A little over a decade ago, “data-driven marketing” was something only companies with large marketing budgets could consider. Conducting marketing research and gathering reliable marketing data was expensive and time-consuming. Hence, marketing information management wasn’t even a blip on the radar.
Today, however, things have changed significantly.
Companies of all sizes make their marketing decisions based on data. As collecting data became faster and cheaper, the data became more reliable. The volume and complexity of available information increased as well. Therefore, one can safely assume that all marketing today is data-driven marketing.
With just a few clicks, you can access detailed reports of purchasing intents of customers in the upcoming quarter, which was unimaginable a few decades ago.
Behind every marketing decision today, you have some data.
According to research conducted by Ascend2, 45% of surveyed marketers already use a unified marketing data strategy, and 32% plan to do it within the next year. First-party data was equally important for 86% of large, medium, and small companies (with budgets less than $1M) who create digital media strategies.
The second-party data was the most important for 65% of large companies, while third-party data was the most significant for medium and small companies with 50% and 59%, respectively.
Still, the true power of marketing data is not in its volume but in how it is processed, analyzed, and used. Nate Silver, the author of “The Signal and the Noise,” says that data is useless without context, especially accurate and relevant today.
It is necessary to have some idea and plan when aggregating marketing reports. If you don’t know why you collect the data or what patterns you are looking for, you might have a pile of useless spreadsheets and reports.
The overabundance of available information can be overpowering, and it’s easy to lose focus on your goals. All this research, analytics, and intelligence reports need to be organized to be helpful and meaningful to the decision-makers.
This is where marketing information management and marketing information systems come in handy.
What is Marketing Information Management?
Businesses of all sizes collect seemingly endless data points and rely on their analysis when defining and adjusting their business strategies, improving their products, and creating tailor-made marketing campaigns for their audiences.
Gathering marketing data has never been easier. From analytics reports generated by different marketing platforms to company sales reports, marketing teams can gather information for every touchpoint of customers’ buyer journey. It is also more accessible than ever to follow close market competitors and the results of their marketing campaigns.
Thanks to smart devices and advanced analytics tools, we can get detailed real-time data about our customers and how their consumer habits change.
This data, combined with efficient machine learning algorithms, helps businesses predict the results of their campaigns more accurately and forecast the sales well in advance.
The gathering, organizing, and analyzing of internal and external marketing data is called marketing information management. An essential part of MIM (marketing information management) is determining what type of data should be collected and why. It is vital to select the right data and data sources to get reports that will be precise and useful to the decision-makers.
According to Leszek Dudkiewicz, the Head of Marketing at Passport Photo Online, “Marketing information management (MIM) is essential to effective marketing. It involves using technology and data to help organizations make better decisions about their customers, markets, and products. MIM systems can track customer interactions across channels, analyze customer data to understand behavior and preferences, and segment customers into groups for more targeted marketing campaigns.
Organizations that implement MIM systems enjoy several benefits, including increased sales, reduced marketing costs, improved customer retention rates, and increased profits. However, it’s important to note that a successful MIM implementation requires commitment from top management and buy-in from all levels of the organization.”
What is a Marketing Information System & What are its Key Components?
Depending on the sources and needs of the company, sometimes the amount of collected data can be substantial and hard to navigate and understand.
To become helpful, these information sets need to be stored, sorted, analyzed, and distributed in an easy-to-understand and consistent report format. This is where the marketing information systems play their part.
Everyone involved in gathering, organizing, and analyzing marketing data, as well as equipment, procedures, and tools used, fall under the marketing information system (MKIS).
Its primary purpose is to keep all the data organized and actionable so the marketing team, and others who need it, can easily access it and use it in decision-making.
If marketing information management is why then the marketing information system is how.
There are more than a few definitions and models of MKIS. The most popular one was defined by Philip Kotler In his book “Marketing Management.”
According to Kotler, there are four main components of an MKIS.
- The internal reports system includes sales reports, inventories, cash flows, personnel, and product costs. All internal company data that can provide good insights into company capabilities and the success of the products are fed into this system.
- The market research system is always project-based, and its primary purpose is to provide answers to specific marketing questions. It usually combines internal and external data with statistical tools.
