Published April 4, 2022
Consumer intelligence guide & tools
The Forrester New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Report identified and evaluated nine consumer intelligence platforms. Out of ten criteria, Talkwalker was designated as a differentiator in five, and was the only platform that wasn’t defined as ‘needing improvement’ in any category. Named a leader in consumer intelligence, we earned the highest possible scores in data onboarding, search & insights, analytics & reporting, data regulation, and product vision.
If you'd like to check out the consumer intelligence tools first, scoot on down now...
Listening to consumers?
How do you ensure that consumers walk past your competitors and choose you?
Consumers are well informed. They check out review sites. Investigate the true value of products. They ignore brand-speak and hard sell techniques.
If they’re unhappy with your brand, they’ll tell you. Usually on social media. Announcing to the world, their dissatisfaction with you. Respond quickly, they're waiting.
Voice of the customer... ignore it at your peril.
Consumer intelligence - CI - is all about analyzing data to get inside your customers’ heads. To understand them. This'll help you make better business decisions about how, when, where, and what to sell them.
Tailor your marketing campaigns to increase your profits.
Consumers no longer judge a brand purely on price. The customer experience is now the dominating decider.
You have to meet, no, surpass customer expectations.
Consumers drop data online that can be collected and analyzed. This data will give you a greater understanding of their behavior and preferences, aspirations and choices. Brands that understand consumer analytics will remain relevant to their customers. Gaining the competitive advantage in the marketplace.
AI-powered digital customer intelligence tools analyze consumer data. Identifying patterns and trends so you can anticipate a consumer’s next step. What they want, what they need.
As a brand, it’s time to move beyond traditional market research. Tracking consumer behavior is the only way to understand what consumers want now, and what they'll want in the future.
For instance... the age-old question, "cloth or disposable diapers?"
Nappies, for those who've no clue what a diaper is.
Taking a look at social media, it's clear that this question is again being asked. At the start of 2022, there were already 290.3K global conversations.
Consumer intelligence reveals the key sentiment drivers show that cloth and disposable diapers are represented nearly equally with positive sentiment.
The image above shows that consumers preference is split. Cloth diapers are better for the environment, but such a chore. Pampers, reading the room and recognizing this dilemna, launched a hybrid reusable-disposable option. Demonstrating that monitoring advanced audience insights can reveal new opportunities for product development.
Table of contents
- Consumer intelligence definition
- Example of consumer intelligence marketing
- How consumer intelligence works
- Difference between market research and consumer insights
- Why consumer intelligence is vital for business growth
- What qualifies as a customer insight?
- Consumer intelligence working across teams
- Best sources for consumer intelligence
- Consumer intelligence and social media
- How to find consumer insights on social media
- Your consumer intelligence strategy
- Best consumer intelligence tools
- Collect consumer intelligence
Consumer intelligence definition
What is consumer intelligence?
Consumer intelligence - CI - is the gathering and analyzing of data about current and potential customers, to find consumer insights that'll ensure your marketing strategy is on target.
A mix of quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis. The customer data collected help brands understand what consumers are doing, and why.
Quantitative - data, statistics, and analytics
Qualitative - consumer surveys and focus groups
Consumer intelligence can involve innovative technology and/or legwork. Social media listening tools will monitor and analyze consumer behavior in real time, pulling out consumer insights. While market research - surveys, polls, etc. - will help businesses looking to monitor consumers without a digital footprint.
Why is customer intelligence essential to marketing?
Consumer intelligence will prove or disprove preconceived ideas you may have about consumers. Do you know them, or are you just guessing?
Understand the segments in your customer base using demographic data and user attitudes and aspirations. Do you know who you’re speaking to? Are you giving them what they want?
Example of consumer intelligence marketing
This is an example of how Nike used consumer intelligence insights to improve customer relations…
In 2012, Nike lost its bid to be the official sportswear sponsor of the London Olympics. Using customer analysis, the brand realized that it’s not just professional sports people looking to push their limits. It turned the spotlight onto consumers.
The Nike Find Your Greatness campaign...
"Somehow we've come to believe that greatness is gift, reserved for a chosen few -- for prodigies, for superstars -- and the rest of us can only stand by watching. You can forget that."
