If you’re reading this article, you know that good marketing drives business. You figure ‘marketing audit’ sounds important — but what does it entail?
It’s how you get your marketing right on the money. You’re in tune with your customers, you’ve solidified the brand’s values, and you’ve got a strategy that delivers an exceptional ROI.
We’ve created a simple guide which breaks down each major stage of the audit for businesses of all shapes and sizes, so you can understand this vital marketing activity inside out. Also, we’ve included a marketing audit template you can use to analyse your marketing ROI.
Keep reading to discover:
- What is a marketing audit
- Why you need one
- When to do one
- What to include
- How to do one
Does that sound good? Then let’s get started.
What Is a Marketing Audit?
(If you already have the basics covered, head straight to the marketing audit template at the bottom of the page.)
Every so often, your marketing needs a full MOT to highlight any weak areas, ascertain opportunities to improve your performance and to spruce up your marketing strategy.
A marketing audit (also known as a digital marketing audit) does just that. It is one of those tasks you love to hate since it requires a lot of time and work. If you do it well your efforts won’t go to waste — you should see a high ROI after actioning the things you learn during the audit.
If you don’t have the time or you lack the necessary expertise for the task, hiring a third-party professional to help you conduct an internal marketing audit is a brilliant idea — it ensures you get the best possible results.
What Does a Marketing Audit Involve?
An internal marketing audit typically includes a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and an evaluation of all your marketing assets and activities.
The main components are:
Macro-environment audit: examining external factors that influence your marketing performance such as competitors, customers, markets, retailers and distributors to cover demographic, economic, environmental, cultural and political elements.
Task environment audit: an internal marketing audit that looks at factors closely linked to the business that influence your marketing efficiency (e.g. competitors, customers, markets, retailers and distributors).
Marketing strategy audit: analysing your company’s mission, marketing goals and strategies that determine your performance.
Marketing organisational audit: evaluating staff performance at all levels.
Marketing systems audit: checking and updating your marketing systems such as information, control, planning and product development systems to ensure they are delivering sufficient value.
Marketing productivity audit: examining if your marketing activities are profitable and cost-effective.
Marketing function audit: evaluating the business’ products, prices, distribution methods and marketing communication to analyse the objectives and effectiveness of each core function.
Areas of Marketing to Include
The ball is in your court on this one. You might want to get specific and perform only a digital marketing audit. Or you can go full-scale to get widespread visibility into both your online and offline marketing activities. If it’s the latter, you’ll want to include these areas:
*(Learn how to perform a website audit like a pro in our recent blog)
We cover all these areas in the marketing audit example below. Within each area are unique metrics you can measure for dynamic insights into your business and everything it encompasses.
It’s essential to include the business’ key stakeholders when planning which areas you’ll cover in your audit. Their individual perspectives are invaluable and will help you identify areas or issues you might not spot on your own.
If your current marketing strategy doesn’t cover the digital components on that list, it might be time to update your marketing approach.
Modernise Your Marketing
Are you a dinosaur when it comes to marketing your business? If you fail to adopt a modern strategy in this fast-paced digital age, you’re putting your business at risk of extinction. As Stewart Brand puts it:
“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road.”
To stay on the wagon, today’s marketers need an inbound marketing strategy that allows their business to:
- Build a powerful online presence
- Tap into new audiences
- Funnel leads to your website
- Convert visitors into customers
- Nurture customers
- Encourage repeat sales
A marketing audit provides a dynamite opportunity to modernise your strategy. It teaches you how to make a bigger impact online and surge business.
For those who have already taken their business online, performing a digital marketing audit is a strategic way to get your voice heard in the market place.
With more and more businesses emerging, you have to stay on top of your game to engage customers and earn their loyalty. During a marketing or digital marketing audit, you gain the opportunity to make intelligent changes that will sharpen your competitive edge.
When Should You Conduct a Marketing Audit?
