Sentient Technology: feelings through sensors

tecnologia senziente

By Sentient Technology we want to highlight the applications of Artificial Intelligence that can read, interpret and respond to human stimuli. 

Man is an emotional animal; for this reason, humans  search for emotions within what they create .

In recent years, we have witnessed a wave of technology development  that seeks to imitate, or rather decrypt, human emotions.

A practical example to explain sentient technology is the case study of the Emotional Art Gallery, a Clear Channel Sweden project from 2019. 

The concept consisted of broadcasting some works by international artists on 250 digital totems inside the subway stations of the Swedish capital. The artworks were selected because they could reduce the stress level of passengers

For this project, developers created an algorithm that could recognize people's emotional state through the study of online and social analytics. Thanks to this "sentient" capacity of technology, users’ physical and psychological well-being improved.

Another example of Sentient Technology is the Ada project, an intelligent sculpture - made up of thousands of tiny LEDs - that Microsoft USA, with the collaboration of the architect and designer Jenny Sabin,  decided to create inside the Microsoft Research Building 99. 

For the project, cameras and sensors able to recognize people's emotions (for example by facial expression or tone of voice) were inserted inside the building. Ada can react to these stimuli through the continuous change of colors and patterns on its surface.

Over the years, sentient technology has also been applied to personal care. In a world where loneliness and depression are endemic, this has been proposed as a possibility to help solving the problem.

The examples are numerous, both for the support of young people and the care of the elderly. Interesting is the case of Lovot, a pet robot for every age produced by the Japanese company Groove X.

Designed to combat loneliness, Lovot can recognize emotions and interact in real-time with the stimuli it receives from the outside. Its surface is also soft and responsive to the touch.

Another interesting example, especially for its underlying software developed in Italy, is Zeno Robot. Behavior Labs, a Catania start-up engaged in the field of social robotics, had the brilliant idea of ​​using a robot, produced by an American company, to help children with autism to communicate and relate with the world around them.

Not all applications of sentient technology are related to the artistic or human cases, such as the two we have just mentioned.

In general, two different uses of this can be defined: one empathic and one analytical.

This technology was primarily born as the core feature of sentiment analysis platforms, used to recover significant insights about services and products, and to manage and recognize possible corporate crises.

Through natural language processing (NLP), enhanced - in the most advanced tools - by Machine Learning, these platforms can read in real-time thousands of posts on social media or web, recognizing the topic of conversation and, above all, the sentiment of the writer.

However, a simple grammatical error, a statement of context or a hint of sarcasm is enough to weaken the reliability of the analysis. The technology used is still limited and limiting due to the complexity of human language and the interpretation of emotions. 

Humanity suffers by nature from emotional illiteracy, especially in this digital and virtual age. We are unable to name the emotions we feel and to recognize the feelings of those around us; so how can we hope to teach an algorithm to be empathetic?

The sentient technology, if not used responsibly, risks becoming cynicism.

The following example can be interpreted in this way.

Not long ago, a Korean broadcaster streamed a show called Meeting You, telling the dramatic story of a mother who lost her seven-year-old.

During the transmission, the authors decided to recreate the 3D model of the daughter in a virtual environment.

The girl was built with the look, voice, movements and real feelings of the deceased girl. In the end, the mother was invited to play with her in this fictional world, to say goodbye one last time. 

A problem appears: a sentient technology that proposes itself as empathetic creates numerous questions from an ethical point of view.

How far can we go? We will find out over time.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

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What is Psychographics? An overview and the User Insight practical case

psychographicsWhat is Psychographics?

It is the study of the individual based on his interests, personality, and habits. It is the natural evolution of profiling through socio-demographic, geographical and behavioral data.

Psychographics is not a recent field of study: as a branch of psychology, it was developed and applied to marketing and traditional research (focus groups, market research, etc.).

However, it was through digital technology that it developed its full potential.

By analyzing user behaviors on social media, E-Commerces and any "virtual" environment, Psychographics is now able to profile users in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Its goal is to understand individual characteristics such as emotions, values​​, and attitudes, as well as a whole other set of psychological factors.

All these data provide precious insights about the motivations behind people's behavior, for example, why they buy a specific product, or support a certain cause, or vote for a particular political candidate.