Nike - Find Your Greatness.
The Find Your Greatness ad starred Nathan Sorrell - an overweight 12 year old kid - jogging along the road.
Breathing hard, he perseveres. The ad struck a chord with consumers. Not elite athletes. Ordinary people.
- Nike spent a lot less than the official Olympic’s sponsor
- Facebook followers increased by 6%, with a 77% boost in engagement, compared to the main sponsor’s results of 2% and 59%
- 430,000 mentions on Twitter and over 10M views of the video on YouTube
- After the event, 63% of people asked thought the Nike was the official Olympic sponsor
- 8 months after the campaign, Nathan had lost 32 pounds and was still going strong
How consumer intelligence works
Consumers leave data points online - online habits, purchasing behavior, spending preferences, favorite ecommerce sites, etc. Working across all industries, consumer analysis help you find insights that will help you create better marketing strategies that will reach your target audience.
Consumer intelligence will feed you information that will drive product developments, improve the buying experience, and fine-tune your content. You’ll be making your customers’ lives better. What’s not to love.
Gathering consumer intelligence from multiple sources, in real time, will show you why customers are behaving in a certain way. Use audience demographics, household profiles, interests, aspirations, generation characteristics, and age for making strategic data-decisions.
Identify trends and shifts in consumer behavior. Monitor and analyze data gathered from your digital channels to track the success of your marketing campaigns.
Difference between market research and consumer intelligence
Both consumer intelligence and market research include data, but you’ll get more actionable insights from consumer intelligence. Consumer intel takes you further and helps you to understand the ‘why’ behind the data.
- Market research - what’s happening
Collecting stats and information about consumers, markets, industries. Includes market needs and size, competitors, consumers.
- Consumer intelligence - why it’s happening
You’ll collect the same info as with market research, but with recommended actions that will improve your business - customer retention, satisfaction, and a boost to your bottom line.
Why consumer intelligence is vital for business growth
Existing and future customers are your most valuable asset. Listen to them.
Don’t guess what new products they crave. Don’t ignore their rants about dodgy features. Give consumers what they want.
A consumer intelligence strategy is essential for identifying, segmenting, and understanding your target markets. For finding the most effective marketing channels and customer-centric strategies so your business gets it right every time.
Your customers will feel valued. Heard. They’ll come back for more. They’ll advocate for your brand.
Take a look at why customer intelligence is so important for your brand…
Improve the customer journey
They won’t wait.
The market is in flux. If you’re using market research to determine what customers want, it’s gonna take an age.
They won’t wait.
If you want their loyalty. Trust. Money. You need to know what they want.
Monitor and analyze how consumers are interacting with your brand, your website. Map the consumer journey and identify all touchpoints, to highlight any sticking points. Track their buying history.
A consumer journey map is a visualization illustrating how a consumer converts into a customer, from awareness to action.
What are their satisfaction levels? What are their pain points? Can you improve the customer experience? How much time did they spend on your product pages? How many visits a month?
Hey, get the right sales dashboard and you can offer personalized promotions and ads.
Bet your competitors do.
Visualize changes in the market in real time
If you fall out of sync with your industry, it can be the difference between winning or losing. Customer analysis will give your business a constant stream of data that you can convert into actionable insights.
Using predictive analytics, you’ll be able to understand the broader market and forecast trends.
Potato milk. Did you see that coming?
The latest addition to the selection of alternative milks - oat, almond, rice, coconut - is potato milk. While conversation about alternative milk is global, February saw 1M engagements in the US alone, followed by the UK at 85K, India at 22K, and Malaysia at 11K.
Consumer intelligence identifies 1697K global conversations about alternative milk, with 31.9% positive sentiment.
Recognizing and understanding industry trends, as well as consumer preferences, means brands can build strategic partnerships and launch new products.
While winning sales is your goal, repeat business will keep your brand at the top of its game, long term. Look to streamline your sales process and make it easier for customers to purchase your products.
Use consumer intelligence to identify pain points in your sales tactics. Things that are turning off your customers. Finding what works and what doesn’t will help you sharpen your sales process and increase ROI.
