Running a successful company today takes a lot of work.
Not only do you need to come up with an incredible idea for a product or service that your customers will love, but you also need a way of attracting customers to your brand. That means coming up with a sensational marketing strategy.
Though most companies know that marketing is an essential part of growing their organisation, they often make the mistake of thinking that they can come up with just one effective strategy and stick with it for the rest of their company’s lifespan. However, as promotional pros know, the world of advertising is continually evolving to suit the changing needs of an increasingly demanding audience. The marketing efforts that worked for you in the past might not have the same impact in the future.
Fortunately, there is a way to make sure that you’re not falling behind the curve with your marketing campaigns. All you need to do is conduct a regular marketing audit that looks at both the interior and exterior factors affecting your success.
Today, we’re going to be looking at the nature of the “internal” marketing audit – the analysis that involves an evaluation of everything from your marketing team, to the channels you rely on to share your message with others.
Here’s how you can start your promotional optimisation practices from the inside out.
Internal marketing audit definition: What is the internal environment?
Let’s start with the basics: An internal marketing audit definition.
A marketing audit is simply an analytical process used to examine your promotional environment from social media marketing through to SEO. Whether you’re investing in direct mail, email marketing, or even in-person events, your audit will show you which of your campaigns are working, and which are just costing you money.
Importantly, a genuinely comprehensive marketing audit doesn’t just look at the avenues and techniques you’re using to get your message out there. Instead, these audits also look at the other factors that can impact your performance. For instance, from an external point of view, you might consider the social and economic landscape that changes the way that people buy and view products.
From an internal marketing audit perspective, you’ll be looking at the things that you have greater control over in your advertising campaigns, such as your marketing team, your choice of promotional tools, and so on.
Through a comprehensive marketing audit, information, the external and internal environment of your business can be gathered and analysed in a systematic and structured way. Once you’ve collected all of the right information, you can use your external and internal marketing audit checklist to figure out how you’re going to adapt your marketing methods to achieve a better return on investment.
While an external marketing audit focuses on what’s going on outside of your company that might change the outcomes of your campaigns, internal marketing audit tools allow you to get a better overview of all the components of your promotion that you control. You’ll be looking at everything from the labour and financial budgets you have, to the time you dedicate to marketing each day, the efficiency of your team, the correlation you have between different marketing channels, and so much more.
An internal marketing audit also covers components of your current promotional plan, focusing on the strategies, objectives, and “marketing mix” you’re using to reach your business goals. The in-depth and comprehensive nature of a marketing audit is why so many companies focus on just one aspect of their marketing at a time. For instance, you might perform a review that looks at your content strategy, then move onto examining your email and social media campaigns.
While internal marketing audits and external evaluations take a lot of time, they’re also worth the effort. According to one study by Coschedule, marketers that have a well-documented strategy for marketing, informed by regular audits, have a 538% higher chance of success.
When to conduct an internal marketing audit
So, when exactly should you be investing in an internal marketing audit checklist for your company? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. Like most things in the marketing world, there are no concrete rules to how you should be scheduling your internal analytics.
The most important thing to remember is that an audit is there to help you remain consistently profitable with your campaigns. In other words, it’s a form of preventative maintenance, not a way of responding to issues when your business is in crisis mode. If you wait until you already have severe problems with your promotional campaigns before you consider an audit, then you could be losing a lot of time and money.
There are a few great times to schedule a marketing audit in your business, including:
When you’re just getting started with a new promotional campaign, and you want to make sure that you’re focusing on the right areas.
When you’ve completed one of your new marketing campaigns, and you want to determine where you should be concentrating on next.
Every 6-12 months to ensure that you’re not falling behind when it comes to marketing trends and industry performance.
The more you ramp up your marketing efforts, the more frequently you’ll conduct your internal and external marketing audits. That’s because you’ll be gathering larger amounts of data from your target audience and internal analytics. The more data you collect and analyse through regular auditing practices, the more informed your business decisions will be when it comes to planning the future of your organisation.
The best way to think of marketing audits is as a similar strategy to conducting a regular performance review for your employees. Typically, business leaders use employee reviews to give their staff members feedback on how they can improve their work and get more out of their career. However, for entrepreneurs, marketing audits will perform the same role. They give you an insight into whether you’re reaching your milestones or not, and what you need to do differently.
