How to conduct a marketing audit and measure your messaging methods
Are you guilty of resting on your marketing laurels?
You choose a marketing strategy, find out whether it works, automate whatever you can, and kick your feet up – waiting for the results to roll in.
To begin with, just creating a marketing strategy should be enough to send better results to your business. Of course, as trends change, and customers grow more demanding, the strategy that you implemented 6, 12 or 18 months ago can quickly start to lose its spark.
Getting the best results from your marketing campaigns means devoting yourself to a process of constant analysis and optimisation:
Okay, so you don’t need to transform your marketing plan every day, but you do need to regularly review the methodologies you’re using to build and maintain your online presence. A habit of strategising, executing, auditing and adapting drives stronger business growth.
Of course, if you’re new to the marketing world, you probably have a few questions, like: “What is a marketing audit?”, or “Where can I learn how to conduct a marketing audit myself?”
The good news? You’ve come to the right place.
By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a complete overview of all the components of a marketing audit, as well as the steps you can use to create your own marketing audit template.
What is a marketing audit? Your marketing audit definition
We’ll start with the most obvious question: “What is a marketing audit?”
A marketing audit is a process that examines your complete promotional environment, from your direct mail newsletters to your social media campaigns. The purpose of a marketing audit is to sort through your resources and figure out which of your strategies are working, and which are just wasting your budget.
Great marketing audits cover every touchpoint you have with your customers. They look at how the words on your call to action or the shape of your logo can affect conversions. The more you learn from your audits, the more successful you become. In fact, Coschedule found that marketers who document a well-informed strategy are 538% more likely to see success.
Marketing audits build the foundations for your future marketing decisions. They give you a better understanding of what your audience wants from you, and how you can serve their needs.
Of course, conducting a marketing audit isn’t always easy. First, you need to be willing to admit that your business has weaknesses – and that’s tough enough in itself.
On top of that, a marketing audit also requires an in-depth understanding of the current promotional environment. It’s no wonder that so many companies choose to work with auditing professionals, rather than attempting to conduct an audit on their own. Indeed, third-party marketing audits can be more informative and objective than anything your team can do in-house.
The components of an effective marketing audit
As mentioned above, the most effective marketing audit is generally one conducted by a third-party. Business owners and professional teams can be too close to their brand to conduct a marketing audit without bias. While every marketing audit agency will have their own approach to evaluating your company, most will follow the golden rules of auditing. In other words, they’ll make sure that your internal and external communication audits are:
There are many different types of marketing audit that companies can engage in today. Some will prefer to focus exclusively on a certain part of their marketing campaign with a social media marketing audit or an SEO audit. Others will need something much more comprehensive. Your marketing audit definition will be up to you, but the 3 most common components are:
- A macro environment audit: This looks at all the factors outside of your organisation that impact the performance of your marketing. For instance, the political environment, the demographic you’re marketing too, and even the cultural space can affect your marketing.
- A microenvironment audit: This examines the internal aspects of your marketing plan that you can control – such as your staff and their presence in employee advocacy campaigns, and the tools you use to share your message with the world.
- Marketing strategy audits: A marketing strategy audit examines the feasibility of your current business vision, and the goals you’re trying to achieve. During your strategy audit, you’ll determine how your goals align with your marketing strategies.
Those who want to dive deeper into how to conduct a marketing audit can also take their analysis further, by adding more elements to their template. For instance, you can look at:
- Marketing environment: The position of your company and how it relates to your industry, market, and the competitors around you. This may also include a competitive analysis of people in your niche.
- Marketing organisation: How the staff at different levels of your organisation perform when it comes to marketing, and the policies you have in place to support their outcomes.
- Marketing functions: This involves looking at the core marketing competencies of your firm, such as your communication channels and salesforce.
The more types of marketing audit you add to the mix, the more complicated your analysis becomes. However, a comprehensive marketing audit can also give you a much deeper insight into what’s working for your business.
Different types of marketing audit: Your marketing audit checklist
When you start seeing words like ‘audit’ and ‘macro-environment’ it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the concept of building your marketing audit template.
Fortunately, it isn’t as tough as it seems.
A marketing audit is simply a way of listening to what your customers want and responding to their needs with an updated strategy. It’s how you make sure that you’re making ‘informed’ decisions, rather than just guessing at what might work well for your company.
Not sure what your clients and prospects like reading about on your blog? Your marketing audit can help. No idea how to refine your website to rank higher in the search engines? Marketing audits can help with that too. However, for a full-scale audit that provides panoramic visibility into your brand, you’ll need a comprehensive marketing audit template.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all print-out for a marketing audit checklist, here are just some things you can add to your list.
