The 2019 Marketing Benchmarks Cheat Sheet

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As marketers, we should be setting goals for every campaign and then following through on measuring whether our projects met our goals. But how do we know what our goals should be? Most of us realize it’s unreasonable to expect a 75 percent click-through rate on an email sent to a paid list—but what about activities like content downloads and event ROI? Of course, we look at historical performance. But, especially if we don’t have good historical metrics, we can also look at industry benchmarks.

During the past few months, I’ve compiled a list of marketing benchmarks to guide the creation of my 2019 marketing plan alongside our historical metrics. This cheat sheet below is divided into 10 categories and represents the most current data available. Wherever possible, I’ve included data from primary research and have linked to State of Industry reports.

1. Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing, or “SEM,” consists of all of the efforts used to promote a website in paid and organic search.

Google and Bing both offer online advertising. For Google, there are two types of advertising formats that you can choose: search network and display network. Search network—the text ads that you see when you search for a related item—has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 4.1 percent and an average conversion rate of 3.48 percent. This varies by industry. “Business services,” for example, has a click-through rate of 3.6 percent and a 1.92 percent conversion rate.

Display network (or banner) ads are graphical ads that can include logos, images, and rich media that appear next to content on sites across the Internet. Display ads have an average click-through rate of 0.6 percent and conversion rate of 0.72 percent. “Business services” has a click through rate of 0.60 percent and 0.31 percent conversion rate.

Why the difference between search and display? The main difference is user intent. While search ads come up directly as a result of a user searching for a term, display ads “follow” people around on content sites hoping to pique the user’s interest as they are consuming content.

Other relevant benchmarks: The average cost per click for Google is $2.67 on search and $0.60 on display, with “Business Services” at $3.15 and $0.66, respectively. The average cost per action is $80.89 on search and $148.68 on display, with “Business Services” at $125.60 and $132.17, respectively.

For Bing, the average CPC is $1.54 with “B2B services” at $1.16. The average CTR is 2.83 percent with a  2.94 percent conversion rate.

In 2019, we are going to hear many marketers say “SEO is dead.” But, believe it or not, SEO is 5.66 times better than paid search ads, and 70 to 80 percent of search engine users focus solely on organic results. One way to improve your SEO is to include videos. In fact, if you include a video in a post, you can increase your organic traffic from search results by 157 percent.

You’ll also want to focus more on mobile SEO and geotargeting. Nearly half of all Americans will check their smartphones before they get out of bed each day! And nearly one-third of these searches are location-based queries.

2. Social Media Advertising

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 78 percent of marketers who have used social media for two or more years report increased traffic to their websites, and 83 percent of those who have used social media for five or more years agree that social media activity has increased traffic. However, while 94 percent of marketers use Facebook, only 49 percent feel that it is effective. Fifty-two percent have seen declines in their organic research. The focus for 2019 will be generating leads rather than building a loyal fan base. Also on the rise is marketing automation, as 51 percent plan on using messenger bots in the next year.

LinkedIn is obviously the tool of choice for B2B marketers. This year, Simplus is shifting most of our social media ad spend to LinkedIn. While LinkedIn ads can be more expensive than other social media options, much of the B2B traffic from websites originates from LinkedIn. In fact, last year, 70% of our website form fills came directly from traffic that originated on LinkedIn. This traffic is why 89 percent of marketers plan to spend as much or more this year than last year on LinkedIn advertising. And about one-fifth of B2B digital advertising in the United States in 2019 will appear on LinkedIn, according to eMarketer.

3. Email Marketing

I hear all the time that email marketing is ineffective (usually by friends who have spammed their prospects one too many times). But while email marketing was once thought a marketing activity of the past, it can be a solid strategy–especially if you are an online retailer offering discounts.

To make your email marketing strategy more effective, first and foremost be considerate of your audience. That means don’t cram images into one email, segment your emails appropriately, use rich text, and personalize your emails. Research shows that 75 percent of recipients are more likely to click on emails that are personalized and relative to their location, interests, and recent purchases.

Furthermore, do the millennial generation (which makes up half of all B2B buyers) a favor and confirm that your email will be displayed correctly on mobile view. According to Campaign Monitor, emails that are displayed incorrectly on mobile can be deleted in just a quick three seconds. Oh — and send out your emails on Tuesday at 11 am ET.

Nurture your prospects with welcome emails, information about your business, and client testimonials. But don’t overdo it: 78 percent of subscribers have unsubscribed from businesses because of the excessive amount of emails they received.


4. Direct Mail

Are direct mail marketing campaigns still effective? More than ever. A 2016 study by the United States Postal Service found in a survey of 1,545 consumers that 87 percent of people would rather receive a piece of direct mail than a telemarketing call. Furthermore, 73 percent said they would advise new companies trying to solicit business to use direct mail. A full 50 percent of millennials look forward to receiving mail, as opposed to 44 percent of non-millennials. Another study by Direct Marketing Association found that direct mail achieves a 4.4 percent response rate, while email marketing has a 0.12% response rate. Overall, we can expect direct mail to gain more traction with marketers, as it is currently getting 10 to 30 times more traction than digital marketing.

