What is marketing intelligence?

Published Apr 4 2024 4 minute read Last updated Apr 18 2024
what is marketing intelligence
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  • Sean Dougherty
    Written by Sean Dougherty

    A copywriter at Funnel, Sean has more than 15 years of experience working in branding and advertising (both agency and client side). He's also a professional voice actor.

The modern business world runs on data, but data is only valuable if it can help you make smarter decisions. So how, exactly, can marketers leverage their reams of data to become better, more informed versions of themselves? Marketing intelligence. 

This emerging category of business tools helps marketers make the most of their data, whether it’s found on social media platforms, ad networks, customer management tools and more. But how can you tell whether a solution is “marketing intelligence” or something else? And how do you decide if you need marketing intelligence or not? (Hint: you do.)

Today, we’ll go through the ins and outs of these offerings and explain how they can make you a better marketer in a matter of clicks. 

What is marketing intelligence?

According to the technology research and consulting firm Gartner, marketing intelligence involves gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data on marketing activities and consumer behavior to make informed decisions. This includes data on market trends, competitor analysis, consumer demographics, and behavioral insights.

The primary goal of marketing intelligence is to provide businesses with actionable insights that enable them to: 

  • Understand their target audience better 
  • Anticipate market trends 
  • Optimize their marketing strategies for maximum effectiveness. 

By leveraging marketing intelligence, businesses can make informed decisions about product development, pricing strategies, distribution channels and promotional tactics.

This new class of software products extends far beyond the capabilities of traditional extract-transform-load (ETL) tools that many marketers may be familiar with. They also allow you to explore your data and visualize it before integrating it with other business-intelligence-related tools.

The emergence of the marketing intelligence category 

As the advertising and marketing space has become more digital, the availability and need to use data has grown. Alongside this burgeoning need, a new economy of data tools emerged. This included traditional web analytics platforms, customer relationship management systems, ETLs and more. 

Over the years, the marketing industry’s data maturity has grown, requiring equally sophisticated solutions to accommodate their needs. Sometimes, marketers are forced to rely on BI tools, which are often far more complex and difficult to use than they need. In other cases, marketing teams try to custom-build their own digital solution.  In other instances, some marketers form a hodgepodge of different tools into a larger data stack — each component serving a very specific use case. 

Each of these approaches presents its challenges. More recently, though, some companies have begun offering a more integrated product that can provide more stability while giving marketers exactly the features they need. This includes tools like Funnel’s marketing data hub. The aim is to help marketers do anything and everything they need related to data in a single place. 

Do I really need marketing intelligence?

Yes! Of course you do! 

Think of it this way: Would you take your entire paycheck into a casino and place it all on the number 21 at the roulette wheel? Pretty ill-advised, right? But that’s exactly what you do when you make marketing investments without performing data collection and analysis. 

Marketing intelligence gives you the insight to predict future outcomes based on past performance. Instead of throwing down all of your cash on long odds at the roulette table, you’re more like Matt Damon’s character in Rounders — you’re well-informed and skilled, giving you a better chance to win.

Selecting your marketing intelligence tool

Understanding the need for marketing intelligence is just one step. Now, you’ll need to pick the right solution for your team. Like selecting any tool for any business, you’ll want to follow a few steps:

  • Define your objectives: Start by clearly defining your marketing objectives and what you aim to achieve with the tool. Whether it's improving campaign performance, optimizing advertising spend, or gaining deeper insights into customer behavior, having clear goals will help you narrow down your options.
  • Assess your data needs: Evaluate the types of data you need to collect and analyze for your marketing efforts. This could include website analytics, social media metrics, advertising performance data, customer demographics, and more. Choose a tool with robust capabilities for gathering and integrating data from multiple sources relevant to your business.
  • Consider ease of use: Look for a tool that is user-friendly and intuitive, with a well-designed interface that makes it easy to navigate and access the features you need. A tool that requires extensive training or technical expertise may be challenging to adopt and could hinder your team's productivity.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Consider whether the tool can scale with your business as it grows and adapts to evolving marketing needs. Look for features that allow customization and flexibility, so you can tailor the tool to fit your specific requirements and workflows.
  • Integration capabilities: Assess the tool's ability to integrate with other software and platforms your business uses, such as CRM systems, advertising platforms, email marketing tools, and more. Seamless integration allows for smoother data flow and eliminates the need for manual data entry or data migration between systems.
  • Data security and compliance: Ensure that the tool adheres to industry standards for data security and compliance with regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and others relevant to your region and industry. Look for features such as encryption, access controls, and compliance certifications to protect sensitive data and ensure regulatory compliance.
  • Support and training: Evaluate the level of customer support and training provided by the tool vendor. Look for vendors that offer comprehensive onboarding, training resources, and ongoing support to help your team make the most of the tool and troubleshoot any issues that arise.
  • Cost and ROI: Consider the total cost of ownership, including subscription fees, implementation costs, and any additional expenses such as customization or integration fees. Evaluate the potential return on investment (ROI) of the tool based on the value it provides in terms of improved marketing performance, efficiency gains, and revenue growth.

Funnel’s approach to marketing intelligence

As you might have guessed, Funnel falls into this new marketing intelligence category. But we haven’t changed the core of our product at all. It’s the same strong marketing data hub you know and love. We are growing and evolving the features, though. 

In March 2024, we launched Funnel Dashboards — our new visualization capability. Much like the rest of Funnel, we crafted the visualization system distinctly with marketers in mind. It’s straightforward and easy to use. 

While Funnel Dashboards might not have all the bells and whistles of a Tableau, that’s the point. It’s designed to help you explore your data, find insights and show off those insights to stakeholders as quickly as possible. And it’s free to everyone with an account. 

Redefining what’s possible

With marketing intelligence tools, marketers can transcend limitations, transforming data into insights and actions that propel their strategies to unprecedented heights. Armed with the power of real-time analytics, seamless data integration, and advanced attribution modeling, marketers can unlock the true potential of their campaigns. They can craft personalized experiences, anticipate customer needs, and orchestrate targeted campaigns with precision. 

Through the lens of marketing intelligence, every data point becomes a beacon of opportunity, guiding marketers toward new horizons of success. In this era of digital innovation, marketing intelligence isn't just a tool — it's the compass that guides marketers toward greatness, empowering them to shape the future of their brands and forge lasting connections with their audiences.

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