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How Market Intelligence Will Make Your Marketing Team More Agile

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How Market Intelligence Will Make Your Marketing Team More Agile

When I was younger, my dream was to open a cheese store with my family. My mom, brother, sister, and I — we’re all obsessed with cheese.

So anytime I see a cheese store, I’ll go in and sample everything … for research, obviously.

Although I’d never thought about it this way before, I was already thinking in terms of market intelligence and market research (two different concepts, but more on that below).

I was thinking about the product and its competitors.

As a marketer, market intelligence is important because it can help you understand your position in the market, evaluate your product, know your target audience, and conduct competitive analysis.

With this information, your marketing team will be better equipped to position your company in the marketplace. For companies that prioritize intelligence data, decision-making can be five times faster.

Feeling hesitant to rely on intelligence data? Gartner reports over one-third of organizations will rely on decision intelligence by 2023, making data intelligence a must for remaining competitive.

Below, let’s review what market intelligence is, how it’s different from market research, and the intel tools that can facilitate the process.

Market intelligence is used to learn about the existing market, customers, problems, competition, and growth potential. Businesses can gather this information through internal and external sources such as sales logs, surveys, social media, news websites, manufacturers, clients, or distributors.

For instance, companies can gather general demographics and spending habits of their consumers to write better, more targeted social media ads. Additionally, market intelligence can help a company make decisions on product development and establish a stronger brand.

How to Gather Market Intelligence

So, what type of information should you collect? Generally, market intelligence can be divided into four main categories of information:

Competitor Intelligence

This is the process of learning more about your competitors. To do this, you might conduct a SWOT analysis, so you can look at the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to uncover why customers would choose competitors over your product or service.

Product Intelligence

Once you’ve analyzed how you compare to your competitors, look inward at your own product or service. The goal is to learn about its quality and performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

If you have a physical product, you should also analyze your manufacturing process. Are you building your product in the most efficient way? This information should help you improve the user experience and improve your product.

Market Understanding

To truly understand how your product is performing, you’ll have to look at the various markets where it’s available. Could you expand your product to other markets? Are there other markets that could benefit from your product or service?

Ultimately, this information should help you understand where your audience is and what gaps exist, so you can fill them.

Customer Understanding

Understanding your customer helps to increase your product or service life cycle. That’s because it’s usually more expensive to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

For this reason — and many others — you have to know your audience. Why do your customers buy from you? What challenges do you help them resolve? The goal here is to gather the information that can help your marketing team come up with targeted campaigns.

Overall, gathering market intelligence should answer questions like:

  • Where should we devote more resources?
  • What markets can we enter next?
  • What are our customers purchasing patterns?
  • What audiences should we market to?

Now, you might be wondering, “How do I gather this information?”

To conduct market intelligence, you’ll use internal and external sources of data, such as:

  • Surveys
  • Polls
  • Forms
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • A/B tests
  • Competitor tracking analytics

Depending on the analytics you have available, a lot of this information can be found on your content management system (CMS) or customer relationship management (CRM).

However, before we jump into the software you can use to find this information, I know you’re probably thinking, “How is this different from market research?” Let’s dive into that below.

Alternatively to market intelligence, market research focuses on learning more about the buyer’s research process and what influences their buying decisions.

Example of Market Intelligence

Let’s walk through an example of how a fictional company could use market intelligence to create a competitive advantage.

JKL Podcasting Co offers online software podcasters can use to record, edit, and distribute their podcast to major streaming platforms. As marketers at JKL look to expand the company’s user base, they performed an in-depth analysis of the market for podcast recording software.

In this analysis, they covered four areas:

  1. Competitor landscape — They identified the top-ranking podcast recording software companies to understand their product features, pricing model, sales funnel, marketing tactics, and customer demographics.
  2. Product — After gathering competitor information, they worked with their product team to gain a deep understanding of their own product including key features, how it was like competitor products, and what differentiated it from competitor products. They also learned about up-and-coming features launching later in the year.
  3. Market analysis — Next, the team did research to understand the overall valuation and growth potential of the podcast recording software market. They learned podcast listenership has grown over the past decade and is expected to grow more in coming years, which could lead to more podcasts being produced. With seeing growth and investment in the podcasting space, along with increased interest in people wanting to start podcasts, marketers at JKL learn there is a potential market for new, or up-and-coming podcasters who want easy-to-use software.
  4. Customer base — Finally, the JKL marketing team reached out to a focus group of their current customers to understand their relationship to the product. The customers walk them through their podcast production workflow using JKL software and share what features they love, along with what new features or changes they would like to see.

After going through this exercise, JKL has gained valuable insight into their competitive landscape, product features to highlight, market growth opportunities, and ways to keep their current customer base engaged and using the platform.

You’re probably wondering, “How do I gather this information?” Below, let’s review what tools and software you can use.

Market Intelligence Tools

For market intelligence to be useful, companies need to conduct research and sort through their collected data for analysis. A lot of this can be done through your CRM software.

To start, many CRMs allow you to create competitor profiles in which you will track your competitors’ products, price points, organizational updates, social media activity, and more.

You’ll likely also find battle card templates in your CRM, making it easy for your sales reps to access the information they need during their calls to combat objections and persuade prospects.

