Breaking into blogging using benchmarks and baselines

This is my first time writing a blog post. Ever. I consume social media every day and read several blogs ranging from analytical to DIY to recaps of Game of Thrones episodes. Yet, I am not someone who tweets very often or posts pictures — and did I mention I have never written a blog post? I am a data analyst — I’m much more comfortable with SAS syntax, writing code in R, Excel formulas and data visualization. I am good with data, not words.

This is why it’s ironic that my first blog post is about benchmarks and baselines, considering my current baseline for blog writing is 0. I wasn’t sure what benchmark even determined the success of an agency blog post. So, I asked myself a few questions before I started writing:

  • What is my goal for this blog?
  • What metrics are measured to determine the success of a blog post?
  • What other factors are used to determine blog post success?
  • How does the industry determine blog success?
  • What is the benchmark for a successful blog?
  • Is there a template or formula used for blog writing?

As a first-timer, I had to do my research, of course. I read blogs for comparison. And, since this is for work, I stuck to work-related topics. I did not read any Game of Thrones blogs during my research. Nope, not a single one. (OK maybe one or two, but definitely over my lunch – yes, for sure over my lunch break.) I looked at analytics for blog posts written by my fellow associates. I determined my benchmark and baseline.

A quick Google search turned up these basic definitions for benchmark and baseline:

Benchmark: the intended target, measurement of industry standards and best practices, as well as what to aim for compared to competitors.

Baseline: the starting point, a current observation, where you are right now to improve upon to reach your goal.

But let’s apply these definitions to an almost-real-life example. A client comes to you and says their competitors have an average time on site of 2 minutes and 13 seconds. First, you think, how do they know this? Do they have a team of super spies with a particular set of skills? But then you decide they have probably been using Google Analytics Benchmarking reports. This Google tool allows you to track and analyze all kinds of data, including benchmarks, to see how you’re stacking up against the competition.

You may know that your client’s current average time on site is 1 minute and 58 seconds; this is your baseline. The client’s benchmark is 2 minutes and 13 seconds: the intended target for their users’ average time on site. You have a baseline, and you now have a benchmark. You might not have an immediate solution on how to get your client that additional 15 seconds, but you have a starting point for your strategy and an end result in mind.

Keep the following checklist in mind before starting any project:

Has a baseline been established?
Do you or your client know their benchmarks?
Are the benchmarks relative and comparable to industry standards or their competitors?

Once you have a baseline and benchmark established, you can set goals and begin forging a path to marketing victory.