How to Keep Up with Competitive Benchmarking

Niraj Sharma |
 08/11/21 |
6 min read

How to Keep Up with Competitive Benchmarking

There are many moving parts to tracking how your brand is performing across every type of media. When we add tracking our competitors into the mix, it can feel downright overwhelming. But that doesn’t have to be the case!

That’s because it’s all about your mindset going in. Finding a foothold in competitive intelligence that gives you the broadest view of competitor performance is where you begin – and then you build out from there.

Any new endeavor can quickly choke in the weeds without the right vision. And it’s super easy to do with competitive benchmarking because there are so many competitors you could track, and there’s a never-ending number of insights you could potentially pour over. Knowing this, we’ll speak to getting a solid start in competitive benchmarking with a look at:

  • Getting started with competitive benchmarking
  • Tracking competition to hone your strategy
  • Competitive benchmarking over time

Competition is stiff these days, so getting a grip on your competitive benchmarking can’t help but shed insight into how you operate your brand. Here are a few stats we uncovered which show that other brands are feeling the competitive pinch:

  • More than ever, brands are seeking an understanding of competitive benchmarking and how to implement it successfully. As such, 73% of brands allocate 20% of their technology budgets towards data analytics-based research. Not only that, 94% of businesses have plans in place to invest more into their competitive benchmarking
  • 61% of brands say they’ve seen positive impacts to their revenue by implementing competitive benchmarking strategies into their market research. That’s a notable increase from last year’s numbers which stood at 52%.
  • Speaking to why competitive benchmarking is critical for your brand, 48% of respondents to a survey released last year said their industry has become much more competitive in the past three years. 41% said theirs was somewhat more competitive.

If competitive benchmarking seems like a lot to get your head around – in addition to your brand monitoring, it doesn’t have to be guns blazing out of the gates. Slow and steady wins the race.

Getting Started with Competitive Benchmarking

First, there’s no reason to lose another night’s sleep wondering what the competition is doing. Media analytics tools are fully capable of opening the blinds on consumer perception. But you need to know where to begin.

Trying to capture everything on all your competitors is a daunting task – and a recipe for burnout if you’re just starting. Start with your main competitor and narrow your insights to capture benchmarks that give you the most bang for your buck.

For instance, understanding net sentiment surrounding your competition’s media traction sheds light on consumer perception and gives you solid ground to track progress into the future. That way, you know how different media groups such as news networks and social media users feel about your closest competitor.

Understanding sentiment is critical and is scored on a scale of -100 to 100. Even if you choose one or two close competitors to keep track of, you’ll at least you’ll know where you stand in relation. It’s a great place to start.

For instance, here, we can see the conversational movement in July for a top athletic brand. Knowing their mentions are at 474k and their net sentiment stands at 55% shows where they are concerning your metrics. That alone lets you know whether you’re playing offense or defense.


Tracking Competition to Hone Your Strategy

Let’s be honest, there’s no end to competitors you can track. But starting with manageable competitive benchmarks sets the tone from which you can build your strategy. That’s not to say that you don’t want an overall goal in mind – but staying manageable is the key.

In the long run, it’d be beneficial to keep an eye on critical metrics with all your closest competitors, some up-and-comers, and a few that are still a little out of your league. However, getting the basics down on one or two allows you to track your competition while honing your strategy. You can always expand later.

You can track any of the metrics you’d do in your brand audit, so figuring out the ones that really impact your brand the most is a great place to start. We mentioned net sentiment earlier, which gives you an overall temperature check of how media and consumers respond to a competitor. But there are many other aspects you can go after as it suits your brand.

Whether you are tracking authors – like key opinion leaders or influencers garnering the most traction with your competitor’s audience or uncovering geo locations where your competition is owning it – you need to know.

Beginning your competitive intelligence in the place that gives you the most leverage is the key. Starting where your competitors get the biggest hits will usually give you the most bang for your buck.

Competitive benchmarks are the numbers behind how the competition is performing in the media. So, knowing how much volume they are getting is great. Or you can look at traction via social media shares. Anything that tells you how the competition is performing is intel that your brand can act on.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you want to focus on the volume of social media mentions a close competitor is getting every month. That is a benchmark and lets you know where you stand in relation. It’s not a hard thing to do, nor is it overwhelming. It’s one thing.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with adding that one competitive benchmark to your mix of brand analytics, it’s like putting on a pair of shoes – you do it without thinking. And that’s how you want to approach competitive benchmarking over time. Keep it simple and add to it as you see fit.

Competitive Benchmarking Over Time

In a perfect world with unlimited budgets, brands could spend all the time they want on competitive intelligence. But we don’t live in that world which is why it’s critical to stay focused on the competitive benchmarks that yield your highest return on investment.

Choosing the brands and benchmarks you want to track takes focus, but the dividends are immense. Starting small ensures you don’t get overwhelmed and quit. Staying the course is the idea.

Even if you just choose a few choice benchmarks like net sentiment, demographics, and authors and keep tabs with them over time, your insight into the competition will be light years beyond tracking sales figures and earnings calls. You begin to get into the heart of the consumer. Doing so sheds light on the needs and wants of potential consumers and why they are choosing a competitor over your brand.

For instance, here are two top CPG brands side by side using benchmarks for demographics along with the general population on Twitter. You can see straight away that brand one is heavily favored on Twitter but lagging brand two with Gen Z’rs and Millennials. That’s vital intel to have!


Every little bit of consumer intel helps your brand shape its strategy. But the real key to brand success here is dialing into the metrics that matter – and tracking them over time. That’s because keeping an eye on competitive benchmarks over time helps you to understand better where “normal” is.

So, if a competitor has had a big campaign during something like Pride Month, their metrics might trend a lot higher than usual. Taking the temperature of the brands you want to track on a regular basis lets you know where you stand in relation – and with the most precision.

For instance, if we wanted to capture the volume of a competitor in news media articles in the UK over a year, we’d end up with a timeline colored by sentiment that looks like this:


As you can see in the above graphic, sentiment and volume can change a lot over time. Dialing into the most interesting metrics to your brand and following them regularly takes your competitive benchmarking to the next level. As we mentioned, it shows you where your competition stands so you can adjust your strategy and win share of voice.

And it’s important to note that competitive benchmarking doesn’t need to be a crazy undertaking to be effective. Starting with a reasonable number of brands and critical metrics lets you get a feel for brand tracking with media analytics. Keeping a practical focus allows you the freedom to continue tracking these competitive benchmarks over time – that’s the goal.

Are you ready to level up your competitive benchmarking? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how world-class media analytics tools can help you stand head and shoulders above the competition!

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