Understand audience segments
If you’re not listening to or understanding consumers, you won’t be able to share content that resonates. Use data to understand customer preferences. Their characteristics. Build personas that speak to each type of customer.
Now you have a better idea of what they’re interested in, segment your audience so you can target and engage with them more effectively - content, ads, campaigns, promotions that targets their preferences.
Analyze your competitors
How are consumers talking about your competitors and other products and services in your industry? Where are they talking? Which social media channels are they using? Listen to what they’re saying and you’ll identify their needs. Customer feedback won’t necessarily be about your brand, but the data you find from competitor analysis will help you understand how to improve your product and services. Even launch new products you’d not thought of.
Consumer intelligence identifying where competitors' consumers are spending their time.
(simulated Talkwalker report).
Personalize your marketing campaigns
It’s hard to move away from mass marketing for certain products. Cleaning products, for example. We all need them and, to be honest, I’m not looking for the messaging to be personalized. Hey, it’s toilet paper.
But… personalized marketing campaigns have proven to be hugely successful. Consumers expect them and will seek out brands that offer personalization.
Targeted, personalized messages hit their target. They attract and retain customers. Consumer insights will help you understand consumer behavior. Why they buy one product over another.
A brand that’s nailed personalized messaging is Netflix. The entertainment brand uses algorithms based on users’ viewing behavior to recommend matching content to viewers.
Using customer insights and/or algorithms will help your business communicate effectively with consumers.
What qualifies as a customer insight?
Consumer intelligence data is all very well, but it needs to be more. It has to be insightful. Customer insights have to be…
- New - it doesn’t count if you are already aware of certain customer data
- Relevant - to your business goals and your customers
- Actionable - what you need to do next should be obvious
- Unexpected - found by mistake, you weren’t looking for, a surprise
Consumer intelligence working across teams
With so much data to be explored, it’s going to benefit everyone in your business. Let’s look at what CI will do for particular teams.
Talkwalker consumer intelligence - flexible dashboards to share insights across teams.
Your marketing team is already using a social media listening platform. Monitoring campaigns. Listening to social media and online chatter. Tracking hashtags and trends. Image and video analysis. And a whole lot more.
Introducing them to consumer insights will allow them to…
Measure the commercial value of your brand
We’re talking brand equity. The additional value a consumer adds to your brand, unique from other brands in your industry. How are your social media and marketing campaigns influencing consumers’ perception? Are certain areas of your brand performing more successfully than others?
Accurately track marketing campaigns
Any marketing team worth its salt, already knows how much website traffic it’s getting. The team will be tracking engagement, mentions, likes, shares, etc. But, are you and your team 100% sure that you’re sending the right content to the right audience segment? Identify what your audience cares about - interests, aspirations, causes.
Crisis management and brand reputation
Simple one, this. consumer intelligence will help you increase brand awareness and protect you from being hit by a reputation damaging crisis.
Find the best influencers
Influencer marketing is huge. 94% of marketers use it because it drives 11 x more ROI than traditional marketing channels. But, finding the perfect influencer for you brand, isn’t easy. Influencer fraud and influencer fatigue are real issues.
- Influencer fraud - buying fake followers and creating fake personas - is expected to cost businesses $1.3B this year
- 47% of consumers are tired of seeing the same influencers over and over again
Stick with consumer intelligence tools and you’ll be able to find ideal influencers for your brand, and find the metrics that matter so you can ensure they’re doing the job you’re paying for.
Talkwalker social intelligence - find the best influencers for your brand.
Product development team
Never assume that you know your industry 100%. You really shouldn’t be launching new products, based on what you want or what you think consumers want. You must listen to consumers and find out what they really want.
Use CI to monitor real-time feedback on your product launches. Listen to your industry communities and find ideas for new features that you’d not even thought of. Listen to consumers talk about your competitors and what direction they’re taking. Your product team will be creating things that consumers are asking for.
So much faster than old fashioned market research, social media invites you into a real-time focus group.
Customer service team
These guys want happy customers. They work with them every day, face to face. Of course they want smiles.
