Guide to Marketing Information Systems and Why They Matter

Updated March 10, 2023

Developing effective marketing strategies requires careful planning and thorough research. It's important to gather the appropriate information and data, but it's also essential to organize, analyze and distribute the findings properly. In this article, we discuss what a marketing information system is, the type of data it includes, why it's important to use one, the process of using a marketing information system and the components of this system.

What is a marketing information system?

A marketing information system, or an MIS, is a system for gathering, storing, analyzing and distributing valuable marketing data to help marketers make better decisions. The input of a marketing information system focuses on collecting relevant internal and external data to analyze and interpret. The output of a marketing information system relates to distributing the findings to all essential internal marketing team members and managers. Marketers can then use the data to make more informed marketing decisions to promote the success of the business.

A marketing information system can be beneficial for multiple types of marketing decisions, such as:

  • Control decisions: Middle-level marketing manager decisions related to corrective actions based on deviation from strategic plans implemented by higher-level marketing managers

  • Operational decisions: Decisions related to the day-to-day activities of marketing professionals, especially related to accomplishing specific tasks

  • Strategic decisions: High-level marketing manager decisions about matters that affect the entire organization, such as organizational policies, objectives and structure

Read more: A Definitive Guide to Marketing Information Management

Types of data in a marketing information system

Marketing information systems handle different types from multiple sources. The common types of data in a data marketing system are:

Acquired databases

Databases often store large amounts of marketing and sales data and customer information, and some companies may purchase access to these databases for little to no cost. Businesses may enter the data they purchase into their marketing information system to help them make better, more informed decisions. For example, there are companies that specialize in gathering data related to business trends and consumer behavior and business trends and generating reports to sell. Similarly, companies may purchase information from government databases to learn about the demographic or economic information of companies, groups or specific individuals.

Internal company data

Marketing information systems allow you to turn internal company data into valuable insights. For example, you may input data related to marketing activities or sales to generate reports. Also, you may integrate your marketing information system with an internal company communications network or intranet to gather information about certain employees, departments or business units.

Marketing intelligence

Marketing information systems allow you to gain insights from the marketing intelligence data you gather about your target market. For example, explore options to gather marketing intelligence data from your competitors' websites or industry trade publications. You may also explore options that are less automated and more manual, such as talking with distributors, making observations, attending trade shows or testing products.

Marketing research

Marketing information systems allow you to integrate the marketing research and data you gather from custom and syndicated research reports and primary or secondary research. It's important to find as much specific and unique information as possible, especially regarding your customers, competitors and overall business environment. This will help you gain more valuable insights to make better decisions.

Read more: Understanding Techniques Used in the 4 Main Types of Marketing Research

Why is it important to use a marketing information system?

A marketing information system ensures efficient communication within an organization. It provides team members with reliable and valuable information to keep all internal teams informed and focused on specific tasks and goals. This can also help prevent miscommunication by providing everyone with the same access to shared information.

Using a marketing information system can also foster the overall success of your organization. By using well-organized data and analyzing and interpreting it, you may make better, more strategic decisions. You may also identify new ways to upgrade or expand your systems to further collect and analyze data to build a more efficient business.

Marketing information system process

Marketing information systems use a sequential process to synthesize data and share findings to influence decision-making. Here are the steps of the marketing information system process:

  1. Determine the appropriate marketing metrics.

  2. Gather relevant data from external and internal sources.

  3. Graph the data to visualize trends.

  4. Distribute the trend information to the appropriate departments.

  5. Use the data to determine the right course of action to take.

Related: Types of Graphs and Charts

Components of a marketing information system

Marketing information systems combine various data collection, processing, analysis and reporting capabilities to streamline marketing activities and influence decision-making. Each system contains four main components, which are:

Internal reports

Internal reports or records include the data from within the company. Referencing this data can provide you with valuable insights, particularly regarding a company's capabilities, successes and opportunities for improvement. Some examples of data internal reports may include are:

  • Cash flows

  • Inventories

  • Marketing personnel costs

  • Payables

  • Product costs

  • Receivables

  • Sales records

  • Stocks

Marketing data support systems

A marketing data support system includes the software programs and tools companies may use to collect, organize and analyze data. A system may include multiple applications or tools to include specific tools for specific tasks. As the programs work together, the system provides the core for how the marketing information system functions.

Marketing intelligence

Marketing intelligence refers to the data or information from external sources, such as industry associations or trade journals. It includes data related to the general marketing environment outside of the organization and the specific data within the market. Leveraging this information helps the company better understand their specific marketing and competitors within the market. Some examples of what marketing intelligence may include are:

  • Changes in customer preferences and tastes

  • Competitors' pricing strategies

  • Competitors' promotion strategies

  • Marketing trends

  • New products in the market

Read more: Guide to the Environment of Marketing

Marketing research

Marketing research includes project-based research aiming to answer specific marketing questions. It may include internal and external data and often uses a variety of statistical tools. Processing marketing research includes collecting, organizing, analyzing and interpreting the data. Some examples of what marketing research may pertain to include:

  • Changes in the marketing environment

  • Competitor strategies

  • Customer preference or taste changes

  • New product launches

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