social insights vs ecommerce insights

Social insights VS eCommerce insights is a well-rehearsed topic, as eCommerce online sales continue to explode in 2020, more and more brands rely on the analysis of online consumer opinions as a way to grow their business. 

McKinsey research recently underlined this well, stating that as consumers changed their behaviors and preferences already due to the pandemic, for brands to keep sync with their audiences will require extensive consumer-insights research work, with a focus on identifying changed behaviors, beliefs, and motivators to realize the new consumer decision journey

When thinking of online consumer opinions, there are 2 obvious go-to sources:

  • Social media
  • eCommerce Ratings and reviews & alerts

Are these 2 the same or similar? Is it Toyota vs Ford or is it Trucks vs Motorcycles? 

The Makings of Social Media Listening

Social media is the most popular digital media today. According to recent research, the numbers are staggering:

    • 51% of the world population is active on social media
    • 3.96B people are active on social media
  • 69% of the population in North America is active on social media
  • Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp platforms have the top active users
  • 99% of users access social media via mobile

social stats

By definition, social media is about sharing ideas, thoughts, and information through communities. Combining this with the top stats above, it is clear what are the top benefits of listening to consumer opinions on social media:

  1. The sheer numbers are the greatest benefit of social media listening. You can literally listen to over half of the world population
  2. The diversity of the information – ideas, thoughts, information
  3. The speed of feedback – easy access via mobile helps consumers respond quickly to events

To tap into these benefits brands, listen to social media as a way to:

  • Gain real-time sentiment read on the brand health
  • Listen to lots of data to see if there is any particular theme coming up rebrand or industry
  • Identify influencers for their target audience that are more active on social media

This is why the typical requirements of Social Media Listening are:

  1. Access to relevant social media platforms
  2. Real-time listening and alerting (Is there a hype cycle?)
  3. Sentiment analysis (Is the hype cycle good/bad?)
  4. Brand analysis (What is said around our brand)
  5. Influencer identification (Who is more influential within my industry)

The Makings of eCommerce Ratings and Reviews

eCommerce ratings and reviews are product and service-specific opinions, typically by buyers, detailing the product experience and purchase experience. While this is a more focused channel, the research numbers here are impressive as well –

  • 2.4B internet users post reviews (52% of global internet users)
  • The typical review rate is 1-3% from purchases, depending on the website/product, etc.
  • 171,000,000 reviews exist on Yelp as one example

Listening is about mining feedback of consumers from online stores. 

internet users who post reviews

Online stores include marketplaces, brand stores, and media stores (apps, music, etc.).

Ratings and Reviews (AKA R&R) typically go together in the eCommerce world. Ratings is a 1-5 scale star rating score. Reviews are any type of free form text feedback where consumers share product or service feedback.

Putting this together with the top stats above, it is clear what are the top benefits of listening to consumer ratings and reviews are:

  1. The sheer numbers again are way above any other feedback medium (chat, survey, etc)
  2. Quality, product-specific, feedback – “I like the price, but the design is too loud, though it is a comfortable shoe and arrived on time”
  3. Store-specific feedback – Commenting on the specific experience within one online store

To tap into these benefits brands, listen to ratings and reviews as a way to:

  • Understand your potential buyers (yours or your competitors) in high definition
  • Gain full industry visibility – product-level feedback, brand level (all products), and industry (all brands)
  • Spot new trends early – as newcomers start online

This is why the requirements from ratings and reviews analysis solution are:

  1. Access to relevant eCommerce and D2C sites
  2. The deep granularity of insights – industry-specific topic discovery and sentiment discovery
  3. Ability to generate one view of the industry from different data sources (Product A on Amazon is the same as Product B on Target)
  4. Trend identification (Who or what is trending up or down in sentiment)
  5. Automation – many solutions offer the above based on a manual setup by analysts and scientists. As it is expensive and limited automation is superior by far 

Social Insights vs eCommerce Insights: Complimentary or Overlapping?

Let’s save you all the suspense – these are complimentary. Social media provides the ability to identify hype cycles quickly and build a community relationship while eCommerce ratings and reviews give brands and retailers the data on how to sell more/better products to happier consumers. Let’s look at 3 examples of why relying on Social Media for eCommerce is not right:

  1. High noise to data ratio: While social media is very diversified it is mostly geared for interaction and sharing and not for eCommerce feedback. If eCommerce growth is your goal this means high noise to insights ratio as the majority of the feedback will NOT be on eCommerce
  2. eCommerce offers product-specific catalogs: The eCommerce world is well organized by brands, products, and hierarchies – which makes it easy to relate feedback to the product level. Backtracking into brand and industry level this is exactly what helps you see the entire makings of the industry from the top all the way to your competitor’s latest product launch
  3. Consumer changes in behavior can continue post-pandemic: Just like retailers try to constantly optimize their store windows/aisles/checkouts as consumers change their behaviors constantly the same thing happens online. If you want to optimize your online store and brand competitiveness look at the store information and not on social media

Conclusion

The positive is that unlike earlier times, now there is plenty of consumer opinions out there to mine, and this is great because it can replace a lot of data and expensive feedback solutions like forums and focus groups, and surveys. 

However, due to the pandemic, the world had accelerated its pace towards eCommerce as a major channel of business. Brands now need to tap into ratings and reviews as the way to grow sales, improve margins, and foster a more personal link to your customers. In addition ratings and reviews make it easier to peak into your competitor’s performance and see what is going on there – what is working or not per product. 

The only challenge here is how to make sure that on the path to doubling your eCommerce revenue you don’t miss out on your new “storefront” dynamics and are constantly analyzing and benchmarking what is going on in your store – in addition to optimizing your social media efforts. 

eCommerce (D2C included) moves so quickly that one miss could become very, very expensive for a brand.

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