We all heard about the sadly known Cambridge Analytica accident. The researchers and marketers involved were able to boost numerous political campaigns thanks to illegally retrieved psychographic data from people's social profiles.

The method they used was to divide the subjects into five macro-clusters, based on whether they showed presented or not one of the following psychological traits, namely:

  • Openness: this trait indicates how open-minded a person is. A person with a high level of openness is curious, creative and open to change;
  • Consciousness: a person who shows a high level of consciousness is responsible, sets long-term goals and does not act impulsively;
  • Extroversion: the subjects characterized by this trait love to have fun with people and live in social environments. They are also enthusiastic, but often let themselves be guided by others. They also love being in the center of attention;
  • Agreeableness: a person with high levels of agreeableness is usually friendly, kind and diplomatic. He also shows optimism and tend to trust the others;
  • Emotional stability (or its negative counterpart, Neuroticism): a person with a high level of emotional stability who tends to easily experience positive emotions;

This model, which you can find outlined below, is known as OCEAN (the first letters of the psychographic categories), or BigFive.

How does this model apply to marketing?

Through Psychographics, it is possible to understand the fundamental individual characteristics of your customers, in order to collect useful guidelines on how to communicate and create one-to-one messages. 

Let's make an example. A company that works in the energy market needs to communicate a promotional offer to its public, but first it decides to cluster it with the OCEAN psychographic model.

Practical examples of psychographic profiling.

If the customer shows a strong affinity to the Openness cluster, he will receive a graphically creative banner that offers the possibility to customize the energy contract according to his needs.

Elseways, if the customer belongs to the Extroversion cluster, he will be told that the offer has been appreciated by many people, giving him the possibility to receive a discount if the customer brings a friend.

If the person belongs to the cluster of Conscientiousness, they will be given the opportunity, directly on the banner, to deepen the offer and discover its long-term advantages.

The possible customizations are infinite; will be the psychography expert, in concert with the creative, to find the best practical solutions to cover most of the target audience with the correct message.

Given the power that this method makes available to companies, the market has been subject to strict regulations. What Cambridge Analytica did just a few years ago would be impossible to accomplish today. In recent years, alternative tools have been developed, fully compliant with GDPR, which allows companies to acquire the same type of information and to use them - this time - for the benefit of people.

This is why Neosperience has created User Insight

User Insight is a tool that uses the latest Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics technologies to allow companies to learn about the psychographic traits of customers, thanks to the analysis of their browsing behaviors.

In a market where the personalization of the offer has become the key of success of commercial proposals, understanding the needs and desires of each customer in full respect of its privacy becomes an essential factor.

The future belongs to those who will be able to use new technologies to constantly improve customer experience, progressively reducing the "gaps" between physical and digital worlds. At Neosperience, we believe that this can be possible, and we work to give substance to a technology that allows companies to be more and more empathic and closer to their customers.

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Create Emotional Connections With Your Customers Using Data

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Much has been said about retail disruption, personalization, chatbots, and AI, with headline after headline enlightening the topic trends of the moment. Yes, we all know that mobile is the primary device when it comes to planning your marketing strategy; that the retail industry needs to evolve to keep up with the e-commerce giants; that the so-called industry 4.0 is the real thing; that personalization is the only feature that matters.

All these trends are clear markers of that simple truth we all know: customer preferences are changing so fast that it’s hard to predict or anticipate them these days. We can’t say which brands or products will shine in the next years with a soaring demand, nor which ones will lose ground.

Today, customer engagement requires innovative, specific, personalized experiences, and companies often strive to satisfy their needs. Following trends is dangerous: in the very moment you find a focus on a particular trend, it is likely already passed. You must learn to anticipate trends, create them starting from the knowledge you have right now.

Furthermore, traditional customer segmentation has become difficult and ineffective. Old-school data profiling is inadequate to illustrate the specific characteristics of the buyer personas, due to its broadness and non-specificity. Hard data, such as location, age, gender, or even interests, are not sufficiently distinct to portray a person’s profile and his behavioral patterns effectively.

Today, customers are accustomed to weekly product turnover, monthly technology updates, on-demand streaming services, on the moment news, and automated customer support: everything is available everywhere, at any time.