Creating your internal marketing audit template
If you decide that now is the perfect time to perform your own internal marketing audit, then you’re going to need a strategy to guide you. A template or series of checklists is a great way to make sure that you don’t end up veering off track and gathering data that won’t be useful to your campaigns.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to creating the ideal marketing audit, there are a few rules that you can keep in mind when you’re designing your strategy. For instance, while you can conduct an internal marketing audit using members of your own leadership team, it’s generally better to pay for outside assistance. An internal overview of your own business and campaigns is bound to come with a bit of bias. We’re all tempted to give ourselves top marks when we know how hard we’ve been working on our brand messaging and content.
On the other hand, an external auditing company can be completely objective and realistic with you when it comes to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing strategies. Although this might be harder for you to handle at first, it means that you’ll be able to make more significant changes to your campaigns going forward. This will bring you closer to achieving the goals of your marketing mission.
Alongside choosing a third party for your auditing procedures, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your internal marketing audit template is:
Comprehensive: Covering every aspect of your internal marketing strategy, from your employees to the channels and tools you rely on.
Methodical: Make sure that you have a comprehensive strategy for covering micro and macro environments inside and outside of your organisation.
Regular: As mentioned above, audits need to be a regular part of the complete business cycle for them to be effective. Don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull out your internal marketing audit checklist.
Internal marketing audit checklist: Points to cover
There are many different components involved in running a successful marketing audit. When you’re looking at the performance of your internal environment, the most critical 3 pillars are:
Marketing organisation audit.
Marketing function audit.
Marketing channels audit.
The marketing organisation audit
The marketing organisation audit in your internal analysis is where you examine the structure of your marketing team, and who is responsible for getting your campaigns out into the world. During this analysis, you’ll look at things like your hiring procedures, how you manage your teams, and how you keep employees working as efficiently and productively as possible.
Who is involved in my marketing team?
Does each member of staff know their role and responsibility?
Is my entire team aligned? Do they know how to collaborate?
Should I be hiring external contractors as well as internal support?
Do I need specialists for specific marketing campaigns?
What kind of approval and workflow process do I currently have in place?
How do I ensure employee engagement and satisfaction?
Is my team big enough to support my marketing campaigns today?
The marketing function audit
The second stage of your internal marketing audit focuses on “marketing functions.” This involves reviewing the core abilities of your business and the message that you’re putting across to the world. Here, you’ll need to look at the USPs that you’re sharing with your target audience, and the brand voice you’re using to build your presence.
During the marketing function audit, you can also examine your product against your competitors to see where you stand in your industry. Ask yourself:
What are the USPs of my product/service?
How does my brand image share my value?
Who is my current customer and target customer?
How does my brand voice resonate with my target customer?
How does my product/service compare to that of my competitors?
How do customers perceive my brand and service/products?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of my rivals?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of my own offering?
How loyal is my target audience?
How do I improve relationships with my target audience?
The marketing channels audit
Finally, the third stage of your internal marketing audit involves looking at the channels you use to connect with your audience. This is your opportunity to determine how effective those channels are when it comes to helping you reach your goals.
To prevent audits from becoming too overwhelming, most companies will focus on one thing at a time, such as landing pages, content marketing, SEO, and social media. Some of the questions that you can ask yourself during this phase include:
How effective is my website design, what does it say about my company?
Do I give customers an excellent user experience online?
How comprehensive is my content strategy?
What kind of additional content could I invest in (podcasts, social media? video)
Am I active on the right social media channels?
What kind of email marketing efforts am I using?
Do I need to expand my SEO efforts?
Should I be investing in paid advertising (PPC)?
What kind of outreach am I doing?
Should I be connecting with other businesses through guest blogs?
How am I building my thought leadership position?
What’s my reputation in the current market?
What’s my ROI from each marketing channel?
Are there marketing channels I need to remove from my strategy?
Internal marketing audit tools: SWOT analyses
When it comes to conducting an effective marketing audit, you’ll find plenty of tools that you can use online to help you out. Sometimes, those tools will be digital analytics solutions like Google Analytics, will help you to make better decisions about your marketing based on in-depth insights into how people are responding to your website, social media campaigns, and content marketing.
