Methinks Tech Marketing Is Not Yet Ready For Sentiment Analysis

As you’d expect from a Forrester analyst, this is Peter O'Neill by the way, I travel a lot— about 40% of my working days. But it is also amazing how a full week spent in the home office can still feel so busy! These days, social media keeps you in the discussion mainstream – perhaps even more so than if you are on the road because you have more time to engage. Bob Apollo, at the UK-based consultancy Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, even tweeted me privately this week with the message, “And you a VP at Forrester, reading my stuff, an 'umble blogger... I'm not worthy...” after I told him that I enjoyed his tweets and found them useful. Well, even as a fully fledged analyst for tech marketers, I continue to be eager to learn from anybody else. And I do this without any fear of appearing to copy others — here in Germany, a popular government minister has now resigned because he plagiarized the majority of his doctorate dissertation years ago; bad enough itself, but he initially denied it when discovered.

But I did get quite nervous when I read this new B2BBloggers output in my inbox yesterday. Laura Patterson, president of VisionEdge Marketing, kicks off with the statement, “As products become more commoditized and companies try to outperform their competitors, a better customer experience is becoming an increasingly important way to differentiate.” Oh no! I thought, that is exactly the theme of my next report to be published by Forrester, probably in parallel with the upcoming Forrester’s Marketing Forum in San Francisco on April fourth.

But then I realized that Laura was actually writing about sentiment analysis, not my report theme. And I also noted that while her statement may allude to the fact that everybody in B2B marketing knows about that customer experience differentiation challenge; I should continue to remain confident that marketers in high-tech are not there yet. We had a discussion recently in our own tech marketing community on, which demonstrates this, and my frequent inquiries also confirm that tech marketers are still much more obsessed with product marketing (not brand) and/or sales lead generation(not management). Plus, I notice that most of my POST social media advisories have been limited to proposing the “listening” objective and discussing the tools that can be employed to do that.

So, I suppose one conclusion from this thread would be that tech marketing is not yet ready for sentiment analysis. Many tech marketers would even claim that this doesn’t apply in their world. I suppose the closest they get to sentiment analysis is their push toward account or relationship marketing.  The current language of tech marketing is much more about finding and winning sales deals than taking notice of what buyers, users or even prospects are thinking about their company or brand.

What do you think? Have I provoked you? Do you, tech marketer, already do sentiment analysis? I’d love to hear from your experience.

Always keeping you informed! Peter


Peter, We actually do have a


We actually do have a lot of tech marketers using our sentiment analysis capabilities, but I think you are correct that it’s still early in the adoption curve.

I wonder if the tech marketer “obsession” with product marketing and sales lead generation may actually be an opportunity for tech marketers to leapfrog B2B and consumer brand marketers to sentiment ROI? In my opinion, the most interesting research in sentiment analysis is aligned to some of the same objectives. Going beyond labeling documents/posts with sentiment labels to extracting what (features, attributes) people are responding to (love the speed, hate the interface; love the price, hate the customer support). Combing sentiment with influence analytics to finding and nurture product advocates (or mitigate the impact of detractors). Or combining sentiment and text analytics to actually generate sales leads though modeling things like purchase intent.

Curious about your comment that many tech marketers would claim consumer sentiment doesn’t apply to their world. How do you think sentiment researchers and social intelligence platforms could better align to the needs of the tech marketer?

Shawn Rutledge
Visible Technologies

Sentiment analysis makes better advertising

Hi Peter - yes, I use sentiment analysis extensively for both tech marketing and consumer marketing (in the hotel industry). In my opinion the biggest opportunity for marketing is to create messages that highlight what customers actually appreciate about our products. (It's not always what we think this is)

I just wrote about this topic today:

Consumer marketing may be best for this, since corporate buyers don't always share their feelings on Twitter or review sites. But I think the principle applies just as well for those of us selling tech products.

Josiah Mackenzie
Industry Analyst, ReviewPro

Sentiment analysis is easier to sell than to use (for B2B)

Peter - as a market research technology company, we preach sentiment analysis to all our clients. It's a much easier pitch to B2C because, as Josiah states, B2B buyers don't share nearly as much.I think it's due to 3 realities: first, B2B buyers don't have the time in their working day to share their thoughts and feelings the way a consumer spontaneously would; second, there could also be a 'respect' issue with the vendor that causes the buyer to refrain from preaching or criticizing too loudly; third, the venues people use to share are typically more geared to personal lives/issues, not business - I deliberately avoid talking about my work or my employer on Facebook, for example. So what's missing is a trusted business channel for sharing sentiment, IMO.