Historical benchmarking in marketing

What are benchmarks?

So what exactly is a benchmark? Benchmarks are really important in marketing, because without benchmarks, the data you're looking at holds no meaning to you.

Benchmarks are like a measuring stick, they allow us to make sense of the data we have.

For example, you're running Google search ads and you see you're paying $0.80 for every click you get on average. The only way that amount hold any relevancy is if you have some benchmarks to compare it to. It could be an industry benchmark, competitive benchmark, or in this case we will focus on historical benchmarking.

If you know that last month you were paying $0.50 for a click, then you know that your current $0.80 CPC is quite a bit higher than normal. You know that because you got some historical benchmarking to lean on.

Historical benchmarking is absolutely essential to bring context to your marketing activities. 

The 2023 eCommerce benchmark report

Historical benchmarking is your own personal yardstick

Basically, historical benchmarking is taking your own metrics or KPIs and putting it into a historical context to see how you perform measured against yourself.

You would normally decide a timeframe to compare it to. As previously stated, it could be yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly or any other timeframe you would like. 

For example, I can look at the amount of visitors I got to my website last month and compare that statistic to the amount of visitors I got the month before that. Has it increased? Has it decreased?

If you're a new business, you might not have a lot of data to work with and therefore you should allow for some time before you start comparing and drawing any conclusions from the comparison.

Where do you get the data?

The data you use for historical benchmarking in marketing is usually sourced from first-party data that you own. This could be Google Analytics, newsletter software like Mailchimp, advertising data from the campaigns you're running or any kind of data really.

Most of these tools you're working with will keep a record of your historical data so that you can go back and choose a period that you want to compare data to. If the tools you're working with for some reason do not have this function, or you're not working with a tool at all, I suggest noting down your metrics in an excel sheet for record keeping.

Why is historical benchmarking in marketing so important?

You need to know if your marketing activities are working as intended and you're improving. That's why you should use historical data to compare to. That's the only way to know if you're in fact getting better (or worse) results.

If you're seeing an increase in visitors to your website from organic search month over month, it means that the SEO you did is working. Are you seeing a higher opt-in rate on your newsletter? That probably mean that the conversion rate optimization you did is working.

A benchmark is there to guide you, help you improve and show you when you need to do changes or if the changes you did is actually working as they should.

We think you will also like...