How can we expect our customers to stand still enough to let us detect their needs, design a solution, and provide it at our convenience? Even broaden concepts like sustainability or privacy compliance, considered as evergreen trends, are not always reliable in the mid or long term. One season it’s all about life-long garments made of organic cotton and the next one everyone wants that 10$-plastic-trendy shoes.

Now, imagine being introduced to this buyer persona: a young male, located in New York, with a lot of different interests - from sports to technology and music -, who spends around 70$ per month for discretionary activities.

How can you tell whether he is interested in taking insurance coverage / taking part in a guided tour through the mountains, rather than exploring new cities on a self-organized trip? How can you predict if he would prefer a long, descriptive written content, rather than a chart, to delineate the advantages of your service?

Traditional profiling can easily become a false friend: it gives the idea that you are gaining knowledge, while you are actually focusing on generic data and missing the real key to the heart of the single person. There are just too many variables among customers to pretend that using only a little part of them might be enough to predict their behavior.

And so what?

So, it is necessary to gain a deep, valuable, holistic understanding of who your customer is as a person and what he/she expects from you in terms of feelings, emotions, and experiences.

Customer loyalty is all about experiences. Offering high-quality products is important but delivering relevant experiences that resonate with the inner feelings of the recipient is essential. Thus, brands need to achieve a profound knowledge of their customers, investigating the key elements that provide the basis to establish meaningful bonds.

These elements are the personal characteristics that are stable across time and situations; the ones that determine the attitude and approach towards life and everyday choices, such as personality traits, values, and beliefs.

For example, the ideal buyer persona for insurance providers tends to be someone who has a high-risk aversion and an external locus of control rather than someone who is more prone to bear ambiguous situations and usually feels in control of his life.

More, someone who has a strong inclination towards adventures and spontaneity would prefer a self-organized, backpacked trip, while a person in the same socio-demographic sector, but with strong values of security, familiarity, and ease will probably pick a guided tour, with scheduled times and activities.

Communication messages need to be tailored to the recipients characteristics and their attitude towards information: not everyone copes and assimilates data similarly, and these differences need to be taken into great consideration.

Another example: people with a high need for cognition need to deepen the search for precise information to form an accurate opinion, while those with an inclination towards affection absorb emotional appeals better.

These few examples provide the necessary understanding of the individual differences that occur between people, not regarding socio-demographic or behavioral data, but concerning other aspects that have long been ignored.

Today, the state of technologies grants us the opportunity to identify, isolate and use this information to provide better experiences to our customers. Are you willing to gain this deeper understanding and stay on top of your customers’ desires?

 

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Is Customer Personality the Future of 1-to-1 Marketing?

The new marketing is people-centric, and today companies need to gain a deeper understanding of ‘who’ their customers are, as people, not simply consumers.

However, even when they get to know their customers, companies still rely primarily upon what we can call "hard" data: socio-demographic, economic, and geographic data - sometimes they add behavioral data, such as past purchases and content views.

With a metaphor, we can say that if companies were humans, they would be people who use only the “left side” of their brain, the rational part. But what makes humans so able to understand and communicate with other people is the completion of that rational part with the emotional one: the “right side” of the brain.

Now, if we imagine what this right side of the brain is made of in the digital world, we can say that it is made of "soft" data: the desires, motivations, emotions, and personality of customers.

These human-like data have become essential today. To understand why, let’s see an example from a well-known marketing strategy that relies on a psychological principle: social proof, a technique that leverages our tendency to follow the majority, to look at other people’s actions and behave consistently with them.

In marketing, we want people to imitate desired behaviors, those that will lead to a sale or a conversion. So, we use the social proof principle every time we inform potential shoppers of what other customers do (for example, what they have bought) to convince them to do the same.

We often find this principle applied in the e-commerce world. Think of Amazon and its suggestions tool. Amazon makes extensive use of social proof: "people like you also bought this item"; "frequently bought together"; "customers who bought this item also bought" and so on.

Knowing what other people buy can be important to help us - as customers - to make good purchase decisions. But if you're a marketer, you should ask: is it really so important to all of us? Do we decide and behave in the same way?

An example. Think about a person like Hester.

1-to-1 marketing

Hester is a girl that wants to feel unique - in psychology, they say she has a personality trait called "need for uniqueness". She is creative, original, and a bit eccentric. She wants to feel special with everything she buys and wears; when shopping, she looks for different styles and innovative outfits. If Hester buys a dress and then sees it worn by someone else, on the street or at a party, she gets annoyed.

