Setting Marketing Benchmarks in Emerging Channels

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The right marketing benchmarks are critical to campaign success (Photo credit: Aliaksei Ramanouski on Unsplash)

Setting marketing benchmarks is a necessary step to drive a business towards success. Strategic benchmarks also provide an opportunity to pause and reflect on progress, ideate on the next phase of growth and brainstorm solutions to remedy any problem areas. But these sessions of reflection will only amount to improvement if the benchmarks are set correctly in the first place.

As the media landscape evolves and new marketing formats enter the fray, tried-and-true methods of benchmarking may not be as reliable. When these formats offer a potentially lucrative revenue stream – and when competitors begin to experiment with them – the first instinct may be to jump in immediately. However, you must take the time to calculate the potential risk and reward of an emerging marketing format, then define benchmarks of success unique to your business.

A prime of an emerging channel in the U.S. market is livestream commerce, where retailers, creators and brand personalities host shoppable livestreams, which is just beginning to pick up steam. Meanwhile, it’s an ecommerce mainstay in Asia; in China alone, the market will reach $625 billion this year. Another example is the metaverse, which we consider an emerging channel because it’s a completely new invention, largely still conceptual despite the billions invested in its development.

No matter which new marketing path you’re about to tread, deciding which marketing benchmarks to use and how best to measure them will be instrumental in ensuring that campaigns are successful and forays into new marketing strategies bear fruit.

Choosing the Right Benchmarks: What is “Meaningful?”

Some marketing benchmarks are simply no brainers. Reach, return on ad spend and number of customers acquired are common metrics for any marketing channel, from social media to website ads and everything in between. Compare across platforms, and they can show where your audience is converting, what engages them and how your company can optimize every touchpoint.  Retailers, for one, have been able to prove the success of adopting a new marketing strategy like livestream commerce by closely comparing conversion among channels.

More granular benchmarks – such as demographic data, specific items sold, order value, order frequency and rewards program signups – will vary in utility when it comes to determining the success of a new marketing channel.

Adjustments must also be made for your team’s familiarity with the format, as well as its popularity among your brand’s target audience. The benchmarks for social ad conversion likely won’t be the same as for a metaverse activation. At the same time, if your company has hosted successful in-store shopping events with a popular brand personality, live selling is a logical complement.

Consider the following questions when choosing which marketing benchmarks are right for the format you’re pursuing:

  • Who is our audience? If you’re pursuing a new format to draw a new audience (Gen Z, millennial moms, etc.), think about where that audience congregates online. Otherwise, if you’re looking to engage a current audience in a new way, how will you bring them to your new endeavor? What effort will that require?
  • Where are our other platforms? Are you bringing in a massive social following? Loyal customers at your brick-and-mortar location? Wherever possible, leverage existing audiences to tap into new ones.
  • How are other companies in our industry using this format? While truly robust case studies for emerging formats are few and far between, conducting thorough research on industry competitors can provide an idea of how your company might stack up.
  • What do we want from this? All marketing benchmarks should feed into the core goals of the business. However, those paths will look different based on the purpose of each marketing endeavor, and some may be more roundabout than others.

Choose metrics that are meaningful to your company and its sales goals, while taking into consideration the novelty and utility of the marketing channel at hand. This will give your marketing team a high-level framework to set expectations and extract value from the investment.

Embracing the Potential for Innovation

While jumping into an emerging marketing channel may seem daunting, the newness can also be liberating. Without a rigid playbook, there’s more room to experiment, and when those experiments go well, it can lead to your business securing a firm foothold in the trend. After all, who doesn’t want to be a pioneer? That said, it’s still important to be cautious. Don’t stake everything in an emerging format. See how you do, test and learn, then gradually grow investment as you see success.

To this end, view benchmarking as a way to measure the learning process. Get the right metrics, no matter your performance, and you can inform future success down the line. While failure is never the goal, a “fast failure” could reveal foundational weaknesses in a marketing strategy and allow your teams to successfully course correct.

Strategic benchmarking for emerging channels is challenging when there’s no tried-and-true history to go by. However, with holistic consideration of goals, capabilities and the larger market, you can set meaningful marketing benchmarks that will allow you to develop more successful campaigns.

Josephine Wong is SVP of Marketing and Operations at CommentSold