I’m sitting on a train to London. The hills are rolling by and it’s a dreary day, with a pinky, orange hue over the grey clouds. I’m sitting in a backward facing seat which isn’t my favourite thing.
I’m off to run a workshop on benchmarking and forecasting marketing performance with a client so they can accurately predict marketing performance based on fact, rather than a finger in the air…
In the time we’ve been working with them, they’ve come a long way. Only six months ago, their key objective was driving website traffic (because naturally more conversions will happen, right?!).
Things are different now. We’ve tipped metrics on their head and now conversions are king. But they have to be the right conversions, not any old conversion.
Students, small business and those outside the target geographies are all out. There are now strict controls over quality and those deemed not to be MQLs are off the list.
The change is striking.
What’s more, we need to know what’s converting (conversion point) from which channel so we can accurately forecast what we’ll be able to deliver in the coming months and years.
This client is not the only business that works in this way. All too often we have meetings with prospects who are working in a similar way.
With change comes a little more complexity
I’m lucky because the client team are enthusiastic, want to learn and are actively driving forward the changes. That makes my life nice and easy, but it also ensures they can push forward to the next level even quicker – which is great.
So, why benchmark?
So you can improve, of course! And you can find out if the work you’re doing is performing as expected.
In our client workshop, we looked at ‘business as usual’ (BAU) performance from digital channels, including how each channel delivers conversions, conversion to MQL, and cost per conversion.
We also looked at campaign performance, to establish the difference between how a campaign up-weights volume of conversions and BAU activity.
As marketers, you need a good run rate of BAU, and campaigns should up-weight the conversion targets so you can deliver the required lead volume.
The first port of call… past marketing performance
To determine what you’re going to deliver, you first need to know how you’re currently performing.
When was the last time you looked at your marketing performance to establish your current conversion rate? Most businesses rarely do it, and if the prospects I’m talking to are anything to go by, the answer would be never.
Past performance is the baseline of your benchmark. Go back and look at your conversion rates from each channel to get an understanding of what your future activities will deliver.
In the workshop, we went through all channels: direct, referral, paid search, organic search, social and email – looking at volume in and conversion rate.
But a conversion is not an MQL and as a marketing department, that’s what we need to deliver.
There’s still work to do
Now we need to establish the website conversion rate to MQL against our strict criteria – ideally by channel.
When you compare to industry benchmarks too, you can see where you’re doing well and where you have an opportunity to optimise.
A simple example from today is that the email open rate for BAU emails is just 9.3%. With some data hygiene and subject line tests, we could improve this dramatically – and on a dataset of 10,000, we could significantly improve our conversion rate to MQL.
Bear in mind that email conversion rate on the website is almost 20% and the lead quality is good. Therefore to increase our MQL volume, this is the natural place to start.
Without the tracking in place, we wouldn’t know this. The data isn’t just in one place – it’s buried in different platforms and presented in different formats.
To benchmark accurately and understand your performance, you need to gather the right data and analyse it regularly.
It’s not an overnight fix – but one that takes time and effort. If you’d like to discuss, feel free to drop me a note.
For more on the metrics that matter, why not take a look at our Director’s Guide on the topic? It goes far deeper into metrics than just benchmarking.