They’ll already be using the Net Promoter Score index to measure how willing consumers are to recommend your products. Tracking customer satisfaction and loyalty. Brand intelligence software can track social media and gather all the comments about your brand. It will be honest feedback, shared by users not as product reviews, but because they love to share new purchases.
Best sources for consumer intelligence
Consumer data is traditional or digital. A combination of both works best. Ensures you don’t miss anything.
Traditional sources of consumer insights
- Questionnaires - collecting consumer feedback online and/or face to face
- Focus groups - a group of consumers talking about a product, providing feedback on a new product launch, or development of features, etc.
- Consumer surveys - a preselected group of people, presented with questions and prompts to get information about products and services
There’s a negative side to these sources…
- Requires consumer participation - who can be bothered to fill out questionnaires these days?
- It’s history - the focus on the past means that the data is out of date almost immediately
- Slow and expensive - market research takes time and depending on how much data is collected, it can be costly - you’ll also irritate your customers if you do too many
- Human ‘error’ - we think one thing, but the data doesn’t match - maybe tweak a little to make it work?!!
- Reduced flexibility - predetermined questions can be limiting with regard to consumers’ answers
Digital sources of consumer data
Digital channels are stuffed with consumer insights. Positively bursting at the seams. Sources where consumers are sharing and engaging online, include…
- Social media networks
- Forums, blogs, review sites
- Website behavior
- Search engine behavior
- CRMs and databases
All the downers to traditional consumer intelligence are minimized with digital sources. Information is available in real time, on a global scale.
Social media has proved to be one of the most valuable sources for consumer intelligence big data…
Consumer intelligence and social media
Most of us are using one or more of the social platforms. We’re on it all the time. Sharing opinions, rants, jokes, memes, images, videos. We use it to…
- Chat - professional or personal, we use it to communicate with friends, family, colleagues
- Purchase - finding new products, reading reviews, spending our money in online marketplaces
- Learn - reading the news, catching up on the gossip, talking politics
- Be cool - catching trends early and jumping on board
If you’re still not tempted to move towards digital rather than traditional sources, let me show you why social data is better…
- Data in real time - your social listening tool will monitor and analyze information about your brand, industry, and competitors in real-time. You’ll be able to analyze thousands and thousands of conversations referencing your brand and/or products.
- Data on a global scale - you’ll be monitoring huge volumes of online conversation which you can run alongside what’s happening in the real world. Did a celebrity reference your brand, causing a massive spike in mentions?
- Data in bulk - users are tweeting, posting, sharing, liking, commenting, every second of every day. Imagine how much data that is. How many consumer insights you have access too. Jump into conversations and get answers to your questions.
Listening to social media is like doing the biggest consumer research project ever. But, it’s real quick and real accurate.
Guess I should tell you how to find all this valuable data..
How to find consumer insights on social media
Heaps of data for you to explore. You just need the right kit…
Monitoring social media manually isn’t going to work. It’s too big. You need a social media listening and analytics tool. Features needed, include...
If you don’t collect social data in real time, it’s redundant before you start. When choosing a social listening tool, ask these questions…
- Does it monitor and analyze in real time?
- Does it cover all the social media channels that my brand uses?
- Can I also monitor blogs, forums, review sites, news sources?
- Will I be able to use filters to fine-tune my social data results?
- Does it include sentiment analysis?
- Can I monitor and analyze images and videos?
- Does it support multiple languages?
- Is there ongoing support to ensure my team understands how to use the tool effectively?
Choose the right social intelligence tool and you’ll be able to find all mentions of your brand, respond to questions, engage with consumers, monitor your competitors, and build stronger customer relationships.
Now you’ve found consumer insights, you’ll need to analyze the results...
You don’t need to be a techie to use a consumer intelligence platform. The right one does all the work for you.
Choose a tool that’ll present automated reports so that you and your teams can make smart business decisions. An AI-powered platform - Talkwalker - will have machine learning algorithms, so will yield better results while handling large sets of rules. Meaning it will make more sense out of social media updates. They’ll be more specific, and will demonstrate sentiment.
You might think you know your audience, but brand intelligence software will find social data that you didn’t know existed.
Monitor your brand/product name across all social media platforms and identify the kind of people that are talking about you. Don’t forget to use image and video analytics, to find visual mentions that don’t reference your brand in the content.
