Software is eating the world – and with that comes a lot of data.
In our interconnected world, it’s easier than ever to access hyperpersonal data about your customers, potential leads, and your target audience. Nowadays, telling someone you’re a data-driven marketer seems redundant. All marketers should be beholden to the data at their fingertips. It’s no longer a question of whether consumer data drives conversions; it’s the question of how best to use that information.
The competitive advantage of having unique marketing data has transformed the marketing operations space. It’s become essential to have a system for tracking, maintaining, reporting, and managing marketing information. Many companies use marketing resource management software (MRM) as a key component of a marketing operations strategy. It can help to organize information, build plans, collect and share assets, and publish campaigns.
What is marketing information management?
Marketing information management (MIM) refers to the system by which marketing operations teams gather, organize and evaluate internal data, competitive intelligence, and marketing research.
Marketing information management ensures you have the correct information when it comes to your customers. Marketing operations teams understand the importance of clean data that is organized in a way that is easy to understand. In many cases, they use marketing information management to do it.
Need for marketing information management
Marketing data is so valuable that it’s created its cottage industry of businesses, and business is booming. As of 2012, eighty-eight percent of marketers said they’d used data obtained by third parties to enhance their understanding of each customer. Navigating the competitive marketing landscape without the use of data is nearly impossible.
The perks of knowing those key details about prospects and customers can make or break deals. They can also mean the difference between another lousy low-level contract renewal and an upsell. This is why building concrete processes for acquiring and handling user data is important. Many companies choose to utilize marketing resource management software to accomplish this.
With MRM software, your team can:
- Collect and store data across multiple marketing channels in a single place
- Manage marketing budgets and campaign planning within the same platform
- Track and build reports on the success of marketing campaigns and assets
- Integrate with third-party marketing tools to execute marketing campaigns
- Easily share and distribute marketing data and materials across teams
Marketing information management can give you incredible insights. Not only that, it can help your marketing team build a more cohesive strategy and enable easier decision-making. By managing your marketing resources correctly, less time can be spent on collecting information, and more time can be spent using it.
Some people find it easier to understand marketing information management through real-world scenarios. Here’s just one example of marketing information management.
Example: The Head of Growth Marketing at your company is planning to run a targeted email campaign to high-profile CMOs in your industry with a goal of hitting a fifty-percent open rate.
They decide to use the information contained in the marketing information management system to find which CMOs interact with the company newsletter and social media posts the most. Using this information, a list of the most engaged users is created, and the strategy goes from there.
Who uses marketing information management?
Marketing information management is not limited to your marketing team. Everyone in your organization can use the data collected and organized by your marketing operations team. These insights provide deep analysis of your ideal customer and when used correctly, can help get your entire organization moving forward in the same direction.
How teams can use marketing information
- Product teams: Offer user insights on how to make a better product
- Sales teams: Allow BDRs to make deeper connections with prospective customers
- Customer success teams: Help maintain relationships with current customers
- Marketing teams: Provide talking points to connect with leads
- C-Suite executives: Give a clear view of where the company is headed and performing
Marketing is everyone’s job. It’s the job of the marketing team to provide other teams with the information they need to make smarter decisions. It also allows you to build a unified message that your organization as a whole can get behind.
Components of a marketing information management system
Most companies use marketing information systems to track three things: internal data, competitor insights, and market research. Each of these information systems breaks down into more detailed subsections. For now, let’s review each of these and what data your marketing team might be tracking in each.
1. Internal data
Internal company data includes any data that is accessible only to those who work within an organization. These are your internal insights that highlight company capabilities, product success, and more.
Think of your internal company data as the foundation to build your marketing strategy on top of. Without a solid foundation, third-party data or marketing research don’t pack the same punch. It’s important to understand your own data first before you can add anything else to the mix.
Information in internal data includes:
- Sales records
- Product information
- Brand positioning
- Pricing strategy
- Company roadmaps
Marketing information management is great for internal data because it allows anyone in your company to access information. For example, instead of hunting around for pricing information, a sales rep could easily find and access this information on their own with the help of a marketing information system. This saves everyone time and allows everyone in your company to work more autonomously.
2. Competitor insights
Competitor insight data includes any data collected from third-party sources, such as trade journals, industry associations, or buyer intent data. While your internal marketing data gives you a snapshot of your product as it stands alone, competitor insight data helps you understand how your product ranks against the competition.
Information in competitive insights includes:
- Projected market share of your product
- Competitor insights in your industry
- Product comparisons between competitors
- Industry trends for future planning
Marketing information management systems make it possible for this third-party data to be collected and analyzed alongside your own internal data. This centralized information hub gives you a deeper insight into how all the information about your marketing efforts works together.
3. Market research
Market research includes any method used to understand your company’s target market better. The primary difference between market research and competitor insights is marketing research focuses on how your team can create better products and experiences for your customers based solely on their experience with your company.
