Stay on Track: Strategic Benchmarking For Digital Marketing

September 6, 2019 Dylan Brooks


No matter the size or nature of your agency, one truth remains universal.

Measurement is key to marketing success.

But what should you measure? And what should you consider success?

The answer can vary based on several factors. Including one you might not have thought of — the maturity of your digital marketing campaign.

In this Masters of Marketing webinar, I explained how to assess where your agency is at in the digital marketing lifecycle. I also shared benchmarking tips for each step of the lifecycle.

I’ve included a short summary of my presentation below. To learn more, watch the recording here or review the slides below.


Asking The Right Questions

Setting effective benchmarks starts by answering two key questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?

There is an inherent gap between these answers. That gap reflects ambition. After all, your agency is striving for better.

This is the case whether you’ve been in business for three weeks or 30 years.

As your agency grows, its needs evolve. Processes change. Responsibilities transform. Priorities shift.

Throughout this evolution, you’re seeking to fill the gap between where your agency is and where you want it to be someday. But those goalposts are in constant motion.

Static measurement fails to recognize these shifting objectives. It blinds you from changing needs of your business in the marketplace. And it can cause you to jump to improper conclusions.

Strategic benchmarking allows your goals and objectives to evolve with your agency. It compels you to look at your performance through the context of your agency’s evolution. And it allows you to make informed decisions.

The Digital Marketing Lifecycle

Strategic benchmarking adds flexibility to your digital marketing measurement. But, there’s a fine line between flexibility and recklessness.

It’s important to have a roadmap in place as you measure success. An effective roadmap can provide guideposts to keep your campaign on track.

That roadmap is the Digital Marketing Lifecycle.

As a mix of established business development and advertising models, the Digital Marketing Lifecycle breaks your agency’s marketing progress into three stages:

  • Introduction
  • Awareness
  • Adoption

Your agency will move through these stages over time. As consumers gain awareness of the agency’s online presence, revenue opportunities increase.

Benchmarking For The Digital Marketing Lifecycle

It’s important to set benchmarks for each stage of the Digital Marketing Lifecycle. That way, you can focus on measurements that reflect in-the-moment impact.

Start by setting up measurement solutions on your digital properties. At minimum, you should have website/app analytics and search visibility monitoring set up before you launch your digital marketing campaign.

Once these solutions are in place, it’s time to start benchmarking. Here’s what to consider as you progress through the Digital Marketing Lifecycle.


At this stage, your digital marketing campaign is nascent. You might have launched a new website, or rebranded or redesigned your digital properties.

Consumer awareness is low. So, your marketing efforts should focus on drawing attention to the new brand or digital properties.

Benchmarking should also focus on brand initiatives. These include searches for your agency name and the overall number of visits to your website.

You’ll want to see how these change month-to-month. But don’t expect massive increases right away. It can take consumers time to get acquainted with your digital presence. As such, modest growth should be expected.


At this stage, consumers are taking note of your agency’s digital presence. Your campaign is starting to see some traction.

Consumer awareness is rising. So, your marketing efforts should communicate the value the agency provides consumers.

Benchmarking should focus on more specific points of emphasis. These include searches for specific products and clicks from search results to your website.

This is the stage where agencies typically see the most digital marketing growth. So, you’ll want to see robust monthly increases in these areas.


At this stage, consumers are both aware of your agency and doing business with it online. Your campaign has blossomed, and you’ve saturated the market.

Now is the time to fine-tune the engine. Your marketing efforts should focus on encouraging consumers to buy from you.

Benchmarking should focus on bottom-line metrics. These include click-through rates (CTRs) from search engines, website/app lead counts and digital marketing revenue.

You want to see increases in all these areas month-to-month. If your lead pipeline or revenue stream flatlines, it could mean that consumers are turning to your competitors.

Assessing Benchmarks

The Digital Marketing Lifecycle models a natural progression for your campaign. Yet, the world of business is rarely that simple.

There may be bumps in the road as your agency seeks consumer awareness and adoption. And there isn’t a standard timeline for each stage of the lifecycle.

If your agency is not reaching its goals, it can be challenging to triage the issue. Are you using the wrong benchmarks? Or do you need to change your marketing strategies?

The best way to address these questions is through trend analysis. Pore through your website/app analytics and search visibility reports at least monthly. But wait at least two months before pivoting your marketing initiatives. This way, you can determine if troubling month-over-month data is an anomaly or a trend to be addressed.

Putting It All Together

Digital marketing success starts with measurement. But effective strategy depends on context.

It’s critical to tie context to digital marketing measurement. Otherwise, you could send your agency down the wrong track.

By asking critical questions, adhering to the Digital Marketing Lifecycle and measuring what matters in the moment, you’ll be on the right track.

So, adopt strategic benchmarking for your agency. It’s worth your while.

About the Author

Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks helps ITC clients improve the visibility of their agency websites, working directly with them to improve their search engine rankings. Dylan has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Miami and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, participating in 5K races, and spending time around Dallas.

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