- Marketing intelligence helps businesses get a better picture of their industry and competitors. It mainly relies on external data sources such as trade journals, industry reports, and other third-party data from competitors.
- A marketing decision support system is the core of every MIS. It uses econometric, marketing, and other types of software and various specific tools to collect, organize, and analyze data from the different systems and generate reports.
Data Types in a Marketing Information System
A marketing information system needs to provide intuitive and accurate reports and analyses for decision-makers. The system‘s key components are fed with different types of data (depending on the system), which can be accessed by various departments and used to generate reports.
The goal of these reports is to present accurate and up-to-date data in a format that can help company managers see potential opportunities and challenges.
MIS manages different kinds of data coming from multiple resources. The data used can be internal, from the company’s sources, or external, acquired from a third-party source. They are most commonly divided into four categories:
- Internal company data helps you generate better insight into your company’s internal operations, and in a way, it can be considered a foundation of your marketing information management strategy. Keeping this data in the MIS, you make it available to anyone who needs it in the company, making their work more efficient and autonomous.
Data sources for internal data can include:
- Sales reports
- Production costs
- Pricing strategy
- Product information
- Company roadmaps
- Customer support reports
- Acquired databases represent the vast amounts of data available from external sources such as government agencies, databases, and reports generated by companies and international institutions. These databases provide enormous economic and demographic information on individuals, groups, and companies.
Data sources for acquired databases could include:
- Census data
- Gdp growth
- Industry growth
- Marketing intelligence is any data you can get through a third-party smart intelligence system that monitors your competitors. Competitor insight helps you better understand how your products rank against the competition and your key advantages and disadvantages.
Data sources for marketing intelligence can vary, depending on the industry. Good examples could include:
- Trade publications
- Third-party databases
- Product comparisons between competitors
- Marketing research is mainly focused on better understanding your target audience and market and how to create better products for them. You can get this data from your custom research or syndicated research reports. Keep in mind that custom research will provide you with unique data focused on your business environment, which will make it more valuable for your reports.
Data sources for marketing research could include:
- Customer reviews
- Buyer intent data
- Survey data
- Social listening
What are Key Data Points in Marketing Information Management?
The answer to this question depends mainly on the report types you need to generate.
If you don’t have an established marketing information system, it is a good rule to start from the basics and build up over time. You will better assess the type of reports your company needs and the data necessary for generating them with time.
Your marketing team already collects a substantial amount of data that can be used in an MIS. You could always add additional data points to your list.
Here are some that you should consider tracking right from the start:
- Social media engagement
- Website traffic
- SEO ranking
- Email campaigns
- Sales information
- Customer reviews
As your business grows, so will the list of data points you need to track.
At some point, it might become challenging to manage all incoming data. Also, your business model might change, your customer base, and your business competitors. These are just a few reasons you need to approach information management more strategically and make it futureproof.
Why do You Need a Marketing Information Strategy?
Even though collecting data is an integral part of marketing information management, you still need to do some groundwork before buying software, connecting your existing SaaS tools, and start generating reports.
Establishing a marketing information strategy as the backbone of information management will help you track and collect all the data and plan what to do with it. By creating a simple marketing information management strategy, you can avoid some common mistakes right from the start.
- Define goals. Setting up clear and measurable goals will help you define better KPIs. Discuss with your team and other company management the type of reports that need to be generated from the collected data. Determine who will be responsible for managing it.
- Select data types and sources that you want to collect. Based on your goals and the types of reports you need to generate, you should select the data sources that you need. It would be best to make a good mix of internal and external data sources.
- Pick the right equipment and tools. Anything from Google Analytics and SEMrush to SaaS tools specific to your business can be included in the mix. When selecting, keep in mind that you might have to update and expand your system in the future.
- Implement and test. Don’t rush with launching your MIS. Test everything for feedback from relevant stakeholders and double-check the data sets you are importing and the reports you are generating. You want everything to function smoothly and without errors.
Natalia Brzezinska, the Marketing & Outreach Manager at PhotoAiD, had this to say, “In a dense, endless jungle of data, adequately designed Marketing Information Management is like a clear path. It enables to move quickly and efficiently, identify trends, and ultimately save a lot of time and money. Personally, I enjoy it very much and strongly recommend it.
