By John Lincoln, MBA, Co-Founder and CEO of Ignite Visibility and one of the top digital marketing consultants in the industry.
As a business, there’s a good reason you analyze your competitors’ performance. It helps you define what goals you want to reach and, ultimately, achieve them. That’s where benchmark marketing comes into play.
If you look up the definition of the word “benchmark,” you’ll see that it’s a point of reference that helps you compare and assess something. Thus, benchmark marketing is a tactic where you analyze your competitors’ place in the market, so you can find out where you stand in comparison.
The goal of benchmark marketing is to identify the gaps in your own strategy so you can beat out competitors within your industry. There are two main types of benchmark marketing: competitive benchmarking, where the metrics from your competition are the benchmark, and industry benchmarking, where the industry averages serve as your benchmark.
Let’s take a closer look at both of these strategies.
Using Competitor Comparison To Conduct Benchmark Marketing
1. Gather KPIs. The first part of building a benchmark marketing strategy is figuring out which key performance indicators you want to use. Consider choosing three to five KPIs to start. You can always build a separate comparison if you need to assess more indicators.
If you’re wondering where to start, consider KPIs that relate to growth, social media, SEO, brand awareness, customer sentiment and more. This may mean comparing how many keywords you’re ranking for, your average click-through rate or dwell time on blog posts — just to name a few.
2. Define competitors. You can perform a benchmark marketing analysis by comparing direct competitors. For example, local storefronts may want to look at the competitors in their region. Larger companies may want to compare themselves against industry-leading brands or major industry disruptors.
3. Utilize third-party tools. The internet is teeming with third-party tools that can help you access the data necessary to perform a thorough benchmark marketing analysis. Here are some of the top tools to look at:
• Google Analytics: Find the benchmark marking report on Google Analytics for insight into the location, device and channel data. You can filter with different benchmark options.
• Twitter Analytics: This is good if you want to compare monthly statistics relating to your Twitter marketing performance.
• Similarweb: This works great for industry average analyses. It’s also helpful if you want to find out where your traffic is coming from compared to others.
• SEMrush: Find gaps between you and your competitors in categories like backlinks, display advertising, keywords and more.
• Pathmatics: Find out how you’re allocating ad spend compared to competitors.
• Spyfu: Learn the ins and outs of your keyword performance and conduct a related gap analysis.
• MailChimp: This tool helps you develop email benchmarking.
4. Identify gaps between you and the competition. The next step involves finding out where your gaps are and filling them. You can use the third-party tools of your choosing to help you do so. The most important part is to follow the evidence. Rather than sitting in your confirmation bias, find out what’s really missing and fix it.
5. Streamline spending and amplify returns. Use this data to streamline spending and amplify returns. This monetary category can be broken up into different benchmarks like return on ad spend, platform allocation and more. Focus on what’s important to your growth as a brand and see where you can improve to beat out the competition.
Using Industry Comparison To Conduct Benchmark Marketing
1. Analyze the industry’s average KPIs from past years. Benchmark marketing doesn’t just pit you against your competitors. It’s also important to compare yourself to how your industry is doing as a whole. One way to achieve a solid industry benchmark is to look back at past results year over year for your industry. What were the average metrics for your chosen KPIs? How did your company compare to that? Use this data to forecast the future!
2. Design an informative report. Gathering data is only valuable if you can put it to work. Organize and present the benchmark data in a way that resonates with your internal team. Here are three ways to present a benchmarking report:
• A well-designed and holistic white paper
• Infographics for each department containing relevant data
• A video or slide display
Your company’s teams can use the informative (and visually appealing) report to adjust the status quo within your brand. Just remember: Your benchmarking report should be honest. This is not a way to weasel some internal PR into your brand, but rather a genuine method for improving your company’s performance.
3. Pair an industry benchmarking report with an industry survey. Benchmark data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To build some layers of context into your benchmarking report, you can pair it with your own industry survey. If your company or agency has never built an industry survey before, take a look at some examples from companies in your field. Choose a topic that hasn’t been directly covered before or take a unique approach that helps your brand stand out from the pack. This step works another angle, too: You can use the industry survey as client-facing marketing material to promote industry expertise.
4. Set goals based on benchmark results. Why put all this work into benchmark marketing if you’re only going to let that data fall to the wayside? The important thing is to set goals. You want to improve your performance over time, which means aiming for leveled-up results. Include quantitative numbers (like tripling your clicks or doubling your dwell time). Don’t pull these numbers out of a hat, either. You want to make sure they’re achievable and confident.
Benchmarking is not a one-and-done situation. You’ll need to perform the process at regular intervals if you want to see long-term, sustained growth.
If you have a vision of growth, benchmark marketing can help you achieve it. This actionable plan can help you skip past industry leaders and direct competition, and all it takes is a close look at what’s going on behind the curtains.