Have you ever taken a step back to look at your business and thought ‘where am I going wrong’?
In truth, that’s a question that most business owners ask, and the answer can range from the small right up to the huge when it comes to issues.
Still, from a marketing perspective, it’s actually an excellent idea to give your efforts a good audit at least once a year to ensure you’re on track to achieve your goals.
What is a marketing audit?
A marketing audit is a full look at how all of your marketing efforts are working and whether or not you’re achieving your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the set period.
Marketing audits might be split up into smaller audits.
You may look at just your social media, for example, or choose to do a large audit that looks at your entire organisation’s marketing approach.
When you conduct a marketing audit, your job highlights strengths and weaknesses in your marketing strategies. To ensure your marketing audit gives you the best results, here are some key factors to pay attention to:
- Holistic marketing goals
- Current marketing performance (including all channels)
- Website conversion rates
- Your current target audience
- User experience
- All of your products and services
- Performance of all current and past marketing campaigns
It can seem a little scary to begin tackling so many things at once.
Which is why breaking down your marketing audit can help categorise and prioritise where you spend your time and budget.
Smaller marketing audits
Smaller audits, usually called ‘Micro Environment Audits’, are useful to do each month or each quarter. Taking one aspect of your marketing and breaking it down by reports will help you to keep track of:
- your business goals
- market position
- market share
- your short-term objectives
A great example of this type of audit process was 2020.
Many travel companies will have had their marketing activities set out for 2020 usually by the end of 2019, but three months into 2020 and everything changed due to the global pandemic.
The travel industry’s target audience (holidaymakers) no longer could book flights or find cheap hotels.
This is an extreme example, but it shows the utility in always being flexible with your marketing strategies and goals, adjusting things as needs arise and not being afraid to pull plans when external factors make your marketing plans inappropriate.
Bigger marketing audits, usually called ‘Macro Environment Audits’, are a great idea to do every six or twelve months, depending on your company’s size, or when there is a significant shift in focus for your company.
A bigger audit will consider your entire marketing plan, go through what you have set up and in place right now, and see where things need to be improved in the future.
During a larger marketing audit, you can expect a business to:
- Review the business objectives
- Revisit any opportunities and threats
- Refresh (or purge) wasted marketing assets
- Conduct a thorough competitor analysis
- All areas of the company’s marketing
It’s important to think about the short term, medium-term, and long term goals when it comes to audit evaluating, and to ask yourself ‘why am I doing this? What do I hope it will achieve for my business’.
All too often, businesses assume they must appear on every channel, go down every avenue, and put content everywhere to ‘do’ marketing right when that leads to a case of being spread too thinly.
It’s better to create content for and appear in the right places and on the right channels for your business and do it well.
Marketing strategy audits
You may also decide to take a look at your marketing strategy during a marketing audit.
This is a great thing to do along with a bigger audit because it will help you to align your marketing channels and your messages to a proper strategy for the coming period.
Your marketing strategy will help you to make decisions about what channels to use, your marketing objectives, what message to put out, and how to communicate your core values to your customers or clients in the future.
Why is a marketing audit important?
Most businesses conduct a marketing audit to identify and review what’s working well, what’s not and, most importantly; what are their competitors doing?
A successful marketing audit covers all areas of your industry’s marketing landscape.
You cannot focus on a single channel – your company’s marketing needs to be reviewed from enquiry to purchase. Auditing your current position (and where you hope to go) helps you make informed decisions about budget and opportunities.
It would help if you were sure that the marketing you are doing is working, you’re not spending too much time and money on things that aren’t working, and that your business is performing in the best way possible.
A marketing audit is important to ensure that you’re on track to achieve the goals you’ve set out in your marketing strategy.
Marketing can change rapidly. Your competitors could begin investing heavily in PPC or SEO. If you didn’t audit your marketing mix, how would you know that?
What are the components of a marketing audit?
There are, broadly, two types of marketing: Inbound and Outbound.
When you undertake a full marketing audit for your brand, you’ll take both inbound marketing and outbound marketing into consideration and look at how both of these different aspects are helping and could help your business to grow over the next period (this might be the next six months, the next year, or even the next 10 years).
Inbound marketing is the type of marketing meant for people who are already looking for your service. They know they need you, and you’re allowing them to find you easily so they can take up your service or buy your product.
Some examples of inbound marketing include:
- Offline Advertising (magazine ads etc.)
