etc.
Emotional data can be an effective way to overcome this obstacle – but not an easy one to crack.
We sat down with Oscar Cerezales, our Executive Vice President of the Corporate Division, to discuss emotional data and whether it lives up to its promises.
Traditionally, companies have been preoccupied with gathering numerical data on their customers. Now, many marketers are advocating for better insights into the emotional context around those data. What do you think can be the added value?
Cerezales: The end goal of marketers is lead generation and ultimately – sales. What is now happening is a hyper fragmentation of marketers spend on the omnichannel. In the old days, marketers could spend on TV, radio, print, maybe a trade show. Now, there are more than 150 different channels to choose from.
Emotional data is great to have a sniper approach on each channel and collect often-hard-to-measure engagement and sentiment data. But successfully capturing that data and yield insights cannot be done unless organisations consider the data collected at different touchpoints in its entirety across channels and have a solid technological infrastructure to help.
Collecting emotional data at events – why and how should it be done?
Cerezales: If you think about why events are held. Normally, there is an organisation that needs to activate their community around a product or a service. Especially on the corporate side, we are witnessing a lot of behavioural change. Brands want to see how an event impacts a participant, whether he got inspired, whether it influenced his buying decision, or whether it fostered in him a sense of community. In this sense, events are so popular because they deliver a positive ROI. The problem is that this ROI is hard to track.
This is also true – especially so – for emotional data. To track emotional data at events, you need touchpoints and data points with the audience. You need data analysts, facial recognition cameras across the venue, an AI software to process the information, basically a whole infrastructure. I know of events that have successfully implemented facial recognition, but it’s still in its infancy. Not to mention the privacy issue it might rise... as an industry, we’re not there yet.
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What is the main issue when it comes to measuring an event’s ROI?
Cerezales: There are so many moving parts to an event and brands’ marketing efforts are so fragmented. Brands invest in events, but also in social media, advertising etc. So it’s hard to understand why a consumer decides to purchase. You know that events were important in the marketing mix, but you don’t know if they were 20% or 50% important. That's also why the possibility in the future of optimising the tracking and measuring of attendees’ satisfaction and engagement through emotional data in real-time is definitely one to keep an eye on.
What is the role of technology in the gathering and interpretation of emotional data?
Cerezales: It’s fundamental of course. You need advanced technology like AI, machine learning and facial recognition to create a customer-centric marketing strategy and deliver top-notch customer experiences. However, it’s not only about the technology itself. You need the right professional figures who know what the right questions to ask are, who know what the right time is to capture those data based not only on how the technology works, but also on their knowledge of human behaviours.
What are the must-have qualities a team should have to achieve that?
Cerezales: You need data scientists, analysts and a complete set of people who are on the rational and technical side of the strategy. But then you need the human side, those who can interpret the data to help brands extract meaningful and actionable insights. I’m talking about anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists. You need both to reach a complete final solution.
John Mellor, VP of strategy and marketing at Adobe, stated that “Emotion is the currency of experience, and is an absolute necessity when creating great experiences”. Do you agree?
Cerezales: Emotions are a powerful and irresistible feature of events. You want to create a lasting impact in your attendees, for them to feel connected to your brand and keep on coming back to that experience. It's very clear that click-through rates or traffic are becoming less meaningful compared to what marketers want to achieve and the possibilities technology is giving us. Emotions are one of the metrics of the future – there is just some more work to do for the event industry.