The success of most businesses is dependent on the effectiveness of their marketing. Getting consistent results from your marketing requires that you regularly evaluate how well your programs are doing driving inbound leads and ultimately sales. If your results aren’t what you expect, or a particular marketing activity isn’t performing as expected, a marketing audit will help you identify where the problems lie.
What is a marketing audit?
A marketing audit, sometimes called a marketing assessment, is a deep-dive review of some or all of your existing marketing assets and activities to determine how well they are serving your business. An audit can encompass your entire marketing plan or can focus on individual strategies such as content marketing.
A full marketing audit reviews all aspects of your marketing activities including:
- Target audience
- Strategic positioning
- Brand consistency
- Marketing goals and strategies to achieve those goals
- Website effectiveness
- Content relevance
- Web presence visibility
- Marketing tools and technology
Depending on the size of the company, a marketing audit may also review budget and ROI and your marketing organization’s people, skills, attitudes and alignment with the rest of the business. The data collected during the assessment provides an in-depth look at your marketing and helps you determine where the:
- Results could be more favorable
- Strategies need to be adjusted
- Activities that are driving real business growth
Benefits of a marketing audit
There are several benefits to a business that regularly reviews and adjusts their marketing. An audit will:
- Highlight your strengths and weaknesses in your current marketing plan
- Help you determine how to modify your marketing plan to increase its effectiveness
- Give you the information you need to reallocate resources on more useful activities
- Ensure your company projects the best possible image across your entire digital footprint
What we may find during the marketing audit
When conducting a marketing audit, there are many things you may discover. Not all businesses will have the same results and what you find can help you set yourself apart from the competition.
Marketing strategies are not aligned with your goals
If you developed a marketing plan, you should have defined some goals. If your marketing activities are not getting you closer to achieving those goals, either the goals are not valid or you are spending time and money on things that aren’t of value. Maybe:
- You had too many goals and not enough resources to successfully achieve them.
- Your goals weren’t focused on outcomes verses non-specific wishes.
- The goals are not aligned with the vision you have for your business
Review your goals and determine which ones get you closer to your vision. Those that don’t just eliminate.
Setting goals that help you get to your destination will make them much more important to you and therefore, more likely to be accomplished.
Marketing activities may or may not be working
Sometimes it is difficult to see which your activities are positively affecting your business success. Assessing your lead generation activities can uncover issues that aren’t obvious at first glance. A fresh pair of eyes on your lead generation funnels or direct marketing projects provide insight into what is happening and why you aren’t capturing the attention and interest of your target. Sometimes it only takes a small adjustment. Other times we may recommend scraping the entire activity and starting over.
If what you are doing isn’t helping your business achieve its goals, increase awareness and generate new leads and sales, then you should discontinue that effort and move your resources onto something else that does contribute to the bottom line.
Your target audience may have changed
As your business grows and matures, your ideal client will naturally evolve. As you get a clearer perspective on your business, you begin to attract an audience that values what you have to offer, enjoys working with you and possibly are willing to pay more for your expertise. Not only do you thrive working with this client, these clients truly benefit from working with you.
Maybe it’s time to adjust your target market, catering more to this new, more lucrative market. These changes will require you to:
- Adjust your messages
- Create more relevant content
- Redefine your service offerings
- Adjust your marketing activities
Your products and services are not relevant to your target market.
Correctly pricing and packaging your products and services for your target audience is one of the more powerful marketing activities that you can do. Are your products and services:
- Created to help your ideal client overcome some critical need?
- Packaged such that they highlight your unique skills aimed at your ideal client?
- Priced to fit their budget while maximizing your revenue?
Value packaging your services to align with their needs reduces their perceived risk of working with you and makes their purchase decision much easier.
Your brand is inconsistent across your web properties
Over time, you may forget how you represented your brand on a particular platform as you continually put out content create social media profiles. But a consistent brand is a must if you want to be memorable and gain trust from your potential prospects.
- Do you project the same image and message across all web properties?
- Does your website accurately reflect who you work with and what you offer?
- Is what you say on your social profiles consistent with what is on your website?
If your marketing tools are inconsistent, you confuse your prospects which reflects poorly on your brand. It is important that your brand be consistent every place your business has a profile so that no matter where someone finds your business, they are left with a compelling, lasting impression.
Your website isn’t converting visitors to leads
In addition to an inconsistent brand, your website needs to be modern, mobile responsive and communicate value to your target audience. Without a well-optimized, quality website, your visibility is compromised.
Creating a compelling website and investing in search engine optimization helps you establish a strong web presence. As the hub of your web presence and the central focal point of your inbound marketing strategy, your website is where you can regularly develop and promote relevant, brand-related content that can drive more inbound leads and increase your revenue.
You are not using the right marketing tools to automate processes
Since most small businesses are trying to execute their marketing activities with very few, if any, resources, having the right tools to automate some of your activities is like getting another pair of hands. Depending on what type of marketing you are doing, you may need some of all of the following:
- Content management system (CMS)
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Web analytics
- Email service providers
- Marketing automation
- Social media publishing and monitoring
- Editorial calendars
A marketing assessment will look at what you are doing, what tools you are using and make recommendations on which ones are right for you. Most likely you won’t need them all, but a few good automation tools can simplify your processes and make your marketing more effective.
Now adjust and execute
Your marketing audit has given you the valuable information you need to adjust your marketing plan. Keep doing what has worked and reassign resources (money or time) to new activities that may produce better results. Reallocation of resources may allow you to:
- Trim your marketing budget without hurting your revenue
- Spend some more time blogging and building relationships on social networks
- Invest in search engine marketing or Facebook advertising to drive more visitors to your website
Whether you feel your marketing was successful or not, you should plan on doing regular reviews every 90 days so that you don’t go the entire year and then realize that something isn’t quite right. If you conduct a marketing audit, it will help you determine what marketing activities stay, what goes and what needs a bit of tweaking.
If your marketing is working, keep doing what is successful, eliminate what isn’t, and leave some room in your budget for unexpected marketing opportunities if they should arise.
Debra Murphy is a marketing coach and consultant who helps small businesses navigate the complex maze of online marketing. Experienced across all traditional marketing channels, Debra specializes in inbound marketing, a combination of search, social media and content marketing, to help small businesses effectively utilize this new media to gain visibility and generate inbound leads. Debra regularly writes about small business marketing on her Masterful Marketing blog and contributes to thought-leading resources like Business2Community and Social Media Today.