Researchers evinced how firms influence customer sentiment during experiential events

Photo via: Jack Moreh

In a recent study, a team of researchers explored how marketers are able to influence customer sentiment by shaping customers’ experiential interactions.

The study, released in the peer-reviewed Journal of Marketing, was co-authored by Matthijs Meire and his team of researchers at the University of Tennessee, Georgia State University, and IÉSEG School of Management.

Kelly Hewett, co-author of the study, stated: “Our study attempts to answer these questions: Following a poor performance, can a marketer effectively engage customers and enhance the sentiment of customers’ social media contributions based on the firm’s own posts, and if so, what should those posts say?”

“After a disappointing experience, should the firm’s posts appeal to customers’ emotions, such as the concert venue sharing images of a stadium packed with excited fans, or instead offer informational content such as the venue’s efforts to address sound quality issues? Similarly, after a positive experience, should the firm post on social media and should the content be emotional, such as images of elated fans, or informational, such as details regarding upcoming events?”

With those questions in mind, the purpose of the study, for Hewett and the team, was to examine how a firm’s social media engagement initiatives regarding customers’ experiential interaction events influences the sentiment of customer engagement.

Often times, firms analyze offline interactions of buyers to enhance their customer’s reactions to their experiences. But in many cases, relaying posts in particular manners could be beneficial to improve customers’ experiences.

During the study, researchers looked at the Facebook fan page of a European soccer team, monitoring the firm’s performance on the social networking site. What researchers noted was that the social media posts regarding customers’ experiences could influence the sentiment of customers’ digital engagement if a firm’s performance during customer interactions is consistent.

More specifically, when viewed by customers, informational posts were said to be more efficient than emotional content to improve customer sentiment during negative interaction event outcomes.

In the findings, researchers found that publicizing four informational posts following a disappointing performance led to a nearly 20 percent improvement in positive sentiment. The sentiment observed from the informational posts are of value for influencing a customers’ behavior during purchases.

Furthermore, the findings also established that personalized communications after a purchase can moderate interactions associated with customer sentiment. An example of this are recommended offers or educational content sent to customers directly after a purchase.

Additionally, tracking digital engagements on social media from customers when purchases are at a minimal could give firms a path to impact customer sentiment and alter purchase behavior, especially since a substantial amount of consumers follow their favorite brands on the web.

Hewett concluded the: “results indicate that marketers can influence the sentiment of customers’ digital engagement beyond their performance during customers’ interactions, and for unfavorable event outcomes, informational marketer-generated content, more so than emotional content, can enhance customer sentiment.”

“This study also highlights sentiment’s role as a leading indicator for customer lifetime value.”

The findings were published in conjunction with the American Marketing Association, a US-based organization founded in 1937.