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For many decades, entrepreneurs guided their businesses based on nothing other than their own instinct and experience.
In this context, it was practically impossible to make predictions or foresee market trends, which caused names like Walt Disney, for example, to be considered visionary geniuses.
Since then, a lot has changed, and, today, we have an almost infinite range of information at our disposal.
However, we’ve changed from having very little available data to not knowing what to do with the information overload.
In the business world, knowing what to do with so much data is crucial to obtaining the maximum competitive advantage over your competition. This, in part, is reached through an incredibly important concept: market intelligence.
So, are you interested?
Find here everything you need to know about this concept and how to apply it to your business.
Learn about market intelligence
Also known as Business Intelligence, market intelligence is the process of gathering raw data (structured or not) and then converting it into a set of knowledge that can be applied to business.
Among the huge range of data that can be analyzed, we can include:
- niche market tendencies,
- customer relations,
- audience behavior,
- the actions of the competition,
- among others.
This type of analysis is essential for assertive decision-making, which optimizes results and assures that the strategies established in the initial business planning are being followed well.
To implement the concept of market intelligence, you have to invest in specific tools, capable of obtaining the most relevant data for the subsequent analysis.
In addition, it’s imperative to perform, at the same time, market research.
Some entrepreneurs also choose to hire professionals exclusively devoted to sifting through news and other data that is relevant for the business, as a complement to data collection.
How did Business Intelligence arise?
Although it’s quite a current concept, gaining new uses with the rise and development of advanced technologies, market intelligence is as old as the process of sales and purchases.
In the easiest way possible, we can explain the concept as the act of determining the needs of a specific audience, then creating and marketing solutions to meet this demand.
However, we can attribute the creation of the term BI (Business Intelligence) to the consulting company Gartner Group, which, between the 80s and 90s, began to analyze information in a large scale, based on technologies appearing at the time.
Understand why it’s important to invest in research
Since the emergence of the Internet, the ease in which data is created has increased exponentially.
Today, the volume of information is so large that it was necessary to develop and apply specific concepts to process them, such as Big Data.
Besides the generation of information, the access to this data has been made easier, which has brought about new possibilities especially for those who see in this context the opportunity to use information to sell more and better.
It’s at this moment that market intelligence becomes so crucial for any type of business.
Also called competitive intelligence, this type of strategy actively contributes to better understanding the current market and for future projections.
Therefore, when investing in research related to market intelligence, a business can enrich its strategic planning in an established way and based on relevant information.
This type of investment is responsible for a series of advantages, making business intelligence an extremely valuable marketing tool.
Among these benefits, we can mention:
- Deeper knowledge about the current audience and potential customer.
- Knowledge about market problems, so that it’s possible to find favorable solutions for the business.
- Better knowledge of the market niche in which the business is in;
- understanding of the brand’s perception from the consumers’ view, which helps to verify branding actions;
- awareness and analysis of the main competition and influencers in your niche;
- monitoring tendencies;
- monitoring the actions of the competition;
- giving more efficient sales approaches to the sales team;
- developing new functionalities, resources, products, and services based on the current demands of the target audience.
The importance of data collection
We can separate the existing data into two basic categories:
- Primary data;
- Secondary data.
Primary data is that obtained by methods applied directly by the interested party, like questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and others.
Secondary data is that obtained by means of publications and previously performed studies.
In the market intelligence strategy, primary data usually has a lot of value, since it’s directed to the interests of the business.
However, it is not wise to neglect the importance of secondary data, which can provide very important information.
Secondary data can offer essential insights for the understanding of the market, especially when they are presented in a more general and comprehensive format.
Primary data, on the other hand, is collected directly from the source that is the most interesting to the team responsible for the market intelligence strategy, which can be the target-audience of the business.
Today, with the conveniences brought about by the Internet, the acquisition of primary data for market research can be done through automated, entirely digital platforms, which we’ll address later in this article.
The truth is that data collection is one of the most important steps in the market intelligence strategy. After all, it’s through it that your business will be able to obtain the necessary information to understand the world and context the business lives in, and thus will be able to plan the next steps in a way that is both in-depth and concise.
