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Competitive Benchmarking

Competitor Benchmarking: What It Is and Why It Is Important

Jess Smith

Mar 17, 2022

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The best way to enable your marketing team to outperform is to create a line of sight across your department, that informs content and campaign strategy. Monthly reports combining search traffic, web visits, news and editorial, social, and ad spend performance do just this. Take a look at our Digital Marketing Insight Reports, the newest solution for automating reporting of your Marketing internally and benchmarking against the competition.

How does your brand stack up against the competition? While it’s essential to track your PR & marketing ROI, you also need to monitor and perform a comparison of your competitors’ progress just as closely. 

Table of Contents

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is the practice of comparing your performance to the industry standards and metrics from other companies. You can choose to benchmark your performance against your industry, competitors, or your own past performance.

If you’re not benchmarking your progress against your competitors’ results or industry, then you risk being left behind. For example, you could fail to know about a competitor’s newest game-changing product launch, continue to overspend on a marketing channel, or even miss a major shift in your industry. 

In today’s world, there is a wealth of information available to help you understand your position in the market, and where you can improve your messaging as a marketer. Our automated reports provide access to this information all in one place, allowing you to filter competitive data and use key figures to see how you stack up against the competition. 

A screenshot from the Meltwater platform that shows how Tesla compares in media exposure, sentiment and other metrics against key competitors

9 Benefits of Competitive Benchmarking

1. Get an Objective View of Your Organization

Most marketers have a good idea of their brand’s position in the marketplace. But marketers can sometimes be too close to the situation. It’s better to back up your own understanding of your market position with data. That’s exactly what benchmarking aims to do. Get an unbiased look at how you stack up in the market, regardless of how great you think your product or service is.

2. Increase Sales and Revenue

As you uncover new opportunities to improve, your sales and revenue should get a boost, too. That’s the whole point of making improvements, right? You want to create a product that’s better than what your competitors offer. When you do, you’ll be able to capture more of the market as well as retain existing customers so they don’t go to a competitor. Improvements are likely to lead to more sales, greater customer satisfaction, increased referrals, and even more media coverage.

3. Keep Track of Competitors

You might have an edge over your competitors for now. But what happens if they start gaining on you? What about when new competitors enter the arena? Or a competitor shifts course completely? 

While you might not follow suit, it is a good idea to keep tabs on what your competitors are doing. If they’re growing faster than you, getting more media opportunities, have stellar content marketing performance, or are otherwise besting you in certain areas, that’s a sign you might need to up your game.

Benchmarking data helps you find ways to improve your brand’s position in the market. This has become more important than ever over the last few years, given how quickly market conditions can change. With ongoing benchmarking, brands can stay on top of trends that might upend their current position and give them more time to react. 

Case in point: the global pandemic. Marketers threw their strategies out the window as lockdowns took place and supply chains were turned on their heads. They had to adapt their messaging, content, and offers quickly to cater to a new normal. This is an extreme example, of course, but it does underscore the fact that marketers need to be prepared for the unexpected. The sooner you can see new challenges coming, the more quickly and fluidly you can adapt (ideally before your competitors do!).

5. React More Quickly to Market Shifts

Aside from trends, market shifts happen that can create new opportunities for brands to grow. Fads and trends come and go, consumer preferences change, and things become popular in different markets all the time. These shifts can help you connect to new audiences that weren’t on your radar before. 

6. Improve the Overall Company Culture

Competitive benchmarking not only helps companies find areas for improvement, but also encourages them to take action. It shows you’re committed to keeping the company moving forward, which can help instill confidence among your employees. Helping to future-proof your company increases employee happiness and well-being, productivity, and a desire to continuously improve.

7. Identify Opportunities for Improvement

As the old saying goes, when there are two businesses just alike, one is not necessary. Every organization has strengths and weaknesses. Learning about your competitors’ weaknesses can help you identify gaps in their strategy that you might fill with your own products and services. And knowing their strengths can encourage you to improve on your own offering. 

And naturally, you’ll want to know about the same areas in your own company. Improving your weaknesses and building on your strengths can help your company keep growing and maintain an edge over competitors. 

