It’s impossible to create an informed, reliable marketing strategy without first gathering intelligence relating to your market. Gathering marketing intelligence is the first step in creating a marketing strategy because you need to know what you need to do before you can decide how you’re going to do it.

Marketing intelligence reveals valuable insights into your internal and external business environment. You need to know information about your customers, your competitors and about your own company and products or services. Once you know the current state of your market, you can then get a clear picture of what you should be doing in the future and the best ways to do that.

If you were to jump right into planning a strategy without first gathering marketing intelligence, you would find yourself with some major problems. You would have no idea if your goals and objectives mean anything or if your strategy would even ultimately accomplish anything at all.

There are a variety of ways to gather marketing intelligence, including data scraping services and research. Different methods for gathering marketing intelligence will generally yield different types of information. If you have a specific question that you need an answer to, then you can pick the appropriate method to provide the right information. If you are looking to gather a complete picture of your market, then the more methods you use, the better.

Customer Database

The first stop for finding information should be your own internal databases. These databases often provide extensive information about your customers and business performance.

This data can be analysed in order to create meaningful insights.

For example, you may find that your products do very well with older age groups, but you don’t have many customers in their 20’s. This could lead you to look into how you can target younger customers in your strategy.

Another example of information you could get from internal databases might be that you notice you don’t have a lot of repeat customers. This could indicate that you need to focus your strategy on customer retention.

Data Scraping 

The internet holds endless amounts of information, but it can be overwhelming, if not impossible to manually search for and compile all of the information you need. This is where data scraping becomes your new best friend.

If you use an automated web scraper, the service provider will write a unique code to search for the information that you need. The web scraper crawls through the internet and collects the information you’re looking for and then the information is compiled for you in a spreadsheet.

Data scraping can be applied in a number of ways, but most useful to marketing intelligence would be gathering customer sentiments from social media or review sites and competitive intelligence.

Surveys

Surveys can be a good way to get information from people are either are or are not your customers. You can send them out in a number of ways and they are relatively quick and easy for the person to fill out.

If you conduct a survey, it is easier to get measurement related information than in depth insights.

Focus Groups

If you are looking for more in depth insights or a more exploratory search for information, you might try conducting focus groups. Depending on the information you’re looking for, you could conduct these with either current customers or people who aren’t your customers.

Market Reports

If you don’t want to conduct your own research, you can also purchase market reports from a research company like Nielsen. These research companies compile reports on almost any industry and provide insights on consumer behavior and market performance.

Before you start on your marketing strategy, research must be done in order to understand where you are currently in your market. This research will lead to insights about your performance and provide ideas for making your strategy a success.