Practical applications of market intelligence
The proper use of a market intelligence strategy depends a lot on the structure developed for this type of analysis, as well as the right data collection.
That’s why the first step is to invest in a department capable of performing both the data collection and information analysis correctly and in a structured way, therefore providing results that can be used for decision making.
In this respect, to put the analysis process into practice, it is also necessary to follow some important procedures, such as the definition of performance indicators, the choice of collection and analysis tools, among others.
We’ll detail below the main points in order to put the market intelligence strategy in action.
Define performance indicators
Also known as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), they are essential for the entire process.
That’s why the first step in order to implement the competitive intelligence strategy in your business is to define which KPIs will be used both in the collection and in the treatment and analysis stage.
If the current goal of the business is, for example, to increase online sales, indicators like conversion rates are essential for a good analysis.
Choose the best tool
After the definition of the KPIs, it’s time to pay attention to the resources that will boost data analysis in your business.
There are many tools, free and paid, which can help in this task.
Choosing a software that meets your business demands is a very important step in the market intelligence strategy. That’s why you should study the options carefully and define exactly what your needs are at the moment.
Besides the software acquisition, its configuration and use are essential to obtaining data correctly.
Therefore, if it’s necessary, consider investing in a specialized professional for this task.
Mind data quality
Even with the best resources at hand, the data is not always 100% reliable. That’s why the process of analysis must always be preceded by the treatment of the data.
This step consists, basically, of the organization of the collected information. Therefore, the following steps are fundamental for maintaining data quality:
- Identifying and eliminating duplicate data points: repeated information must be deleted or unified.
- Standardizing information: the process of segmentation, grouping, and uniforming data, especially those coming from distinct sources.
- Recovery of missing information: if necessary, rely on backups, upgrades and other procedures. This way, you can prevent the analysis from providing inconclusive data;
- Validation of information: the process of validation can be done manually or by automated means. It consists of verifying the accuracy of the obtained information;
- Data cleansing: getting rid of empty spaces, dashes, wrong characters, etc. This step helps the readability and formatting of information.
Interpret the data
After the process of data collection and treatment, it’s time to interpret the obtained information.
This means that it’s not enough to look at the figures, it’s also necessary to search for an understanding of how and why each indicator behaved the way it did.
In this step the chosen KPIs don’t act alone. It’s necessary to include other information, like the operation niche, consumer market data, current macroeconomic background, among others.
And that is exactly why it’s impossible to provide a ready-made “formula” for data analysis, since each business presents a different scenario.
Therefore, seek a methodology that is compatible with your reality.
Plan the next steps
After analyzing the data and interpreting its available information, it’s time to put the results into practice.
It’s at this moment that you should trace a strategy based on data analysis, applying market intelligence.
This way, it’s possible, among other actions:
- to correct mistakes stemming from previous strategies;
- to perform predictive analysis and review goals and objectives;
- to plan market actions;
- to design new sales strategies;
- to implement new resources;
- to adapt to the operation processes.
The analysis of the obtained data can, for example, help with the understanding of the sales seasonality of digital products, for example, fostering the creation of a strategy that makes an increase in sales during peak periods possible.
5 tools to help you with market intelligence
Now that you know the whole process for applying market intelligence in practice, it’s time for us to talk about the possibilities of the tools that can be used in your strategy.
There are many types of software to choose from, both paid and free. That’s why, in order to help you apply this analysis strategy, we’ll list 5 essential tools below.
1. Government census data
A good demographic database is essential for us to know the reality of our consumer market.
This means that having on hand information regarding population size, per capita income, quantity of schools, number of vehicles, among other data, is fundamental for initiating the data analysis process.
The details listed above are some examples of what is possible to gather, sometimes for free, from government census agencies. In the US, you can get this information from the United States Census Bureau.
There, it’s possible to find many types of information grouped by state, region and city, divided into these categories:
- work and income;
- territory and environment.
MailChimp, today, is one of the primary marketing tools on the Internet.
Its main function is the creation of mailing lists for email campaigns. In other words, it makes it possible to send thousands of messages to a huge client database in a way that is fast and automated.
