How to Create Marketing Benchmarks

Created by Camille Winer

Marketing-Benchmarking-101As you dig into your marketing plans for the year, one of the biggest challenges is knowing where to start. When creating a nonprofit marketing plan with the specifics of your marketing activities for the entire year, it's easy to get pulled in different directions. Some of your colleagues may see budget as the place to start, while others want to jump right in with how to improve the website, social media, email, or blogging strategy.

While any of these things can and should inform the marketing plan, they're not the best foundation on which to build a plan. The best place to start planning is by looking at your organization's or business's overall goals for the year, and what marketing activities and resources are going to make it possible for you to achieve those goals. 

Once you've identified those overall goals, it's time to plan how marketing can contribute to them. And the first step in that process is benchmarking

What Is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is the act of taking note of how your current marketing and website efforts perform. It serves as a reference point to which you and your team can look back in the future and compare your performance.

By clearly identifying where you are now, you can more effectively begin setting goals for where you want to be.

Benchmarking Key Objectives

To know where to go, you have to know where your brand is now. Before embarking on any kind of marketing activities, a clear understanding of the current reality, no matter what that reality is, is essential. You'll need data to understand the current state of your marketing. Key tools for collecting the data are:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Facebook Insights
  • Twitter Analytics
  • LinkedIn Analytics

Benchmarking Key Metrics

The first question most people have during this time is, "what should I measure?" While key metrics are relative to the specific industry or business that you are in, here are some of the most common to start with:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors to your website
  • Website bounce rate
  • Time on website
  • Social media engagement: Followers, Likes
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • Total amount of sales generated

Benchmark Key Activities

Now that you have an idea of what benchmarking entails, what data to track down, and where to find it, here are a few action items you can move forward with.

  • Connect Google Analytics to the website
  • Connect and verify site for Google Webmaster Tools
  • Create a spreadsheet to record key metrics (listed above)
  • Enter at least 3 months of data in the spreadsheet
  • Claim your company’s local profiles, like Yelp, Yahoo, Google+, etc.

Once you have your benchmarks in place, you'll be much closer to having an inbound marketing plan that will lead your organization to marketing success.