CFM Research

Semantic Content Analysis = Asking Consumers What Resonates and Why

Knowing what marketing content resonates is critical. But so is knowing why it resonates. If you know why certain kinds of marketing content resonates, you can keep producing that kind of content. Finding out is referred to as semantic content analysis. But it can be as simple as talking to your customers about what turns them on to your product.

Knowing what marketing content resonates is critical. But so is knowing why it resonates. If you know why certain kinds of marketing content resonates, you can keep producing that kind of content. Finding out is referred to as semantic content analysis. But it can be as simple as talking to your customers about what turns them on to your product.

Lots of market research goes into identifying what content resonates most with target audiences. A lot less time and effort goes into discovering why content resonates.

Data analysis can show what content clicks and what content crashes. Semantic content analysis comes into play to determine why text or images clicks.

The simplest form of semantic content analysis is asking viewers what they liked about something they read or saw. You can ask open-ended questions or ask viewers to rank specific elements of the text or image. For example, you could ask about the background, lighting, color combination, product view and people in marketing material. Responses would provide valuable clues about what the secret sauce of eye-catching and appealing content. 

For text, questions about a product might zero in on the language used, emphasis on unique features, mention of the value proposition and description of ease of use.

A basic semantic content analysis approach is to ask consumers to evaluate the elements of your marketing materials. Their responses can reveal what is eye-catching and what is glance-averting. These clues can guide future content marketing creation so you achieve more hits than misses.

A basic semantic content analysis approach is to ask consumers to evaluate the elements of your marketing materials. Their responses can reveal what is eye-catching and what is glance-averting. These clues can guide future content marketing creation so you achieve more hits than misses.

A variation of this simple approach would be to ask a group of loyal consumers to evaluate and rank recent TV and social media advertising. In addition to asking what resonated and what didn’t, you could ask these consumers whether the advertising conformed to their understanding of your brand promise. You also could ask for their suggestions of advertising content. 

These simpler forms of semantic content analysis can occur effectively in live formats or online. In many ways, they are similar to focus groups, but focused less on messaging and more on impression.

Big data, with the use of artificial intelligence, may allow you to scale semantic content analysis. By compiling actual human reactions to specific text and image traits, machines can adopt a human-like eye that can be applied to marketing material as it’s being developed. The idea would be to eliminate guesswork by conducting analysis before it goes public.

If content marketing is your mainstay marketing strategy, it makes sense to spend extra time to ensure your content does what you intend it to do in the eyes of your target audience. In the absence of X-Ray vision or omnipotence, asking your audience to assess your content and tell you what they like is a pretty straightforward and smart approach. Engaging them in your content creation process may produce unexpected rewards – content requested and delivered.

Often big terms, such as semantic content analysis, sound ominous. However, when you break the task down to basic consumer engagement, it can be as simple as asking your consumers for feedback – or questions. That can pave a pathway for you to follow to content marketing success.

 

One-on-One Interviews Create Partners in Decision-Making

One-on-one interviews share the same concept as management by walking around – turning interviewees, employees and stakeholders into partners in critical decision-making.

One-on-one interviews share the same concept as management by walking around – turning interviewees, employees and stakeholders into partners in critical decision-making.

Management by walking around and talking to front-line workers was made famous by Tom Peters. The concept boils down to making employees – or any stakeholders – a partner in the decision-making process.

(Reposted from July 2, 2019)

(Reposted from July 2, 2019)

That same inclusionary concept is embedded in the research techniques of one-on-one interviews and community roundtables. Stakeholders are interviewed or participate in a group discussion to inform decision-making, whether it’s for a business, project or major initiative. 

Too often, research is dismissed as interesting, but not imperative. Just as Peters demonstrated the power of management engagement with workers, one-on-one interviews and roundtables perform the same role by giving decision-makers relevant, timely findings to inform their decisions.

In our world, we say no communications plan is strategic unless it is based on solid research. The same holds true for business plans, policy initiatives, marketing and messaging.

CEOs and managers would be wise to take time to meet with the employees they oversee to learn what they know and apply to inform management decision-making.

CEOs and managers would be wise to take time to meet with the employees they oversee to learn what they know and apply to inform management decision-making.

You may know what you want to say, but you should know what people are willing to hear first. That insight can shape how and where you say your piece. It also can influence who says it.