The micro environment:
- Staff performance.
- Brand ambassadors.
- Marketing environment/channels.
- Marketing tools and services.
The macro environment:
- SWOT analysis.
- Political, environmental, social, technological, legal and economic factors (PESTLE).
- Audience environment.
- Business goals.
- Marketing strategies/plans.
- Marketing mix.
- Organic rankings.
- Click-through rate.
- Link profile / domain authority.
- Page speed.
- User experience.
- Web design.
Social media marketing:
- Social presence.
- Industry influence.
- Business referrals.
- Event attendance.
- Press coverage.
We know that all that seems like a lot to cover in one marketing audit. However, you don’t have to cover everything at once. Start with the top 3 sections, then work your way down through website audits, social media audits, and even offline marketing audits to ensure that every touchpoint you have is working properly for your organisation. You can even make your way towards a ‘brand audit’ over time.
How to conduct a marketing audit: Analysing your assets
Now that you know some of the things you can include in a marketing audit template, you can begin to conduct your internal assessments.
Remember, an effective marketing audit isn’t an excuse to pat yourself on the back for a great strategy that stays true to your brand promise. It also isn’t a way for you to beat yourself up for all the things you’ve done wrong up to now. Learning how to conduct a marketing audit means paying attention to all the data you’re gathering from consumer interactions each day and using it to your advantage.
Here are five steps to help you simplify your marketing audit.
1. Create an inventory of marketing assets
Before you can start sifting through your marketing campaigns to figure out what’s working for you, it’s important to create a complete list of all the marketing efforts you want to analyse during this audit. If you’re conducting a comprehensive marketing audit, then you’ll need to gather everything, from your email newsletters to your social media announcements and your even your website blog posts.
To keep your work to a minimum, try looking at the assets specifically from the last 6 months or so. This should give you enough data without overwhelming your team.
2. Align your audit with your goals
Next, you need a baseline on which you can measure the success of your efforts. In other words, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve, and how your marketing campaigns are taking you closer to your targets. Look at your current business goals. Do you want to raise more awareness, engage your audience, or simply drive better sales? Once you know your goals, you can ask yourself more focused questions throughout the audit, such as:
- How does marketing channel X achieve goal A?
- What is marketing channel X’s ROI in line with goal B?
- How can we improve marketing channel X to serve our goals?
3. Gather data about your marketing performance
Gather as much information as possible about the marketing you’re tracking as part of your audit. Certain channels will come with metrics that are easier to measure than others. For instance:
- To measure social media performance, you can look at likes, shares, engagement, click-through rate and social influence.
- To measure your website performance, you can examine bounce rate, average time on page, conversion rates and click-through rate.
- To measure email marketing, you can track open rates, subscription levels, unsubscribe rates, and click-through.
Look for a way to calculate the return on investment for each of the major marketing channels you want to address with your marketing audit. Remember, sales aren’t the only conversions that drive value for your business. An effective marketing campaign might not drive a lot of direct sales, but it could encourage better word of mouth marketing and social presence, which gives you a better brand reach.
4. Compare your results to your goals
Next, you’re ready to determine whether the goals you’re getting are sufficient enough to continue your marketing investment or even increase it in a certain area. This part is tricky. It’s easy to assume that a marketing campaign that isn’t living up to your targets is failing. However, there’s also a chance that you could be setting your goals too high.
To ensure that you’re not unrealistic with your marketing efforts, compare the results of your campaigns with the performance of similar competitors in your space. While you might not be able to track every detail about your competitors, such as their bound rate, you can make some inferences based on the data you take from a competitor analysis.
5. Adapt and optimise
Now you’re ready to make a positive change to your marketing strategy. With the details of your marketing audit in hand, make changes that are designed to improve your ROI, and streamline your advertising budget. Remember, don’t conduct an audit if you’re not willing to act. This is your chance to make sure that you’re using your resources and time properly – both online and offline.
Work as a team with your marketing and sales groups, as well as any marketing audit agencies you have access to, to plan how you’ll use the data you’ve gathered in an actionable way. For instance, you might:
- Drive employee advocacy adoption.
- Implement new SEO measures and keywords.
- Produce and publish more website content.
- Switch to a different social media channel, or add extra channels to your campaign.
- Adapt your user personas and segments.
- Build out your email campaigns.
