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How Brands Can Leverage Social Insights For Competitive Success

White Paper

In any industry, it’s imperative for brand strategists and marketers to use consumer behavior trends to better understand how their services and products are resonating with audiences. In the financial space, marketing teams and brand leaders are continuously under pressure to learn more about their customer base. What do consumers like about our products? How has sentiment regarding our services shifted over the years? Where can we improve?

Social data can help top brands better understand the consumer response. Insights from social data provide users with billions of posts that can provide strategic value for upcoming campaigns, new market opportunities, and other significant decisions. Download this guide to find out more.

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How Can Companies Assess Overall Brand Health?

Mint’s Pivot to Credit Scores

If you are familiar with financial technology, chances are you’ve heard of Mint. The online site and mobile app helps users manage their finances and set individualized budgets to stay on track with monthly spending. Initially launched in 2007, Mint’s growth has been exponential. Within the first two years of business, Mint acquired 1.5 million users and now maintains over 10 million accounts. But how has Mint stayed on top? Why is Mint so successful, and what are consumers loving about Mint?

Examining the psychosocial profile of an audience, marketers and branding professionals can gain a deeper, more insightful picture of their consumers’ desires and needs. Through social data, brands can place themselves ahead of their competitors and stay on top of what their consumers want.

By knowing who is most interested in what products, money management apps like Mint can focus on creating the best experience for these consumers, and in doing so, create a loyal following of customers. As Mint grew, consumers took to social to express what they felt the app was missing. With the help of social analytics, we can see that Mint responded to customer complaints about checking their credit scores, by adding a free credit score feature on September 8th 2014. That addition became the most talked about feature of 2015.

In the image above, we can see how the growth in discussion surrounding credit score throughout 2015 demonstrated the significance and viability of Mint’s product in the marketplace. From this, it’s apparent that Mint’s credit score feature was a success with consumers, as positive conversation lingered long after the initial launch.

In these visuals, we can see that over the last five years, sentiment surrounding Mint has been overwhelmingly positive, largely focused on how Mint has helped consumers track their finances and save money.

Through social listening, brands can keep an eye on spikes in consumer conversation to avoid potential blind spots about their brand. By staying on top of user desires and expectations, money management companies like Mint can connect in an efficient, and timely manner, maintaining consumer happiness and creating brand loyalty.

How Can Marketers in the Financial Industry Use Social Insights for Competitive Intelligence?

H&R Block vs. TurboTax

Competitive intelligence is essential to any marketing strategy. When push comes to shove, brands and agencies have to be able to set themselves apart from the pack, and social data can make that possible. Social analytics can provide brands with the knowledge they need to gain insight on what their consumers are interested in, as well as that of any competitors, to help win new business opportunities. In industries where consumers have a hard time differentiating one brand from another, through social, we can see how tax companies can effectively target certain demographics. In 2014, H&R Block revamped their brand direction and not only successfully targeted a young demographic of consumers, but also gained a greater influx of women than in the year before.

Measuring the Success of That Campaign over Social

Throughout 2014, H&R Block capitalized on a partnership with Youtube star iJustine, relevant musicians, and held a #HipsterLily campaign. This direction was very different from the brand’s path in previous years, H&R Block incorporated unknown taxpayers into their campaigns. Through Crimson’s segments section, it is easy and fast to identify who has a large influence and can help make your brand relevant in the moment. On a wider scale, taking a look at two competitors in the tax industry, during tax season in 2015, while H&R Block appealed to those who share interests in Parenting, Being a Mom, and Coupons. Taking a look at these two competitors in the tax industry, we can see that H&R Block appeals to those interested in Parenting, Being a Mom, and Coupons.

We can see a difference in audience personas between TurboTax and H&R Block by comparing these two brands side by side. These separate Affinities can uncover new market opportunities, help strengthen their messaging as well as uncover competitive benchmarks for different target segments.

In this visual we can see how, in 2015, TurboTax was able to claim 63% of the conversation compared to H&R Block. By understanding how and what consumers are discussing over social, researchers can better understand key competitive advantages over other brands in the industry.

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How Has Technological Advancement Shifted the Financial Services Industry?

