In SEM, Three Benchmarks are Better Than One

In the first two of our three-part series on SEM Benchmarking, we stressed the importance of leveraging the “Trio” of Internal, External and Cross-Channel SEM benchmarking to properly measure your paid search programs and empower you to make solid, data-driven strategic decisions.

In this post we focus on the third in our trio, Cross-channel Benchmarking which measures SEM performance versus other channels including SEO, Display, Referral, Social, Email and Direct Traffic to better understand how they all work together and to uncover any issues that need addressing.

For example, if all other digital marketing channels are outpacing SEM performance, this may indicate a problem with your current SEM strategy however, performance by channel is frequently affected by external factors which may or may not have much to do with the quality of the strategy or its execution. There are also close relationships between activity in one channel and performance in another (Social, Display, SEO_.

In our experience, SEM will usually outperform most digital channels measured against the same KPIs of bounce rates, time on site, page views, click and conversion rates.

At Media Experts we also use cross-channel benchmarking to discover and pinpoint issues with conversion and shopping cart funnels on our customers’ websites. Paid search traffic should be able to outperform most digital channels when it comes to traffic quality, conversion rates and volumes. For example, if engagement metrics are better for SEM when compared to SEO, Display, Social or Referral traffic, but actual SEM KPIs do not seem to be meeting your objectives, internal benchmarks, or industry averages, then one could argue that there may be issues with your conversion process at the website level.

Let’s re-cap. Internal Benchmarking is key to identifying specific targets to beat by comparing your SEM performance against your pre-established objectives, and previous SEM activity, in order to identify specific targets to beat.

External benchmarking is critical to understanding your position relative to your category and your competition. As with Internal Benchmarking, its power in fuelling data-driven insights is amplified when used in concert with all three disciplines in the SEM Benchmarking Trio. Cross-channel benchmarking is critical in measuring the effectiveness of SEM relative to other media channels.

Benchmarking is an absolute necessity in the SEM process. Internal benchmarking alone cannot paint a full picture of performance and without external and cross-channel benchmarking, it is impossible to really know if we are doing well or not. It is critical that we combine the Trio of internal, external and cross-channel benchmarking to properly contextualize and continually improve SEM performance.

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