What is a Marketing Information System?


Marketers deal with a wide variety of activities like designing new products, enhancing the existing products, creating campaigns, and running sales promotions. To make all these activities successful, marketers need marketing insights. These insights are useful information about customers, suppliers, marketing channels, competitors, and marketing environment.

Marketing Information System (MIS) consists of people, equipment, software, and procedures to gather, analyze, evaluate marketing data and distribute marketing insights to business decision makers.

An MIS in large enterprises is generally very complex and expensive to set up. But, you can manage it with simple and inexpensive resources for small and medium-sized social enterprises.

You can categorize and configure an MIS for different departments in your organization. In this article, I will focus on only MIS related to sales and marketing.

You might be already using some of the tools required for an MIS in your organization. Integrating them at your organization level can yield huge benefits for your organization.


Components of a Marketing Information System

1. Internal Records


It is a collection of consumer and market information obtained from data sources within a company network. This includes sales records, stockholdings, and marketing campaign records.

Below, is a list of some of the sample insights you can derive from the internal records.

  • Product category, pack, and size by region
  • Service category, package, and recurrence by customer segment
  • Average order value and sales volume by region
  • Average order value and sales volume by customer segment

Digital insights:

  • Number of leads, marketing channel, and budget by region
  • Online sales and website traffic source by time and season
  • Website traffic and content category by industry segment

Popular tools and sources to find insights and keep internal records:


2. Marketing Intelligence


A marketing intelligence system is a set of procedures and data sources used by marketing managers to gather information about the economy, their industry sector, and business environment. Marketers use this information to take day to day strategic and tactical decisions.

Data sources include economic and business news media, trade journals, industry associations and a network of business professionals.

Technology revolutionized the way we find information and share it with others. Below, is a list of modern ways you can gather information.


Google Alerts

This is one of my favorite ways to stay updated on my interests. Google Alerts is a content detection and notification service, which sends email to you when it finds new content—newspaper and magazine articles, web pages blogs, or scientific journals. You need to mention the content of your interest in the form of keywords. E.g “social enterprise funding,” “social enterprise workshops,” “social innovation” …etc.


News Aggregators

News aggregators allow you to access updates on the online content of your interest. Most of news media websites, blogs, and magazines provide RSS feed links for different topics. You can use apps like Feedly and Flipboard to access updated content.

For your understanding, check the following link for RSS feeds provided by Huffington Post.



3. Marketing Research

Marketing research is a proactive and focused search for information which identifies or/and answers specific marketing questions.


Marketers do marketing research for two reasons


1. To identify marketing problems related to market potential, market share, sales analysis, sales forecasting, and business trends.

2. To answer specific marketing questions related to customer segmentation, product, price, promotion and distribution channels.


3.1 Data Sources


Secondary Research

Secondary research involves finding existing information that was collected for same or another purpose. It’s always a good idea to consider this research first as it is generally cheaper and less time consuming than primary research.

Sources of secondary research information

  • Media articles and reports
  • Research publications
  • Books
  • Government and other organizations
  • Other social enterprises

Unlike commercial enterprises, some social enterprises treat other social enterprises who are working on the same social issue as partners and team players.


Primary Research


Primary research involves gathering information directly from a target audience or respondents for the first time. This research should be undertaken only if you can’t collect required information from secondary research. Below, is a list of approaches to gather primary research information.


3.2 Approaches to Collecting Primary Data:



Interviews are very useful to find unique characteristics of target audience and barriers to their purchase. You can interview the end consumers, decision-makers, community leaders, and others who can provide valuable insights.

Focus Groups

A focused group usually involves six to ten people who are invited to spend a few hours with a moderator to discuss a product, organization or any other marketing entity.

Focused groups are a popular way to understand consumer beliefs, attitudes, and behavior.


Marketers usually use questionnaires, which the respondents are asked to fill up to conduct surveys. Surveys are very useful to learn about people’s knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, preferences, and satisfaction. You can conduct surveys either face-to-face or online or on a telephone call.

Observational Research

Observational research involves gathering information by observing relevant people or situations as they consume or shop a product. In the commercial consumer goods sector, marketers visit bazaars and supermarkets and observe shoppers as they browse, pick up products, examine the labels, and make purchase decisions.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research is an observational research approach used to understand how people live and work. The goal is to uncover their desires which are not clearly expressed in any other form of research. Ethnographic research can be particularly useful in remote rural areas, where social enterprises do not know consumers well.


3.3 The Marketing Research Process

4. Marketing Data Support System


This system consists of tools that help companies to gather, organize, and analyze internal records, marketing intelligence and market research data discussed above.
Large enterprises use complex analytical and data visualization tools for data support. These tools are generally expensive.
You can use the above-mentioned analytical tools and below-mentioned data visualization tools for small and medium scale social enterprises.
You can use spreadsheets like MS Office Excel for data visualization. But, the below-mentioned software offers you rich visualization features.
SmartsheetSetting Up a Marketing Information Systemetting Up a Marketing Information System 

Setting Up a Marketing Information System

Define Objectives

Defining clear objectives helps in finding the right information and defining the right metricsYour objectives can be:
  • Designing a new product
  • Tracking effectiveness of marketing campaigns
  • Tracking sales performance

Define Metrics

Define metrics for the each objective you have set. To measure marketing effectiveness, you may consider metrics like number of leads by source, cost per lead, website traffic, and email open rates. To measure sales effectiveness, you may define metrics like sales volume, product wise sales, and category wise profits.

Identify the Tools

As discussed in the Decision Support section earlier, identify the best decision support tools that can provide you with the defined metrics.


This step involves integrating the data collected from various tools for visualization and analysis. Succeful implementation of an MIS requires strong collaboration among different teams and departments.


I hope this article will help you in setting up an effective Marketing Information System. Please comment if you need any further support.