It’s critical for business executives and marketing professionals to stay aware of how external market factors can create waves within the industry. Within the financial sector, it’s crucial for brands to recognize how financial technology advancements have shifted banking conversations.

From these topic wheels we can see that fintech discussion has become more tech-focused over the years. While initial discussion of financial technology was broad, full of terms like “Online Banking,” “Credit Card”, “Technology” and “Finance”, in later the conversation started incorporating more specific keywords like “Bank App” and “Mobile Banking”. By understanding these historical shifts in consumer conversation, researchers in the financial industry can make their strategies as consumers-driven as possible.

Diving further into the data, we can see how certain topics have exploded over the last few years. For example, as financial technologies advance, chatter regarding “Online Shopping” has grown from 5% of the overall discourse in 2010 to 13% of the conversation in 2015.

Since 2010, discussion of cyber crime has decreased. One can assume that this trend stems from an increase in consumers’ expectations of safe online technology. As financial technology becomes a bigger part of our everyday lives, we not only see a decrease in conversation regarding cyber crime, but additionally, the novelty of online payments has decreased. By understanding what aspects of financial technology consumers prioritize at any given time, researchers can use these insights to better prepare their marketing teams.

Looking closer at the data, we can see how the interests of consumers discussing fintech has shifted over the last five years. In 2010, financial technology appears to be a niche topic. But in 2015, consumers discussing fintech hold interests that range from India to Social Marketing to Miley Cyrus.

This visualization shows the growth that fintech has made over the last five years, and how it has expanded to affect a wider range of consumers. From these types of insights, brands can track how wide their audience reach has grown.

Tying these insights back to the financial industry, financial organizations can use these conversational shifts to keep up with consumer trends. As we see an increase of chatter surrounding online shopping, marketing professionals can utilize social insights by strengthening their mobile services. In 2015, e-commerce sales hit 4.45 billion dollars, a 14% increase since 2014.

Homing in on consumer discussion, companies can gain a better understanding of why customers enjoy certain services such as a brand’s online accessibility. Further interpretation of behavior trends via social insights attract a wider demographic of consumers and maintain loyalty among existing customers.

How Can Social Help You Track a Brand Scandal?

Bank of America Responds to its Mortgage Settlement

In August 2014, it was announced that Bank Of America would be paying the Justice department $16.65 billion to settle their part in the nation’s financial fraud scandal. According to the regional director of the SEC, Bank of America “failed to make accurate and complete disclosure to investors and it’s illegal conduct kept investors in the dark”. Prior to the announcement, consumer trust with Bank of America held steady at 30% however, after their formal August announcement, Bank of America saw an increase of negative sentiment from consumers. From August to March of that year, distrust rose from 70% to 81%.

From these visuals, we can see that from 2010 to 2012, “mortgage” discussions made up only 5% of social traffic over the two-year span. The second visual displays how, before the August announcement, consumers expressed a steady 30% of trust towards Bank of America.

Above, we can see how from the beginning of August 2014 until the end of September, consumer distrust with Bank Of America expressed over social was high. Tracking a brand’s consumer sentiment during and after a PR crisis can help brands understand how, and why consumers feel at any given time, and potentially minimize customer dissatisfaction.

In this topic wheel, we can see that between the August announcement, until the end of 2014, major consumer conversations across social were referencing the payout, topics such as “Mortgage Settlements” and “1.6 billion”.

However, between March and the end of 2015, customer trust started to rebuild, rising to 36%

After the crisis, we can see that from September of 2015, till the end of the year, trust increased to 36%, proving that consumers had moved on from the scandal.

Delving further into the data, we can see that in 2015, mortgage-related communication make up only 2% of the discourse, confirming that consumers were no longer discussing the mortgage scandal as much. Instead, consumers were partaking in a more generalized brand discussion, such as talking about current jobs at Bank of America, stock, and individual accounts held at the bank.

Overall, while talks of the financial mishap made up a majority of the brand’s social share in earlier years, Bank of America was successful in regaining customer trust, and redirecting conversations from the past mistake. By using social analytics, companies like Bank of America can better analyze consumer opinion about their brand before, during and after a crisis.

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How Can Social Analytics Measure ROI?

