We get the same great, but complex question repeatedly from our clients: “What are the benchmarks that we should measure ourselves against?”
Unfortunately, there isn’t a tool available that has a database of hundreds of metrics across thousands of industries and hundreds of thousands of companies that can easily provide us up-to-date benchmark data. (Though if anyone has heard of one, please let us know!) Without a comprehensive tool we instead apply a custom approach to understanding and developing benchmarks unique to our client’s goals — which is actually the first step in our five-step benchmark approach.
Before we even dive into data collection, it is important to take a step back and first understand what success means for your business or client(s). Success can be defined as:
• Spreading awareness for your brand, products, or your mission statement
• Community building and building brand loyalty
• Increase in sales
• And many others!
Once we understand exactly what success looks like, the second step is to identify the correct industry and competitive set. This process could involve discussing the following questions at length:
• Are we aiming to measure success against our direct peers or aspirational brands?
• What are important industry-related considerations that may impact our success?
• Are there trends or regulations that have an impact on us now, or in the future?
After determining the correct industry and competitive set, the next step is crucial to get the most benefits out of the data – do not look at benchmark metrics in isolation! Surface level metrics rarely give the full picture, and it’s important to consider the relationship between various metrics to identify patterns.
For instance, certain types of social media posts may directly tie to comments, while others are more likely to result in likes. Benchmarking means being mindful of the relationships that are most important to reach our defined goals.
The fourth step is to take an unbiased (we know, this is HARD!) look at your own role in the market. Gaining followers is a great goal, but ask yourself, what is the creative space you plan to own once you have them?
When developing benchmarks it’s important to consider your brand voice, your focus for the year, and whether you are an inspirational or relatable brand. Then take an unbiased look at your competitors: what are common themes in competitor content, what is their visual style and focus, and what do they do well? Finally, is there a whitespace you can own and if not, try revisiting the data and looking for new patterns and opportunities.
The fifth and final step is reflection. Yes, you defined our goals, looked at the right industry and competitors, understood the relationship between various metrics, and defined your role in the overall landscape, but you aren’t done yet! Has anything happened that requires us to shift our approach (hello COVID-19!), has a competitor switched focus and why, did a new privacy law completely change how we interact on social media? These are important questions we need to ask even after benchmarks are developed and reporting has started.
Here at EvolveMKD, we understand that measurement is what helps inform current and future business decisions, which is why we establish KPIs and benchmarks during our onboarding process and continue to evaluate our progress and goals throughout our partnership with our clients. Want to discuss more? Contact us!
By: Katie Tatulli, Nikki Abraham, and Alex Christian