Benchmarking is an important part of your marketing strategy. When setting benchmarks for your marketing activity you want to create challenging yet realistic business goals. But what exactly are they and how can you set up a benchmark?
A benchmark is a set ‘norm’ or ‘standard’ in which you can evaluate your activity against. It provides critical context and is crucial in helping you to analyse the performance of your marketing activity. Benchmarking can be used to in two key ways; measuring your performance against your competitors, and measuring the performance of your business itself.
Looking to learn how to set up benchmarks?
You need to decide what exactly it is that you want to benchmark. Often this depends on the wider goals of your business and what is most important to you. Is website growth most important? Open rates? Social media? Blog post performance?
For internal benchmarks you want to look at historical data touch points to help you set your current benchmarks. There are plenty of relevant tools to help you keep a track of the past data such as Google Analytics, email marketing tools and social media analytics. For example if you have determined that you want to benchmark website traffic you know that Google Analytics can provide a wealth of information on past data and you can even compare data within given time frames. You need to leave a reasonable time period to track activity, typically allowing for three months of data to be collected.
For external benchmarks you need to do as much research on your industry competitors as you can. This firstly starts with knowing exactly who your competitors are and then you can look into their marketing activity; How many organic social posts are they are doing? What engagement are they getting? How many blogs do they post? Google Analytics also provides an extremely helpful tool here as its benchmarking feature allows you to compare your own data against industry data. To access the Benchmarking reports you need to follow the below steps;
You then just have to select your industry categories and you can even select a dimension (i.e. social, paid search, organic search, location or device). So if you are a restaurant / bar you could track social performance for the industry category “restaurants and bars” and Google Analytics will compare your property against the web traffic levels in your industry. Other available benchmarks are sessions (i.e. number of sessions), % new sessions, new sessions (i.e. number of sessions from new users), pages / session, average session duration, bounce rate.
There are also plenty of other competitor analysis tools out there which can help you improve your own website by doing audits on search results, back link performance, competitor research and much more, including; QuickSprout, Similar Web or SEMrush.
Now that you have access to enough information you can set key benchmark metrics for your personal business as well as on industry norms, ensuring you are well detailed and informed.
Set a time period of when you will be reviewing your benchmarks, will it be monthly? Or quarterly? And ensure the benchmarks are communicated across your business so that your team know what to strive for.
Based on the time period set track your activity against your benchmarks. Remember that to measure is to be able to improve so use these metrics to review your marketing strategy and ultimately reach your business goals.