The Definitive Guide to Market Intelligence

market intelligenceConsider this scenario– you’re taking a road trip to a destination you’ve never been before. You think you know the directions, so you take off without a map or navigation system. Before you know it, you’ve gotten lost—and wasted time and money in the process.

Attempting to grow your business without market intelligence is a lot like driving without directions. Without a clear understanding of your industry or market, you will fail to make informed business decisions.

Businesses are catching on to the importance of market intelligence. In fact, research shows over 73% of businesses are investing more than 20% of their overall technology budgets on intelligence and data analysis (source).

Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with market intelligence, or maybe you’ve read conflicting information about what the term actually means. Regardless, today’s blog post is for you– keep reading to learn everything you need to know about market intelligence and how you can leverage it to grow your business.

What is market intelligence?

Market intelligence refers to the ongoing collection and analysis of data related to a brand’s markets, customers, and competition in order to gain a holistic knowledge of the overall marketplace. Brands use market intelligence data to guide decision-making in all areas of their business, from product development to marketing campaigns and so much more.

Market intelligence involves two primary data types– external data and internal data. External data is readily-available information a business can gather through research. Examples include:

Press releases and mass media:

Industry news and press often contain information relevant to your business decision-making process.

Market analyst reports:

Market analysts often publish reports offering detailed assessments of specific markets or industries. Marketers can analyze these reports to glean valuable insights about their particular industry, competitors, and customer base.

Social listening:

Monitor online conversations between customers and prospects to uncover important information related to your brand and industry. Whether you use a social listening tool or track important topics manually, this process can help you gauge the public perception of your brand and products.

On the other hand, internal data refers to data a company generates and maintains on its own. This type of data is not readily available for public consumption. Examples include:

CRM data:

A business’s internal customer or contact database contains information obtained through various marketing channels, such as email subscriptions or landing page signups.

Website analytics:

Analyze the traffic patterns to and from your website and social profiles to gain insight into your customers’ online behavior and interests.

Company feedback:

Any customer-facing employees are a valuable resource as they communicate directly with your customers and prospects. Interviewing sales reps or customer service personnel will provide unique, firsthand information about your buyers and industry.

Each of these data types can be useful on their own – but market intelligence involves combining them to create a 360-view of your market.

Is market intelligence the same thing as market research?

Now, you may be thinking: I’ve heard of market intelligence and market research– aren’t they the same thing? In truth, these two terms are often used interchangeably– but there are key differences between them.

Market research refers to the act of collecting and analyzing data to solve specific problems or business objectives. For example– conducting a survey to gauge customer perception of a specific product.

Market intelligence, on the other hand, is the ongoing process of data analysis for the purpose of maintaining a well-rounded understanding of the broader market. In short, market intelligence is not a one-off marketing tactic or campaign– it’s a tool or process that enables long-term business growth across all marketing channels and concentrations.

How can you use market intelligence?

Marketers can use market intelligence to improve or scale a number of marketing activities. Let’s look at a few examples:

Product development:

Market intelligence relays important information about the common problems your customers face and the products that currently exist to address these problems. This type of information is critical when it comes to developing new or existing products. With market intelligence, you can be confident that you’re making the right changes to your products and services.

Pricing:

When you overprice a product, you’ll lose customers to a less expensive competitor. But, when you set your price too low, you fail to maximize potential revenue.

Leverage market intelligence to determine the optimal price point for the products and services you offer. Analyze data regarding average customer budgets and purchase sizes, as well as the price points of similar products from competing businesses.

Competitive analysis:

Market intelligence helps you assess the competing businesses within your market. What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses? What do they do differently than your company? Competitive analysis allows you to keep an eye on competitors and what actions you must take to gain the competitive advantage. In fact, 77% of businesses say holistic competitive intelligence is critical to successful marketing intelligence (source).

Entering new markets:

As your business grows, it’s smart to look beyond your existing market and plan to infiltrate new ones. You can leverage market intelligence to identify and study new markets for your business to enter.

4 Steps to Implement Market Intelligence:

Now that we’ve outlined the benefits of market intelligence, let’s look at four key steps you must take to incorporate market intelligence into your business strategy:

1. Secure executive buy-in.

Market intelligence is not a simple tactic that your business can implement on a whim.

Rather, it’s an ongoing strategy that requires your entire organization to embrace a data-driven culture and mindset. If your business’s key decision-makers aren’t on board, market intelligence will never be a business priority.

2. Prioritize data quality.

Market intelligence involves collecting and processing a large amount of data– and, if that data is inaccurate or incomplete, it will do little to improve your marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, many B2B organizations make decisions based on low-quality or inaccurate data. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 60% of companies have an overall data health that is “unreliable”.
  • 62% of organizations rely on marketing and prospect data that’s up to 40% inaccurate.
  • 25% of the average B2B database is inaccurate.

Before you attempt to incorporate market data into your day-to-day business practices, we recommend you evaluate your data collection processes. Examine the channels you use to collect and store data. Then, identify any areas that need improvement.

Of course, collecting clean data does not ensure that it stays clean over time. Because B2B data decays so rapidly, you must prioritize data maintenance for this type of initiative to work. Your best bet is to work with a data maintenance tool or provider that can automate regular data hygiene processes. That way, you can rest assured that your decisions are based on the most accurate and up-to-date information.

3. Gather data from a wide variety of sources.

As we explained earlier, there are many forms of internal and external data that make up market intelligence. If you restrict your efforts to one or two of these sources, your understanding of the market will be flawed and underdeveloped.

For example, the insights you glean from a market analyst’s report will be different than the information you get from interviewing your sales team. Neither source is superior to the other – they work in tandem to create a multi-dimensional view of your market and customers.

4. Invest in a market intelligence tool, service, or platform.

If you’ve gotten this far, you know that market intelligence can be complex. You may be thinking, “My business doesn’t have the manpower or resources to use market intelligence.” 

We don’t blame you– very few organizations have the resources needed to manually implement large-scale marketing data initiatives. Fortunately, there are a number of specialized tools that can streamline the collection and analysis of market data.

We covered some of our favorite market intelligence tools in this recent blog post: The Ultimate List of B2B Marketing Tools.

Key Takeaways on Market Intelligence

On the surface, this level of data collection and analysis may seem like a hassle. But, once you incorporate market intelligence into your daily business practices, you’ll begin to make faster decisions. Plus, you’ll be confident that each of your decisions will lead your business in the right direction.

So, ask yourself this question: if your competitors use market intelligence and your business doesn’t, who will come out on top? The answer’s obvious– so take the steps outlined above and make market intelligence a part of your long-term marketing strategy.

For more information about ZoomInfo, a leading market intelligence solution and contact database, get in touch with our sales team today!