In other circumstances, your internal marketing audit tools will be simply the strategies that you use to evaluate each component of your marketing efforts. For instance, one of the most common solutions used for internal marketing is the “SWOT” analysis.
If you’ve never conducted a SWOT analysis before, it’s all about figuring out what works for your brand by looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in specific areas. A SWOT analysis can be as in-depth or simple as you like, depending on the kind of audit you want to do.
Here’s what a standard SWOT overview will look like:
Strengths: Begin your SWOT analysis by looking at your strengths. This could cover all of the advantages you have in your marketing strategy right now or just the positives of certain parts of your marketing strategy. For instance, having excellent research on your target market and a team of professional content marketers are obvious strengths.
Weaknesses: Follow up on your strengths by looking at the areas in your campaigns that need the most improvement. No business is excellent at everything. Identifying your weaknesses, such as lack of distribution channels or inferior outreach methods, will show you where you need to invest in improving your campaigns going forward.
Opportunities: Look at the opportunities that are available to you in the current market. Based on what you know about your strengths and weaknesses, what could you do to tap into new sources of brand loyalty and revenue? For instance, maybe you could try a new marketing channel, or work with a specialist to improve the impact of your current campaigns.
Threats: Determine where you’re facing the biggest threats in your marketing. For instance, maybe your competitors have better brand reach than you, which means that you need to start focusing on niche audiences. On the other hand, perhaps you’re struggling because you don’t have a huge budget, which means that you need to be more cautious about where you spend your marketing dollars. Address the threat by finding creative ways to overcome the issues that could be holding you back.
Internal marketing audit example guide for success
Now that you know all the basics about internal marketing audits, you’re ready to start building your own comprehensive template for success.
As mentioned above, the nature of your audit is likely to differ depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, how extensive your analytics are, and more. However, there are four key steps involved in any successful internal audit, and those are:
Step 1: Setting your goals
The only way to know for sure whether you’re moving in the right direction is to set some goals that you can focus on and aim for. Figure out precisely what you want to get out of your marketing audit and write down some of the crucial metrics that you’re going to be collecting along the way.
For instance, if you’re conducting a marketing audit because you want to find out whether your social media marketing strategy is working, then you’ll need to look at things like:
Step 2: Collecting your data
Data is at the heart of any audit, whether it’s internal or external. The more information you can collect, the more you’ll know about your campaigns. Depending on what you’re trying to learn about your promotional campaigns, there may be tools in your repertoire that you can use to gather data. For instance, if you’re looking at the performance of your website and content strategy, you might use tools like SEMRush and Google Analytics.
On the other hand, if you’re collecting information about your social media efforts, most channels come with internal tools you can use to access useful reports.
Step 3: Review results carefully
With your marketing audit data in hand, you’ll be able to start analysing what you’ve learned and transforming basic numbers into real actionable insights. For instance, if you find out that you have more followers and engagement on Instagram than you have on LinkedIn, you’ll know that you should probably focus more of your attention on visual social platforms.
If you’re examining your marketing data on a broader level, it’s worth looking into industry benchmarks to help you analyse your KPIs. You can find plenty of resources online to help you compare yourself to other companies in your niche. For instance, here are 5 great options.
Step 4: Plan your next steps
Finally, using what you learn, the last step involves figuring out what you’re going to do next. At this point, you should have a thorough overview of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in your chosen marketing area. Using the information, you’ve gathered, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about where you need to invest your marketing budget, and what you need to do next.
Conducting your internal marketing audit
A marketing strategy is one of the most important tools your company has.
With the right promotional campaigns, you can make sure that you reach your audience on their level, sharing the unique benefits that your product or service has to offer. Without marketing, you wouldn’t be able to earn the attention of your customers or create the revenue required to keep your business afloat. However, it’s important to remember that a marketing strategy isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it concept.
If you want to thrive in today’s competitive environment, then you need to be able to constantly review and upgrade your marketing strategy based on what you learn about the industry and your customers. An internal marketing audit is just one half of a comprehensive plan for consistently amazing advertising.
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