Benchmarking your site in Google Analytics

Have you ever had your CMO/CEO/Head Cheese ask you, “So how does our marketing program compare to the industry average?” Despite the fact that industry averages are notoriously questionable and generally a waste of time, when the boss asks, we typically need to answer with something more than a “stop wasting my time”.

To provide a slightly more meaningful answer, Google Analytics now has the ability to display industry average benchmarks inside the application, to compare your web analytics to other typical sites in your vertical. You’ll find it under the Audience menu on the left side; once selected, you have to choose your industry and subcategory from the top submenu:

Channels_-_Google_Analytics

From there, the software will attempt to match your traffic pattern to the pattern of the size of businesses in your peer group. For example, for marketing websites like my blog, there are 292 other sites with 100-500 sessions per day:

Channels_-_Google_Analytics

This is useful for getting a little closer to apples-to-apples comparisons; it would be grossly unhelpful for me to compare my personal blog to, say, a major content site like MarketingProfs or Content Marketing Institute.

Once you’ve got the basic settings in place, the red/green grid shows you where you’re ahead of your peers and where you’re behind.

Channels_-_Google_Analytics

If I were running my blog as a full time business, I would judge from this table that I need to add some paid search advertising into the mix to acquire new audiences, some display ads, kick up my email marketing efforts, and hire a PR firm to get me some more referral traffic. Conversely, I know that I’m doing a better job than average with social media and search, so I don’t need to remediate those right away.

Try out benchmarking to see how your website compares to others in your peer group and see if it gives you any quick ideas about what else you might want to pursue in terms of marketing tactics to bring in more audiences, as well as where competing sites are ahead of you.


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!


What do Pinterest, Tinder, and the shopping mall have in common?

Here’s a fun thought exercise for you.

Question 1: What do Pinterest, Tinder, and the shopping mall have in common?

If you said image-driven marketing, you’d be partially correct.

Here’s the flip side of the coin.

Question 2: What do WhatsApp, Google, and your GPS have in common?

A tougher question to answer.

The answer is that the items in question 1 are serendipity engines. They provide serendipity, a sense of discovery, a chance to stumble upon something that you didn’t intend to look for. Pinterest is masterful at this, at presenting all kinds of content that is tangentially related, but with lots of different rat holes to run down.

The items in question 2 are the norm in the digital world, items that provide you focus. You talk only to the friends you explicitly want to talk to on WhatsApp, and no one else. You find exactly what you’re looking for with Google (or that’s their hope, anyway). Your GPS finds you the most direct, most effective route to your destination.

If it feels like the world has lost of a bit of its wonder, a bit of the magic of life, it’s because we’ve made the sorts of services in Question 2 the norm. Cortana, Google Now, and Siri never say, “Oh hey, I know you were looking for the nearest coffee shop, but there’s a really cool one that’s further away and harder to get to but might be a lot of fun”. That doesn’t happen. Our GPS doesn’t have a “intentionally get lost” button (though certainly apps like Roadtrippers can help).

I love America's highways

When we do have the opportunity to avail ourselves of serendipity, we sometimes enjoy it. We pick a new dish on the menu, or we ask a new acquaintance where to eat in an unfamiliar city. The sommelier brings us a different kind of wine. We meet someone unexpected at a conference.

So here’s the marketing angle for you. If your company provides a focus-based service or product, consider what it would take to offer a parallel serendipity offering. Amazon has figured this out to a certain degree with the “things other people also buy when they buy X” but those are algorithms around your theme. You generally don’t get something completely from left field in those recommendations. What if you offered something even more extreme?

Imagine even adding a “surprise me” button to the search box of your website, or a special series of tweets on a Friday afternoon that have nothing to do with your brand (but are obviously not brand-damaging) of cool stuff you’ve found.

How else can you introduce serendipity for those folks who are looking for it?


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!


The Real Question Underneath ROI

Here’s a thought for you the next time someone asks you about the ROI of any given marketing method. There’s a secondary, implied question beneath the question of ROI, and that question is simply, does this marketing method work? Will it help us to meet our business objectives?

When you think about the equation of ROI – (earned – spent)/spent – it’s actually fairly unhelpful for making strategic and tactical marketing decisions. Because it relies on the computation of all value produced down the entire value chain, from audience generation down to closed sales, it’s subject to a lot of interference. For example, you may have an effective marketing program or an effective PR program, but an ineffective sales program. Thus, your ROI can be negative even if you’re doing your job as a marketer superbly.

If you can provide objective, actionable marketing metrics that have a line of sight to revenue and real business objectives, chances are you can make the requestor just as happy. ROI is only applicable in financial outcomes, which means that a lot of marketing activities that are not directly linked to sales will not have a direct ROI, so other performance-based metrics such as lead generation will tell you more about what you have to improve about your marketing.

When is ROI an ideal measure of marketing performance? Simple: when you are in charge of the entire organizational funnel from top to bottom, such as when there’s no sales department. For example, if you run an eCommerce website that is entirely self-serve, meaning that your customer comes to the site, buys, checks out, and pays without interacting with a system that’s not under your control as a marketer, then ROI is a great measure of your marketing skill because you’re in charge of everything, and can make system changes to improve performance.

Another example would be when you’re a sole proprietor, where you’re marketing, sales, service, and PR all at once.

When someone asks you what the ROI of something is, chances are good they’re really asking you if something works, and if this is covered:

IMG_0657

(in case it’s not obvious, that’s a donkey, or in other parlance, an ass)


If you enjoyed this, please share it with your network!


Want to read more like this from ? Get daily updates now:


Get my book!

Subscribe to my free newsletter!