Organizations have to up their market intelligence game to stay ahead of the curve in today’s distributed marketing world.
Simply watching your competitors’ moves is no longer enough. You need a systematic approach to understand your competition, your product fit in the market, and the ever-changing industry landscape.
Market intelligence aims to gain valuable insights on growing your business and give you a competitive advantage. But monitoring your competition—and the entire market—is no easy task.
If you feel your market intelligence program isn’t working like it should, we’ve got you. Read on as we highlight the five potential reasons your market intelligence program is failing and what you can do to improve.
What Is Market Intelligence?
Market intelligence involves collecting and analyzing information centered around customer and industry trends. You can use it to make informed decisions about consumer innovations, competitor behaviors, and market opportunities for creating new products and services.
Just like a weather forecast, market intelligence predicts the future of your business in the industry.
It’s real-time, actionable data that serves as a guiding light for your business. Market intelligence also presents a holistic view of what’s working and what isn’t to help you:
- Gain an advantage over your competitors
- Procure more knowledge about your target audience
- Uncover insights on your products
- Develop an understanding for future goal setting
When searching for good intelligence, you’ll discover people often mix up market intelligence with business intelligence and competitive intelligence. These terms represent different things.
Business intelligence is what your company is doing. Market intelligence is keeping track of what everyone is doing. Competitive intelligence focuses on your industry and competitors.
Let’s break down each term in more detail below.
Market Intelligence vs. Business Intelligence
Business intelligence focuses on the internal data from a specific company. It analyzes its business performance using data gathered from SEO, operations, sales, marketing, brand awareness, product, and personnel. The information is then used to create new tactics and strategies to move the business forward.
Marketing intelligence is a broader term than business intelligence. It considers the industry or market as a whole. Data for marketing intelligence is gathered from varying sources like consumer preferences, demographics, and geographic information. Instead of simply shifting your focus on direct customers and competitors, marketing intelligence can expand your vision to other aspects that can impact your business.
Market Intelligence vs. Competitive Intelligence
Though market intelligence and competitive intelligence use data from the market and industry trends to help companies succeed and grow, each term focuses on different aspects of the market.
Market intelligence takes a customer context approach, meaning it’s mainly client-focused. It considers factors like the social and economic status of people, their consumption, demographics, and population.
In contrast, competitive intelligence analyzes the collected data to understand the company’s competitors. It’s usually business-focused. It looks at a competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, tactics, their percentage in the current market, and their impact on the company.
What Does a Well-Built Marketing Intelligence Program Look Like
A well-structured marketing intelligence program helps companies collect data, which, when analyzed, leads to better decisions, market share increase, and better brand positioning.
Here’s how you can create a solid marketing intelligence program:
- Firstly, collect relevant information from the market, customers, and competitors. Your sales executives, managers, and other staff who spend a lot of time outside the company have valuable information for your company’s marketing intelligence, so be sure to take their input. B2B SEO outreach is another useful approach for your market research.
- Next, analyze the collected data, follow this up by gleaning insights from it. Focus on extracting useful information, such as the number of competitors, market share, market size, customers, pricing, and so on.
- Use the insights obtained from the analyzed data to answer specific business questions. Think: the “who”, the “when”, and the “what”. For example, who are the top competitors? Where does your company stand compared to them? What is the latest market trend influencing customer buying patterns? When did you notice a change in customer behavior?
- After deciding on the best course of action in the current and future market, shift your focus on effective strategizing. Identify critical decisions made periodically on business-critical processes like marketing, product content and development, sales, and human resources, amongst others, and ensure they are supported with the right market intelligence.
- Thereafter, communicate the formulated strategies to the leaders and team members involved in the execution. Take the necessary action based on the insights. Try building a culture that supports team effort and knowledge sharing by bringing others on board and recognizing the staff who actively contribute market information to the system.
Creating a market intelligence program is quite straightforward—provided you have the right guidance.
Some companies still experience problems either because they don’t understand best practices or are implementing outdated market intelligence strategies. You don’t want to do either, so make sure you’re capturing and leveraging the information correctly to maximize results.