Your analytics tool will reveal details about your audience - age ranges, gender, language, locations, etc.
Talkwalker analytics - knowing your audience demographic helps you create targeted content.
Now dig deeper…
Most good social media analytics tools provide sentiment analysis. This means that you’ll find not only consumers raving about you, but those ranting about you.
Filter your results and pull out those talking negatively about your brand. Do they have anything in common? Find these people and you can look to changing their opinion about your brand.
Don’t restrict your analysis to haters, check out other segments too…
- Gender breakdown
- Age ranges
- Interests, job titles
- Social media platforms
Okay, you’ve found the lovers and the haters. Now you need to understand the context of the conversations that mention your brand.
For instance, McDonald’s would expect to be in chats about food, burgers, junk food, takeaways, etc. But, the brand might be surprised to find a group of consumers talking about its burgers when chatting about the perfect food for losing weight.
It could happen.
An insight such as this could steer your marketing campaigns in a whole new direction.
Social media platforms
You know their age, interests, language, location. You know whether they love you or hate you. You know associated topics.
Which platforms are they using to share their comments?
If the bulk of your customer base is on Instagram, and you’re sharing on Twitter - it’s not gonna work. Your social listening tool will identify where conversations about your brand are happening.
Talkwalker Analytics - which social media channels work best for your brand and are popular with consumers?
All the analysis you’ve done for your brand, you need to do for each of your major competitors. Check out their mentions, engagement, sentiment.
Are their marketing campaigns more successful than yours? Can you copy? Are they targeting a country that you’ve ignored? Have they launched a new feature that you could implement? Start your competitor analysis before it's too late!
Your consumer intelligence strategy
You consumer intelligence strategy…
What do you want to learn?
Decide what your business objectives are before you start analyzing, to ensure you know what data and how you’ll collect it. List your priorities for…
- One month
- 6 months
- One year
Identify your resources
- How do you intend to gather the data?
- Who will collect it?
- Who will analyze it?
How will you collect the data?
Who are you targeting? A specific audience segment? Prospects? Existing customers? Will you use a mix of customer research and social media listening? A survey?
How will you use the data?
This should be established before you implement your consumer intelligence strategy. Which teams in your business will benefit from the data? Will processes have to change?
Best consumer intelligence tools
Living in a digital world means that there’s a heap of data that we can collect, analyze, and exploit. Consumers are leaving a trail of data on social media, search engines, websites, etc. We can use this data to improve our marketing campaigns, CX, customer retention, brand reputation. We can use this data to improve our bottom line.
Let’s take a look at the best customer intelligence tools on the market...
At this point - in case you're unsure about our consumer intelligence platform - I'm going to blow our own trumpet and tell you that...
Talkwalker was recently named a Leader in The Forrester New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2021. Up against nine other consumer intelligence platforms, and evaluated against 10 criteria, we were designated as a differentiator in five areas, defining our platform as market-leading in...
- Data onboarding
- Search and insights
- Analytics and reporting
- Data regulation
- Product vision
Sad to say, we failed in one area…
We’re the only platform that wasn’t reported as ‘needing improvement’ in any category!!!
"Offers the strongest balance across search, insight analytics and discovery."
Talkwalker Analytics | Social intelligence
Use our consumer intelligence platform to track and analyze conversations online. Find out what consumers are saying about you, and your competitors. Track specific brand names, sentiment, audience demographics, topics, trends, hashtags, specific accounts, websites, etc.
Competitive intelligence - centralize all your social media data with one tool.
Social media and online is full of conversations about your brand, products, competitors, and industry. Some positive. Some negative. These conversations have to be monitored and analyzed. You need to jump in when a consumer is berating your product, and deal with their issues. When a consumer leaves a good review, you must show your appreciation. User-generated content should be collected and used. Monitoring 24/7 and you'll be able head-off any potential damaging crises. You need the best social media analytics tool on the market.
There are many awesome features to protect your brand, increase brand awareness, protect your online reputation, including...