Just for this function, MailChimp can be considered an essential tool for any business. But it can do a lot more than that.
Besides sending emails automatically, Mailchimp analyses the actions of the recipients on your list, showing how many people opened the email, how many clicked on the links inserted on the message, among other data.
This type of information is crucial when it’s time to deal with the customer database because it means that it’s possible to classify them according to their level of interest in your campaigns. And MailChimp does even that, giving clients points from one to five stars.
And the best of all? If you register up to 2000 contacts and send up to 12,000 emails, the tool is entirely free.
3. Google Ads
Checking people’s interest in a determined subject, product, or service is fundamental for understanding how the market is behaving.
And if there’s a tool capable of understanding exactly how the audience thinks, it’s Google!
To provide exactly this type of information for those who post ads online, Google has created one of its most powerful tools: the Google Ads Keyword Planner.
With this tool, you can check which words are the most used in the Google search mechanisms, allowing a complete analysis of your audience’s interest.
4. Google Trends
Of course Google would show up here more than once! After all, when we talk about Internet data, it’s impossible not to mention the name of the information giant.
If on Google Ads the idea is to check the most researched words on the Internet, with Google Trends it’s possible to check the frequency of these words over time.
This function is extremely useful, especially if the performance of your business depends on some kind of seasonality, for example.
You can also compare different keywords and filter the search by country, state, and city.
5. Facebook Audience Insights
Of course we wouldn’t forget social networks, considering they are great sources of information for any decent market strategy.
Facebook hasn’t been just a social network for personal interaction for a long time, having become one of the main means of promotion for businesses and brands.
That’s why being present on the platform is virtually an obligation for any business.
From the moment you create a page for your business on Facebook, it’s possible to access Audience Insights, a free and powerful tool providing details like gender, age bracket, education, profession, housing information, among others, especially about the audience that likes your page.
Collecting and analyzing data provided by Audience Insights is a very efficient way to better know the types of people who are interested in your brand, which helps with the alignment of the communication strategies, mainly in relation to the language and approach used with your audience.
Market intelligence as a success factor in marketing strategies
Marketing strategies depend heavily on knowing the audience, and, consequently, using market intelligence well.
Many companies from all over the world are great examples of the application of this concept. Learn about some of these businesses:
Think With Google
Think With Google is a portal dedicated to the distribution of reports, analysis, and insights from the digital world, providing information that is complex even for marketing professionals.
The portal is, today, one of the main sources of research for many digital entrepreneurs, uniting themes ranging from Generation Z to future online shopping tendencies.
Seeking to update its knowledge base about Food Service, Unilever has mapped out all its points of sale, geographically analyzing and identifying the regions presenting good investment opportunities.
This has led to an in-depth data diagnosis, aiming to find out which potential consumers weren’t being reached by its products and campaigns, which resulted in a redefinition of the company’s sales strategies.
By means of this modification, Unilever has seen an increase in the efficiency of its operations in the Food Service market, showing an increase of 3% in the company’s revenues.
The world’s most successful alternative transport app, Uber is the result of very interesting market analysis.
When verifying the competitiveness with its closest competitors (taxis), the company realized that there was an opportunity to enter an under explored market.
So, using the information related to dissatisfaction with the traditional model of individual transport, such as the quality of the service and high fees, Uber was introduced in many cities in the world, gaining the preference of users and causing taxi drivers to lose a market that used to be basically a monopoly.
Today, the presence of Uber in cities has resulted in the creation of new apps to compete with it, and consequently, the modernization of even taxis, who saw that they were being cast aside from the market.
Internet and market intelligence
As you can see, market intelligence is a very complex strategy and can be used in many areas, independently of the operation niche and the consumer market of your business.
With a close relationship with the Internet, as this is the main source of data and information, market intelligence is also largely applied to digital businesses.
It’s actually in this environment that data analysis strategies are even more effective, considering the almost infinite application possibilities.
As we mentioned, you can extract diverse information points that can help you make the right decisions for you and your business. Among these information points, it’s possible to understand where are the best areas to work in online.
So, let’s get going? To help you in your next step, we’ve put together some simple tips to improve your online sales.
Don’t forget to check it out!