Fifty Five and Five

The true value of digital benchmarking

  • Why digital benchmarking is important and why companies should do it
  • The three golden rules for digital benchmarking
  • Tools and platforms to measure and improve your digital marketing
Sports enthusiasts will tell you that the best way to create a winning team is to build a squad of young talent with coaches that know how to get the best out of them. Sports realists, however, will tell you that the most successful clubs bring in the most talented players by paying them increasingly ludicrous amounts of money.

This is no more apparent than in the summer transfer of Paul Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United. The 23-year-old returned to his old club for a fee of £89m—making him the most expensive football player to date and, as is often the case with these kind of monetary deals, sparking large controversy over how a player could possibly be worth so much money. To Manchester United, however—the world’s 5th-most valuable sports team—£90m is a drop in the ocean… especially when that ocean has a net value of ~£2.6 billion.

So, what chance do smaller clubs have of succeeding against such financial behemoths? Well, there is some hope to be found: Moneyball is a book by Michael Lewis that described the Major League Baseball 2002/3 season for the Oakland Athletics. A season which saw the Athletics make a playoff run despite having the 3rd-lowest team salary across the league. Such unexpected success could be credited to the team’s general manager Billy Beane, who ignored traditional analytical methods in his approach to building his squad. Beane favoured the (then-unheard of) sabermetric approach that led the Athletics, with roughly $44m in salary, to compete with teams like the New York Yankees, whose payroll topped $125m in the same season. Moneyball has more recently been heralded as a ‘business bible’; the book’s themes and practices have since transitioned to the enterprise world.

It’s in the details

Billy Beane studied the entirety of MLB player statistics to identify the biggest tell of a player’s potential. By then comparing and contrasting them against others, he could find out who was the best fit for his team. And you should take a similar approach when it comes to digital benchmarking. The Marketing Institute states:

“The power of benchmarking your digital marketing capabilities is that it provides an objective evaluation of your current use of best practices, identifying the gap between where you need to be and where you should be.”

We’ll explore some of the best methods of gathering statistics that can tell you the potential of your digital marketing efforts – the three golden rules of digital benchmarking:

1. You need a control group

Whether competing in sport or business, it’s natural to compare and rate your efforts against yourself and others. If you want to succeed, you need to know how you perform against your peers, and what you need to improve relative to them. A control group offers you something tangible to compare against.

Let’s take deciding on the perfect email subject line, for example. It takes time to know your audience, and so you may have to try out multiple subject lines before finding the right style. But how can you know which lines perform better than others? Using a control group – a section of recipients that would receive the same subject line each month – gives you a baseline to test against. You can compare against the control group to see if your new subject lines are more or less effective.

2. You need the right data

Data is increasingly becoming one of the most valuable currencies in the enterprise; every business is needing to generate or gather data to stay competitive. Because of such competition, there are a number of tools available to help you gather insights and findings. The following are some of the best examples:

Google Analytics

Analyse visitor traffic and paint a picture of your audience. Discover the routes they take and devices they use to reach your site, and track what they do while on there. Reporting features display this in a clear and actionable manner.


MailChimp let’s you build your email campaigns with ease and monitor their effectiveness. Features such as A/B testing and campaign reporting help you get an understanding of what’s drawing your audience in, and what’s getting ignored.

Read our tutorial for more on mastering MailChimp.
Show me more

Twitter Analytics

Given the new-found power of social media, the ability to appreciate your social audience should not go understated. Twitter Analytics help you understand how the content you share on Twitter can grow your business. Month-by-month statistics on the ‘success’ of your tweets and audience insights give you better knowledge of your audience and how best to attract their attention.


Our very own free benchmarking tool, MAYA scores your current marketing efforts based on your blog, website and social presence. MAYA is here to help you better understand your areas of strength and weakness, and how you can improve. Try it out for free and see how you score!

digital benchmarking

3. You need to focus on what isn’t working

Benchmarking is about what isn’t working as much as what is. Acknowledging and celebrating the areas you’re doing well in is good (and certainly encouraged) but even more important is finding the areas you’re not doing so well in.

Yes, it’s harder, and a lot less fun, but real awareness of those areas of improvement is what drives us to be better. Make sure you have a test budget built into your activities so you can keep an eye on where your money is being spent, and which areas are proving to be financially efficient (or inefficient).

Don’t wait to get started

There will be an estimated 4.9 billion email accounts worldwide by 2017, sending and receiving a total of 225 billion emails every single day. So there’s not much doubt that email is still the no. 1 means to contact people online, so a monthly nurturing email list is a must.

With that being said, creating an email campaign is no small feat, and requires consistent and careful planning and execution if you want to see results. For those strapped for time, budget or resources, getting started with MAYA can give you a quick, free and telling insight into your current marketing efforts.

Try Maya and discover the easy way to benchmark.
Show me
Sam Gowing

Sam Gowing

Sam is a writer at Fifty Five and Five. What he doesn't know about SharePoint and Office 365 isn't worth writing about.

Add comment