Marketing research is also most often conducted by your own company, which is another key difference between market research and competitor analysis. While this research can be conducted using the help of outside vendors, your
Information in market research includes:
The combined information between all three of these data collection methods will allow your company to make strategic decisions. Marketing information management is designed to collect, sort, and categorize this data in a way that anyone can understand and use.
What data to track?
If you’ve never built a marketing information system before, knowing the exact data points you should be tracking can be tricky. Let’s dive even deeper into the data and discuss what exact data collection will be helpful for your business. As always, the list provided below is just an example of what you might want to track. Ultimately, the decisions about what data pushes the needle for your business are entirely up to you.
Data that can be collected:
- Company sizes and resources
- Campaign and communication data
- Website traffic and SEO
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- Sales information
- Customer review information
- Customer support data
- PR measurement and brand mentions
- Advertising efforts
There will always be extra data points depending on your business or industry that were not included in the list above. That’s why it’s always important to conduct your own research and decide which mix of marketing data needs to be included in your marketing information management strategy.
Marketing information management reports
One of the many benefits of marketing information management is the ability to create reports with laser-focused insights. Many marketing information management systems allow you to run reports, but what reports should be created? Marketing reports are designed to make the data easy to understand for those who don’t work with it every day.
The key to world-class marketing reports lies in the ability to generate these reports on a consistent basis with the same information every time. Consistent, repeatable processes for building your reports will give you the best
Marketing reports you can create:
- Time series model: forecast sales projections by looking at historical data, seasonality, sales cycles, and more
- Brand-switching model: track customer buying habits and behavior to predict what might cause customers to switch from your brand to a competitor
- SWOT analysis: analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your business and pinpoint which areas you can improve upon
- Target market analysis: pinpoint your target market and discover what types of marketing efforts will allow you to reach your target audience
- Linear programming model: predict business outcomes such as revenue models and profit margins using mathematical programming models
- Elasticity models: allow you to see how changes to your business, such as pricing, product supply, client demand, and more, impact long-term outcomes for your business
- Regression models: highlight the relationship between different business variables both internally and externally within the larger competitive landscape
The more time you spend tailoring your reports to your business, the more valuable your insights will be. Basic reporting is a great way to dip your toes in the data end of the marketing swimming pool, but at some point, you’ll want to dive in headfirst. Most marketing information management systems allow customizable reporting options, which makes them perfect for this.
How to build a marketing information management strategy
It’s not enough to buy some software and connect it to all of your existing SaaS tools. A defined marketing data strategy is what will help you outshine your competitors. It takes just five easy steps to begin building your marketing information management strategy.
1. Establish goals with company leadership
Depending on the KPIs your team is tracking, there are a number of functions your marketing information system can be used for. Sitting down with your team and establishing clear goals at the beginning can help save a lot of time and confusion later down the road.
Questions to ask while setting expectations:
- What is the primary interest in using your marketing data?
- How can this data help other teams across the organization?
- What types of reports would you like to create with this data?
- Who will be responsible for managing the data and reporting?
- What is your budget for choosing the right marketing information system?
- What functions would you like to be included in your marketing information system?
The best way to get answers to these questions and more is to sit down with your organization’s leaders to discuss. Some companies choose to keep these decisions internal to the marketing team. However, if your organization is small enough to include all your senior leadership, consider inviting them into the conversation.
2. Choose which data to collect and manage
Now that you understand the goals, it’s much easier to choose what data will help you reach them. Think of your planning strategy as you choose which hiking trail you want to climb and your data selection process as deciding which tools to pack in your backpack. You can only take what you planned on packing on your hike, and data is the same way.
Remember, data is broken down into three categories: internal data, competitor insights, and market research. There are a number of data sources you should consider during this process.
Reporting also requires data to be selected before reports are run, so be sure to include anything you think your team will need. It’s possible to add new data to your marketing information system at any point, but in many cases, that data can’t be pulled for historical reports that have already run. For consistency’s sake, it’s always best to include any data that is relevant to your organization.
4. Bring everyone up to speed
Once you’ve chosen your tool, it’s time to bring everyone up to speed. Whether it’s your first time using a marketing information system or you’re just switching to a new one, there are steps you should take to ensure everyone understands the new system in place.
Steps to follow after implementing the MIM system:
- Speak with the internal marketing team about how your new marketing information management system will impact their work
- Inform your sales team how marketing data can be used to drive revenue growth and make closer connections with leads
- Communicate with your product team about how customer data can be leveraged for product design and optimization
- Allocate login information to anyone who needs access to the marketing information system on a regular basis
If you use an internal communication tool, it might also be to your benefit to have important information located there. This allows anyone with questions to easily search for answers on their own without having to bother your team for information.
5. Implement and track your new process
Unfortunately, there are some steps you can’t take until your tool is live and ready to use. This often includes the process of actually migrating your data and connecting your existing SaaS products to your new marketing information management system. This part of the process is tedious and time-consuming.
Don’t rush your software migration. Speeding through this step can lead to mistakes that will impact the quality and accuracy of your data. Take the time to make sure everything is feeding into the new system correctly, and run a few test reports to ensure the accuracy of the system.
