There is a certain sense of personal satisfaction in knowing you are “beating the competition.” Being able to say you’re crushing Competitor X with 2,000 Facebook fans compared to their measly 600, or quadrupling your impression levels vs. their’ s via banner advertising, or dominating them in the print space via ad recall rates, just feels good. I mean, take a look at the screen grab below. Life’s pretty good if you’re the blue line, right?
But how do these metrics really benchmark the performance of your marketing strategy? Furthermore, will your CMO or CEO really care when they’re concerned with how marketing has influenced revenue, customer acquisition and market share? (Hint: probably not).
The “So What”
Benchmarking is all about the “so what”. So what if your brand has 2,000 Facebook fans if you can’t attribute social activity to increases in business inquiries or customer retention. So what if your company’s website has 1,000 more unique visitors per month than your competitors’ if those visitors aren’t aiding your conversion rates.
The “so what” is completely dependent upon the metrics you’re using to determine success. And unless you’re focusing on the right success metrics to measure your own marketing, competitive benchmarking will provide little insight into whether or not you are making any marketing gains.
So, if you aren’t currently benchmarking your company’s marketing efforts properly, where should you begin?
Priority number one with benchmarking is to leave vanity metrics at the door and define key performance indicators (KPIs) that really matter. Defining KPIs in certain selling environments (like B2B) can be tricky. So let’s take a look at an upper funnel metric that can be applied to a wide range of industries.
New Visitor Acquisition Rate (per marketing channel per campaign)
This is a particularly good metric for branding/awareness campaigns when the goal is to attract new prospects and to share your company’s value proposition. Let’s say your company launched a new, more sustainable version of an existing product line and it’s your marketing team’s job to generate product awareness. Using new visitor acquisition rate as a metric, a valuable report may look something like this:
This report does a couple of things:
- It tells you that search is the top performing awareness medium for driving your company’s product sustainability message.
- It tells you that there’s room for improvement on the organic search side in order to capture awareness without having to pay for continued ad costs.
From a metrics report, a benchmark is born.
With a plan in place to exceed Google paid search new visitor acquisition rate of those interested in your company’s sustainability message via organic search, and having a baseline to refer back to overtime, a benchmark report may include something like this:
A seemingly straight forward report, yet backed by strategic insight and a metric that matters; and with the added benefit of building context around why you are doing SEO: to progressively increase interest and awareness of your company’s sustainable product line.
So what matters to you and your business? Maybe it’s not awareness, maybe its retention, or maybe its upselling. What metrics do you have in place to measure success and how are you using those metrics to create benchmarks for constant improvement?