Now, think about the Amazon-like message "people like you also bought". Do you think that a person like Hester would feel engaged? Or is it more likely that she would get annoyed by the expression "people like you"?

That is the point. Today, 1-to-1 marketing is growing faster and faster. Market leaders such as Amazon, Youtube, Netflix, Spotify are dominating thanks to their ability to accumulate lots of customer data and use them intelligently.

At the same time, we have psychological principles - such as social proof, and many others - that are widely used in marketing but still applied in the same way to all customers.

In this scenario, what about individual differences?

We’re not talking about age, gender, geography, or past purchases. We’re talking about those characteristics that we, as human beings, can see in others and take into account when we interact with them. We’re talking about psychology and personality.

We have seen Hester, with a high need for uniqueness. Now let’s see Emma.

personalized-marketing

Emma wants to “fit in” the group - she has a personality trait called "need to belong". She likes to follow trends and, when shopping, wants to feel fashion. She is the typical girl who, when deciding the outfit, needs to see it already worn by friends and influencers on social media.

Maybe, compared to Hester, she would be much more interested in what other people (“people like her”) bought, much more attracted by messages that leverage social proof.

That’s why customer personality matters.

A good salesman who knows his customer's personality has a huge advantage: he not only knows what to suggest to his customer but even how to paint it. A good seller in the store would certainly communicate differently with Hester and Emma. So, why communication online should be the same for them?

Imagine the experience that Hester and Emma could live on the e-commerce site of a fashion brand when looking for a new dress and some accessories to match.

To be more empathic, that brand could highlight for Hester the most niche and exclusive clothes, that she could be the first to discover, with more powerful storytelling for her, such as: "Discover how to create your unique and innovative outfit for the summer".
With Emma, instead, it would be better to suggest the most popular and fashionable clothes, preferred by the community of other customers, with a more effective message for her, such as: "Discover how to create the most trendy outfit for the summer”.

What is obvious for a good seller still seems impossible for e-commerce. Tailoring the message to reflect a person's attitudes, motivations and personality is a natural process in "offline" marketing, and technology is rapidly evolving to bridge this gap, enabling companies to be more “empathic” with their customers.

There are lots of things that technology can do better than humans, especially those that follow the same general workflow: gather data, analyze data, determine a course of action, implement the course of action. Communication, however, doesn't fall into that standardized process for its intrinsic nature of being more powerful if differentiated, flexible, and tailored to the specific characteristics of the receiver.

That's why skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become our "competitive advantage" as artificial intelligence takes over other standardized tasks. But this also means that technology will always go further in the direction of learning, or trying to learn, the way humans communicate. Digital communication today is more efficient, of course, for the number of people it can reach simultaneously, but human communication is still more effective. Whether or not it will always be, that is an open issue, which is up to each of us to answer!

 

Photos by Tyler LastovichMarco Xu and A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ  on Unsplash

 

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Digital Innovation In Retail – Towards An Empathic Customer Experience

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What will the future bring for leading brands in the retail and fashion industry?

With the rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, the retail scenario is rebuilt on a digital foundation, where competition is played on the ability to meet an entirely new set of behaviors, expectations, and priorities of today's shoppers.

On-demand services and instant gratification available at any time are giving customers an ever greater control over their purchase journey and increasing their power towards brands. Speed, ease, contextual and individual relevance have passed within a few years from being valuable nice-to-have to essential must-have.

However, few are really trying to bridge the gap between insight and action, and it's the case of leading companies that are using technology to innovate their customer experience with a human-centric approach, changing how they interact and engage with today's customers.

Timberland launched a context-aware email marketing campaign, shaping ads for different weatherproof products to match each user's position and weather conditions in real-time.

Since at least 2013, Amazon takes notice of our shopping behavior and tailors recommendations for every one of us. And as we continue browsing, the fitting personalization goes on.

Even customer support has become much smarter. On companies' websites and e-commerce, chatbots and virtual assistants use natural language processing to help customers effortlessly navigate questions, FAQs or troubleshooting.

In the offline world, we see stores and shop windows coming to life with digital signage interactive systems and 3D contents on augmented and virtual reality. And even behind the scenes, store analytics is becoming a common practice that will soon have nothing on online analytics, helping retailers to better understand shoppers behavior and measure the impact of different areas in the store environment.