Given how important knowing in advance the attitudes of your target audience, it is surprising how often research is thrown overboard because it is costly, time-consuming and “unlikely to reveal anything new.” That short-sighted, overly self-confidence perspective has come back to bite many executives, marketers and politicians in the bum. It is an unforced error because one-on-one interviews are one of the least costly and most effective types of qualitative research.

Peters counseled his corporate client executives to get “up close and personal” with their subordinates, especially workers who interface with customers, but have no institutional channel to relay what they discover. Peters also recommended top executives work full shifts with the production staff so they could see first-hand working conditions, process snags and wasted motion. His goal: To create horizontal relationships that allow a free-flow of information.

Trained researchers have the skill to coax insight out of people they interview or whom they moderate in a group discussion. Researchers start with a set of questions designed to spark a conversation, which can expand beyond answering a question to provide invaluable context and perspective. Interviews and group discussions also offer visual clues about emotive reactions to certain issues, words or imagery.

Interviewees, especially if assured they won’t be quoted directly, are typically very forthcoming. After all, most people like to be asked their opinions. They appreciate the chance to answer questions and explain their answers.

Reports based on one-on-one interviews or group discussions don’t contain percentages because this is qualitative, not quantitative research. You are getting their views expressed in their words. The actual words interviewees use are just as important to hear as their answers to the questions.

Executives are hired because they are expected to know how to run their respective organizations. However, many decisions stretch the knowledge or experience of top executives. They need fresh, relevant information to inform the choices they must make. One-on-one interviews and group discussions can provide the information and insight executives need for smart, collaborative decision-making.

 

As Telephone Surveys Fade, Online Research Remains an Option

Fewer Americans are willing to answer their phones to participate in telephone public opinion surveys, which poses a big problem for political operatives who use results to fashion campaign strategies. As pollsters scramble for alternatives, online research stands out as a viable and valuable option.

Fewer Americans are willing to answer their phones to participate in telephone public opinion surveys, which poses a big problem for political operatives who use results to fashion campaign strategies. As pollsters scramble for alternatives, online research stands out as a viable and valuable option.

Telephone surveys have been the gold standard for public opinion polling for decades. That’s about to change.

(Reposted from May 21, 2019)

(Reposted from May 21, 2019)

“Fewer Americans than ever are willing to pick up the phone and talk to pollsters, sending costs skyrocketing to roughly double what they were four years ago,” writes Steven Shepard on Politico.

Pollster Scott Keeter told fellow pollsters recently that telephone surveys are in “wheezing condition” and efforts to find a suitable replacement are like “a great party on the deck of the Titanic.”

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These sober assessments about the ill health of public opinion polling come on the eve of the 2020 presidential election and have many political operatives scrambling to find sources of reliable information on which to base campaign strategies. 

The slow fade of telephone surveys isn’t really news. CFM’s resident researcher, Tom Eiland, explains, “Challenges with phone surveys started with the use of caller ID and voice mail, then Do Not Call lists and really accelerated with the use of cell phones and smartphones.”  

“Telephone surveys have been a great tool that produced high-confidence findings when representative samples were achieved,” Eiland says. “However, telephone use has gone digital and polling has to adjust to that reality.”

Eiland noted CFM’s research sample designs adapted as respondent behavior changed. 

For general population and voter surveys, Eiland recommends using multi-modal sample designs. “This entails using a combination of telephone interviews and online web-based surveys,” he explained. Telephone numbers and email addresses are acquired from trusted third-party vendors to make the combined sample random.

“The trick,” Eiland said, “is to use sample quotas for demographic characteristics, such as age, gender and area, to ensure survey participants are representative of the community.”

 

Millennials Pose Unique Marketing Challenges – And Familiar Ones

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

Millennials, as children of the digital era, pose unique marketing challenges. However, you are more likely to engage them with online video ads and social media with videos. That said, it never hurts to know you target audience and recognize they are a moving target.

(Reposted from May 14, 2019)

(Reposted from May 14, 2019)

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you.  https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/millenial-marketing-strategy/#

Millennials are a moving target, so it helps to understand as much as you can about their demographics. Salesforce did the homework for you. https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/millenial-marketing-strategy/#

Marketing to Millennials is admittedly a challenge. They are as interested in car-sharing as car-buying. Owning a home is less important than being close to the action. They don’t read newspapers or watch commercial television. Their choice of channels seems to change regularly.

