Is Online Chatter Predicting The Success (Or Failure) Of Your Email Campaigns?

I recently read a statistic in the Harvard Business Review that researchers who invested in brands based on online reviews did 7.9% better than the S&P 500 index. After studying four years’ worth of product reviews of 15 brands -- almost 350,000 reviews -- they found there were two major predictors of performance: one was the sheer volume of reviews and the other was negative chatter.

This got me wondering: Do marketers see email performance spikes or dives based on reviews and chatter over time?

The hypothesis here is that in some trailing period of time following negative reviews, email engagement will slump -- and then recover. Proving or disproving this statement could affect when you send your campaigns, the content you deliver and how you position it. The great thing is that reviews and comments live on online, so tomorrow, you can go back and take a historic look to leverage as a future predictor.



If you want to answer this question for yourself, there are two different kinds of data you need to get your hands on:

Reviews and comments
Start with the preceding quarter and gather all comments posted on your site via ratings and reviews, on your Facebook page or in your Twitter feed -- including the dates. You will clearly need more detail to develop a definitive pattern, but it is better to start small and increase the investment in the effort based on what you are seeing.

Email metrics
Get your hands on the engagement metrics for all of the email sent during the same period of time, including opens, clicks and conversions, to see if the comments affect different engagement elements differently.

Once you have the data, sort the feedback by day and attribute a count of comments per day as well as the dominating sentiment (positive or negative) and plot it against your email engagement metrics. Do you see a correlation? If you do see a marked drop in engagement following negative reviews, how might you address it with your program?

  • · Option 1: Track ratings, reviews and online comments as part of determining sending patterns. If you had a spike in negative feedback on a specific day, you may want to forgo sending standard, promotional communications in the immediate days following. 
  • · Option 2: Have you seen spikes in performance when largely positive reviews or comments are obvious? Bask in it. Send messaging that may complement the focus of the positive sentiment, including some of those positive comments.
  • · Option 3: You see no correlation with online comments about your brand .Currently there is no concrete evidence that there is or isn't -- but it certainly is a curious proposition.

Realistically, a spike in reviews or online chatter is likely tied to other efforts supporting your brand, possibly a product launch, financial reporting, industry buzz, take your pick. But given the weight being put on peer reviews and legitimate customer feedback, it’s worth a little number-crunching to see if you can increase the performance of your program by 7.9% over the S&P 500, right?

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