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Why Marketing Intelligence Is Essential for All EdTech Companies

Jacob Hanson
February 10, 2022

Who are your potential buyers? Where are they? How will you reach them? What will you say when you do? Has any or all of this changed since the start of the pandemic? If you don’t know the answers to these questions with near certainty, your organization could benefit from what we at PRP call Marketing Intelligence.

What Is Marketing Intelligence?

A freshman marketing textbook will tell you that Marketing Intelligence is data about your target audience that helps you develop targeted messaging and customized user experiences. To get a complete, 360-degree view, you need to leverage data collected from Google Analytics and other marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, as well as heatmap and interaction tracking tools like Lucky Orange, to analyze customer demographics and social media trends.

At PRP, however, we like to think of Marketing Intelligence as data-informed empathy.

We believe it is the catalyst behind building trust and relationships with your audience. Think about that last question at the beginning of this post: What will you say when you reach your potential buyers? Without Marketing Intelligence telling you, for example, what their challenges are, what solutions they are likely to have tried and abandoned in the past, or if there are key phrases or ideas that leave them cold, your answers are just guesses that are unlikely to lead to further engagement.

Effective solutions that could improve education get left on vendors’ shelves or go unused in classrooms every day because a lack of Marketing Intelligence meant a provider didn’t know how to talk to a potential buyer—or even spent their time trying to reach the wrong people.

Building Relationships, Not Transactions

Marketing intelligence is important no matter what industry you’re working in, but when it comes to edtech, the purchasing process tends to be more relational than transactional.

A major concern for education buyers is often whether educators will be able to use the product without having to learn, navigate, and troubleshoot a complicated platform. They also want to make sure they have ongoing, accessible, and preferably instant support. If you are using poorly targeted messaging or have a crappy website, you're sending signals that your product will be as bad as your marketing.

Education is also competitive, with unique buying cycles. Many different stakeholders, gatekeepers, and decision-makers might be involved, depending on the product. Some of those gatekeepers only exist within this industry, like parent-teacher associations, teachers’ unions, and school librarians. Each industry is unique, but edtech certainly has its share of nuances and quirks that can trip up folks who haven’t put the work into their Marketing Intelligence.

Messaging Smarter, Not Harder

So how can you put Marketing Intelligence to work for your edtech company? Essentially, you’ll begin by creating or refining your key buyer personas—sketches of the various prospective buyers and gatekeepers who ultimately pull the trigger on buying your product or hiring your organization. Then you create custom experiences or journeys relevant to them, their timeline, and their concerns and challenges.

First, however, you have to begin with collecting data from the right sources. Surveying current customers is a great way to learn about your potential buyers. Who better to tell you what kind of messaging works and how to approach potential new customers than a whole pool of folks who already took the plunge and jumped into business with you?

Do you want to know what they tell folks when you’re not listening? Discovery calls, in which an independent third party interviews your current customers, can uncover lots of information that customers might feel awkward telling you firsthand.

If you’re launching a new product or your existing marketing strategy is no longer as effective as it once was, your current customers may have less relevant information to offer. Perhaps convening a panel of experts such as district CTOs or directors of curriculum and learning would make more sense than talking to past buyers.

The right source will vary from company to company and even product to product, so think about what makes sense for your organization, your offerings, and most importantly, the educators or other stakeholders you’re trying to reach.

In truth, no one source of data is going to cover all the bases to ensure you’re heard above the messaging cacophony we’re all bombarded with every day. To be sure you know where to reach your buyers and what to say when you have their ear, you’ll need to gather information from the perspectives of your current customers, your prospects, your partners, and even strangers totally new to your organization. Treat them all like they are whole human beings whom you’d like to understand better and the relationships—and sales!—will follow.

If you are interested in learning if Marketing Intelligence is right for your organization, book a consultation with our CEO!

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