One of the most common questions we receive from our digital marketing clients is \u201cHow do I know whether I\u2019m getting a return on investment for my digital marketing efforts?\u201d The answer is benchmarking. Benchmarking is a research tactic that helps you evaluate your business\u2019 current capabilities against competitors, and in turn, identify new opportunities or areas for improvement. It essentially helps you find the gaps between where your business is now and where you want it to be several years from now. When applied to your company\u2019s digital marketing efforts, benchmarking is critical for accurately tracking and measuring the success of your SEO and CRO strategies and even your email and social media campaigns. Let\u2019s walk through how to get started with benchmarking your digital marketing strategy. 1. Establish your digital marketing goals Before you begin researching your competitors and benchmarking yourself against them, you must first define your own company\u2019s goals. To ensure you\u2019re drawing data-driven conclusions from the benchmarking process, it\u2019s critical for these goals to be as specific and quantifiable as possible. There are several things you can focus your benchmarking on, including: Your baseline digital marketing capabilities Organic search rankings Paid search rankings Email marketing engagement Social media engagement 2. Compile a list of competitor brands Once you\u2019ve set your goals, it\u2019s now time to gather up a list of brands to compare yourself against. In most cases, these will be direct competitors in your industry, but you can also choose brands in adjacent industries that only indirectly compete with you. Depending on your industry, it may be difficult to narrow down the most important ones to focus on, so here are three questions you should ask yourself when creating this list: Are we leveraging the same marketing channels? Are we targeting the same audiences and keywords? Are we working within similar budget scopes? The point about budget scope, in particular, helps you weed out companies that are working with significantly more resources. While the marketing strategies of big brands like Apple, Google, or Coca Cola can certainly be aspirational, companies with billion-dollar marketing budgets should not be considered \u201ccompetitors\u201d in your benchmarking analysis (unless you also have a billion-dollar marketing budget!). 3. Conduct a competitor analysis The next step is to put together a competitor analysis that identifies the various strengths and weaknesses of both your business and your competitors. If improving your organic search rankings is one of your goals, you\u2019ll want to compare how your brand and your competitors perform for specific high-priority keywords. You can also compare your paid search traffic to determine how effective your advertising budget. 4. Develop actionable strategies for improvement Remember the goals that you set at the beginning of the process? It\u2019s now time to forge the path to meeting those goals using the data you\u2019ve uncovered from your competitor analyses. If one of your goals was to rank higher for a select few high-priority keywords, your competitor analysis can reveal which of those keywords may be more immediately attainable and which will require more extensive legwork. 5. Set up tracking to monitor your ROI Benchmarking is not a \u201cone and done\u201d strategy \u2014 it\u2019s a process that must be continually revisited and evaluated. The easiest way to monitor the results of your benchmarking efforts is to implement tracking for the goals you've set. Tracking your ROI can be accomplished easily with Google Tag Manager, but there are also other tools that let you dig even deeper with mouse tracking and heat mapping. Are you making data-driven decisions? Leveraging the power of benchmarking allows you to identify new opportunities, understand the needs of your customers, and accurately monitor the efficacy of your strategy. As a result, you can feel confident making data-driven decisions about the direction of your digital marketing efforts. It's time to get serious about benchmarking. Contact us today to learn more about our digital marketing services.