Importance of benchmarking before adding social media to your mix

So you have decided that you are going to add social media to your marketing mix. You have decided that you are going to launch a corporate blog, start a company Twitter profile, create and join a few LinkedIn groups and then have a lovely looking Facebook page with all your corporate info on. Heck, you might even re-design your website whilst your at it right?

But have you benchmarked your existing online and offline marketing activities before you jump onto the social media bandwagon? Do you know how your current marketing activities are performing in order to identify success later on? In fact, what will your success look like in 12 months time?

Benchmarking is crucial

Conducting a benchmarking audit is crucial for any marketing department before starting on long term commitments like social media marketing. Knowing how your website is performing and its conversion rates, knowing which brochures are most downloaded or requested, knowing how many times your company has been mentioned online, finding out how many pages in your website are indexed and where they rank in Google and knowing how visitors use your website are all ‘must knows’ in order to be able to measure any improvement over time.

Start collecting data

Data is available at the ready for every marketer from a variety of tools such as Google Insights for Search, Google Analytics and other tracking and measurement software. You can quickly see how many visitors your website attracts over a period of time, how many pages were viewed in that time frame, how long the average visitor stays on your website, which email campaign they came from, which search term they entered into Google to get to your website, which advert they responded to in a magazine (if done correctly), who’s following your company and the list goes on. Use this data to benchmark your marketing activities to get a clearer idea of what impact your marketing is currently generating. If you find that by creating a blog, the traffic generated from this blog to your website has resulted in an increase in brochure downloads then you know your blog has had a positive impact on this particular goal.

Success takes time, patience and commitment

It’s important to have objectives and goals otherwise you won’t know what success looks like further down the line. How will you know that traffic from Twitter has had a positive impact on increasing brand awareness? How do you know that the content you are writing on your blog is attracting quality traffic?

Below is an example of how collecting just small amounts of data like ‘website visits’ and ‘visits from referring social sites’ over a period of time allows you to see if the traffic is increasing and which activities caused spikes or gradual growth over a period of time.


Referral traffic to website against leads generated

Social media is not a 4 week activity, it takes time, a long time before you really start to see any impact. Don’t give up after the first quarter….social media marketing is a long term commitment.

Focusing on ‘Visits’ as a metric is not enough!

Too many marketers focus on just visits generated from multiple websites and blogs as a metric.

“We get about 3000 visits per month” says the Marketing Manager.

I say “Great, and how many of those turned into enquiries or brochure downloads where you captured the email address of a prospect? I have another client who only gets 50 visitors per month but 30 of those result in data capture or enquiries every month.”

This is why focusing on just ‘visits’ alone is not going to help determine success. So what if you get 50 visitors, 3000 visitors or 100,000 visitors? What is important is whether or not that traffic (visits) is creating opportunities to capture data and then turn into sales.

If we take the same activities as on the above chart and overlay them with more data like ‘number of leads generated’, ‘qualified leads’ and ‘how many leads actually converted into a customer’ we get a much better picture in terms of success and what impact our social media marketing has had on the business.

We can now see the growth in leads generated and which particular campaigns or activities fueled that growth over a period of time. It’s not until 10 months later that we start to see signs of positive impact from our social media activity and campaigns.


Do we see an increase in conversions based on social activity?


If you are asking how I know which activities were attributed to marketing then read this article from our My Digital Insider series: A guide to measuring marketing performance.

Benchmarking for brand awareness

If you are using social media to increase brand awareness then look at benchmarking, measuring and monitoring ‘branded keywords used in search engines’ vs ‘visits generated to the website or blog’. (Branded keywords = people typing in your company name or variations into Google)

The below graph shows you the growth in visits over 11 months to a blog from people searching by branded terms within search engines. There is a clear indication that the number of people searching for that company name is increasing from the same number of terms, currently around the 40 mark which remains constant.

Number of visits generated by branded keywords

Notice in January the spike in the number of people visiting the website from branded terms? That could be because of a new year social media campaign which resulted in lots of buzz for the company. So benchmark how many visits you are generating to your website via branded search terms – those that contain your company name, to give you an idea of whether or not brand awareness is increasing.

Again….Benchmarking today is crucial in order to identify success tomorrow!

So, before you seriously think about creating your company social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or even launch a blog, then I seriously would take a look at where you are today in terms of marketing effectiveness, lead generation and conversions. This allows you to fully understand the impact, change, results, growth and reach that you have generated from your social media plan in 18 months* time. Benchmark the hell out of your marketing and sales activities.

Find out and benchmark:

  • How many visitors do you get per month over a period of 12 months?
  • How many visitors to your website converted into leads over 12 months?
  • How many downloads occurred per month over a 12 month period?
  • What is the average time on site for your website over 12 months?
  • How many pages are viewed over a 12 month period?
  • How many pages rank #1 in Google?
  • How many pages are indexed in Google for your website?
  • How many visitors came to your site via a branded keyword?
  • How many visitors came to your site via a non-branded keyword?
  • How many times has your brand been mentioned online over 12 months?
  • What is your average email marketing open rate?
  • How many people do you have on your mailing list as of today?
  • And the list goes on……

* = Results from marketing on social channels do not appear overnight. It takes time. Times can vary depending on commitment.

If you would like a full marketing audit including a benchmarking exercise then call today on 01908 671707

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

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