The best metrics to measure in a marketing audit
Routinely engaging in marketing audits helps to give your company a deeper understanding of where you’re generating the most leads, and where you might need to alter your marketing strategy.
As you’ve probably learned by this point, there are many different types of marketing audit. In fact, work with the right marketing agency, and you can conduct your own bespoke audits looking at a specific selection of marketing channels.
However, no matter where your analytics take you, you’ll need to ensure that you’re evaluating the right metrics. Here are just some of the aspects we recommend you look at when browsing through the components of a marketing audit.
1. Brand reputation/ consistency
What better time to check that you’re having the right impact on all of your marketing channels? A marketing audit allows you to dive deeper into your promotional efforts and ensure that you’re leaving the right stamp on your niche. Over time, any company can slip up and create inconsistencies in the way that their brand appears. However, you need consistency if you want any hope of earning customer trust. When conducting your marketing audits, check the following features for signs of consistency:
- Tone of voice.
- Brand photography.
- Logo and graphics.
- Images and colours.
- Customer experience.
- Typography and fonts.
2. Marketing quality / potential
Even if your marketing audit reveals that parts of your strategy are delivering decent results, that doesn’t mean that it’s time to sit back and relax. There are always places where you can improve and deliver better experiences for your customers.
Find out which of your marketing materials and channels are delivering the best results and why. Don’t settle for ‘good enough’. Determine whether you’re tapping into the full potential of your campaigns.
If you’re not sure whether you’re having the right impact on your audience, ask yourself:
- Do we need to consider other channels and marketing platforms?
- Does your messaging and external communication strategy represent a great value proposition?
- Are you resolving customer pain points with your marketing strategy?
3. Conversions and leads
Ultimately, your marketing strategies can’t be successful if they’re not delivering leads and potential conversions for your company. Before you start judging your campaigns through your marketing audit, remember to define what a ‘conversion’ means to you on each channel. For instance, conversions can include:
- Subscriptions to newsletters.
- Filling out a form.
- Contacting a member of staff.
If you discover that some of your channels aren’t delivering as many conversions as they should be, ask yourself why that might be the case. For instance, do you have all the elements you need on that channel to drive conversions?
- Do you have a call-to-action?
- Are you A/B testing your headings, CTAs, visual elements, etc?
- Is your value proposition clear enough?
- Do you have a lead magnet?
- Are you nurturing leads that don’t convert?
4. Lead nurturing opportunities
While lead generation is an important part of marketing, it’s worth remembering that the people who end up on your website, or at your store aren’t always going to buy something immediately. Statistics suggest that it takes around 6 to 8 touches to create a viable sales lead. That means that you need your marketing to have lead nurturing avenues too.
- Are you sending emails to leads to convince them to re-engage?
- Is the content you create appropriate for the needs of your buyers during different stages of their customer journey?
- Are you connecting with customers on the right range of channels (website, social media, offline, etc.)?
- Are you gathering and responding to customer data regularly?
5. Customer engagement
Finally, modern marketing isn’t just about gathering sales from your audience anymore; it’s about convincing them to form relationships with your brand. Signs of engagement should be everywhere when you’re conducting your marketing audit. For instance, comments left on your blog are a sign that your clients are interested in what you have to say. Shares and re-tweets on social media indicate that you’re part of your customer’s conversation. If you’re not getting enough engagement, ask yourself:
- Are my marketing strategies emotional enough?
- Does my brand personality resonate with my target audience?
- Are my user personas out of date?
- Do I give customers enough opportunities to engage in their favourite channels?
- Could I use engagement driving strategies like contests and giveaways?
Do you need an effective marketing audit?
Figuring out how to conduct a marketing audit that improves your brand presence and enhances your ability to connect with customers isn’t easy.
Every business has their own marketing strategy, and that means that every marketing audit is different. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking the time to analyse your promotional efforts. A marketing audit is a way for you to turn your marketing campaigns inside out and discover all of your strengths and weaknesses.
Though dissecting your marketing strategy might not seem like much fun, it’s an important way of making sure that you’re driving the best possible ROI for your business. The more you evaluate the objectives, processes, and activities that make up your marketing strategy, the more you gain insight into the core systems of your business growth.
By the time you’ve finished sorting through all the components of a marketing audit, you should know exactly which actions you need to take to improve every aspect of your marketing plan. From SEO to social media, website content to video posts, your marketing audit gets to the bottom of what’s really paying to keep your business afloat.
Knowledge is power. Don’t underestimate the value of being informed.
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