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Share Google Analytics Benchmarking with Clients to Help Design Marketing Campaigns

Published November 3, 2014
Your agency just delivered a killer digital marketing campaign for your newest client. Website traffic is up, conversions are up, and you are feeling pretty good about your work. However, when you share the results with your client, they have only one question – “How does this compare with other companies like us?”
Google Analytics Benchmarking can help you answer that question. Recently re-introduced by Google, Benchmark reports help marketers get a better grasp of how they stand against others in their industries. By sharing this data with clients, you can help them understand where they stand and work with them to craft more strategic marketing campaigns.

image of ruler to represent google analytics benchmarking

Benchmark by Industry

When benchmarking your client’s website, consider their industry and any statistics that relate specifically to their business model. Then, think about specific metrics that will help them understand how they are positioned in that industry. Engagement metrics, which are included in the Google Analytics Benchmarking reports (Audience > Benchmarking), can readily be compared against similar websites within a specified industry.

Note that in order to view benchmark reports you will need to choose to share your own website data anonymously with Google. To see if you have enabled this setting, navigate to Audience > Benchmarking > Channels from the main Google Analytics Reporting screen. If you have not yet enabled the setting, you will see the following message.

enabling benchmarking in Google Analytics

Click “Update your data sharing settings” to go to the appropriate admin page. Once there, select the box to share “Anonymously with Google and Others.” Once you’ve saved your settings, you should soon see data in the Benchmarking section.

share data with Google to enable benchmarking

Within the Benchmarking reports, you can compare data broken down by channels, location or devices. In the following example, we show a report for a private school. We have selected the most relevant category, Primary & Secondary Schooling, and limited comparison to sites within the United States. In addition, we are comparing data to other sites with an average of 100-500 sessions per day, although this site ranks in the higher end of that bucket. The data in the report breaks down sessions by channel to provide a better picture of how other sites see their traffic allocated.

In this example, we see our site compares favorably organically, with more than twice the organic traffic as others in the same niche. However, we note slightly fewer sessions from referrals and significantly fewer from social media. From this report, we would encourage the client to invest in planning and executing a thorough social strategy.

Here, that may entail more frequent promotion of events happening, linking back to the website when relevant. In addition, they can promote open houses and times for prospective students to visit, encouraging people who are already connected with the school to share with their friends.

In addition to low social referrals, we note engagement suffers compared to similar sites across the board. This data helps to guide us in answering all-too-common questions like “What’s a good bounce rate?” While no perfect answer exists for such questions, showing benchmarked data against others in the client’s industry can help show your client’s website engagement is below or above average.

Also, depending on the data available for your client’s industry, you can compare data in specific countries or states to see average performance by market region. This information can prove helpful for businesses targeting different areas around the country or world. You could compare the performance of different regions, using the dropdown under Country/Region, to see which states or countries rank the best in performance and which areas you may want to focus on improving. In addition, you could identify new areas to focus market expansion.

sample benchmark report in google analytics

Research Competitors

Based on the data gleaned from a Benchmarks report, identify what channels you most need to analyze for a client’s competitors. For instance, if you see your client ranks low in social performance, take some time to look at what competitors are doing on social media to see what you can learn from their efforts – good and bad.

To do this, you’ll first need to identify your client’s main in-market competitors. Your in-market competitors are the businesses that offer similar services to the same customers at similar prices. Most clients will have a very good idea of who their in-market competitors are – they are the names and faces they routinely compete with over business.

You should also spend time looking at in-direct competitors. This includes businesses that may not meet the criteria for being an in-market competitor, but that show up prominently in organic and paid search for similar terms. They are competing for attention.

Once identified, spend time looking up where those competitors engage on the web. Look through their websites, but also look for social channels where they are active. Answer questions that show how they strategize to drive their brands through social media:

  • What social networks do they use?
  • What does their engagement on these networks look like?
  • What types of content do they post most frequently? Blog articles, videos, photos?
  • What topics of content do they post most frequently?
  • How are they driving people back to their websites through social networks?
  • How do they encourage conversation with their customers?

If paid search shows up as a significant portion of an industry’s channels, research further to see how competitors are marketing themselves through Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Perhaps, based on the benchmarks report, you see your paid search traffic shows a much higher bounce rate than others in your industry. Perform a few searches and look through competitor landing pages to see what tactics they are using to keep people on their sites and convert them.

  • What calls to action are they using?
  • How many calls to action are they using?
  • What customer pain point are they focusing on? What is the messaging?
  • What trust elements are on the page?
  • How does the design of their landing pages compare to your own?

In addition, a competitor analysis tool like SEMrush can give you an idea of what keywords are being targeted, so you can compare to your own campaigns in AdWords.

If you notice your engagement and traffic levels from organic search are below average in the benchmark report, take a deeper dive into your organic stats to determine why organic search is not working as well as it could for you. See our post on Showcasing Organic Traffic Results for some reports that can help provide a thorough picture of your organic traffic, engagement and conversions.

Ultimately, of course, the data in benchmark reports should not completely mandate your areas of primary focus but should serve to guide what channels you should focus on improving. In addition, low engagement compared to others in your industry can help serve as a red flag to focus on improving user experience on your site and better focus content toward your customers.

Conclusion

Benchmark reports in Google Analytics will help to provide a picture of how clients stand against their competitors. These reports can help to answer questions about how well organic search is working compared to how it “should be,” or how social referrals stand when compared to others in similar niches. By understanding and presenting this data to clients, you can help them develop marketing strategies that take into account how they can differentiate themselves from competitors.

ALSO IN THIS BLOG

When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:

 

 

It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.