- Sentiment analysis - find and analyze consumer sentiment with up to an average of 90% accuracy
- Quick Search - powerful social media search engine that analyzes billions of conversations
- Image recognition - the industry's largest database of 30,000+ logos, scenes, and objects
- Video analytics - AI-powered SMA tool that captures 3x the number of mentions
YouTube Analytics | Track wins and fails of videos
Make the most of your YouTube channel.
Any idea who’s watching your YouTube videos? Reckon you know your audience?
You may be surprised.
YouTube Analytics provides vast amounts of consumer intelligence. Click on the demographics tab and you’ll discover where your audience, age range, etc. Understand your audience, and you’ll be able to create personalized content that resonates and brings conversions.
Retention Rate will show you the average time that people spend watching your videos. Why is this important? Google uses this data to judge whether viewers are interested in your videos. A high retention figure means that your search engine ranking will be high.
Google Trends | Analyze popularity of top search queries
Google Trends - find the topics that consumers are chatting about.
Looking to find out what topics consumers are talking about, Google Trends is a great consumer intelligence tool. For instance…
- A fashion retailer can discover which fashion trends are being talked about most, and those on the decline
- Compare how search terms compare over the years
- Find the most popular topics in your niche industry
Now you know what consumers are interested in, you can create content that resonates.
Google Analytics | Track and report website visitors
Google Analytics gives you everything you need to analyze website traffic.
- Analytics intelligence - insights about your business website is performing - consumer behavior, trends, opportunities. Use Smart Goals, Smart Lists, and Session Quality data to drive more conversions.
- Reporting - understand how your consumers are working with your site and apps - interactions, value, user behavior. Analyze metrics from Google Ads, Display & Video 360, and Search Ads 360.
- Data analysis and visualization - inbuilt reports to visualize your unique data - customize and segment data to meet your business needs. Report on multiple campaign touchpoints along the path to conversion.
- Data collection and management - import customized consumer data and combine with Analytics data for the bigger picture.
- Data activation - predictive analysis identifies valuable consumers and actions - which users to re-engage with ads. Demographic data about consumers - age, gender, and interests.
This popular analytics software tracks consumer traffic to your website, along with performance of individual web pages.
You’ll be able to see where site visitors are coming from, how much time they spend on your website, and their geographic location.
The goal funnel allows you to set up a list of URLs that consumers click while completing a purchase on your site. You’ll discover how many customers are going through your sales funnel and how many are abandoning. Modify the CX to ease the purchasing route.
Hotjar | Visitor behavior
I love this tool, I could play around with it for hours.
Hotjar - track visitor behavior on your website.
It shows you how consumers behave when landing on your website.
This means you can see what they’re looking at. Where they’re clicking. Scrolling behavior. How long they’re spending in certain areas on pages. The route they take around your site.
Marketers, analysts, web developers, digital marketers, and UI developers should use Hotjar to optimize the conversion and usability rate of their site, improve UX and remove pain points.
The visual heatmap even makes mouse tracking movies.
Yes, you read that right, MOUSE MOVIES – how cool is that!
- Visitor Recordings – monitors consumer’ behavior on your website
- Heatmaps – tracks where consumers scroll past or click to identify which sections get the least or most attention
- Conversion Funnels – understand which pages cause consumers to leave so you can improve bounce rate
- Form Analytics – watch where consumers are dropping off and why they’re not completing your forms
- Feedback Polls – add a polling box to high-traffic pages for instant feedback
Collect consumer intelligence
To market your brand well, you need to find your ideal customer. Your buyer persona is a factional person representing that ideal customer. It's key to successful content marketing. It starts with existing customer insights.
A comprehensive consumer intelligence strategy brings market research into the digital era. Know your customer in real time. A customer intelligence platform, such as Talkwalker, will help you build an online community, understand how capture customer data and integrate it into a single customer view, and build relationships with consumers on social.
Talkwalker’s Consumer Intelligence Acceleration platform gives you a 360° view of consumers and customers. It’ll help you find and analyze data from multiple sources, that you can then consolidate into actionable insights. Sign up for a free demo and get to know how consumers think and what they're saying.
While I have your attention, check out why the Forrester New Wave™: AI-Enabled Consumer Intelligence Report chose Talkwalker as a leader in consumer intelligence...
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