You Ask, I Answer: How to Benchmark Marketing Performance?

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You Ask, I Answer: How to Benchmark Marketing Performance?

Andrew asks, “How do you know what to benchmark against?”

This is a great and complex question to answer. Benchmarking effectively means having insights into competitive data and very often, competitors don’t necessarily want to share that kind of data for obvious reasons. There are five places we can benchmark in digital marketing data.
– Google Analytics benchmarking
– Search data
– Social media benchmarking for public metrics
– Surveys and qualitative data
– Market research and published data

Sign up for our free Analytics for Marketers Slack group. I’ll be publishing a Google Analytics Benchmarking tutorial there in the next few days.

You Ask, I Answer: How to Benchmark Marketing Performance?

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In today’s episode, Andrew asks, How do you know what to benchmark against? This is a great question. It’s a complicated question because we want to understand how we’re doing versus our competitors. That requires having access to our competitors data, which, for obvious reasons, our competitors probably are not just going to hand us so we need to find proxy measures, proxy ways to get to that information in ways that

don’t require us to have access to data that we probably don’t have permission to have access to. So there are really about five different ways that you can put together a benchmark of data for you versus your competitors.

Let’s talk about each of these five and they are accessing them are tutorials all on their own.

The first one, and the one that I think is probably the most interesting and the most useful from a broad perspective, but doesn’t let you name competitors is the Google Analytics benchmarking feature, which is built into Google Analytics. It is in the audience section of the application. It’s called benchmarking. And you have to fiddle with the settings a little bit. But it’s a it’s a great way, as long as there are enough competitors

that Google says you can view this data. Google will not let you see data below a certain number of competitors and things like 50 years, or 25 or 50 websites, because it’s all anonymized. And they don’t want to obviously give away information that that is identifiable in some way. But that’s a good one, especially for a broad channel basis. So like, how are we doing versus a competitor, our peer competitors for social media, for email for search and so on and so forth. So that’s, that’s the first place I’d start. Second place I’d start is with search tools. So search data.

Fantastic for measuring competitive awareness, especially for branded search. If you’re if you got a competitor and you got your company you can look in if I’m as basic as Google Trends all the way up to, you know, enterprise grade SEO packages for searches about your company, about your products, your services, your brands, all those things and assemble them as export the data and assemble it as a competitive benchmark. How much are people searching for your brand? So let’s say if you were, I don’t know, it’s it. Let’s say you were Toyota Motor Corporation, right? You would want to benchmark against how many people are searching for Tesla’s series three versus the Toyota Prius and so on and so forth. And that would give you a really good sense of brand intent because, again, someone doesn’t search for your brand your stuff by name unless they really want to know about you, right, so that’s a great place to go. The third place is social media benchmarking for public

metrics and this would require tools, social media monitoring tools, brand 24 talk Walker, you also want to use a ideally something like a crowd tangled if you can get access to it. But what you want to do is you want to gather competitive public metrics, so posts, likes, shares, comments, Facebook reactions, any of the broad metrics just to get a sense of how engaged are people with your competitive content versus yours.

audience size does in some cases matter. So having all that

from social media, be wary

be very wary of a automation like bots and be be wary of assigning ascribing too much significance to things like brand mentions on social media only because it’s very qualitative data and social media in it of itself has biases to it, but it it belongs in

Couldn’t in the basket with these other metrics?

The fourth area would be surveys and qualitative data. So we’re talking Mark we’re talking runnings, actual surveys to audiences using credible tools Survey Monkey has a panel option, I believe now that allows you to designate a panel of a certain type of audience and run surveys to it. It’s a little more it’s a little more representative. And you know, just emailing your list which is not the way to go,

but doing things like brand recall, MPs style surveys, unaided brand recall surveys, and other forms of qualitative data market research, focus groups, etc, would be the fourth bucket where you could get some competitive benchmarks. If you ask 1000 consumers or thousands CMOS are 1000 whatever,

what is your perception of this brand? What is your intent to purchase from this brand and the next 90 days and so on so forth. You can get a very good sense of


the layout of the market and people’s awareness of your brand. And the last is published data, particularly published syndicated market research. There’s are fantastic

public resources of data that give you a broad sense of how companies are doing things are the one I look at very often is from the CMO survey and is aptly named at the CMO survey. If you go to cmo it’s run by Duke University School of Business and I believe Deloitte Consulting they survey about 500 ish CMOS every six months about questions like marketing, spend, marketing, budget areas of investment marketing priorities, and it’s a good way

not necessarily to benchmark against competitors. Because the industry is verticals and sizes are fairly narrow,

but against the marketing field as a whole. Hey, companies are spending on average, you know 9.8% of revenue.

As marketing budget, where your what’s your marketing spend versus your revenues. If you’re spending 2%, you might find that you’re handicapping yourself versus peers. On the other hand, if you spending 20%, you might find that you’re not you’re not in line with the rest of the industry, which could be good or bad. But that’s a strategic choice you make after you have the data. So very good question for benchmarking. The one thing I would suggest is don’t take these benchmarks

in silos.

So you have search data, social data, you have media coverage, you have social media and all these things. What tends to happen in companies as people treat these things as as independent metrics,

my best suggestion would be as long as you can find the data the data is available and the data is in good condition is to create an index and what you would do is you would normalize all these different data points normalize them like another zero to 100 scale and then average them together to give you a

A blended score of how you are doing versus your competitors are doing and maybe have that, you know, obviously have the underlying data available so that someone who’s like, hey, why our score down, go down four points this month can look at the underlying data and say, Oh, we

had substantially less branded search volume this month. And last month, we need to go fix that with things that drive branded search just as an example. But having that blended score makes reporting a lot easier. And it makes monitoring much easier as well. The trick you’ll have to figure out is getting all the data together in one place to do the math on and then to report on ideal you’re going to do it in an automated fashion, you’re going to have a piece of software that will almost certainly be custom code to extract all this data and then to transform it and then republish it. So

back in the old days, I had a very manual very manual way of doing this.

Which chewed up an enormous amount of time. So thanks to things like API’s and modern programming languages, it’s much easier to do that now than it used to be. But there’s still some stuff that will require

a little bit of hand holding. I’ve yet to find something that can ingest survey data in a fully automated fashion.

It’s still a little squishy on on spots, but that’s okay.

Make that index, make that index and that that can be your brand benchmark or your competitive benchmark index that you can use as a as a performance metric,

and then run it against your business metrics, do a do math on it, to compare it against your business metrics. And ideally,

your benchmark will have a meaningful relationship with revenue or sales or something that matters to the business and if so, then you have the ability to say that

This is now being promoted from metric to a KPI. We need to keep our our brand benchmark above 80 or whatever, whatever your your blended index comes up with. So that we know this is we’re doing our jobs as marketers. We’re recreating that, that brand impression. So really good question, Andrew. And this is one that I sent out my personal newsletter asking people Hey, I’m going to Social Media Marketing World I’m going to ask a bunch of people some key questions this is one that I want to ask other marketers

would love to hear your thoughts as well. I’m going to publish it also in our free analytics for marketers slack group. So hop on over there. I may actually put a tutorial for how to use the benchmarking and analytics for marketers so that you folks can can enjoy that but great question. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter and I’ll talk to you soon want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems. This is trust today and let us know how we can help you

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


One response to “You Ask, I Answer: How to Benchmark Marketing Performance?”

  1. Basia Derkowska Avatar
    Basia Derkowska

    Thanks for the mention about Brand24, Christopher!

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