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Google Analytics Benchmarking Reports: Use, Examples & Best Practices

How is your website performing against the industry average? Use Google Analytics Benchmarking reports to find out.

Stefana Zaric Stefana Zaric on March 8, 2022 (last modified on March 7, 2022) • 13 minute read

Every business thrives at its own pace.

But to understand how and where your business needs to change to improve performance, one of the things you can do is to benchmark it. Benchmarking is the process of measuring key business metrics and KPIs and comparing them within business areas, against a competitor, and industry peers.

Benchmarking your business is an important tool for any company, as it can help your company adapt, grow and thrive through change.

So what about website benchmarks? When it comes to your website, benchmarking reports allow you to see how your website is trending within your industry – from understanding how you’re competing across different traffic channels, to discovering the most popular user devices in your market and much more.

In this guide, we’re breaking down Google Analytics benchmark reports to help you get the most out of them.

You can jump right to the section that most interests you.

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What Is a Benchmarking Report in Google Analytics?

Benchmarking reports in Google Analytics are detailed overviews of your performance compared to other companies that are similar to you in several aspects: industry, geographic market, and sessions per day.

Thanks to these insightful reports, you can learn about the market context in which you’re growing your business, get an idea of industry averages, and monitor your progress over time.

With this information in mind, you can more easily identify your weak spots and fruitful moves, plan your future strategy, and set realistic website goals for your business.

In Google Analytics benchmarking reports, you can track and measure the following acquisition and behavior metrics:

  • Sessions
  • % New Sessions
  • New Users
  • Pages/Sessions
  • Average Session Duration
  • Bounce Rate

Here are other useful Google Analytics reports you should know about and use.

How to Benchmark in Google Analytics? 5 Steps to Follow

Analyzing your website performance against the market data allows you to go even more in-depth when determining what works for your website audience. To set up benchmarking reports in your Google Analytics account, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Admin tab.
Admin tab in Google Analytics
  1. Click on Account Settings in the first column.
Account setting in Google Analytics
  1. Enable Benchmarking to share the data anonymously with others (any information that can be used to identify your website will previously be removed).
How to enable benchmarking in Google Analytics
  1. Click on the Audience tab in the left sidebar.
Audience tab in Google Analytics
  1. Select Benchmarking from the drop-down menu to choose one of the available reports.
Benchmarking reports in Google Analytics

That’s all! Now you can access benchmarking reports to compare your metrics to your competitors.

Now, there are two types of benchmarking to consider:

Historical Benchmarking

You can set specific benchmarks for your business or website based on your previous performance without comparing yourself to your competitors. If you want to monitor your progress, for instance, in the amount of traffic you drive to your website, you can compare it to your last month, quarter, or year.

For example, you may want to know how different marketing channels performed in terms of traffic acquisition compared to last quarter. This is a great opportunity to learn whether your SEO or social media marketing strategies are creating the desired results. You can do this by going to the channels section in acquisition reports and selecting a specific date range in the current year/month and the corresponding time period in the previous year/month.

In the example below, you can see that direct traffic grew in terms of users by 97.65% compared to the same period in the previous year.

Historical Benchmarking example

Industry Benchmarking

Sometimes, the spikes or drops in your metrics won’t happen because of something you did, but as a consequence of industry trends affecting your website or business. For example, if you see an increase in traffic from a specific country, it may be due to something happening in that country, not your SEO.

Almost every website has seen a decrease in desktop traffic vs. mobile traffic over the past years, but that’s not because your desktop website isn’t optimized – it’s because 54.4% of global website traffic is now generated by mobile devices.

Industry benchmarking is important for all company sizes but can be specifically helpful for small businesses. If your business is a one-man band and you handle your marketing as well, you may not be sure if your numbers are good or bad when it comes to traffic. Industry benchmarking helps you understand your traffic compared to similar businesses within your industry.

In the example below, you can see that the number of sessions on a website was close to the industry benchmark over a specific time period. There’s a decline between December 23rd and 27th in both cases, which can mean it happened due to the holidays, and not because your website wasn’t performing well.

Industry Benchmarking example

How to Use GA Benchmarking Reports

Google Analytics benchmarking reports allow you to dive deep into your data and gain insights from your performance within different contexts.

Benchmarking Filters

When you open benchmarking from your Audience tab, you will see 3 benchmarking filters that help you get separate overviews for different niches you want to look at. This way, you can get a picture of your performance as accurately as possible since you can benchmark your results against your most similar competitors.

The 3 filters are:

  • Industry Vertical. It allows you to get more specific and benchmark against other similar businesses in your sector: finance, healthcare, business, IT, entertainment, etc. Most industries have even more specific sub-categories, so if you select Internet & Telecom, for example, you opt for Email & Messaging, Search Engines, Service Providers, etc.
  • Country/Region. For most countries, you can choose to see how you’re benchmarking in a specific region rather than in the whole country.
  • Size by Daily Session. If you have a small business in a very specific sector, with an audience in a specific location, benchmarking against a global competitor doesn’t make sense. That’s why you can also select a range of daily sessions for your benchmarking report: 0-99, 100-499, 500-999, and more.