In my opinion, the good practice when it comes to Marketing Information Management is creating a separate role or even a team. The size depends on how big the company is and your marketing budget. You need to have a great data analyst who simultaneously understands marketing and can share his discoveries without using analytical jargon. Qualified specialists are the most valuable assets in each company.”
Marketing Information Management Examples
The variety of reports generated from an MKIS depends on the company and the needs of each team within the organization. However, the result should always be a report with understandable data points that provide clear insights and conclusions.
Here you will find a general selection of the most commonly generated MKIS report types that most companies often use.
- Sales reports are prepared by the sales and marketing departments. These reports usually have information about products that have been sold in the last quarter (or any other period), a timeline of sales, and their geographic distribution. If your company oversold certain items during the sales action in one quarter, this might reflect on the sales of the same product in the next quarter.
- Cost reports aggregate cost reports from various departments, which helps company managers get a better picture of the company’s expenses for a particular product.
- Cash flow reports compare cash flows from the company’s operations, capital investments, and external investors versus the cash outflow.
- Trend reports help managers understand which products perform better. This type of report is usually focused on identifying particular trends in sales over a certain period, among other things.
- Budget reports cover various budgets that operate within a particular company. These reports help you estimate the financial health of the company.
- Production reports are usually prepared by the production division and typically have information about production targets and if they were met.
- Predictive reports are prepared by analyzing past data and identifying patterns and trends. These reports are beneficial for planning, preparing, and decision making.
- Summary reports are used to provide a summary of already collected data. Any department can generate them.
How can Marketing Information Management Help your Company?
Having clean and easily accessible data provides numerous benefits for every company, from quickly understanding changes in your market to making better sales forecasts.
One of the essential advantages is integrating your core marketing systems.
Colton De Vos, a Marketing Specialist from Resolute Technology Solutions, says that the best practice for marketing information management is integrating your core marketing systems.
“To get a full picture view from first engagement to interactions throughout the buyers’ journey and sales cycle through to closing a sale and communicating with the client afterward. With modern systems, you can integrate web stats tools like Google Analytics with marketing automation and chatbot live chat tools to get a sense of what web visitors engaged with on your site and the path that led them to reach out or engage your sales team.”
By integrating these tools, you can improve the scope of your marketing research and increase the potential to gather new ideas. It can also help keep track of emerging trends in the market. But above all, integrated marketing data can provide you with a complete picture of your marketing efforts and help you develop better strategies in the future.
Colton De Vos from Resolute Technology Solutions also advises integrating tools with existing CRM. “All your current marketing tools can be combined with your CRM to track the lead’s journey through your sales process. When you go to mine data later, you’ll be able to produce reports that segment data by marketing channel or inbound vs. outbound and then get insights from the full picture view that can inform future marketing investment.
Examples of insights can include how many referrals came from inbound clients, what search terms led to the most conversions, which outbound campaigns drove the most leads, how many touchpoints the average user needed before engaging, etc.”
The Global Product Information Management Market
Companies present on the global market utilize data on a much larger scale.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the e-commerce sector experienced a massive increase in operations, leading to increased demand for product information management.
In 2021 estimated value of the global product information management market was $9.9 billion. It is expected to reach $16.5 billion by 2026. According to the Global Product Information Management Market Report, key factors such as growing digitalization have increased e-commerce transactions, thereby surging demand for a centralized repository of information. Also, such centralized data can help remove the inconsistencies in data across numerous data storage systems. These factors are prominently driving the growth of the Product Information Management (PIM) market.
Companies working on a global market use product information management solutions to maintain their competitive advantage. They have proven to be more effective than a standard MIS, especially when multiple sales channels, multiple hierarchies, and complex user and attribute models. And while big companies like Nike and Amazon still rely on their legacy solutions, they are slowly shifting towards more sophisticated solutions like PIM.
How Does Nike Use Marketing Information Management?
Nike positioned as a disruptor in their business from day one, giving them a competitive edge over their closest rivals.
Once a sneaker giant, today, Nike is data giant thanks to acquisitions of data analytics company Zodiac. By incorporating Zodiac’s technology into their MIS, Nike can crunch data points from customers using their apps such as Nike Fit, Nike Run Club, Nike Training Club, and wearables such as iWatch and Fitbit.
