What is Marketing Intelligence?

Marketing intelligence is the practice of gathering data relevant to the marketing efforts of an organization, then analyzing that data to accurately and efficiently guide the decision-making process of campaigns.  While marketing intelligence is used to assist a number of different marketing goals, at a high level, it’s used to inform decisions in relationship to competitors, products and consumer trends or behaviors.

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Common Misinterpretations of Marketing Intelligence:

While marketing intelligence efforts can lead to better campaigns and increased ROI, the actual term is often confused with two different processes: business intelligence and marketing research,

  • Marketing research is focused solely on the efforts of the specific organization, helping to gain clarity into campaigns without providing insights into any external factors.
  • Business intelligence focuses on gathering data across business functions and processes in order to optimize the efficiency of an organization across departments and locations. 

The 4 Sides to Marketing Intelligence

Marketing intelligence provides organizations with several distinct opportunities to accurately navigate the complexities of the marketing landscape that are unique to the organization. When done correctly, there are four sides that help marketers formulate successful strategic decisions:

1. Competitive Advantage

This form of marketing intelligence involves collecting data from competitors in order to distill insights that can be used to more effectively develop business strategies. By understanding which consumers choose competitors and why, brands can better align marketing efforts to shift products and messaging toward the ideal consumers.

2. Product Intelligence

Product intelligence involves taking a deep dive into the brand’s products as well as how those products stack up within the market. Typically done by speaking to consumers, polling target audiences or engaging them with surveys, organizations can better understand the differentiators and competitive advantages of their products. From there, teams can better align products to the unique consumer interests and problems that help drive conversions.

3. Marketing Understanding

The data used for this variant of marketing intelligence revolves around examining the marketplaces populated by customers or prospects. Are there magazines, books or industry journals the marketplace reads? Or perhaps organizations they are a part of? Understanding the areas where your target audiences are most active can help you identify the right media mix, the touchpoints and channels to use and where your products can fit into those elements.

4. Consumer Understanding

Although the focus for most companies is on new sales, customer retention is just as important. In fact, on average, it costs brands five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. With this in mind, understanding your customers can help effectively target new customers for less marketing spend, while helping boost retention rates. Consider the following questions:

  • Who are your buyers?
  • Why are they buying from you?
  • Are they satisfied with the level of service?
  • Are there things that can be improved?
  • What are the challenges your team can help them with?

Steps to Improving Marketing Intelligence

To ensure marketing intelligence can be successfully derived from data across the marketing landscape, there are several steps organizations can take to ensure that they’re gathering the right data, reaching informed conclusions and leveraging the insights generated to the fullest potential:

Enlist the Sales Team

Sales teams for both B2B and B2C audiences are in a unique position to help assist marketing intelligence efforts. Considering that sales teams speak directly with customers and prospects, they often have an inside look on industry trends, competitor strengths and weaknesses and what clients are looking for in a solution.

Set Up a Customer Advisory Board

Considering the importance of direct communication with consumers, marketing intelligence efforts can be bolstered by setting up an advisory board for direct contact with consumers. In doing so, organizations will be able to understand prospect interests, challenges and needs, which helps create more impactful messaging.

Focus on Quality Data

Through agreements with external partners or third-party services that leverage such agreements, organizations can access a wide variety of online and offline data across the marketing mix. Take some of the following data sources for example:

  • Subscriber lists that indicate geographic location
  • Television and cable box subscriptions that indicate ad reach and air time
  • Radio broadcast range and zip code data
  • Attribution data that indicates engagements across third-party touchpoints and channels
  • Brand authority measurements conducted via third-party studies and resources

Utilize an Appropriate Marketing Analytics Platform

Using an analytics tool that goes beyond media mix modeling and marketing attribution can give you more insight into what is resonating with your customers. Do they respond better to advertising on TV or social? Is there creative that your audience responds to? The right tool can help you uncover this crucial information.

Collect Customer Feedback

Reaching out to current customers allows for a clearer understanding of perception around campaign efforts, CX, brand authority, product satisfaction, etc. With this information, marketing strategies can be better focused on areas of strength. Consider leveraging tools like polls, surveys and feedback prompts for insights into customer perception.

The Importance of Identifying Marketing Intelligence Goals

Setting clear goals beforehand can go a long way toward boosting the efficiency and scope of your marketing intelligence efforts. Moreover, clearly defining the role you want this information to play makes it easier to identify the right data to pull across the media mix.

Consider determining the KPIs of your marketing intelligence that will help illustrate whether or not your efforts are progressing toward your defined goals:

Quantitative KPIs

These KPIs are the easiest to determine, as they can be directly measured. They analyze items such as total revenue from your competitors or number of products sold.

Qualitative KPIs

Although these are more difficult to measure, qualitative KPIs provide teams with a more cohesive view of marketing and business strategies. Here, marketers can leverage indicators like customer surveys, quizzes, assessments and comment forums.  

Determining if Investing in Marketing Intelligence is Right for Your Organization  

Like any investment, organizations need to weigh the pros and cons of a proposed initiative with its potential to positively impact the bottom line. On one side, accurate marketing intelligence requires a substantial amount of data across online, offline and external areas of the marketing landscape. On the flipside however, basing marketing direction on strategies that lack accurate intelligence puts brands at a disconnect with competitors as well as target audiences.

Take Borders Bookstore for example. As consumer preference for convenience and simplicity motivated the move to shopping online, Borders continued focusing on brick-and-mortar instead of outsourcing to Amazon and capitalizing on digital revolution’s shift to online shopping.  Without the infrastructure in place to compete, Borders unknowingly gave its customer base to Amazon. Consumers enjoyed the online experience—leaving Borders unable to compete as the market, target audiences and competitors evolved.

While the upfront costs associated could deter businesses from marketing intelligence initiatives, ignoring market trends across the four points mentioned above can pose a serious risk to an organization’s bottom line.

The Future of Marketing Intelligence in Retail

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