Benchmark Marketing: A Painless Framework for Setting KPIs That Work for You

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Brad Johnson
August 9, 2022

Digital marketing can be a powerful way to drive new customer acquisition—but with numerous marketing metrics to track, competitors to monitor, ads to create, and audiences to target, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information. You need a simple digital marketing benchmarking system to replicate throughout your campaigns. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the numbers that determine success for any given marketing campaign. Setting the right KPIs by way of benchmark marketing is how you achieve return on investment (ROI) in digital marketing. Keep reading to learn why you need marketing benchmarks as well as how to set your KPIs.

What Are Marketing Metrics and Why Do They Matter?

Marketing metrics are the numbers that marketers track to determine the success or failure of their campaigns. Common types of marketing metrics include form submissions, social media post shares, video watch time, email newsletter opens, and blog post views. 

Marketing campaign metrics are typically broken down into KPI categories like engagement metrics, organic traffic metrics, paid traffic metrics, email marketing metrics, and conversion metrics. Marketers understand each segment of their strategy in context with this approach.

For example, thousands of views on a video doesn’t mean much unless viewers consume most of the video, which is why watch time is a type of engagement KPI. Every metric you track should have a measurable impact on your campaign goal. 

So, why all the fuss about data? Your marketing numbers indicate whether or not your marketing efforts are supporting or hindering your goal. A campaign goal may be 1,000 newsletter signups, a 4% e-commerce conversion rate, or a 90% video watch rate. Picking the right KPIs and knowing how to execute on them helps you achieve your goal.

How Do You Set a Marketing Benchmark?

Before you dive into tracking your key marketing metrics, it’s important to first set a benchmark for each metric. A benchmark is the minimum threshold you must reach to consider your campaign a success.

There are two contexts in which to set benchmarks: individual campaigns and ongoing marketing efforts. Individual campaigns include product launch announcements, grand openings, and flash sales. Ongoing campaigns include growing website traffic, sending weekly newsletters, and driving form conversions. 

As an example, let’s say you want to increase your website traffic by 20% over a period of six months. Achieving this goal requires planning out the following factors:

  • The core activities of your marketing campaign
  • The volume of activity necessary to achieve the goal
  • The reporting frequency with which you’ll evaluate performance and course correct where necessary

For each of these factors, your KPIs for increasing website traffic may look like this:

  • Researching 90 relevant, non-branded, conversion-focused keywords (Core activity)
  • Writing one long-form, SEO-optimized blog post per day (Volume and core activity)
  • Performing on-page optimization twice per week to make content as Google-friendly as possible (Core activity)
  • Reviewing content rankings and traffic weekly, then adjusting based on findings (Reporting frequency)

Notice that each bullet point above is a benchmark with a KPI. Your first benchmark is performing keyword research and your KPI is researching 90 of them. In other words, it’s not only the type of action necessary but the quantity associated with that action. These KPIs are simple, measurable, and achievable, which is what every successful marketing campaign is made of. 

Whether you’re running a one-time or ongoing marketing campaign, benchmarks are your simplified steps towards success. Start with your end goal and reverse engineer to identify the benchmarks necessary for your outcome.

Determine Your Marketing Mix

Now that you know what a marketing benchmark looks like, it’s time to determine your marketing mix, which will dictate your KPIs. What is a marketing mix? We’re glad you asked. 

A marketing mix is a combination of marketing strategies designed to generate a specific result. If you run an e-commerce or physical products business, your marketing mix may include video, social media, and paid advertising. If you provide financial or specialized services, your marketing mix may include white papers, email marketing, and blogging.

The point of a marketing mix is not to find the perfect combination, but to choose strategies most likely to generate your desired outcome. This way you have the time and energy necessary to execute on your KPIs. 

Let’s assume an e-commerce product launch campaign from the example above. With a marketing mix of paid ads, social media, and video marketing channels, your goals may look like this: 

  • 5:1 return on ad spend (ROAS) for Instagram ads
  • 85% watch time or higher on the campaign’s video
  • 15% higher post like rate than a normal social media post

Accordingly, your KPIs for those goals may be the following:

  • Creating 8 ad sets and automatically allocating budget to the most successful set
  • Studying your top 10 videos to document why viewers like them most, then applying your findings to your product launch video
  • Reviewing your top 15 most successful social media posts and using the same characteristics in your launch announcement post

You can think of your marketing efforts as the following: your campaign is the house you want to build, your marketing mix is the rooms in the house, and your KPIs are the tools with which you’ll build those rooms. You start with the broadest goal and drill down to specific actions that make the goal possible. 

If you’re still struggling to determine the right benchmarks and KPIs, you haven’t identified what you want to achieve. Ask yourself the following questions to get clarity:

  • What is the main outcome I want from my marketing campaign?
  • If I could only use one marketing strategy, what would it be and why?
  • What analytical tools are already available to me, and are they relevant to my campaign?
  • What is the most important sales metric in my business, outside of monthly revenue generated?

Making KPIs as Easy as ABC

A successful marketing campaign doesn’t have to involve working through the weekend and sleepless nights. But it does require being honest about your goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. 

Digital marketing benchmarking is the way to get there. Use the frameworks in this blog post to identify your key marketing metrics and set KPIs that will help you crush your campaign goals.

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