All this aggregated data provides Nike with better insight into their customers’ workout habits and their purchasing decisions. Allowing the marketing and sales team to create personalized offers for each user and reach out in time when they are entering a new purchasing cycle.
Nike’s primary business model is retail-first, where the majority of the company’s revenue comes from wholesales. The company has been operating under this model for the past few decades. They started disrupting this model in recent years with their direct-to-consumer initiative Nike Direct.
Nike’s direct sales numbers have been climbing over the past decade. In 2011 direct sales brought in $2.9 billion to the company, while in 2018, that number rose to $10.4 billion. At the end of the company’s 2021 fiscal year, direct sales came at $16.4 billion, which accounts for 39% of Nike brand sales.
Direct-to-consumer sales numbers result from how Nike has collected and used data to improve their products and deliver a better customer experience.
For instance, the Nike app offers users access to the Nike+ rewards program, early access to new products, priority access to events, and personalized workout programs. Nike Run Club and Nike Training Club apps help users track their workout habits and connect with others. The Nike Fit app lets users scan their feet to determine the right sneaker size.
By collecting different data points from these apps, Nike can determine the location of its users so they can pick better places for their stores. They can also predict purchasing cycles better thanks to the data points from fitness tracking based on how much users utilize the sneakers since the last purchase. Nike can also adjust the sneaker sizes and fits for individual markets thanks to the access of the thousands feet scans.
How Does Amazon Use Marketing Information Management?
Amazon is by far the biggest online store in the western hemisphere.
They retail an enormous variety of products in many countries and are well known for their fast and reliable deliveries. Even though complex and filled with options, their website and app are easy to navigate and use. And their recommendations always seem to hit the right spot when it comes to last-minute purchasing decisions.
Amazon is not a king for no reason.
Their success and positive user experience come from a vast amount of data collected by various company departments almost in real-time. Thanks to this data, Amazon has kept its position as the number one unchallenged for two decades.
However, there is one acquisition that Amazon did In 2013 that shows how much they value data. That year for $150 million, they purchased Goodreads, a social network for book lovers. At the time, Goodreads had some 16 million users, which was far from what Facebook and Twitter had. But readers’ habits were changing rapidly, and Amazon made a strategic move that would help them dominate book sales in the future.
According to research conducted by Codex Group, in 2012, some 43 million readers in the US did 79% of all non-required reading. Of all interviewed participants, 10% looked for book recommendations online, and 19% looked for advice from a person they knew or followed on social networks. These numbers showed a 5% increase for both categories in two years.
Amazon recognized this as a clear signal that trends are changing among book readers and acquired Goodreads. This move allowed Amazon to get deeper data from the Goodreads audience and combine it with their in-house information.
Combining the two helped Amazon develop better predictive data, resulting in better on-site purchase recommendations.
Since Goodreads is a social network, this helped the company identify influencers based on the number of friends and engagement on their posts. With this data, Amazon created a viable database of book influencers in the United States, which helps them better organize and coordinate promotional activities.
Common Mistakes & Challenges in Marketing Information Management
Like any other process involving data, marketing information management also comes with challenges. From security breaches to human error, these are just a few reasons to remind you why working with data requires good management.
Resource constraints are one of the first obstacles most marketing managers face once they start implementing MIM. It is essential not to be discouraged by the price point of particular software that you might want to include in your system.
Data breaches are one of the most common and natural treats today for any business that collects and stores data. Today’s worth of data and information is enough for some individuals or organizations to try to steal it. It is vital to invest in cyber security training for your employees or professional services outside of the company.
Human error is always a factor in technology that is run and maintained by humans. It would be best to consider this when working with data in your MKIS. Keep an eye on data points out of projections, and always incorporate a system of internal control of data before you import it.
It is undeniable that marketing information management plays a vital role in helping businesses utilize available data and apply it to their decision-making. Since the pandemic in 2020, the e-commerce sector has experienced unprecedented growth.
This increased digitalization of various business sectors is the high demand for MIS and PIMS solutions that can help company managers expand the use of available data. Marketing information management will become the global guiding force for marketing specialists. And data will be the new king.