To get a better handle on Millennials, a real estate company commissioned a survey and discovered online video advertising is the best vehicle to engage this target audience. Not exactly a eureka moment, but it does confirm – at least for now – that online video still holds appeal.

Online video ads are not a silver bullet. According to the survey, 21 percent of the 1,100 Millennials interviewed said they engage with online video ads, contrasted to only 11 percent of people 39 years or older. Fourteen percent of Millennial respondents said they engage with social media ads with videos.

It’s worth noting, the survey indicated 31 percent of Millennial respondents say they don’t engage with online ads. More than four in 10 older adults say the same thing. That suggests Millennials are simply hard to engage with ads anywhere online.

What the survey underscores is the value of visual content. The second highest source of online engagement (17%) is social media ads with pictures. They attract the highest percentage (14%) of older adults, too.

Search engine ads work better to engage older adults (12%) than Millennials (9%). Display ads on websites and native ads don’t work that well with younger or older adults, based on survey results.

Tommy O’Shaughnessy of Clever Real Estate, which commissioned the survey, says, “In many ways, YouTube has assumed the functional role of television for Millennials. According to an eMarketer study, Millennials watch more digital video than traditional video content, making YouTube an incredibly important tool for marketers.”

He adds, “While Facebook is still the dominant social media platform and reaches the widest audience, the preferences of younger Millennials have begun shifting toward YouTube and Instagram, where video content is more readily available and more fundamental to the experience. However, despite the recent Millennial migration away from Facebook, ads run on the social networking megalith are still more likely to lead to a purchase than ads run on any other platform.” The migration of Millennials from Facebook appears to be tied to growing concerns about its privacy policies.

One nugget buried in the survey is that Millennials are 54 percent more likely than older adults to buy a product suggested by a social media celebrity. That may be the byproduct of older adult unfamiliarity with most social media celebrities.

It may not set apart Millennials from other adults, but the survey underscores they like to laugh and learn at the same time. “Marketing campaigns that provide value to their audience through funny and informative video content stand the best chance of engaging their viewers,” O’Shaughnessy says. “Humorous content is the most likely to strike a chord with millennials (44%), while informative content comes in second (30%).”

“Amusing and informative advertisements elicit good responses from Millennials and Baby Boomers, with the latter demonstrating a slight preference for informative ads,” he explains. “However, marketers need to exercise caution when trying to grab their audience’s attention with a shocking ad, as these performed abysmally across both generations – only 4% of Millennials and 3% of Baby Boomers stated that unsettling ads resonate with them.”

While Millennials, children of the digital age, pose unique marketing challenges, they are still part of the human race. “Although this generation has its idiosyncrasies, Millennial marketing is not such a hard nut to crack,” O’Shaughnessy argues. “Millennials crave content that feels valuable, honest, personal and sticks out from the rest of their feeds. The best way to accomplish this is to create video marketing campaigns that utilize influencers and provide funny, informative content to a brand’s audience.”

 

Market Research as a Key to Managerial Decision-Making

Market research provides valuable insights for marketing, but it also can fill in a portrait of corporate performance from a consumer viewpoint that can inform managerial decision-making.

Market research provides valuable insights for marketing, but it also can fill in a portrait of corporate performance from a consumer viewpoint that can inform managerial decision-making.

Quality market research is as important to management as it is to marketing. Research findings convey meaningful information about a brand’s reputation, its market position and consumer profiles that are critical to effective management strategy.

(Reposted from April 9, 2019)

(Reposted from April 9, 2019)

Market research provides qualitative insights into how a company is performing, which can be as valuable as quantitative data and help avoid a strictly green-eyeshade perspective on a business. Numbers don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the whole story.

Management attention to market research offers a vein of information unavailable from a spreadsheet. The numbers may show you are losing money; market research may give you a window into why.

For a brand wallowing in failure, pages of data won’t reveal how to succeed. Market research might. If your customers are the heart of your brand, checking their pulse would be a direct way to chart the way back to sales and profitability.

Employee morale can be a blind spot for data-driven research. No set of numbers can accurately depict how a workforce relates to the brand it represents. Market research can identify lackluster employee support as an impediment to marketplace success. It also can uncover employee insights, based on first-hand contact with consumers and influencers, into how the brand can succeed.

One of the most dangerous dimensions of management is lighthouse decision-making. Top management is supposed to show the way and stay off the rocks. However, locked up in a towering precipice, managers can be isolated from emerging trends and new realities.

