Benefits of Benchmarking Against Your Past Performance
Using your own data gives you accurate, relevant metrics to show the success of your marketing program.
You’ve probably been in this situation before — a marketing campaign launched, some time has passed and now it’s time to report on it. People come to you with questions like, “What’s a good email open rate?”, “Is this an average click-through rate?” and “How many conversions can we expect?"
One way you can start to answer these questions is by searching for industry averages. But as a report from Forrester states, “Leaders don’t compare themselves with competitors anymore. Instead, they compare their current performance with where they need to be as a leader, and that’s what the business expects.”
A better way to evaluate how your program is doing is to use your own metrics. Here are five benefits of benchmarking marketing activities against your past performance, rather than against other companies in your industry.
1. Your program has different goals from your competitors
Competitors may be running similar campaigns, attending the same trade shows or creating content about the same topics, but their goals may be different and, likely, unknown to you. Being aware of what competitors are doing is important but comparing your program to theirs doesn’t make sense when you might have different goals.
A strong marketing strategy ensures all of your program activities are aligned with your marketing goals. So, the rationale behind tactics, timing and budget are all specific to your company – not related to competitors. Measurement of your KPIs, too, should be specific to your company.
2. Secondary research is not specific to your needs
Reviewing research reports and analysis is helpful in some cases, but when it comes to understanding how your program is performing, it can be difficult to find relevant research.
In addition to the difficulty of finding relevant data, you may not know how secondary research was compiled or analyzed. Those gaps create a challenge in determining how relevant the data is to your own program.
3. Data in niche markets will be from a small sample size… maybe too small to aid in making decisions
B2B marketing programs focus on niche markets and they can be very granular, targeting specific regions or audiences. Finding data that is relevant to your program will be difficult. And if you’re able to find relevant data, it will likely be from a small sample size which may not even be useful to you.
4. Looking at past performance will help you optimize efforts for the future
Hindsight is 20/20 and this is true in marketing, too. You can learn a lot by looking at how your past programs performed and finding ways to improve in the future. When you review past performance of your marketing activities, you know all the factors that were involved (e.g., budget, timing, content and topics), as well as limitations. You can compile data to have a clear understanding of what happened so that you can identify ways to optimize your program moving forward.
5. Using your own data proves the value of your team and your marketing programs to senior leadership
Using your own data will demonstrate the progress your team and programs make. When you measure your program and show real results, the success of your work is proven and you could gain an increased budget or resources.
Knowledge – or in this case, your own data – is power. You benefit by knowing all the variables that go into your program and how you’re analyzing data, and by using your own metrics to guide your program forward. Your team also benefits by being able to prove the value of their work.
Ready to use your own benchmarks? Here are a few tips to get started:
- Identify relevant KPIs to measure the success toward your goals. If you’d like guidance, check out our blog post about selecting the right KPIs for your marketing program.
- Set your baseline. After you know which KPIs to track, measure where your program currently is. From this baseline, you’ll be able to track how your program is performing.
- Decide on reporting frequency. Depending on the type of campaign or program, determine what frequency makes sense for reporting — Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
- Optimize and keep going. Review metrics on a consistent basis and look for opportunities to improve your program.
Comparing against your own program’s performance gives you a clear idea of how your program is doing. Data will be specific to your market and audience, and you’ll have relevant metrics to help you make decisions moving forward.
Godfrey helps complex B2B industries tell their stories in ways that delight their customers.