It is easy to see how all these applications have one thing in common: AI.

Artificial intelligence is disrupting the retail industry as it enables marketers to automate and bring on a large scale something that until a few years ago required effortful small-scale processes. That is tailor-made experiences, custom-designed for each individual.

But there is still something wrong with AI today. A missing piece to move from the now outdated customer-centric approach to a people-centric path, more consistent with the evolving needs and wants of today's shoppers. It is predicted to be the future of AI, that will progressively bridge the gap between the offline and the online world. That missing piece is empathy.

We have identified 10 key factors for an empathic customer experience. You can find them in the "Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion" report, now free to download.

 

Schermata 2018-09-17 alle 15.40.21

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The New Marketing is People Centric: Know Your Customer Personality!

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Every day, enormous amounts of money around the world are spent on advertising tailored for socio-demographic groups. But demographic analysis is only part of the story about your customers.

If you want to get the whole story you must start considering your customers as people, rather than merely seeing them as someone buying the product that you’ve got. To do so, you need to stop relying solely on an objective-based perspective and start getting a more in-depth view of your customers.

Qualitative information such as customer personality can show you more clearly what is important to them and how they make buying decisions. Moreover, as customer personality relates to their attitudes and behavior, it can be useful for developing your products and services as well as for creating powerful communications.

For example, you probably didn't know that extroverts:

  • Look for the hedonic value of products (see notes 5; 4)
  • Feel more positive consumption emotions and affective commitment towards brands (6; 7)
  • Use more word-of-mouth communication (11)
  • Tend to be highly fashion-conscious (9)
  • Are more favorable toward transformational ads than informational ads (8)

While if you are dealing with conscientious customers, you should mind that they:

  • Look for the utilitarian, functional, task-related, and rational value of shopping (4)
  • Tend to be prestige-sensitive (9)
  • Manage their money more because they are future oriented and have positive financial attitudes (3)
  • Are more favorable toward comparative ads than non-comparative ads and informational ads than transformational ads (8)

And if your customers are open-minded, consider that they:

  • Support technological innovation (13)
  • Place greater importance on reliability rather than on style when buying a computer (10)
  • Are less prestige-sensitive (2)
  • Tend to make more online purchases (1)
  • Are more favorable to recycled and sustainable products (12)

These are some of the personality traits included in the Big Five Model, also known with the acronym OCEAN: Openness to experience; Conscientiousness, Extroversion; Agreeableness; Neuroticism.

One of the major arguments against the use of the Big Five Model - and personality traits in general - in marketing is the difficulty of obtaining such kind of information about customers.

However, the expanding of digital and social platforms makes available terabytes of data about users, including subjective qualitative data. This gives marketers the unprecedented opportunity to understand customer personality and deliver AI-driven personalized contents on a large scale.

This is more than moving from a partial view of customers to a more comprehensive one; it is shifting from a merely commercial approach, what we know as "customer-centricity", to a more intimate and long-term relationship, what we will call "people-centricity".

To enter this new era, start thinking about it: how will you enhance your marketing when you also get the human side of customers?

Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

Notes:
(1) Bosnjak, M., Bochmann, V., & Hufschmidt, T. (2007). Dimensions of brand personality attributions: a person-centric aproach in the German cultural context. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 35(3), 303-316.

(2) Casidy, R. (2012). An empirical investigation of the relationship between personality traits, prestige sensitivity, and fashion consciousness of Generation Y in Australia. Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), 20(4), 242-249.

(3) Donnelly, G., Iyer, R., & Howell, R. T. (2012). The Big Five personality traits, material values, and financial well-being of self-described money managers. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(6), 1129-1142.

(4) Guido, G. (2005). Shopping motives and the hedonic/utilitarian shopping value: a preliminary study. ACR European Advances.

(5) Matzler, K., Bidmon, S., & Grabner-Kräuter, S. (2006). Individual determinants of brand affect: the role of the personality traits of extraversion and openness to experience. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 15(7), 427-434.

(6) Matzler, K., Faullant, R., Renzl, B., & Leiter, V. (2005). The relationship between personality traits (extraversion and neuroticism), emotions and customer self-satisfaction. Innovative Marketing, 1(2), 32-39.