Benchmarking Implementation Issues

Although they’re incredibly useful, you should approach Google Analytics benchmarking reports carefully. Detailed analysis is always necessary to get to the root cause of low performance.

For example, if you look at the number of sessions that dropped, without looking at the whole picture, you may conclude that your website has been performing poorly. However, it may be an implementation mishap, if you haven’t set any campaign tracking parameters.

Also, a high bounce rate may not indicate that your content doesn’t respond well to the search intent or isn’t good enough. Your pages may simply be too long for scrolling, while your competitors break the same content down in multiple pages.

These examples go to show that no report should be taken lightly–data must be put into context to get the correct takeaways.

Benchmarking Reports: 3 Best Practices

Whether you’re launching a new campaign or trying to understand what changed in your website performance, these 3 tips will help you leverage Google Analytics benchmarking reports for success.

Find Your Highest ROI First

Before you jump to comparing your performance to the industry benchmarks, try this.

For most teams, the ultimate goal is to increase revenue, so you should identify the point where you had the highest ROI and try to outperform yourself.

If you’re about to launch a new campaign, check out your numbers from the last similar campaign. Use the Acquisition reports to identify the most successful channels in that campaign’s data range and calculate how much ROI was generated from each by measuring traffic, conversions, transactions, and revenue. That way, you’ll set a clear benchmark to compete against in your new campaign.

Focus on Relevant Metrics

If you include all available metrics in your benchmarking reports, your attention will be all over the place and it’ll be challenging to draw conclusions. What matters for your peers may not be the most relevant KPI for you, no matter how similar your businesses are. You may have different goals and strategies, so that’s what your metrics should be aligned with.

Focus on a limited number of selected metrics to gain valuable, actionable insights from your benchmarking report.

Analyze the Gap

Benchmarking reports in Google Analytics can help discover what’s causing the spike or drop in your traffic and other metrics. The point isn’t to identify that there is or isn’t a gap, but to find out what strategies are successful and what should be modified to obtain better results.

A detailed gap analysis of your benchmarking report will help you create an actionable plan to present to your team and make you exceed the industry benchmarks, not just reach them.

Google Analytics Benchmarking Report Examples

There are three types of benchmarking reports in Google Analytics:

Channels Report

The Channels benchmarking report groups your results by channel and allows you to see how your website has been performing in various channels: Direct, Display, Referral, Paid Search, Social, Email, Organic Search, Other, and Other advertising.

In these reports, you can track standard Acquisition and Behavior metrics, such as sessions, new users, pages per session, etc. If a channel is performing better than the industry average, your result will be displayed in green. If your numbers are below average, they’ll be in red.

The only way to get results that make sense is to cautiously use benchmarking filters and select competitors that normally receive a similar amount of traffic as your website.

You can access this report by selecting Audience in the left sidebar, then Benchmarking, then Channels.

GA benchmark channel report example

Location Report

The Location report allows you to see how your traffic compares to the traffic other websites receive from a specific country or region and is particularly useful for global companies with audiences all over the world.

If your target visitors are located in specific regions, don’t forget to use filters here. Say your target audience is, for example, in English-speaking countries. In that case, the traffic that comes to your website from other countries is irrelevant.

You can find this report in the Audience tab in the left sidebar, when you select Benchmarking, then Location.

GA benchmark location report example

Devices Report

The Devices report reveals what devices generate the most traffic in your industry. It compares the amount of traffic you receive on mobile, tablet and desktop to the industry benchmarks.

From these reports, you can learn what devices the consumers from your industry are likely to use to find websites like yours and then optimize that device. Also, if your desktop website is performing well in terms of traffic, and your mobile traffic is way below average, you can easily discover it in the Devices report and dig deeper to find out why the performance is low.

You can open this report by clicking on Audience in the left sidebar, then selecting Benchmarking, then Devices.

GA benchmark device report example

Databox Benchmark Templates

Databox offers a number of benchmark report templates for companies of various sizes. The dashboard lets you compare your inbound funnel metrics against your competitors and find out how successful you are compared to the top performers and averages from your industry. This visualization can be an excellent addition to your benchmarking report presentation.

The key metrics you’ll find in these dashboards are pulled from HubSpot Marketing data:

  • Visits
  • Leads
  • MQLs
  • Opportunities
  • Customers
Databox Benchmark Templates

The dashboard templates available to you are:

Get Free Access to Benchmarks by Databox

Do you think benchmark and research reports are only reserved for huge companies with astronomic budgets? That you can’t find out how you’re performing compared to similar companies without investing thousands of dollars in research? That small businesses with limited budgets don’t have a way to learn if their goals are realistic?

With Databox’s Benchmarks, this is nowhere near the truth.

We are about to launch this fantastic feature to help you answer important questions regarding your business goals, strategy, and ROI. With it, you can:

  • see how many companies you’re outranking
  • use thousands of metrics to benchmark your performance
  • narrow down the benchmark using filters that apply to your company
  • display benchmarks on your Databox dashboard

And more!

All the data is anonymous, so no one but you will have insight into your performance.

For more information, check out this article from our very own CEO, Pete Caputa! We’re very excited about this feature! Are you? Opt in for free now and be the first to find out when it goes live.

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About the author
Stefana Zaric
Stefana Zaric Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.
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