Here at Level343, we strongly advocate the practice of recording your online marketing performance benchmarks before jumping into an SEO campaign. Why? Well, first, I think any true analyst or successful site owner naturally understands the value of sound metrics and continuous improvement. It just makes sense that you’d need to know where you are before you try to move forward. However, some marketers make the mistake of measuring their success against industry averages; in other words, they use industry standards as their performance benchmarks.
The first rule of thumb should be knowing where your company is in terms of sales, organic reach, and traffic. Without comparing your company to others, what is your ultimate goal?
As such, there are several reasons why you should never use industry benchmarks to measure success. Let’s look at three of them:
- Industry benchmarks can limit your growth because they compare your success to the average. Your true potential is overlooked. Think about it! An average is mediocre, dull, sometimes mundane, and often the status quo. Average is not something any individual or company should strive for. Companies that compare themselves to the average usually stop improving and innovating.
- Industry benchmark data, by its very nature, is not accurate. Industry data deals with fairly small percentages for KPIs. Key performance indicators are inconsistent from company to company with respect to what constitutes a conversion. A conversion might be filling out a contact form, or a newsletter signup. It might also be a job inquiry.
- Industry benchmark data also fails to represent the total picture. In fact, industry benchmark data lacks context. For instance, if your company is losing money where it appears to be normal for its industry, should you really be okay with losing money month after month? How long will it before your company closes its doors?
Where Your Company Should Place Focus
Use the metrics and key performance indicators unique to your website to your advantage. Your own KPIs can include digital analytical data, customer retention data, performance data for campaigns, and any information collected that is relevant to your organization’s operation. Your own benchmark data should include A/B testing, multivariate testing, and copy testing to name several. Then, start over from the beginning and repeat the process to gain additional insights.
Ultimately, KPIs Are Your Best Friend
KPIs, chosen correctly, represent the area of greatest importance to your organization. This data will always provide an analysis of the big picture. Even modern website reporting and analytics tools can be confusing because of the wide variety of reports they can offer. Sometimes, a wealth of information can end up being irrelevant. It causes marketers to immerse themselves into dozens of reports to the point of losing focus on the key factors. Measuring the right vitals on your website enables you to quickly determine if your website is on track to meet your company’s objectives.
Understanding the Importance of Competitor Analysis
While measuring your website or company’s performance against industry benchmarks is futile, performing a competitive analysis offers value, and can help you determine competitor strengths and weaknesses within your market. You may also be able to discover strategies that will work to your advantage and uncover industry weaknesses that you can exploit.
While the process of competitive analysis can be challenging and time consuming, it can help you improve your market position and polish your existing marketing plan. An excellent source of reference that offers additional information is Daniel Hochuli’s LinkedIn article, “Bullshit Metrics You Need to Stop Using to Measure Content Marketing Success.” Topic #4 drives home the point that fewer variables to consider equals more controls and more reliable insights. This ultimately equates to better results.
Measuring against the right performance benchmarks is a critical part of developing a strong online marketing campaign. Are you sure you have the right ones? If not, contact Level343. We have over a decade of experience in building strong marketing foundations.