Which marketing benchmarks provide the best insights?

marketing benchmarks

When building digital marketing campaigns and presenting performance results to clients, I’m always asked, “What’s the benchmark?” Everyone always wants to know how their data or numbers compare to the competition.

It’s a great question, but the answer is a bit more complex.

Marketing benchmarks for search campaigns, display campaigns and remarketing campaigns all differ slightly. Display campaigns typically target a wide audience to drive prospects into the top of the funnel, producing lower engagement numbers. Conversely, search and remarketing campaigns are engaging higher-value prospects that have already shown interest in your company or product category, and typically drive better results.

It goes well beyond the type of campaign though. We also have to factor in how marketing benchmarks vary depending on the industry, the target audience and the overall competitiveness of each marketplace.

Let’s look at this another way.

If you’re just starting out with your first digital campaign, you can’t necessarily compare yourself to a big, established brand with a huge market share or a similar-sized competitor that has been running campaigns for years – at least not by expecting the same benchmark performance. It’s good to aspire to be on par with top-performing companies, but the process takes time.

Wanting instant results is a little unrealistic. Rome wasn’t built in a day and even Tiger Woods didn’t shoot par in his first round of golf (maybe his second). You have to be patient and continue to make campaign tweaks based on performance.

So how do you know if your company’s digital campaign efforts are measuring up?

The answer for your business usually lies within.

Below are five tips to help identify the right marketing benchmarks to evaluate your digital campaigns, which will allow you to follow proven trends to maximize the return on your investment.

Build your own benchmarks

It’s really pretty simple, don’t compare yourself to the Joneses!

It’s best to use historical data or benchmarks from your website or past marketing efforts as your starting point. Once you have an established baseline, then you can build off that and know if you’re succeeding with your plan based on whether or not you are moving the needle.

Step one is driving more traffic to your website each month compared to what your company’s previous monthly traffic averages were before launching a campaign. Once you’re off and running, then you can start to identify trends around which channels are driving the right traffic.

If you don’t have historical website performance data, then the first few months of any campaign is the beginning of establishing your baseline to build off.

Focus on goal conversions

While everyone’s goals are always different, focusing on goal conversions is truly the best metric for tracking sales success. Your goal conversion could be an e-commerce purchase, a form completion that generates a sales lead, a prospect signing up for a company newsletter or maybe just getting someone to download a PDF.

Once you know your goals, you can track what types of users are most often completing these goals. It could be users with at least three page views per session that are generating the highest conversion rates. Or you may find that users spending a certain amount of time on site per session are the ones that convert most often.

Count on the right metrics

The best metric is the one you can tie directly to your goal conversions. You need to identify the cause and effect. When you know what type of visitor or behavior most often results in completed goal conversions, this becomes the metric that matters most, and this is not something you can compare to other businesses.

There is not really a comparable benchmark here. Once you know which prospects are converting most often, then you can take this knowledge and adjust your campaign audience targeting to drive more people like this to your website, which in turn should lead to a boost in conversions. All of this ultimately leads to increased sales.

Give campaigns time to mature

You can make very quick decisions in small windows to adjust and optimize your campaign for better performance, but be careful to not move too quickly. You can make shifts within days or weeks, but a data set this small could be misleading. Generally, the longer the duration or greater the scope of data you have, the more confident you can be that you’re making decisions based on proven trends and not just hunches.

In a perfect world, you’ll want to run a sustained digital marketing campaign for at least three months to hone in on proven trends. Now you would make tweaks to all campaigns over these first few months, but avoiding major shifts in strategy till you have an established trend is key. 

Shift budgets to maximize results

The final step is to shift your campaign budget to the digital channels that are driving the best results. Or to adjust your budget allocation to better target the top-performing audiences. Once you reach this point, you can start to think bigger. You can start to think about outpacing the competition now that you’ve built momentum and established personal benchmarks within your own campaigns.

So to recap, you have to build your own benchmarks, select the right goals that drive your desired results, identify the right metrics or audiences, give your campaign time to mature and then adjust your budget accordingly.

If you’re looking to identify the marketing benchmarks that best fit your business, contact SWBR and we’ll help you build a digital campaign that simply works.



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Ernie Thomas



Advertising is in Ernie’s DNA as he’s a third-generation family member to join the business his late grandfather founded. With that pedigree comes an almost six sense of identifying the “it factor” needed to create campaigns that spark customers to action. Ernie (or ET) uses his outgoing personality to connect with clients to build strong collaborative relationships. He digs deep to uncover new opportunities that will make a measurable difference for each client’s business. A graduate of Eastern University and Saint Joseph’s University (MBA), he has the book smarts and experience to elevate brand communications with strategies that challenge the status quo. He’s always guiding Team SWBR toward the correct target audiences, smartest campaign messages, right digital channels and best traditional tactics suited to boost sales.

When he’s not working, Ernie enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He’s also an avid golfer still searching for his first hole-in-one.