5. Webinars

Webinars give you the opportunity to build trust with your audience, establish yourself as an industry expert, and increase engagement with your prospects. According to Demand Generation’s 2018 Content Survey Report, 48 percent of respondents said webinars are the most valuable type of content during the mid-stage of their buying journey, and 75 percent were willing to share more information to access more content in a webinar. 61 percent were willing to share this type of content with their colleagues. Perhaps that’s why ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report found that webinars with more than 100 attendees generate a 44 percent average conversion rate.


6. Events

Fully 81 percent of marketers label live events as a critical component to their company’s success. However, over half of B2B professionals acknowledge that lead hand-off—the most crucial step and the entire purpose for hosting events— is ineffective. A joint study by Certain and Heinz Marketing found that of surveyed companies that spend 25 to 50 percent of their marketing budgets on hosted events, fewer than 20 percent actually make that direct tie to revenue. Because of this, event marketers are less confident in their ability to generate pipeline than they are in their ability to increase brand awareness. In a recent Harvard Business Review report surveying 700 businesses (92 percent of which had a revenue of $50M or more), 52 percent of respondents say event marketing drives more business value than other marketing channels. However, less than a quarter of them could quantify this value. Number of attendees, number of SQLs, brand awareness, social press mentions, and amount of sales pipeline generated are the most commonly tracked metrics.

7. Website

Websites can be tricky, especially when trying to make it lively, informational, and personal all the same time. But it’s well worth the effort: a personalized web experience can increase sales by 19 percent. Salesforce’s B2B benchmarks report found that, on average, 13 percent of leads convert to opportunities in 84 days. Websites have the highest conversion rates from lead to opportunity (31.3 percent), in part because sales reps are optimistic when inbound inquiries come from the website. Approximately 5 percent of these opportunities end up as closed won. At Simplus, this is usually because the deal size is too small, as organic inbound leads tend to be smaller deals. LinkedIn’s Website Demographics, a free tool that uses LinkedIn data, can help us marketers understand exactly who (what industry do they work in, what’s their job title, what’s their geolocation) our campaigns are driving to visit our websites — or even specific pages of our websites.

8. Content Marketing

Content, when it’s done well, can be very effective. The most successful content marketers make up 40 percent of their business’s total marketing budget, and the least successful have only 14 percent. In addition, 47 percent of buyers engage with three to five pieces business content before engaging with a sales rep. Clearly, content is important in both the marketing and consumer world.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the content world. A recent Showpad report found that 86 percent of buyers say they are overwhelmed and annoyed by more than 10 pieces of review content. And 32 percent say confusing content makes buying decisions more difficult, and 45 percent are looking for personalized content portals. Clearly, buyers are calling for a personalized buying experience that makes them feel valued individually — so make sure to include personalized call-to-action phrases, and segment your outreach strategy for your content. Ninety-six percent of B2B buyers have reported that they would like to see content that includes more input from the industry leaders. If you are wondering why you haven’t had much interaction with your potential buyers, make sure your content provides what they want to see.

There are several types of content that you can focus on to create more traction. Here are some of the important ones.

  • Blogging. Blogging isn’t just for the lifestyle influencers. Hubspot found that B2B companies that published 16+ blog posts per month (at least two per week) had 4.5 times more leads than those companies who published four or fewer a month. In addition, compound posts (posts with traffic that increases over time from organic search) are more likely to be produced with a solid blogging strategy. While only one in 10 posts becomes a compounding post, these kinds of posts generate over a third of all blog traffic. Blog posts usually become compounding if they are easy to scan, contain keywords, and offer tips to their readers.
  • Podcasts. Podcasts have revolutionized the way people are able to receive information. Today, anyone with a smartphone can tune in to podcasts while driving, eating lunch, or washing the dishes. While only 26 percent of Americans listen to podcasts at least every month (compared to the 68 percent of adults that use Facebook, with three quarters of them using it daily), podcasts listeners are loyal. Eighty percent of them have reported listening to all or most of each episode they download.
  • Videos. Videos have the potential of becoming a huge money maker for your business. Videos are projected to claim 80 percent of all web traffic in 2019 and have been found to drive a 157 percent increase in organic traffic from search engine results pages. Sixty-four percent of consumers say that a video they saw on Facebook in the last month influenced a recent purchase, and 32 percent of consumers engage with brands they find on YouTube.


9. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is reported to have high EMV (earned media value). RhythmOne’s Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report found An ROI of 12x for every $1.00 of Campaign Spend, with an 8.2 percent engagement rate and year-over-year 74 percent decrease in cost per engagement. Linqia’s 2018 State of Influencer Marketing Report found that 86 percent of marketers are using influencer content, with 92 percent finding it to be an effective strategy. 39 percent plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2018, with only five percent planning a decrease. 52 percent plan to leverage many types of influencers, such as celebrities, bloggers, and micro-influencers, as part of an integrated strategy.


10. Review Sites

You could probably have guessed that review sites have the highest conversion rates. In fact, leads from review sites can have as high as a 24 percent conversion rate. This is because buyers find value in learning from the experiences of others; approximately 90 percent of consumers trust online reviews in the same way that they trust recommendations from family and friends.

I hope these statistics and benchmarks will help you craft, finalize, review, and justify the budget for your 2019 marketing plans. As you use these statistics, keep in mind that each industry, product, and geography is a little bit different — and what you experience may be somewhat different from your competitors and colleagues. I’d love to hear back from you on what you are experiencing in your marketing this year. If you’d like to get in touch, please email me directly at [email protected] Happy Marketing!

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