You should also take the time to train anyone who will be using this system daily on how it operates. Many companies offer training materials along with your subscription. Take advantage of any training documents, videos, or information provided to you and give your team adequate time to absorb the information.
From there, the only thing left to do is utilize your new system and track the success. Check in after six months and see where things stand.
Questions to gauge the success of your MIM system:
- Is the system working the way you hoped it would?
- Are the reports being pulled helpful to your team?
- Is there anything your software doesn’t do that you wish it did?
- Do the benefits of your system outweigh the costs?
Most software contracts run annually, so a six-month check-in with your current system is ideal because it lets you decide if it’s time to buy new software. It also puts you in a position to negotiate a better deal with your current software provider. Either way, doing a check-in a few months before your contract renewal is set to happen is the best-case scenario.
Benefits of marketing information management
There are countless benefits to having clean and accessible data. With the power of user data, it’s easier than ever to build marketing strategies that drive leads and revenue. The idea behind all of this is to make data easier to understand so that your team can create more informed decisions. Here are just a few of the benefits of building a marketing information system:
Clearer customer demographics and buying cycles
Collecting and managing all of your marketing data in one place allows you a singular picture of who your customers are. Customers take many paths and explore different options before choosing your product. Many teams choose to track marketing touchpoints with an attribution model to get a clearer picture of what the buyer’s journey looks like for their product.
Of course, this attribution data is only one piece of the puzzle. Marketing information management allows you to use that data alongside data from other sources to get a holistic picture of your customer. All of this information together paints the full picture, and having a central data system makes it easier to access all the data your team needs.
Deeper understanding of your place in the competition
Marketing research comprises competitor insights, consumer behavior, economic projections, and marketing trends. This trio of information provides marketers with insights designed to help them stand out among competitors. Marketing information management helps you make the most of this information by organizing and centralizing all of your data. This allows the information to be made available to whoever in your company might need it.
Market research allows companies to have a clear picture of the digital marketing ecosystem around their business. But that information is only valuable if it’s easy to access and understand. That’s why marketing information management is so important for your business.
Increased lead conversions and revenue
As mentioned before, many teams can benefit from marketing data. Once you’ve provided these teams with easy access to the data, it can transform outcomes.
Marketing information management can help improve your business’s bottom line by providing data-driven insights for your marketing strategy. Everything from social media strategies to email marketing can benefit from improved data and insights. This will help your team optimize both your product and your marketing.
Not only that, but this data provides you with a glimpse into which marketing strategies don’t drive revenue. Use this information to inform decisions about your marketing budget. Better data means better insights, which leads to smarter spending and an overall focused marketing strategy.
Up-to-date compliance and security practices
Data is one of the most valuable and regulated tools at the disposal of marketers. If you’re going to be collecting data from users, there must be a focus on compliance. According to Netenrich’s Global 2021 Survey of IT and Security Professionals, 68% of companies prioritize threats according to the potential cost to the business. The impact they fear most is loss of data and negatively affecting customer relationships.
The average total cost of a data breach
Source: IBM, 2022
Companies that mismanage user data have more to worry about than financial setbacks. Customer trust and brand reputation also take a massive hit after a data breach. Marketing information management systems allow companies to collect data safely. They provide a secure way to share information between teams at your company without the increased risk of a compliance violation.
Common marketing information management mistakes
As with any marketing process, there are pitfalls you should be careful about. Data is only as valuable as the team handling it. The increase in global data compliance laws is also making it harder to build a marketing information management strategy. Here are a few of the common mistakes you should watch for.
Data breaches are possible
No matter how sophisticated your marketing information management system claims to be, data leaks and cyber-attacks are always a risk. Data is valuable, and there will always be the chance that someone thinks your data is worth stealing. Many companies choose to employ the use of other data security measures such as third-party authentication, cybersecurity training, and more. Never take a backseat approach to data security, or it could cost you.
Budget restraints are common
Unfortunately, some teams may not have the budget to make a large software purchase immediately. If that’s the case for your business, start by building a case for your decision-maker about why marketing information management software is crucial for your business. Meet with other leaders and explain to them how this purchase can help them drive results. A decision-maker is more likely to agree to purchase the software if multiple teams benefit from it.
Account for human error
Behind every high-powered piece of technology is a human running the operating system. The element of human error is something you always need to consider when dealing with data. One easy way to track human error is to pay close attention to your data. Look for any data points that seem wildly inaccurate or outside your projections. These can often be indicators that a human error skewed the data. Staying vigilant about tracking data trends makes it very easy to spot problems the moment they happen.
Information and education are the keys to success
Helping your organization understand the importance of a good marketing information system can be tricky. Data isn’t flashy like brand assets or snappy like a social copy. But it’s a valuable cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Take the time to understand your data and focus on what’s important. This will provide more valuable and concrete insights than you could’ve dreamed possible.
Learn which marketing objectives are the most popular among marketers and how your data can work with them.
This article was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with new information and examples.