You’ll get the most use out of your audit if you time it well. For example, by executing it while the business is going through a significant change, you can push forward with purpose and get better results (you know why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve!).
These are just a few of the reasons why you might conduct an audit:
Changes in Leadership: Had a recent reshuffle of staff? Perhaps you have a new Marketing Director, or you’re working with an external team for the first time. Conducting a marketing audit now lets you tap into new knowledge and different perspectives that can reshape your marketing.
Rebranding: A marketing audit is essential if you’re rebranding the company, especially if you’re redesigning your website. It gives you all the necessary information and direction you need to build a powerful voice that resonates with your employees and clients.
Rapid growth: If the business has been growing rapidly, it’s likely your brand positioning and marketing strategy is out of date. Conducting an audit now will not only help get your brand image on point, but it will pave the way for further growth.
Prolonged poor results: Can’t seem to push the business out of a bad patch? It’s wise to do your audit now so you can identify potential problems, find tangible solutions and execute them to get a better ROI.
Getting ahead of the competition: You’ve noticed that the competition is heating up in your area, or how other businesses are picking up trends you’re missing. What can you do to outshine them? A marketing audit will reveal the strategies your competitors are using and how you can use that information to get ahead of the game.
You need a strategy: Whether you’re a startup that needs an inbound marketing strategy or a booming business that’s overgrown its existing plan, an audit gives you the awareness and knowledge required to craft a profitable strategy for success.
Time your audit right and you’ll get much more value out of your investment. But before launching into action, you need to get clear on the goals from which you’ll measure success.
How to Conduct A Marketing Audit
Now you should know WHY you need a marketing audit and WHEN to conduct one. The next step is planning HOW you’re going to execute one. We’ve created a marketing audit example that takes you through each step of the process to help.
Step One: Set Your Goals
Going into your audit guns blazing will get you nowhere fast. Ask yourself: Why would I conduct a marketing audit? Consider its primary purpose and how it will help you reach your goals to get the juiciest results. the SMART strategy can help to give you clear direction.
Here are a couple of objective examples to give you a steer:
Get new ideas: fresh marketing ideas will generate excitement and intrigue around your brand. Your macro-environment, task environment and marketing strategy audit will reveal trends and opportunities you can jump on to generate these ideas and make them successful.
Discover what isn’t working: you need to work out why your marketing ROI isn’t meeting your expectations so you can improve performance. A systems, productivity, organisational and strategy audit will reveal the right answers.
Gain competition insights: understanding what the competition is doing is essential so you can differentiate the business’ position as well as keep up with new developments in the marketplace. This is where your macro-environment audit helps.
Save time and money: how can you cut back on your marketing resources without losing value? A marketing productivity audit is your ticket to understanding this.
Align marketing and business goals: when these goals are complementing each other, you’re much more likely to make a profit. Analysing your marketing strategy is key to achieving this.
For a more detailed list of goals, download our Smart Goals for Marketing free template.
Step Two: Create an Inventory of Your Assets
Your marketing assets are:
- Email newsletters
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Brochures or flyers
- Social media announcements
- Infographics …
… basically, everything you’ve used to market your business. Gathering all of this collateral from your various marketing campaigns gives you a solid idea of what’s working for the business and what isn’t. You need to get this information on a list — this is what you’re going to analyse during the audit.
Avoid going overboard, though. If you collate data from all the campaigns you’ve run since starting the business, you’ll be here for decades. Stick with your most recent campaigns — assets that are around six months old should do it. This way you have enough data without developing an aneurysm.
Step Three: Build a Baseline to Measure Success
To perform your audit effectively, you need to align it with your goals. What are you trying to achieve? We’ve already discussed the possible drivers behind your audit.
It helps to analyse your existing business goals for direction. Perhaps you want to drive sales, increase customer retention or build your brand voice. Get clear on what you need to accomplish and then you can get more specific during the audit.