It is not a knock on data to say it is a stick-figure picture of the health of a business. Market research can add flesh to the stick-figure statistics that paint a fuller picture of corporate health and opportunity.

Good managerial decision-making should not be muzzled by biased views of market research, which can reveal more than the seasonal color preferences or the latest toy sensations. Managers should settle for nothing less than robust research findings, from as many and as varied sources as possible.

Knowing where your customers are headed can be as instructive as where your investors want to go. Savvy investors will want to know as much about your brand’s customer journey as they do about your return on investment. Both are important. Both are interrelated. 

Multi-faceted research delivers a more comprehensive picture of business performance and opportunity. Why settle for a segmented view based on data or a focus group when you can have a composite picture of your business? Problems are complex. Research should be complex, too.

 

 

Lessons We Learned from 50 Years of The Godfather

Few films of any generation have had the lasting impact as  The Godfather , which turns 50 this year. Amid all the violence, crime and intrigue, the movie conveys phrases and life lessons that have become everyday expressions and bedrock beliefs for many Americans.

Few films of any generation have had the lasting impact as The Godfather, which turns 50 this year. Amid all the violence, crime and intrigue, the movie conveys phrases and life lessons that have become everyday expressions and bedrock beliefs for many Americans.

The Godfather turns 50 this year, which is a reminder of how influential the trilogy has been, even though it tracks the lives and travails of a mobster family. 

Phrases derived from The Godfather such as “an offer you can’t refuse,” “it’s not personal, it’s business” and “time to hit the mattresses” have become everyday expressions. But the movie’s influence runs deeper to life lessons about power, family and even capitalism, according to Iris Milanova. “It has so much substance, and it offers some very important life lessons. That’s certainly an offer you can’t refuse.”

(Reposted from March 11, 2019)

(Reposted from March 11, 2019)

Here are some of the life lessons Milanova identified:

  • Don’t make promises you cannot keep. Your word is the most important thing that you have to offer.

  • Don’t involve yourself in other people’s personal lives. “Sonny, don’t get involved,” advised Carmela Corleone.

  • Family is the most important thing in life. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” says Don Vito Corleone.

  • Don’t go against your own family. “Fredo, you’re my older brother and I love you. But don’t you ever go against the family again. Ever.” – Michael Corleone.

  • Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Always keep a watchful eye on your enemies and play life’s game of chess with precision, dedication and tact.

  • Establish friendships out of respect, business and trust. “Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.” – Don Vito Corleone.

  • Violence is the last option. “I don’t like violence, Tom. I’m a businessman. Blood is a big expense.” – Solozzo.

  • Build a powerful community. “Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.” – Don Vito Corleone.

  • Don’t take things too personal. “it’s not personal, it’s business.” – Michael Corleone. 

Francis Ford Coppola gained fame by directing the three Godfather films, which he readily admitted “made me,” not the reverse.

Francis Ford Coppola gained fame by directing the three Godfather films, which he readily admitted “made me,” not the reverse.

Francis Ford Coppola, who directed The Godfather movies, wrote a new introduction to Mario Puzo’s novel to mark its 50th anniversary. One of his more interesting observations is that many of the life lessons espoused by Don Vito Corleone were actual expressions Puzo heard from his own mother.

“Mario told me that all of the great dialogue, those quotable lines he put into the mouth of Don Corleone, were actually spoken by Mario’s mother. Yes, ‘an offer he can’t refuse,’ ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer,’ ‘revenge is a dish that tastes best cold,’ and ‘a real man takes care of his family,’ among many others, were sayings he heard from his own mother’s lips. Mario later wrote, ‘Whenever the Godfather opened his mouth, in my own mind I heard the voice of my mother. I heard her wisdom, her ruthlessness, and her unconquerable love for her family and life itself. Don Corleone’s courage and loyalty came from her, his humanity came from her.’”

Coppola revealed it was his sister who suggested the idea that Kay, Michael Corleone’s long suffering wife, would abort their unborn son. “I loved it because it seemed symbolic and the only way a woman married to such a man could halt the satanic dance continuing generation after generation.”

Many films are unforgettable and have intergenerational appeal. The Godfather is that rare cultural phenomenon that became part of our lives for 50 years – and counting. To turn Michael Corleone’s phrase, “It’s not business, it’s personal.”