(7) Mooradian, T. A., & Olver, J. M. (1997). “I can't get no satisfaction:” The impact of personality and emotion on postpurchase processes. Psychology & Marketing, 14(4), 379-393.

(8) Myers, S. D., Sen, S., & Alexandrov, A. (2010). The moderating effect of personality traits on attitudes toward advertisements: a contingency framework. Management & Marketing, 5(3), 3.

(9) Myszkowski, N., & Storme, M. (2012). How personality traits predict design-driven consumer choices. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 8(4), 641-650.

(10) Nevid, J. S., & Pastva, A. (2014). “I'm a Mac” versus “I'm a PC”: Personality Differences between Mac and PC Users in a College Sample. Psychology & Marketing, 31(1), 31-37.

(11) Ranjbarian, B., Forghani, M. H., & Ghafari, M. (2013). Personality traits and the use of word of mouth communication as a source of travel information among inbound tourists who visited Isfahan. International Journal of Academic Research in Economics and Management Sciences, 2(3), 20.

(12) Sandy, C. J., Gosling, S. D., & Durant, J. (2013). Predicting consumer behavior and media preferences: The comparative validity of personality traits and demographic variables. Psychology & Marketing, 30(11), 937-949.

(13) Wood, S. (2012). Prone to progress: Using personality to identify supporters of innovative social entrepreneurship. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 31(1), 129-141.

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Marketing and Soft (vs. Hard) Data – 4 Ways To Empower Your Strategy

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One-to-one marketing is a strategy of customer relationship management that relies on the personalization to foster customer loyalty and make a better return on marketing investment.

The idea behind it is that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to communication; so, treating each person differently is essential to be convincing, persuasive, and effective. To empower your strategy, in fact.

This is true between Brands and customers as much as between human beings. But, while people's capability to adapt their communication depending on the interlocutor is potentially endless, determined by their social and empathic skills, Brands often do not have this ability.

To some extent, this is due to what kinds of data Brands possess about customers, which are incomparably lower - in the number and types - compared to those that people have or can get.

“Demographic and behavioral information only give marketers part of the story they need to effectively segment a customer base. The problem with both of those types is that they do not tell us why people are doing things, which, as marketers, is the most important thing for us to know.” (Susan Baier)

By using only socio-demographic data, all customers that fall in a specific category (i.e. new moms, Millennials, Londoners) would be marked identically. These are necessary information but, taken alone, will lead you to a vague image of your customer, and few indications as to whether they will be interested in your product.

Adding “soft”, subjective and qualitative data to traditional “hard”, socio-demographic data like age, location, and economic status enables the understanding of who your customers truly are and why they make certain choices, so that you could envision what they will appreciate most and how they will behave in the future.

We are talking about customer attitudes, aspirations, values, lifestyle, and personality - so relatively stable information - on the one hand, and about their feeling, perceptions, and emotions - which are temporary and contextual - on the other.

Unlike hard data, soft data are not readily available. To find them, you have to dig a bit deeper into the virtual and physical touchpoints where your relationship with customers takes place.

What are these touchpoints? Here are four that represent optimal sources of soft data.

SOCIAL PROFILE
The social profile is undoubtedly where you can find the most heterogeneous information about a user: images, videos, text posts, self-descriptions, likes, comments and content sharing offer a comprehensive picture of a user's interests and way of thinking, but also of his/her hobbies, lifestyle, and personality.

WEBSITE AND ECOMMERCE
The massive amount of data resulting from a user's behavior on your brand's website and eCommerce can be analyzed and interpreted at different levels of depth. For example, for a fashion brand, information can go from what the user has purchased to what are his/her own style and emotional relationship with clothing.

STORE
If you think that customer analytics have to do only with your digital properties, you are wrong! By recognizing biometric and audio cues with in-store analytics solutions, you can identify customers’ in-the-moment feelings and state of mind.

For example, facial recognition technology and GSR sensors can be used to show:
• What areas of your store are most engaging
• Whether and when customer feel stressed or disengaged within your store
• What products and elements are most appealing
• What emotional reactions your store layout and your shop window generate

CONVERSATIONAL INTERFACES
Today they are almost exclusively employed as customer support tools, to answer simple questions and provide guidance in well-circumscribed domains, but conversational interfaces (the so-called “chatbots”) can potentially become much more.

