Digital Marketing Campaign Benchmarks May Be Different Than You Think


Everywhere you turn these days there’s a new blog post touting a digital marketing transformation story:

  • Krylon sent DIY experts to buy “worthless” yard sale items and transform them into something desirable and then shared the transformations on Pinterest using the buyable pin feature. Krylon’s Pinterest following jumped by 400 percent and the company estimates it generated $2.7 million in earned media coverage.
  • In 2015, Domino’s launched a permanent tweet-based ordering system where users can tweet at the Domino’s twitter account using the hashtag #easyorder and an emoji to place an order, generating earned media coverage on Good Morning America and USA Today. More than half of Domino’s orders now come from social media.
  • The American Express-backed OPEN Forum is a collaborative website targeting small business owners and entrepreneurs with guest authored content. This content-rich site ranks at the top of Google searches and since the content all comes from contributors, American Express didn’t have to foot the bill for a big content marketing investment.

A Pinterest campaign that generates $2.7 million in earned media coverage. A tweet-to-order feature that earns press and accolades including the Cannes Lions 2015 Titanium Jury Grand Prix. A thought leadership initiative that requires little upfront content investment but consistently ranks at the top of Google searches. If you compare your digital marketing programs to these examples, it’s easy to feel like you’re underperforming. Why aren’t your social media campaigns generating $2.7 million in earned media coverage? (For starters, possibly because you’re not starting with a $200,000 budget like Krylon had!) These success stories are all from established brands and paint an unrealistic assessment of how long it really takes to see digital marketing results.

How long does it really take to see results?

Unrealistic digital marketing campaign benchmarks can make it feel like your campaign failed when in reality, it’s actually been pretty successful, all things considered. When assessing your campaign’s results, keep the following in mind:

  1. Be realistic about your starting point. It’s great to shoot for the moon, but if you’re still building your first rocket ship, you can’t expect to go into orbit overnight. Determine your big long-term goal and then break it down into smaller benchmarks. What benchmarks do you need to hit along the way to stay on track and reach the main goal? For example, you might start by thinking about your reach: what’s the right mix of paid, owned and earned media for your business? How will this mix change over the length of your campaign to drive other goals like social engagement, lead generation or mobile conversion? These are questions you’ll want to return to throughout your campaign.
  2. Be in it for the long haul. Yes, random overnight success can happen, but even a viral pop will be short-lived. You need to stick to a consistent strategy and keep working on it for a minimum of 6+ months to generate long-term traction. The upfront investment to start your program may seem high, but the longer you keep at it, the lower the day-to-day cost will be and the greater the benefit.
  3. Celebrate the small wins. If everything is about the final outcome, it’s easy to feel disheartened if you can’t get there right away. Instead, you need to celebrate the small wins along the way. If your business is brand new to digital marketing, a realistic success outcome for your first six months might simply be setting up a few social media accounts and being active on these accounts on a regular basis. After six months, maybe you set a new goal to share 2-3 fresh pieces of content every week. By 12 months, your goal could be to convert leads through social media engagement.

It’s great to look at established brands for digital marketing inspiration, especially if your slice of the industry has been slower to adopt content marketing or social media engagement strategies. However, keep in mind these brands have huge budgets, teams, and resources that go far beyond what’s at your disposal. Be realistic about using these brands as digital marketing campaign benchmarks and avoid a single-minded focus on any one metric.

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