Performance benchmarking involves tracking a series of metrics that connect back to a brand’s goals for the month, quarter or even the year. These metrics offer a tangible way to measure a brand’s successful consumer outreach efforts and to also identify challenges that need to be reconsidered moving forward. Performance benchmarking offers a way to set standards and hold teams accountable with metrics that every brand should have in place in 2022.
According to Business News Daily, businesses that create and consistently measure against performance benchmarks experience many benefits, including reaching their goals faster. And although some VCs dismiss it as creating “analysis paralysis,” Forbes notes performance benchmarking happens for good reason. “Over time, best practices emerge based on the experience of what actions led to successful outcomes.” And measurable outcomes are the bread and butter of profitable businesses.
It makes sense, as understanding and tracking the performance of your products, service, operations, processes, teams, marketing campaigns and so much more keeps a brand honest. Moving the goalposts is easy to do otherwise and without solid accountability, important goals that could determine a product’s viability (for example) may never be never realized. This puts a company in precarious position, placing luck in the driver’s seat. And no brand wants to take that kind of a risk right now.
But to have solid benchmarks, one must have accurate, real-time intel informing benchmark creation. And there needs to be very clear metrics for measurement to support this effort. Fortunately, we have 8 tactics here that will provide precisely that. Let’s dive in!
1. Monitoring net sentiment shifts over time
Consumers are fickle, and so is the market. A brand or product could be a media darling one moment and fall from grace in an instant due to a variety of factors. A quick way to stay on top of what is happening in your online world is by monitoring your overall summary metrics, including your net sentiment, which can range from -100 to 100.
This offers a baseline against which you can set alerts to watch for spikes or drops in sentiment, mention count or specific words, like “boycott” – which is a sure sign of something wicked headed your way!
2. Share of voice measured against the right competitors
In your category, there are clear leaders commanding the lion’s share of voice. eCommerce retailers can’t hope to compete when measuring share of voice against Amazon, so it doesn’t really tell you much. Brands aren’t spending enough time looking to the left and right in their vertical to watch those who are coming up alongside them or a few steps ahead and behind. Many brands are too ‘eyes forward’ focusing on the golden ring, and in doing so, they miss out on the real opportunities around them that would help get them to that next level.
Keep aspirational competitors on your radar, but watch the landscape around you to identify consumer needs, as there are lucrative ‘consumer needs’ outliers everywhere online, white space opportunities, that are just waiting for an innovative, disruptive brand to pay attention to them.
3. Brand passion for long-term customer relationships
Following share of voice, we have brand passion. Just because someone has a more significant share of voice does not mean they’re generating the same passion you are – and passion converts to sales at a much higher frequency.
It also results in more long-term value. Customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand that inspires an emotional response, than they are otherwise. If your brand is uninspiring and just offers neat sales, you’ll only see consumers that are hard-won each and every time. Whereas brands that nurture their consumer relationships and generate that brand passion can keep customers in their periphery indefinitely, with sales easily enticing them instead of requiring a hard sell again and again.
4. Monitoring quality with crosstab themes
There are a number of quality reporting indicators a brand can track over time and against competitors, by applying themes. For example, when exploring some key online conversations about omicron, general safety and sustainability, we can see how consumers feel about each by sorting for the themes of social responsibility, trust, fear and (the act of) watching each for updates.
Had this been a brand comparison, we could have compared each around price, customer service, quality and so on. There are any number of themes available to apply as a secondary, in-depth layer for performance benchmarking analysis.
5. Tracking both social and news media conversations
The conversation happening on social media and things reported about your brand or in your category can be two very different things. Having a sense of the key terms being talked about in both areas is a way to grab a quick snapshot of the conversation – and brands should consider doing so multiple times each day, to stay on top of both areas. It just requires a quick check, but it’s well worth the effort, particularly if there’s any sort of controversy swirling around you.
6. Influencers’ engagements
Influencers are great to work with and can bring lots of new purchases to your brand, but not all influencers are created equal. It’s important to track your influencers’ engagments over time to ensure they’re actually influential – and remain so. Some can be harmful to your brand, in fact, particularly in our politically divided world.
7. Category patents in progress
Patents are filed all the time and it’s pretty impossible to keep tabs on what is happening in your space without concerted effort. Is your company ideating at same pace as competitors? Should it be? Tracking category patents that are in progress offers key competitive intelligence on many fronts. It’s a performance benchmark that many companies fail to consider and find themselves caught off guard. Our Patents dataset will keep you ahead of emerging trends in this area.
8. Reach beyond vague metrics
Reach can be vague, but use it in context of other benchmarking stats, like engagement, to obtain a better understanding of what it tells you. Watching your “reach” climb into the millions or even billions can be both a shocking and heady experience for any brand. It shows the potential for your content to get in front of a much wider audience than you’d probably ever anticipate.
Understanding who is engaging, where and why (as detailed in other items above) offers crucial context that reveals emerging trends, influencers or potential trouble to either get ahead of or amplify. And it’s all super valuable intel to have at your fingertips in real-time.
If your brand is hoping to hit the ground running in 2022, which should be top of mind for every brand in this fluid online environment we all face – be sure to reach out for a demo. There are categories out there to conquer and we want you to be on top!