Looking Back at Small Business Saturday

To determine how successful a campaign was, it is imperative for brands to take to social to see if, and how, the brand’s perception has shifted. With social analytics, brands can measure the impact of campaigns and capitalize on unsolicited consumer feedback. To monitor how well a campaign is supporting a brand’s identity, marketers will want to analyze has created waves in the general brand conversation. It’s important to understand: who’s talking about our campaign? And what are they saying?

In late November of 2010, American Express debuted their annual Small Business Saturday campaign. The campaign has been a huge success, with a reported 73.9 million consumers shopping at small businesses in 2012. How successful was the campaign in 2014? Examining consumer behavior trends during November in 2014, reveals that Small Business Saturday increased the brand’s overall purchase discussion by a massive 23%. During that one day, 55% of consumers expressed a desire to purchase items such as donuts, craft beer and gifts at local boutiques.

In this graph, we can see that in the given timeframe, purchase intent peaked on November 29th, reaching 55%. Prior to the campaign, overall purchase intent from November 1 to November 28th was 32%.

Diving further into the conversation, we can see that the campaign not only increased purchase intent, but also attracted a wider audience than prior brand discussions. Before Small Business Saturday, those discussing American Express over social held shared interests in Finance, Stock Markets, and Investing. However, consumers engaging in conversation during Small Business Saturday were more interested in Home Brewery, Recipes, Wine and Health.

This visual shows a shift in the audience interests that consumers held before, and during the campaign. From this, it’s apparent that those discussing American Express moved to a wider group, which showed how the campaign helped expand their demographic reach.

Overall, Small Business Saturday didn’t just increase the brand’s purchase intent, it also helped American Express connect with a new audience. American Express increased its social footprint, and found a creative way to engage with a wider spread of demographics. From this campaign we can see how, brands can use social to better understand if, and how, their marketing efforts are resonating with consumers.

How Can Brands Capitalize On New Market Opportunities?

Bank of America Responds to its Mortgage Settlement

Boasting more than 2.1 billion dollars of transactions over three months in 2015, Venmo, appears to be dominating the mobile payment app market, generating massive bursts of traffic in short periods of time. As cash currency disappears, mobile payments apps like Venmo have an exciting market opportunity to capture. To continue this success Venmo must find new markets to own.

When comparing Venmo’s audience interests to the rest of Twitter, tech is a clear winner, such as interests in Silicon Valley, Information Security, and Advertising. But where can Venmo find room for growth? In the middle of the Affinities chart is where we see a market space that Venmo could capitalize on: Sportscenter, and Basketball.

Demographically, we can see 18-24 year olds have the loudest voice over social regarding Venmo. Knowing the age of target consumers helps for marketing and sales executives, better align their strategies with the audience’s interests.

Adjusting to changes in user purchase behavior

But knowing who is using Venmo is only part of the equation. What types of purchases are consumers using Venmo for? To learn more about the app’s use cases, we parsed major topics of discussion regarding customer spending choices. While the majority of purchases on Venmo in 2010 were centered around bills, utilities and rent there has been an influx in alcohol, food, and transportation purchases in 2015.

From these insights we can see how consumers are now using Venmo for different purposes than in previous years. These insights can be utilized to help make future campaigns more relevant to consumers.

Using social insights, Venmo can make sense of past and present consumer behavior trends. Since it’s apparent that alcohol payments are at an all time high Venmo could be cross-branding efforts with alcohol companies popular among millennials to expand their market reach. This data is important in providing new market opportunities, and in by providing researchers with a wider set of in-depth analyses to make stronger campaign efforts.

The Value of Social Insights for Brands in the Financial Industry

In our analysis of the financial industry, we uncovered a variety of key insights for marketers and researchers in the sector:

  • Analyzing branded conversations can help managers gain access to potential blindspots, and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, brands can monitor their competition’s movement within the market space.
  • Brands that suffer from PR scandals in the financial industry can benefit from social listening, as managers respond rapidly to sudden flare ups. These types of real-time insights spur quicker reactions, which could translate to a decrease in customer disapproval.
  • Social listening can help those in the financial sector track consumer sentiment and purchase intent.

In today’s market, brand managers within the financial industry can use data gathered through social insights to make smarter decisions about paid strategies, organic traffic, campaign efforts and brand content.

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