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Five ways to increase customer loyalty using market intelligence

15th Sep 2014
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In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, being at the forefront of information and being able to steer industry thinking in a certain direction can be a key source of competitive advantage. Market intelligence gives you a clear picture of market opportunities, threats, customer priorities and the competitive landscape through the collection and analysis of both desk and field research. Analysing all this information will help you decide on how you can grow the business, gain market share, launch new products or enter new markets.
42% of market intelligence professionals say they will focus their intelligence efforts on their competitors by 2020, according to a recent survey by Global Intelligence Alliance. Only 23% of those surveyed said they would focus on their customers. This is quite revealing of the competitive pressures faced by companies today.
The good news is that any company has the opportunity to use the market intelligence that they are already gathering as a value added component to their customers, as a way to build customer loyalty and sales. Here are some interesting examples.
1. Predict customer buying behaviour
Good market intelligence will help you identify trends and opportunities related to customer buying behaviour, so you can more clearly understand and even predict customer priorities and buying behaviour for the next three or nine months! The more sophisticated market intelligence teams build “propensity models” to understand which customer groups are ready to buy, migrate or even lapse, so they are able to 'up-sell and cross-sell the right products and services to customers at the right time.
Some companies monitor the purchasing behaviour of consumers of its products across various product categories in app stores, with the use of advanced analytics. The real time understanding of what’s hot (and what’s not) helps them quickly develop and launch new offerings that their customers want. This, in turn, keeps brand preference and customer loyalty high.
2. Optimise website content with the latest news and industry developments
Any company that monitors its business environment regularly can use its market news updates in creative ways. One of these ways is to post news that is relevant to your customers or other industry stakeholders on your website, to draw in the right traffic. For example, a general insurance company shares news about impending hurricanes or other possible disaster alerts on its website, which its trade customers find especially useful to refer to, as it helps them in their own work.
3. Share market alerts with key partners and suppliers
Companies operate within a broader ecosystem of partners and suppliers. When the latter are successful, your company can also be assured of sustained success. Sharing relevant market information with your partners and suppliers is just one way of cultivating a healthy business ecosystem. For example, some telecoms operators in Europe send a weekly competitor developments newsletter to their resellers and other channel partners so they are all on the same page, so to speak.
4. Share knowledge with key customers
Having the ability to share insights about your customers’ industries can be especially powerful, particularly when one’s own customers do always not have access to similar information and expertise. It can help to position your organization as a trusted expert who also understands and analyses their customer industries. In some cases, such efforts can even help influence industry developments and customer behaviour.
The market intelligence team at a logistics company provides their account managers with quarterly market outlook reports, to present to their customers as a means to deepen customer relationships. The frontline sales team is equipped with credible, up-to-date customer industry knowledge that they can use to initiate discussions on new customer needs.
Some companies even provide regular market updates to their customers as part of their business-to-business (B2B) services. When included in tenders or bidding for new business, such an effort can help companies win new clients who don’t get the same level of support from competitors.
Other companies even go to the extent of sharing some their market intelligence data with their key accounts, by opening direct access to certain parts of their intelligence portal or by sending out RSS feeds or email alerts that key accounts can subscribe to stay informed of industry developments. For example, a pharmaceuticals wholesaler sends a feed of selected content to its public web site, in order to update its pharma retail customers about key trends in the pharmaceuticals market and how the wholesaler itself is positioned in relation to those.
5. Create updated beat sheets
Every company conducts some level of competitive intelligence. Using this information to create “beat sheets” that demonstrate how your company is better than the competition is a great defensive tactic. The power of a beat sheet is that provides counter arguments to your competitors’ statements and claims. Having such information ready at any time can make the difference between a happy and a lost customer. You can equip your sales staff with the most updated list of selling points about your product or service, compared to the latest competitive developments in the market, or even publish such information publicly.
Whenever you are deciding to use market intelligence to build customer loyalty and sales, remember to consider the long term implications of what you do and not only focus on the short term gains. Once your customers come to expect those value added benefits from you, you will want to ensure that your annual budget has an allowance for continuing your investments in the said market intelligence. A happy customer is a loyal customer.
Markko Vaarnas is the CEO and co-founder of Global Intelligence Alliance.

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