In addition, you can conduct regular win/loss analysis with your sales team to determine strengths and weaknesses in your sales and/or marketing strategy. You’ll want to know:

  • What factors are contributing to your wins and losses?
  • What other company was the prospect considering for the sale? Why?
  • Which competitors are you beating and which ones you are losing to?

If you don’t already have a CRM, there are many out there that cater to businesses ranging from small to enterprise-level. Pricing is usually structured on a monthly basis and can range anywhere from $20/month to $1200+.

If your team would rather focus on specific tools, there are several online options to help you achieve your goals. Below are a few we recommend, divided into sections depending on your goals. Additionally, if you’re a HubSpot user, many of these tools integrate with HubSpot.

Competitor Intelligence

1. HubSpot’s Marketing Hub

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HubSpot’s Marketing Hub has extensive tools to help marketing teams manage, track and scale their efforts. The platform offers both free and premium subscription plans ranging from $45 to $3,200 a month.

2. Crayon

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Crayon is one of the leading competitive intelligence (CI) tools in the industry. Its software can fetch and categorize data from over 300 million sources.

The platform also makes it easy for sales and marketing teams to find the intel they need, through battle cards, email digests, and a centralized dashboard.

For pricing information, you must contact the company.

3. SEMrush

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If you want to track your competitors’ SEO performance, SEMrush is a great place to start. The platform has extensive tools, including keyword research, domain overview, and keyword difficulty. This will give you more insight into your competitors’ strategies and how their efforts are performing.

Similar to HubSpot, SEMrush offers a free version of its platform. It also offers premium subscription plans ranging from $119 to $449 a month.

Product Intelligence

1. SurveyMonkey

Market intelligence Survey Monkey homepage

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Surveys are one of the best ways to learn more about how customers are responding to your products. Survey Monkey allows you to customize your survey to get the insights you need. Beyond a wide range of survey features like advanced survey logic and pagination, the platform also has tools to promote team collaboration.

Access to Survey Monkey starts at no cost, but their premium versions begin at $25/month.

2. InMoment

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InMoment, formerly Wootric, an analytics platform that helps you learn more about customer sentiment. You can gather real-time analytics, which arms your team to make decisions quickly.

The platform also has many integrations for easy team collaboration, including Slack, Zapier, and HubSpot.

For pricing details, you must contact the company.

3. Metadata

Metadata.io Homepage

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Metadata is a SaaS company that helps B2B brands generate demand for their products and/or services. On the platform, you can identify audiences, conduct experiments, and track the full sales journey.

Pricing starts at $3,950 for growing companies, with custom plans available for enterprise-level businesses.

Customer Understanding

1. Google Forms

Google Forms homepageImage Source

The stand-out feature on Google Forms is the simple and easy-to-use interface. In just a few minutes, you can have a survey ready to send out to your audience to collect data. You can receive alerts every time someone answers your survey and add collaborators.

The best part? It’s free for individuals and included in your plan if you have a Google Business account.

2. CallTrackingMetrics

CallTrackingMetrics homepage

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Too often, there’s a disconnect between sales and marketing teams – CallTrackingMetrics helps solve that. The platform offers a robust analytics tool that can identify which marketing campaigns are driving conversions, automate call processes for smoother interactions, and provide analytics — all in one place.

Pricing ranges from $39/month to $299/month, with custom plans available.

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics homepage

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Google Analytics is a website analytics tool with powerful reporting capabilities to understand how users are behaving on your site. It’s a great software for brands that are already using other Google products, such as Google Ads or Google Business, as they work together seamlessly.

On the platform, you can get detailed reports by goal: acquisition, retention, engagement, and monetization. The visual dashboard also allows you to get a snapshot of your site is performing.

The standard version is free and ideal for small to medium-sized companies. Entreprise-level businesses must contact sales for pricing.

How To Leverage Market Intelligence Data

Once you start collecting data, unpacking it is the next step.

But before you dive in head-first, come back to your goal. What do you want to learn and why? Use that to steer your approach.

Having a clear direction is essential during this stage to narrow down what data to focus on. You’ll be compiling a lot of data, and not all of it will be relevant to your main objective. Knowing which will be most impactful will save you so much time and allow you to use your resources efficiently.

Now that you know what to focus on, start organizing and reviewing your data. You’ll want to look for patterns. During this step, keep an open mind. Confirmation bias (the tendency to interpret information to support a pre-existing idea or belief) can greatly impact how you interpret data, so it’s important to consider all perspectives.

Once you identify a theme or trend, dive deeper to answer the 5Ws. When did it start? Who or what is influencing this? Why is it happening? Where else is this trend identified?

From there, it’s time to strategize. Based on what your data is telling you, you can develop an action plan and make recommendations to key stakeholders.

For instance, let’s say your latest intel revealed that consumers are unaware of a key feature in your product line, which is steering them toward your competitors. Your recommendation could be to launch a marketing campaign that highlights that feature, create stronger messaging on your website product pages, and adjust the sales team’s scripts to place more emphasis on this feature and how it’s better suited for your customers than a competitor’s.

The formula is easy: collect, organize, identify, and recommend. Understanding your market is key to entering the market and maintaining your place in it. But if you want to stand out among your competition, you’ll need to leverage market intel.

Market intelligence can give you a holistic view of the market, improve customer retention, boost your efficiency, and give you a competitive advantage. So, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say market intelligence is vital for your company to succeed.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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