5 Common Problems with Market Intelligence Programs
There could be many reasons why your market intelligence program isn’t working out. We have used our past experiences and industry knowledge to identify and discuss the common issues and how to fix them.
Let’s take a look.
1. Collection of Information
Every piece of information you collect can either help you view your market more clearly or show you a damaging and limited dim view. The data you collect determines the potency of your market intelligence program, which is why you must get high-quality data from different sources.
The first problem lies in where you collect your data.
When researching for market intelligence, your data should focus on your customers, product fit, brand foundation, and SEO. But many companies end up facing difficulty and making SEO mistakes. For example, you want to go after the right keywords, but is there even demand for your product in search? Does your website come up in search engine results?
If Google does not index your website, it doesn’t exist virtually.
Another problem is how you collect your data. Are you still using traditional methods for collecting intelligence? If yes, be ready to face (many) challenges. Manual data collection requires you to look through vast information databases, which is humanly impossible and a waste of time and resources.
Other potential issues when collecting information include no fixed time or process for intel collection, tracking poorly defined market segments, missing out on significant industry news and trends, and late or missed updates from competition.
Tips to collect information:
- Prioritize quality data sources like subscriber lists that indicate geographic location—or market intelligence data collectors from third-party resources
- Use Linkody’s Google index checker to check whether Google has indexed your page to know if it can appear in search results.
- Invest in a market intelligence software (such as ZoomInfo) that automates the collection of information
2. Organizing Your Information
You may have found an ideal way to collect information but there’s no guarantee you won’t have issues getting proper business insights from collected data. This is because of improper organization and inefficient analysis of the gathered information.
Manually sorting and classifying information is a demanding and near impossible task due to the volume of data generated. And without proper organization, the data becomes useless as the team cannot find what they need when they need it. Just try picturing the amount of information on the internet related to your business and competitors and how difficult it is to organize it.
You have problems with information organization if you:
- Have lots of intel gathered but never put it to use
- Face difficulties in finding data by products, source, topic, or industry segments
- Cannot prioritize the information according to the level of strategic importance
Tips to organize information:
- Automate the classification of your information so you can filter useful material from the digital noise
- Create a central repository for your actionable intel so all users and stakeholders can easily access it at anytime
3. Choosing the Competitors to Benchmark Against
Let’s assume you’ve researched and collected information on your direct competitors and what they are doing. You know how your product differs from theirs and who your audience is.
But is it enough? It isn’t.
The companies that create products and services similar to yours aren’t your only competition. You also have indirect competitors you need to benchmark against, like industry leaders and disruptors.
Your company’s indirect competitors are either the current best or the next big thing in your industry. For example, suppose you’re looking at social media engagement. In this case, you’ll need to benchmark against the industry average in addition to your direct competitors to get a clearer picture of where you stand.
Tips to choose your company’s competitors:
- Identify the leaders in your industry and add them to your competitors’ list
- Compare the domain rating of your websites to other businesses in your industry to know if you’re doing better or worse than your competitors. Use a website authority checker for this.
4. Distributing Your Information
Information only has value if it reaches the right people at the right time to propel action.
Failure in proper distribution means that your market intelligence efforts are in vain. Effectively distributing your intelligence helps stakeholders gain insights into your action plan and marketing strategies. But this information needs to be in short and easily digestible formats like concise market intelligence reports, instant alerts, and updated news feed to maximize benefit.
Here’s how to know if you have a problem with distribution:
- You use a one-size-fits-all distribution channel
- There’s no alignment between the market intelligence team and stakeholders
- Information received is not being put to use
- No options for your users to consume the information gathered
Tips to fix distribute information:
- Have a precise mechanism for the efficient delivery of information to the targeted users
- Use software tools to break down information and distribute it to the stakeholders in the options that best suits them
5. Not Having a Good Grasp on the Market
Another area that could pose a problem for your market intelligence is a lack of market understanding.
