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Marketing Intelligence for Small Businesses

April 25th, 2022 9 min read

If you’re a small business looking to grow at scale, expand your market share, or even stay afloat, marketing intelligence is becoming increasingly essential. This is especially true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on small businesses. Most people associate marketing intelligence initiatives with large enterprises. 

Smaller businesses that use available data sources and market insights will gain an extra edge over competitors. 

What is Marketing Intelligence?

Marketing intelligence is crucial to discover where your business stands against competitors. This involves gathering information on competitor activities and consumers. You’ll need to collect data on different products, including how they’re priced and how well-liked they are. Having this information enables you to identify market trends and how you can fit into them. 

A better understanding of the market allows companies to identify their strengths and weaknesses. This greater self-awareness can also help you identify market opportunities and potential pitfalls. Competitor analysis can give you a good idea of how you match up against rival companies within your niche market.   

Other terms encompassed by (but often confused with) marketing intelligence include:

  • Market research: used to collect data on a target audience
  • Business intelligence:  gathering information on the performance of specific companies
  • Product intelligence: compiling data on product pricing and characteristics
  • Competitive intelligence: acquiring knowledge of competitor performance

The importance of marketing intelligence for small businesses

Any business needs to understand the consumer demand for what they plan to offer long before any kind of production. They also need to figure out whether they can meet at least part of the demand within their target market. This is true for the smallest local coffee shops and billion-dollar tech firms. 

Marketing intelligence tools and techniques can help you determine the size of a market and the players already in the space. They can also give you valuable insights to power your decision-making. These include whether or not to expand into a new existing market and where to best invest your resources.  

Getting started with marketing intelligence

Taking your first steps in the marketing intelligence world can be quite easy. Individual consumers compare prices and features when they shop around. Your business decisions will also have to consider how competitors are approaching the market. This can be ridiculously simple, from investigating your competitor’s websites to creating exhaustive customer lists. 

Market segmentation can turn those longs lists of potential clients into something actionable. From here, you can target their needs and tailor your approach. Consumer behavior can also be mapped based on online browsing and purchasing patterns. Machine learning algorithms and AI-powered analytics can identify promising leads and forecast future outcomes based on real-time behavioral data.

When it comes to marketing, price isn’t everything. It’s also important to be aware of the value that customers feel they are getting from products or services in a given industry. Social media, review sites, community forums, and chat groups can help you find out how consumers view your products. Questionnaires, custom polls, and surveys are great tools to get feedback on the delivery of new products or services. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) makes it easier for companies to gather customer feedback. If you’re communicating effectively with them, your customers can also be a valuable source for market insights.  

Leveraging marketing intelligence to grow your business

As a small business, you need to know everything you can about your niche market. This is a must if you plan to grow at scale and eventually compete with larger companies. To get ahead, modern businesses need to embrace the power of technology. 

More providers have made complex market intelligence features accessible to small companies. These include digital marketing solutions with big data, AI, and machine learning. Automated data feeds provide up-to-date competitor intelligence on the activities of your rivals.     

Picking the right marketing intelligence tools 

Operational overheads are a big concern for any business, but small businesses know that their margin for error is much lower. If your budget is restricted, you need to be all the more careful when selecting a mix of tools to optimize your marketing intelligence efforts.

Marketing intelligence tools can make your life a lot easier when it comes to gaining market insights, analyzing your performance against competitors, and understanding how customers interact with your brand. 

Benefits for demand generation and competitor analysis include understanding how customers got to your website, and what other products they’re looking at. Being armed with this knowledge facilitates cross-selling, upselling, and retargeting of your customers. Testing different campaign strategies will also help you optimize marketing campaigns and target the right audience.

The software you pick should be in line with your expertise, or with the technical capabilities that your team can muster. The table below highlights some of the best marketing intelligence tools for small businesses. 

Survey & Forms Building ToolsCreative surveys 
Market insights you need based on Quantitative and qualitative responses
Email Marketing SoftwareDistribute surveys, forms, and questionnaires
Promote customer engagement with your brand
Web AnalyticsWeb analytics 
Performance metrics 
Dashboards summarizing your multichannel marketing efforts. 
Customer Journey Analytics ToolsBuyer journey analysis
Customer satisfaction insights
Browsing and purchasing history

There are many free marketing intelligence tools on the market. Free versions will have limited functionality based on the number of users, available features, or both. Free tools can help you gain a basic understanding of marketing intelligence.

As your business expands, you may find it necessary to invest in more expensive tools. These may include automated reporting, slick APIs, and a higher data processing capacity. Eventually, it might be worthwhile for you to build a marketing team dedicated to research and intelligence. 

By providing a platform for independently sourced and verified reviews, TrustRadius helps small businesses find the right software to fit their needs. Visit TrustRadius today to see what software buyers are saying about different marketing intelligence tools.

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