- Printed Brand assets (giving out flyers for example)
- Regular posting on social media
- Blogs and article content marketing
- Your website content
- SEO (both content and technical)
- Paid ads (social ads or PPC ads)
This type of marketing is usually fairly passive because your potential client or customer is looking for your service or product, all you need to do is make sure that your service or product is easy for them to find.
Outbound marketing is a little more tricky and is usually the type of marketing that many businesses don’t do as well.
This marketing aspect is designed for your potential customers or clients who don’t know that they need your product or service, you’ll need to go out and find them and put your service in front of them to let them know you exist.
Outbound marketing also covers marketing to people who may already use a competitor service and explain why your service or product is better for them.
Some examples of outbound marketing include:
- Email marketing
- Direct mail marketing
- Cold Calling
Auditing Your Marketing Efforts
When undertaking any marketing audit, you’ll need to think about your brand and messaging to each of your target market segments, take a comprehensive look at what systems are in place for marketing, and how each aspect of your marketing efforts in achieving their goals as set out in your planned strategy and your KPI goals that you’ve set.
It is entirely possible to do a marketing audit internally and on your own, but the big caveat here is that it’s not easy to evaluate your work.
In most cases, it’s actually easier and better to have an outside agency do a full and comprehensive marketing audit for you.
Having an outside agency conduct your marketing audit will mean you have an impartial view of your marketing activity by someone who is not emotionally connected to what you’re putting out and your message.
How to conduct a marketing audit
To audit your marketing efforts correctly, you’ll need to take a systematic look at what you’re doing and how this aligns with your company’s strategy and your marketing strategy as a whole.
Professional marketing auditors use a variety of techniques to do this, including:
- SWOT analysis – Discovering the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your current efforts. You can do a SWOT analysis on a small scale (your Facebook page for example) or a wider overarching analysis of a whole channel (your website for example) to find and understand your business objectives.
- Competitor research – Looking at your closest competitors, what they are doing, how well they’re doing it, their messaging, and their results.
- Brand identity – How others see your brand in your industry, clients, competitors, and brand placement.
Next, you’ll need a plan and some marketing goals. There’s no point in looking at your current marketing efforts without knowing what you want to get out of your marketing in the future.
- Do you want to get more customers, sales, or conversions?
- Do you want more website traffic?
- Do you want to do a brand refresh, and why?
- Do you want more leads?
- Do you want your customers to think differently about your brand message?
Getting goals down on paper and creating benchmarks will mean that you will know how to track your results.
For example, your goal might be to get more leads from your website.
If you currently have 1000 visitors to your website a month and generate 50 leads, you’ll know you’re doing well if you get 2000 visitors and 200 leads next month. If you get 2000 visitors but only 52 leads, this isn’t much of an improvement.
As part of the auditing process, you’ll look at what you’re currently doing and how effective that channel or particular effort is against your goals.
It’s important to note here that different marketing channels may have different goals associated with them. Your website might be designed to generate leads or signups, but your social media accounts may be more geared towards generating ‘brand warmth’.
Reviewing your own internal marketing environment
You must analyse and assess all aspects of your company from a marketing perspective. This is one of the most important steps in any marketing audit, but one that’s often overlooked.
- Do you have the correct resources to support long term goals?
- What type of marketing materials will you need?
- Do you need to look for help outside of your organisation for your marketing to work?
- Have you analysed all of your company’s social media channels?
- How does your website perform? Does your website need a redesign?
How much does a marketing audit cost?
How much marketing audit costs heavily relies on what your business hopes to achieve from the audit.
However, a good way to break it down is to consider what you actually want to get out of your audit and how in-depth it should be.
If you’re doing an audit of just one small aspect of your marketing, it might be as little as £160 for a few hours’ work on a small business.
A much larger business might spend a few weeks doing a comprehensive audit of their entire marketing efforts. This is likely to mean a significantly higher cost and may even be over £10,000!
As a professional marketing team, we speak with all of our clients before beginning an audit to make sure they know exactly what they want to get out of it and how much it will cost.
Whether it’s a small audit or a full audit, we’re able to make sure you get the option you need.
Conducting a marketing audit is incredibly useful for your business, it will allow you to find out what you’re spending money on and where, spot problems with your marketing activities, and it will help you to make changes to your marketing efforts to ensure you’re spending the right amount of time and money on the things that count.
As a professional marketing agency, we can help you get that return on investment you’ve been after by doing a thorough audit and helping you to decide your goals in the future.