Are you keeping up with market changes resulting from technological advancements? What size of the market are you tracking? Are your products and services useful in those markets? Are you expanding to other markets that could benefit your business?
While getting a good market grasp isn’t an overnight task, figuring out the answers to these questions will help you identify areas to draw good intel.
Tips to better understand your target market:
- Conduct product intelligence and competitor analysis to help you gain insights into the market
- Research other markets your company can expand to
How to Collect Market Intelligence
Collecting market intelligence requires tact and strategy. Be sure to be careful and only use relevant information when drawing conclusions.
Below is a step-by-step rundown to to collect market intelligence successfully.
1. Enlist Your Sales Team’s Help
Sales reps are in a unique position to assist with market intelligence efforts.
As they face the customers directly, they are indirectly facing the market and have an insider’s look into the solution your customers are looking for, industry trends, and competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Your sales team can also give you up-to-date information about improvements in your products and effective marketing strategies used.
Your only responsibility is to put all the information to good use.
2. Get Feedback From Your Customers
Customers are a potential source of data, but most companies seem to increasingly forget this. Collecting feedback from customers will give you an understanding of your campaign efforts’ results, customer experience, brand awareness, and product satisfaction. It’s like hearing directly from the horse’s mouth.
Create a customer advisory board to get direct insights into your prospects’ interests, challenges, and needs. Ask relevant questions that help you improve and make your marketing strategies more focused.
3. Carry Out Surveys
Surveys help you gather data from your target market, which you can analyze to create valuable market intelligence. You can conduct two different types of surveys:
- Online surveys. These are the best and most popular ways to quickly get real-time data as most people prefer online communication.
- In-person surveys. These are one-on-one surveys conducted in places where your target audience commonly frequents. For example, an FMCG company will have an in-person survey at malls to understand the market for a particular product.
Other forms of surveying include questionnaires, polls, forms, focus groups, and field trials. You can include a survey link on your customer’s receipt or use tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform for your surveys.
4. Use Website Analytics and Social Media
Web analytics to give you an insight into your customer journey throughout the website—how they arrive and from where, their next step, how many follow through with their purchase, their overall website engagement, and so on.
Web analytics like Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics are useful for information on customer patterns and behavior. Monitoring social media is another effective way of collecting market intelligence because people today, especially youths, have quick access to technology.
Collecting market intelligence when marketing online is also possible. A Twitter search, for instance, gives you instant information on what your customers think about your brand or product. You can learn what customers think of your product, what they expect, and whether their market needs are met.
5. Hire a Market Intelligence Analyst
When it comes to gathering market intelligence, enlisting the help of a specialist is a no-brainer.
Experienced market intelligence analysts can communicate with manufacturers, distributors, and clients to get a more balanced view of your targeted market. This is also handy when you don’t want your staff involved in the market research.
Market research service providers are usually privy to large databases and can take up the responsibility of collecting data on the market and from your competitors. Your managers will then only need to process the gathered information to draw actionable conclusions on possible opportunities in the market.
6. Network and Build Business Relationships
You can get market intelligence from your competitors’ sales reps if you network properly. Taking advantage of business relationships, have your product manager keep an eye on the competition and monitor their strategies closely.
Solid relationships with your channel partners also help improve market intelligence efforts. They can provide you insights on what product sells better in the market, which ones are ready to be stocked, and what your brand should focus on next.
Market intelligence can have several significant advantages, depending on your business priorities. It helps you optimize your sales and marketing strategies, gain entry into a new market, understand your competition, and forecast and analyze trends. But these benefits can only come if your market intelligence is appropriately done.
Staying ahead of your market intelligence requires you to build the right process of gathering and analyzing your data. Luckily, today we have access to many online tools like Linkody to make the whole shebang as seamless as possible.
Be open-minded and ensure to research and cover all aspects of your company’s external environment. This could be global consumer trends, technological innovations, and economic issues outside your market.
Rana Bano is a B2B content writer at Omniscient Digital. She helps SaaS brands tell their story, aiming to encourage user engagement and drive traffic.