8. Spur New Ideas and Innovation

As you uncover new strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities, new ideas and innovation become natural byproducts. 

Staying in tune with competitors can help you come up with ideas to improve and innovate, often in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Stay positioned for success at all times, even if you don’t always know what success will look like. It can at least point you in the right direction when you notice your competitors are doing something differently.

9. Avoid Becoming Obsolete

The effect of not innovating can be devastating for a company. It could mean letting your competitors take the lead in the market. Or worse, you might end up edged out altogether. 

Take Polaroid, for instance. The company was once the gold standard in instant film photography. But digital technology eventually took over, rendering Polaroid products nearly obsolete. Consumers’ penchant for vintage technology and film in recent years has led to a resurgence for Polaroid, but not before the brand suffered serious damage due to failure to innovate.

Other brands haven’t been so lucky. Kodak, Nokia, and Blockbuster have all nearly gone the way of the buffalo because they couldn’t keep up with the times. 

What Are Different Types of Benchmarking?

There are of course a variety of benchmarking types:

  • Internal Benchmarking
  • Aspirational Benchmarking
  • Strategic Benchmarking
  • Competitive Benchmarking

As we are looking at ways you can win across Earned Media, Owned Media, Paid Media, and Social Media we will look at the latter; Competitive Benchmarking.

Benchmarking Examples

Industry benchmarks are key to understanding how your performance aligns with the industry as a whole but it can also tell you where you excel and what needs improvement. Where can you find industry benchmark information? We've collated some resources as benchmarking examples below:

Why Do You Need to Monitor Your Competitors?

Put simply – to win! If you aren’t already doing this process, it should be at the top of your to-do list. Monitoring the competition can help you ensure that your campaigns are going to stand out in a crowded industry and/or resonate with your customers. Also your competitors could be monitoring you already!

And one of the easiest ways to win is to remain more cost-effective than others in the industry. When deploying your hard-won marketing budgets across ad spend, content creation, and third party syndication efforts, you need to be as efficient as possible—and the benchmarking process can help with that.

For instance, many digital marketing channels run on a bid-based platform, meaning marketers must have the highest bid on a certain keyword or audience for their ad to be shown first (or at all). Using competitive intelligence you can determine the keywords your competitors are bidding against (or are not) to improve your PPC bidding strategy. 

can automate the process of competitor benchmarking so that you can spend time improving the efficiency of your campaigns, and much more.

What Metrics Should You Benchmark?

If you already measure competitor benchmarking but it needs some improvement, have a look at what metrics you are currently using and which ones are effective. This will give you a great starting point to begin the benchmarking process. If you are starting from scratch however, there are numerous metrics that you could use to identify how your company is fairing against the competition. On social media, you might consider these benchmarking metrics:

  • average post reach
  • share of voice
  • average post engagement rates
  • total followers
  • post frequency
competitive dashboard reporting competitive benchmarking

When it comes to website performance, you may want to track the number of keywords each competitor ranks for and the total number of backlinks to each of their websites. The list goes on, but our Marketing Reports highlight four key areas: Earned Media, Owned Media, Paid Media, and Social Media. So, that’s what we’ll discuss here. 

The commonality between each segment here is that each of these areas helps you understand your financial efficiency. When comparing your media spend, you can easily spot gaps in ROI by channel and stay on your toes when planning for the future. When finalizing your content schedule, you can move forward with certainty that what you are planning to publish is relevant. When reaching out to third party publications for syndication, it’s important to understand which outlet will yield the most traffic. 

Benchmarking software is a necessity, and while most marketers in leadership roles receive drip-fed reports from a number of sources, having a clear line of sight across these four key areas of Digital Marketing analyzed and packaged into a digestible monthly report can be invaluable.

Tip: Use the Meltwater Media Intelligence Suite for automating your competitor benchmarking.

Benchmark Earned Media Performance

Earned media, otherwise known as referral media, is when a blogger decides to review your product, the press mentions your brand or a customer tags your product on social media without being paid or prompted. 

If an article, blog, or social media post mentions your brand and includes a direct link to your company’s website, you're gaining valuable exposure. And, more traffic could mean more inbound leads to your business. 

