Competitive benchmarking is the process of comparing your company’s performance with major competitors. You can then use the benchmark analysis and figure out how to improve your business and understand what your competitors are doing to win more customers. Benchmarking helps evaluate a brand from multiple perspectives. It allows you to determine whether the brand conforms to the best practices in the industry and if there are processes that need to be implemented or optimized.

Competitive analysis should be an integral part of brand marketing and helps you build a more effective go-to-market strategy. A company can benchmark multiple processes and aspects. One that is often overlooked is web performance benchmarking – measuring your online presence in comparison to competitors to understand website performance and end-user experience.

Almost every industry has created its own space in the online world. And every brand has its fair share of competitors vying for a bigger user base. The internet has made it easier for consumers to access multiple brands and to compare anything they want about each brand.

If a company piques a customer’s interest, through an advert or a social media campaign, then the first thing the customer does, almost as a reflex, is pull up the company website. Online marketing can greatly influence your brand’s perception by the intended audience.

When a consumer can compare everything about a brand with a single click then the chances of gaining or losing a customer depends completely on end-user experience. A slow loading website or a website that is not user-friendly sets the wrong tone with potential customers.

In this blog, we discuss the importance of including web performance benchmarking in your competitive analysis strategy to see how your online presence and performance impacts the overall business.

What should you benchmark?

Several factors contribute to the success of your business online. When evaluating how well you stack up against major competitors, first you must identify the key success factors within your industry. This will help you decide the relevant metrics to benchmark. It is also important to focus on what the outcome or what you hope to achieve from a web performance benchmarking strategy, including:

  • To establish the industry standard for each key metric in the benchmark and compare the metric values with that of your business.
  • Identify the features, processes, and key areas that need improvement.
  • A workable plan or set of targets derived from the benchmarking analysis that aims to improve the overall business.

Website performance plays a vital role in any business. End-user experience can make all the difference, giving you an edge over competitors. So, when benchmarking your website performance, what are the factors or metrics to consider? Three broad categories need to be analyzed constantly:

  • The quality of the website content and the type of content used in the application.
  • The existing marketing strategies and campaigns as well as social media outreach.
  • User engagement and conversion rates.

What does web performance benchmarking involve?

The following key performance metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be evaluated when setting up web performance benchmarking for online applications:

Page load time

The time taken by the page to load and become interactive is one of the major factors that determine user experience. A user can easily get frustrated if the application takes more than 2-3 secs to load. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, then measuring the page load time is key.

Application availability

Maintaining 100% availability is important. If the webpage doesn’t load or loads an error page, then the consumer will quickly look for other options. It will help establish the average availability rate across different websites across the industry. Comparing availability of your site versus competitors can indicate whether the end-user experience is negative or if your online application requires a major overhaul.

Webpage size and content

Benchmarking will give you a detailed report of the industry standards when it comes to webpage size and the type of content used. You can then use this analysis to tune your application, add the right type of content to reduce page size and improve end-user experience.

Third-party analysis

Online applications use multiple third-party services, each of these services could be a potential bottleneck in the application delivery chain. Benchmarking third-party services across multiple websites will help identify those that are impacting performance. It will also help you understand how websites with excellent performance have optimized third-party tags and content.

User engagement/transactions

It is not enough to drive traffic to your application; user engagement is the next critical metric to analyze. The website may be pulling in a lot of users, but not every user will end up converting and adding to the business revenue. In such cases, it is important to understand if there are any bottlenecks in the user journey. Benchmarking will help you identify the critical points in the user journey that need optimization.

How does web performance benchmarking help?

Benchmarking your business against competitors plays a major role in helping your business grow. An apples-to-apples comparison of KPIs will help you identify gaps in application performance as well as help—

  • understand best practices in the industry.
  • evaluate processes that either need to be implemented or need optimization to improve application performance and efficiency.
  • constantly monitor the performance impact due to changes in the application and compare it with competitors.
  • measure the progress the business has made and compare it with competitors.
  • build better marketing campaigns that target users more efficiently.
  • get a 360-degree performance report of your business, evaluating application performance and business metrics side by side.

Catchpoint analyzed some of the major companies in banking and compared the page load time with page size. The image below illustrates the data for Q3 2017.

Chart showing results from web performance benchmarking in the financial industry

The data gathered highlighted some basic best practices:

  • The top-performing websites had a lower number of third-party elements on the page.
  • The Webpage Response time was affected by the number of downloaded items, and bytes of data on the page, faster websites had fewer downloaded items, hosts, and redirects on the page.

Through benchmarking, we were able to compare and rank the best-performing sites, identify sites that needed to implement best practices, and understand which sites required optimization.

Conclusion

Web performance benchmarking should be an ongoing practice in any business. It’s a reality check, telling you exactly how you stack up against major competitors. The data gathered through benchmarking establishes performance facts and figures and trends in the industry. In short, the main purpose of competitive benchmarking is to answer this important question:

    How does my business perform when compared to others in the same industry?

The benchmark analysis will help drive more effective marketing campaigns and identify areas that need optimization. Catchpoint provides a complete benchmark report within minutes. You can evaluate your website performance against any major competitors in your industry. Visit the Benchmark Hub, enter your website URL, pick the industry relevant to your business and generate your Benchmark Report now!