Metrics are only valuable when there is a source or sources to compare the metric against. In the case of B2B marketers, these sources may include previous measurements of campaign responses, employee efficiency, budget allocation, and peer and competitor benchmarks. Unfortunately, obtaining segment-specific benchmark information is difficult, and obtaining recent segment-specific benchmark information is even more challenging.

A new feature from Internet marketing company HubSpot – the HubSpot Benchmarks Application – is the first effort by a major email service provider (ESP) or marketing automation platform (MAP) to provide business metric benchmarks within the application. The feature enables users to benchmark their monthly Web site visits, visit-to-lead ratio, inbound leads, lead-to-customer ratio, and number of customers generated relative to one segment. HubSpot currently provides benchmarking for size of company and industry; however, users are currently unable to benchmark against more than one variable, such as organizations that are of a specific size and in a particular industry. In addition, the HubSpot Benchmarks Application allows users to specify goals for monthly blog post and landing page creation, marketing reach, and email and lead nurturing clickthrough rate (CTR).

In its current iteration, the HubSpot Benchmark Application is noteworthy for providing instant access to segment-specific data points relative to a company’s current performance. ESP and MAP providers should take note: This is a feature not yet seen in the marketplace – and a feature that in upcoming releases may be capable of delivering significant user value.

The information conveyed by the HubSpot Benchmark Application is currently limited in scope and does not provide the level of usefulness necessary for marketing managers to plan, alter or influence their marketing outreach campaigns. To truly achieve the potential value of “in application” benchmarking, the following items should be incorporated:

  • Trend. Provide a rolling 12-month depiction of conversion metrics. This will enable users to determine if they are progressing or regressing in effectiveness.
  • Type and target. Differentiate metrics based on type and target audience of the email. Depending on target audience and type of email, conversion rates can differ wildly. For example, emails to customers usually have a significantly higher CTR than emails sent to a purchased list.
  • Improved segmenting. Expand on the delineation of size and industry, and take into consideration other variables such as size of marketing department, type of organization (B2B or B2C), the split between marketing and channel revenue contribution, and whether the product/service and organization operate in an established or emerging market. Significant value will be delivered if the benchmark segment can be based on more than one variable, as the benchmark will be matched more exactly to the organization.
  • Definitions. Clearly identify on screen what each benchmark focuses on and how the specific number or ratio is obtained. Without this clarity, discrepancies between how people interpret the information emerge and, consequently, the value that the benchmark data delivers decreases.

Ultimately, in the pursuit of benchmark data, marketers must ground themselves in the reason why such information is valued. The goal should not be to justify achievement of industry averages; rather, the goal should be to enable continuous improvement and provide an external frame of reference for comparison.