If put in the role of "virtual interviewers", they become a new tool to perform market research, both quantitative - by administering a structured questionnaire - and qualitative - applying natural language processing to open questions.

What is important to be aware of is that your online and offline properties can offer much more insights than you already collect, and these insights can help you build a picture of your customers as "people", not just consumers.

Moreover, analyzing these soft data with artificial intelligence techniques enables you to build predictive models of consumer behavior and individual traits. Then, applying them to your content delivery system allows you to personalize messages, offers, and experiences based on the unique features of each customer, thus taking your one-to-one marketing to the next level.

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Nudge Marketing: 3 Psychological Strategies to Grow Your Business

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We are not always rational beings. Most of the times, we make decisions on an irrational basis, and afterward, we look for logical explanations to justify them.

The same as consumers. Our emotional states and moods play a fundamental role in determining our preferences and choices so that leveraging on these subconscious drivers becomes an excellent way for marketers to promote desired, more valuable behaviors.
In this scenario, nudging may make your marketing more powerful as it shifts the focus towards subtly creating new habits rather than explicitly asking consumers to do something with the promise of 'extrinsic' rewards - usually financial - such as discounts or prizes.

Most of you probably already know what 'nudging' is: a method that uses positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to influence people's behavior, thus making a certain choice easier than an alternative path without the person actively being aware of it.

But, perhaps, fewer know what nudging is NOT:
- A substitute for marketing, which compliments but not replace. Simply put, marketing makes the need salient and creates the desire while nudging facilitates the follow-through.
- A way to mislead or confuse the consumer. Instead, it should be transparent to be effective.
- A trap or a manipulation, as opting out of nudging should be as simple as the tap of a button.

If McDonald’s employees are trained to offer only medium or large options to customers when taking orders for drinks and desserts and emit the small alternative unless the consumer explicitly asks for it, this is a 'bad nudge'.

We see a lot of bad nudges in advertising, sales, and human relations in general.

Good nudges, on the other hand, are those that benefit the person - whether it is the consumer or citizen - not (only) your business. And there are countless examples out there too: many schools in the USA are using nudging to move students towards healthy choices, as well as to improve learning and academic outcomes; some virtuous companies are applying similar strategies to promote a safer workplace culture; and the UK government has its dedicated Nudge Unit to encourage people to make better choices for themselves and society.

So, how can you harness the power of good nudge to grow your business too? Look at these 3 examples of easy-to-implement strategies.

COGNITIVE EASE

It is pretty intuitive. Our brains are lazy, and we are less likely to do something if we think it’s going to be hard – whether it’s losing weight, quitting to smoke, buying a product or signing up for a service.

One major reason is that perceived difficulty undermines people's self-efficacy - the belief in someone's capacity to execute behaviors necessary to achieve specific goals.

On the contrary, the perception of ease can be a powerful nudge towards engagement and purchasing, as it enhances consumers' self-efficacy and their intention to move on.

This way, Zipcar managed to go over a major barrier to car share use - the belief that shared cars are scarce and hard to find - by subtly showing to users on its website's map how easy a Zipcar is to find and use.

OPTION RESTRICTION

It may seem counterproductive, but streamlining your offer can help you increase conversions as you nudge customers towards making a decision, rather than being paralyzed by too many options.

For example, having too many social share buttons in a webpage or too many form fields in a drop-down menu cripples users' decision making, thus decreasing conversions.

The same happens in the offline world. An experiment conducted by the New York Times in a grocery store on two different Saturdays found that, after exposing 24 different flavors of jam on the first day and only 6 on the second day, purchases increased from 3% to 30%, meaning that the store sold 600% more jam by just reducing the set of options.

INTERNAL CONSISTENCY

Once we make a choice or take a position, we feel the need to behave consistently with that commitment.

That is notoriously what door-to-door salespeople rely on: they ask a series of 'easy-to-answer-yes' questions (such as ‘Do you think that a more comfortable bed could improve the quality of your sleep?’) and, once you’ve said yes to one, it becomes harder to say no to the next. They managed to get in; that's why this technique is called 'foot-in-the-door'.

Petitions rely on the same principle because agreeing to take part sets people up to make a more significant commitment further down the line, from a simple signature to event participation and financial support.

