Here at DataSift, we’re lucky to work with some amazing customers who are innovating in social to create the next-generation of social applications and platforms. NeedTagger is a great example of a company that is transforming what marketing means in the social-era. We caught up with Vernon Niven, CEO and founder of NeedTagger to learn more about his company and why intent marketing is taking marketing back to the basics by making social media “social”.
Remember when you would stop in your local bakery on the way to the office and strike up a conversation with Bob the Baker? You would ask him how the wife and kids are doing, while without even having to ask for your order, he would package up your doughnuts. It brings back memories of the good “old” days that Doc Searls mentioned in The Cluetrain Manifesto; when “markets were conversations,” and merchants knew what customers needed because they engaged face-to-face and shared similar interests.
In today’s world, companies have become overwhelmed with the torrent of social media interactions, and many struggle to be heard. Rather than attempting to interact with their customers, they spew out one-way communications, which offer little value to their customers. It’s as if companies have lost sight of the fact that social media is supposed to be social. And as Vernon Niven, CEO and founder of NeedTagger pointed out, many businesses are using social media in the wrong way.
“When it comes to marketing, business people care most about connecting with people who have needs they can meet,” Niven says. Yet in going social, he says many businesses have forgotten what they learned in Marketing 101 – to target a market based on their needs. Instead companies are “barking at everyone in the hopes that someone will find them ‘interesting.’”
SoLoMo and Intent Marketing
Social-local-mobile (SoLoMo) and intent marketing are the latest marketing trends, and they are all about finding and responding to real-time moments of need. This is exactly what NeedTagger is built to enable.
Based in Florida, NeedTagger launched earlier this year to help “knit together the intention economy.” For most companies, more than 90 percent of their target market on any social network is not actually following them there, in which case, their social interactions are not being heard by their intended audience. NeedTagger solves this problem by connecting businesses and consumers around natural moments of opportunity from expressed needs and intentions.
“We believe that the most efficient and broadest possible application of social media to generate demand is to make it super-easy for merchants to listen for needs expressed by every potential customer, so the merchant can respond to those needs and compete for business in an open and transparent manner.”
DataSift assisting in need detection
NeedTagger is built on the DataSift platform, which allows the company to mine Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and hundreds of other social sources for people expressing needs for specific products, services and content. DataSift’s natural language processing and sentiment analysis tools enable NeedTagger to identify specific needs through its custom-built need-filters.
Currently, NeedTagger offers more than 40 filters in a dozen industries – everything from people searching for rental cars to those craving a little Mexican food! And, if their customer’s need isn’t on the list, they can easily create a new filter; for example, people wanting to place (legal) bets on the Kentucky Derby…
NeedTagger off to the races with the Kentucky Derby
As one of the most popular horse racing events in the world, the Kentucky Derby captures a large commercial audience. Since most of its audience is not overly familiar with betting procedures, TwinSpires, the official online wagering site of the Kentucky Derby, and Brisnet.com, the largest horse racing information service, zeroed in on these spectators. Ed DeRosa, Director of Marketing for BRISNet, saw an opportunity in taking the Derby social to educate and assist these potential customers.
Through NeedTagger, DeRosa was able to add in his target keywords, as well as scan the Kentucky Derby pages to automatically search for content around the contenders, horses and jockeys’ names, stats, etc. When Derby week rolled around DeRosa said the feed exceeded his expectations.
He was surprised at how accurately NeedTagger identified novice betters interested in the race. Once they were identified, it was just a matter of sending them the information they wanted. In the end, NeedTagger identified about 3,000 needs for TwinSpires over a four-day period. In their responses to these needs, TwinSpires included a link to their website which saw an unheard of click-through rate of 25 percent. Costing less than $1 per click, DeRosa was extremely happy with the outcome and value of the service.
A marketing campaign with 25% click-through rate?!
A 25 percent click-through rate trumps the typical 0.2 percent click-through rate for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. In order to wrap your head around this, consider the fact that PPC targets nearly everyone and their dog. Simply Google-ing the word “Greece” does not mean someone is interested in going on a Mediterranean cruise. However, if someone Tweets “Planning my summer vacation in Greece,” it is more likely that they are in the market for a cruise. Not only are they more likely to be interested in a Mediterranean cruise, they are also a step closer to actually purchasing one.
This is where DataSift and NeedTagger effectively team up to do the heavy lifting. DataSift enables narrowing of results to a tightly defined target market. Prospects are then identified who are further down the buying funnel and who have an intent to buy. These customers already know what they want… all you have to do is deliver it.
Niven also attributes the click-through rate to using social networks the way they are supposed to be used: “to help people by answering questions, sharing valuable content, and from time to time, offering something of real value in a moment of need. Not by spamming.”
With the targeted ad versus spam conversation a controversial issue these days, we had to ask… won’t some people consider this a form of spam? Niven’s response: “Spam is in the eyes of the receiver. So far the ‘thank yous’ outnumber the ‘leave me alones’ by 2 to 1.”
To think about it another way, if Bob the Baker remembered you love doughnuts and sent you a voucher for a free batch of their new flavor, would you scream out in frustration and rip up the voucher? Probably not. More likely, you would be quite pleased and thank Bob the next time you went into the bakery to redeem your free treat. Food for thought…
- How has DataSift helped you?
- One of the biggest challenges in identifying needs expressed through social media is sifting through the millions of social conversations that contain those needs. DataSift’s platform makes this process very manageable and allows us to dramatically focus our incoming streams using a wide range of variables. This means we can spend more time building and testing our proprietary need detection patterns and algorithms.
- What sources do you use?
- Facebook, Twitter, blogs and boards.
- What augmentations do you use?
- Language, Klout, Twitter follower ratios, Sentiment Analysis
- Using DataSift, what was your go-to-market time?
- We were up-and-running on the platform immediately.