For example, from your main goals you might ask yourself:
- How can we use Twitter to help us engage with our audiences better?
- What is our blog’s ROI and is it driving sales?
- What can we do to improve our email marketing to increase customer retention?
Getting specific on what you want to achieve throughout the audit makes you more decisive, increasing the fruit of your efforts.
Step Four: Gather Data
With a completed list of your assets and goals, it’s time to start digging for insight into how well your main marketing channels (e.g. email, social media, your website’s blog) have been performing.
Depending on the area you’re gathering data from, you and your stakeholders will want to mine different metrics. Here are a few examples:
- Social media: likes, shares, comments, click-through rates, social influence
- Branding: number of mentions, review ratings
- Your website: bounce rate, average time spent on a page, customer conversion rates, click-through rates
- Email marketing: open rates, number of subscriptions, unsubscribe rates, click-through rates
With these metrics, you can calculate the ROI for each marketing channel picked out for the audit.
There are lots of useful guides online to help you do this — like this one from HubSpot on measuring your Twitter marketing ROI.
You can also use various digital marketing tools to mine the data. For example, Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Rival IQ make social media engagement analysis much easier. Or you could tap into Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn’s native analytics tools. It can be a slight learning curve getting to grips with such software. But there are lots of guides to help you get there.
If you use the inbound marketing software HubSpot, this stage of the audit is like taking candy from a baby. The platform lets you gather data from all your marketing channels and translates it into easy-to-understand visuals — all on one platform.
Thinking of hiring an expert to conduct the audit for you? They can help you with the trickier metrics, such as social engagement and influence.
Step Five: Compare the Results to Your Goals
How close are you to achieving your goals? Comparing the results of your marketing audit to your goals will provide the answer. This is how you work out which tactics are delivering and which aren’t.
Take care, though... jump to the conclusion that your marketing campaign is failing because you aren’t meeting your targets and you might be missing a beat. It’s possible that you’re setting your goals too high and they simply need adjusting.
To keep things realistic, compare the results of your marketing efforts with historical data and the performance of competitors in your market (the latter of which can be found during your competitor analysis).
Step Six: Adapt and Optimise
This is where things get EXCITING. The time has come to improve your marketing strategy. Aggregate all the insight you’ve harvested from the audit. Then use it to make intelligent changes that will help you improve your marketing ROI.
Gather the troops for this one. You’ll want your best and brightest from sales and marketing (in addition to any marketing agency you hired) to hash out a plan of action.
Here are a few things you consider doing:
- Update your brand messaging
- Update your customer personas
- Reevaluate your customer journeys
- Pinpoint gaps in your existing content
- Create and circulate compelling content
- Find opportunities to repurpose content
- Remove content that might harm search performance
- Develop and execute an effective SEO strategy
- Focus your marketing efforts on a different social media channel
- Respond to customer reviews
- Redesign your website to be more user-centric
Every action you take should be detailed in your marketing plan. Not sure how to structure one? Check out our guide.
Step Seven: Communicate Your Plan
The execution will only go smoothly if everyone is invested in the strategy and on the same page. Achieve this by encouraging sales and marketing to input their ideas. Then send the final strategy to all of your stakeholders to keep them in the loop.
The better your narrative, the more invested your workforce will become. Communicate why you wanted to update your brand identity, what the changes symbolise and why people should care.
After all, your staff are your best brand ambassadors: they’re the ones who will broadcast your new values to the outside world. Getting them involved in the process as much as possible will secure their buy-in, strengthening your business’ identity.
Phenomenal Growth Can Be Yours
Using this marketing audit template, you can perform a comprehensive audit that will help you improve all areas of your marketing.
The reward for this is mighty. You gain the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to build your influence as a customer champion and industry leader. When done masterfully, a booming ROI will be yours to reap.
Hungry for more ways to ignite success? Read our guide on 5 Business Failing Pitfalls to Avoid for more game-changing insight.