Nudging works most effectively when it is used for good, creating a “win-win” situation for both companies and individuals.

We've seen examples here that make one thing clear: nudging holds the potential to move the marketing paradigm towards a proper understanding of the subconscious drivers of consumer behavior. But it is equally clear that it works most effectively when used to create a win-win situation for both companies and individuals.

If this belief becomes a premise, the current distinction between good and bad nudging will turn into a separation of what is nudging from what is not. And naturally, this is our hope.

Photo by Caleb Frith on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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A Culture for Psychographics in Marketing: Neosperience Vision

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Photo by Ryan Pouncy on Unsplash

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Improve Your Personalization Strategy with AI-driven Psychographics

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Consumers are hugely empowered. There is no room for mediocre” said Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, at the last European Forbes CMO Summit. “We now have the opportunity to understand people on a one-to-one basis – to get down to that individual engagement.

Marketer's challenge for 2018 and beyond will be to hyper-personalize customer relationships. Which means, creating relevant interactions to capture customers' attention, evoke an emotional connection and secure their loyalty.

The days of one-size-fits-all targeting and seeing ads for things we’ve already purchased are finally coming to an end, as the power of personalization today gives brands a real opportunity to deliver one-to-one experiences at scale. This requires a data-driven approach and, with the massive amounts of data that brands have access to today, the question is: What's more important? What really matters?

Though we are in the Age of the Customer, most of the knowledge in the science of persuasive communication is primarily focused on the "sender", rather than the "receiver". The profile of the "good seller" has been studied a lot, and so the traits and qualities of successful salespeople. For example, they are achievement-oriented, curious, and conscientious. They have a high self-efficacy, are less gregariousness and show a lack of self-consciousness.

We know much less about the characteristics of the recipient, although the real meaning of a message is what the recipient makes of it. How individuals respond to different types of communications, in fact, is strongly linked to their personality.

Think about how much easier it is for salespeople to be effective with a customer that they know personally, compared with a new customer they have never seen before. Well, this kind of knowledge, previously limited to the offline world, today extends also to the digital world.

Let's see some examples.

Extroversion and Introversion

Extrovert people are outgoing, sociable, optimistic, and talkative, while introverts tend to be reserved, quiet, and independent thinkers.

Communication tips

While extroverts respond more positively to online ads that contain persuasive appeals, so that the communication is more free and easy, with introverts you have to prove credibility, for example using objective indicators of excellence. When dealing with an introvert user, you also have to avoid hype and exaggerated information: just get to the point and use high-content samples.

Open-mindedness and Closed-mindedness

Users of the first type are more open to new information, which they evaluate based on what they see or hear. Simply put, they make up their minds based on what you show them. closed-minded users, on the other hand, tend to be more skeptical and less receptive to new information, that they judge as related to what they already know.

Communication tips

With open-minded users, you should highlight the innovativeness, novelty, and customization features of your product. With closed-minded users, it's better to focus on proven effectiveness, and your message must include demonstrations or getting them to take part in product trials.

Need for Cognition and Need for Affect

Need for cognition reflects the extent to which a person is inclined towards effortful cognitive activities, such as information search processes. Need for affect indicates one's motivation to approach or avoid emotion-inducing situations.

Communication tips

It has been demonstrated that people with a high need for affect and a low need for cognition are more attracted by affective-based messages, such the sensory experience of trying a sample of a pleasant-tasting drink. Conversely, a cognitive-based message such as reading a list of strong and positive attributes about the drink is more powerful among individuals who are high in need for cognition and low in need for affect.

Today, with the explosion of customer data that Brands can access from all digital and physical touchpoints, moving from complexity to action requires giving a new meaning to existing data and choosing those that provide the most useful insights.

To win this challenge, Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning enables marketers to understand their customers better by overcoming obvious factors such as demographics and purchase history and getting psychographic elements from web usage patterns and social profiles. This allows to tailor persuasive appeals and provide targeted recommendations based on users' interests, attitudes, lifestyle, and personality.

How good sellers do when they are familiar with a customer, now Brands have the opportunity to offer hyper-personalized customer engagements and experiences than ever before.

What are the key psychographics to understand your customers better? How would you use them to enhance your personalization strategy?

Photo by Jay Dantinne on Unsplash

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