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The Role of Competitive Benchmarking in Your Marketing Strategy

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There is a proverb that says, “Iron sharpens iron.” If so, no one can help you hone your business quite like your toughest competitors. Competition improves your business by compelling you to boost your relevance, reputation, and innovation.

Competitive benchmarking is an avenue to check how your business is doing. Use others’ successes and failures to see how you measure up within your market.

​Let’s dive into using competitive benchmarking in your marketing strategy.

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Benchmarking vs Competitive Analysis

Comparison doesn’t have to be the thief of joy when you use it to motivate and inspire your business. Competitive benchmarking sounds a lot like a competitive analysis. While the two make a beautiful pair, they have their differences.

Benchmarking helps measure your processes, products, and services against other industry leaders. It’s like getting a health screening and finding out how your stats, like your blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, rank compared to healthy or expected ranges.

Benchmarking helps you see where you stand in your industry. You could compare your customer service, production line speed, or your cost margins to others. Once you understand your rank within your market, you can set development goals to help take your business to new heights.

While a competitive analysis typically goes hand-in-hand with benchmarking, there is a major difference. A competitive analysis is a deeper look at your competitors and their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in numerous areas, like their sales funnels, customer engagement strategies, products, and sales margins.

While benchmarking is like comparing your health to the norm, competitive analysis is more like examining exactly how your competitor stays as healthy as they do.

​By comparing yourself to your rivals, you can differentiate yourself from them. Additionally, you can use their stellar performance to inspire your growth goals.

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Benchmark Types

Various benchmarking types exist, but most marketers agree on the two core types:

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1. Internal Benchmarking

This looks within your team to compare one department to another. Businesses often use it to share in-house best practices.

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2. External Benchmarking

Sometimes called “competitive benchmarking,” this compares business performance to that of other companies.

Both types can get more specific, with insights into a company’s strategies, processes, or performance.

​In functional benchmarking (not a core type), a company learns from the best practices of leading performers in any industry, not just their own. It produces inspiration from unrelated sectors.

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Strategies to Gain Insights from Your Competitors

Now that you understand the difference between benchmarking and doing a competitor analysis and know the benchmarks you can aim for, here are a couple of quick tips on how to check out what your competitors are doing:

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Buy Research Tools

You can purchase software to help you. Paying for research tools could save you time and money in the long run.

​A robust research tool can help you search competitor keywords, conduct site audits, research backlinks, scrutinize ad campaigns, and more. Many of these tools can also help you get a better look at your own marketing funnels and website to better compare your findings.

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Look Them Up and Visit Their Websites

Type a competitor’s company name into search engines. Notice what paid ads pop up. (Refer to your paid research tools if there are none.)

Document their ads using your device’s screenshot function. Then, click on the ads to visit their landing pages. Try to take note of everything, from their layout to the structure of each ad campaign.

​Additionally, visit your competitors’ websites. Browse the product and service pages to learn how they retarget customers who don’t purchase. Document the retargeting ads you receive through your social media pages, email inbox, and throughout the web.

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Take the Customer Journey

Go down your competitors’ sales funnels to purchase their products or services. Look at their landing pages, lead magnets, payment gateways and forms, email messages, etc. This is one of the easiest ways to discover their customers’ user experience (UX).

​When checking out the ease of their sales funnel, ask yourself other questions, like:

  • How straightforward is their buying process?
  • Do they have compelling sales copy?
  • Are their marketing messages and sales goals aligned?
  • What are their price points, downsells, and upsells like? Do their pricing strategies make sense for them? Would they make sense for my business?
  • How is their after-sales service? Do they reach out for feedback or relationship-building?
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Benchmarking Benefits

The Beach Boys had The Beatles in the music of their time. In tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had each other. In golf, it was Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. And how about the heydays of Larry Byrd and Magic Johnson?

History is full of competitors who spurred each other on, albeit unintentionally most times, to more remarkable achievements. That could be you and your competitors, too, if you recognize what they’re doing well and how you can implement similar (or better) strategies.

​Benchmarking is like a treasure map showing you several paths to achievement, compelling you to look beyond your processes and aspire to what industry leaders are doing. If you decide to go on the hunt, you may improve your business by:

  • Getting a clearer picture of where you stand and where you can go.
  • Identifying areas for improvement.
  • Adopting a continuous improvement culture.
  • Setting wiser goals.
  • Discovering performance gaps.
  • Refining your customer service.
  • Boosting employee satisfaction.
  • Producing sound, strategic decisions.
  • Monitoring your progression.

You can begin a comprehensive competitor benchmarking analysis anytime. If you haven’t already, start today.

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Continuous Improvement

Benchmarking shines a light on the achievements of top performers. It keeps you in a loop of continuous improvement for your marketing strategy, which is right where you need to stay to improve your chances of business success.

​Benchmarking provides anecdotal evidence that what another company is doing right in marketing could work for you, too. As with everything, what your competitors are doing may not give you a competitive edge. Weigh your findings against what you know about your business and target audience.

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