So, you should consider tracking which websites are mentioning your challengers. Why? Well, if you notice your top competitor is receiving a lot of traffic from being featured on a specific blog and strike a deal to be featured there yourself, chances are you will steal some of that traffic for your business. 

Meltwater's Automated Monthly Marketing Reports can break down where you and your competitors are being featured online, including which outlets provide the most traffic back to your website.

Benchmark Owned Media Performance

Organic traffic driven to your website primarily through search engines is known as owned media. When marketers think about how to improve their search engine optimization (SEO), they immediately begin evaluating which keywords to include on web pages to ensure they match the most frequently searched terms. 

Meltwater's Reporting capabilities provide monthly updates with the keywords that drive the most traffic through organic searches and empower you to keep your website up-to-date with the latest trends.

Benchmark Paid Media Performance

Pay-per-click (PPC) is used to describe ads for which your business is charged by the click. For example, publishing an ad on LinkedIn or through Google Ads requires you to bid on clicks using a monetary rate at which you value each inbound lead. PPC is always top of mind for any marketing leader. Before you spend any money on clicks (potential leads), you must determine who to target. Often times, you are given the option to bid on an audience, demographic, or keyword. Getting the most up-to-date information on where your competitor’s dollars are going can ensure that you find the keywords with the lowest cost-per-click (CPC) and highest search volume. Thus, improving your bidding strategy. 

Our Digital Marketing Insight Reports allow you to view ad spend amongst your competitors and determine where to invest, ensuring that you are saving money, and bringing as many leads to your sales team as possible.

Benchmark Social Media Performance

Monitoring the social media performance and presence of your competition is key to understanding how they are able to grow their digital following, what social media influencers they may be working with, and what social media networks they are active on. 

Monitoring your competitor’s social media activity with the benchmarking process can also help you identify what type of content might resonate with your own followers. 

With our Marketing Insight Reports, you can identify the tweets with links that are directly affecting the traffic arriving at your site. Then, you can use this data to quickly identify the influencers directing traffic, so your team can engage the conversation where it matters most. Then, you can compare conversation size per platform to determine where your ad dollars are best spent so your team can take the lead in audience engagement and sentiment.

Social media on a mobile phone

How to Perform a Competitive Benchmarking Analysis

With the above benefits in mind, let’s look at some simple steps you can take to start doing competitive benchmarking:

Define Clear Goals and Objectives

Knowing why you’re benchmarking matters just as much as the process itself. Start by writing down your objectives, which will help to guide the process.

Make a List of Your Competitors

To benchmark your competitors, you need to know who your real competitors are. These will be direct competitors (those who have a similar product and directly compete for your audience) and indirect competitors (those who share your audience but don’t necessarily offer a comparable product). 

If you’re not sure who your top competitors are, doing a quick Google search for what you sell and see who pops up. From there, you can do some digging to see who their audience is, their company size, and other details and take it from there.

Establish Benchmarking Metrics

Benchmarking metrics help you focus on the right data to measure. This might be sales, content marketing engagement, media mentions, share of voice, website traffic, SEO, customer satisfaction scores, customer churn, or any number of things that indicate your competitors’ success. Tie your metrics back to your objectives. There are lots of things you can measure, but which metrics will help you achieve your initial objectives? 

Collect Benchmarking Data

Once you know the data you want to collect, it’s a matter of putting all of your groundwork into motion. Use competitive benchmarking tools like the to learn more about your competitors using real-time data to save manual hours and effort.

Don’t forget: you’ll need to collect data on your own company to have something to compare competitor data to. Competitor analysis tools help you get the right findings.

Analyze Your Results

After you collect the right data, start comparing it to your own standings. Do a SWOT analysis to see where your best opportunities lie, then develop an action plan for improvement.

Refine and Repeat

Competitive benchmarking value grows over time. You’ll learn more about your competitors and how they evolve, as well as see how your own performance changes over time.

It's Time to Start Benchmarking

Competition is inevitable. How you learn from it can make or break your business. Often the best insights come from outside the walls of your own office, and with Meltwater’s Digital Marketing Insight Reports software you can make sure you are benchmarking yourself against the competition in these four key areas to stay sharp on top of the pack. Interested in seeing how you rank? Receive a demo!