The Essentials of a Marketing Audit and How to Do it Right

When was your last check-up?

Ok, so that may be a weird question for an agency to ask, but we promise we’re not talking about your last visit to the doctor’s office. Instead, we mean, when was the last time you audited your marketing efforts?

In a way, marketing audits are like regular health check-ups. Just like how a doctor should have a full understanding of what’s going on with your body before prescribing you medicine or treatment, a company should have someone comprehensively evaluate their marketing before determining what service is needed.

In working with a range of diverse clients, we’ve come to find that a marketing audit is the key first step to solving most marketing woes. Whether you’re desperately in need of one or are just curious to learn more, here are the need-to-know facts about marketing audits.

What is a Marketing Audit?

Essentially, a marketing audit is a holistic analysis and evaluation of your marketing ecosystem. And when we say ecosystem, we mean anything and everything that affects your marketing performance, from external factors to internal components.

Going back to that medical analogy, it’s like taking a look at your lifestyle and environment, as well as what’s going on inside your body, in order to determine what you need to do to stay healthy (or become healthier) moving forward.

This kind of end-to-end analysis is necessary to accurately identify any problems or areas of opportunity and figure out the best marketing strategies for your business. The results of a marketing audit will equip you with the facts, data, and insights you need to make decisions that support your marketing goals and boost your bottom line.

To successfully achieve this, a marketing audit should be:

  • Comprehensive: Various aspects of your marketing are, more often than not, intertwined. A comprehensive audit will uncover more accurate insights into the state of your marketing ecosystem.
  • Systematic: Having an organized system for evaluating your marketing is key to ensuring that every detail is accounted for.
  • A Regular Occurrence: Don’t just call for an audit when things are going awry. Recurring marketing audits are your best tool to catch problems early and stay on top of developing innovations and opportunities.

The Main Elements of a Marketing Audit

To break down things even further, let’s dive into what a marketing audit typically evaluates. An easy way to look at an audit is through two categories: external elements and internal elements.

External elements are factors outside of your business that affect your performance, including:

  • Consumers
  • Competitors
  • Industry trends
  • PESTLE factors: political, environmental, social, technological, legal, and economic

Internal elements, on the other hand, will be factors that are directly under your control:

Who Should Conduct a Marketing Audit?

Now, if that all sounds like a massive effort, it’s because it is! Truthfully, it’s not uncommon for companies to delay or disregard a marketing audit and this is a judgment-free zone for anyone who’s been struggling with an audit themselves.

To make things easier, many organizations turn to third-party agencies to perform a marketing audit. Doing so allows the core team to focus on their main activities without being sidetracked.

But the convenience factor is just one reason to have a third party conduct an audit. Working with a marketing agency like ours offers an array of other advantages:

  • Objective Evaluation: Internal teams may have underlying biases, while a third party typically goes in with a fresh perspective. Having an independent agency audit your marketing allows for a fairer and more objective assessment.
  • Access to Experts: Marketing agencies are made up of diversely talented team members who are experts in their fields and can make sound judgments on all aspects of your marketing ecosystem.
  • Greater Benchmarking: With insights into what other organizations and industries are doing, an agency can better benchmark your audit results against industry standards.
  • One-Stop-Shop for Solutions: In addition to being able to provide you with an objective evaluation, a marketing agency also has all the skills and resources needed to address the issues or opportunities uncovered by the audit.

You can also learn more about what it’s like to work with us here.

The 5 Steps to a Marketing Audit

While you’ll most likely want to have an independent marketing agency conduct your audit, it’s still important to know exactly what that will entail. Here are 5 steps to be prepared for:

 

1. Identify Your Marketing Goals and Objectives

Before anything, you’ll want to establish your marketing goals and objectives. These can include overarching goals, like increasing market share, as well as channel-specific goals, such as improving social media engagement or website visitors.

When identifying your goals, be sure to follow the SMART goals framework, which will help you guide your efforts by creating goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Quick Tip: You should establish both short-term and long-term goals, but be sure to add a target date for both (i.e. in two years) in order to set a sense of urgency.  

 

2. Review the Current Environment

This involves analyzing the external elements discussed earlier — your customers, your competition, industry trends, and PESTLE factors — and seeing how well your business fits into the current landscape.

Figure out what your company’s position is amongst the competition and in the eyes of your customers. Take note of any changes that may affect your goals and performance. Identify the strengths and weaknesses your business has or could have going forward.

While this step may seem redundant (“Oh, I already know all of that!”), don’t underestimate how quickly things can change. It’s better to have an accurate and updated view of the current environment than to work from an outdated understanding.

 

3. Take Inventory of Your Marketing Assets & Performance

This is the big one. Before you can evaluate your marketing ecosystem, you’ll have to compile a list of all your marketing efforts and, if possible, how well they performed.

A holistic audit means collecting information on most of your internal elements: brand materials, email scripts, social media campaigns, website content, creative designs — the whole shebang. Some details to note about each asset in that list are:

  • Type of Asset
  • Objective
  • Target Audience
  • Performance Metrics
  • ROI
  • Relevance

Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of data to work through, so having an experienced agency team that can work carefully and systematically will be a huge factor in success here.

 

4. Analyze Results and Make Conclusions

Once you’ve taken inventory of your marketing assets and performance, you can then analyze all of that data.

Go through each section one by one and find your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Consider how these results compare to your competition or the industry standard. Take note of any performance gaps or problem areas, but also keep an eye out for new opportunities, such as in areas that you’re excelling in.

Stay Curious: Don’t forget to ask questions and dig deep into the why of your efforts. Why did this campaign not work? Why did this other effort work so well?

 

5. Preparing Your Report and Creating An Action Plan

Finally, you’re ready to report on your findings and craft an action plan. The report will showcase the insights you’ve gained from the audit, while the action plan serves to outline the steps needed to address each area of weakness or opportunity.

From there, you can prioritize tasks based on the order of importance, assign them to the relevant teams, and get the ball rolling!

PH3: The “PhD” for Your Auditing Needs

Whether you’re struggling with marketing in general or just one aspect of it, a comprehensive audit is often the first step to solving your headaches. And since “Make It Better” is our mission, we here at PH3 have mastered the art of the marketing audit. Not only will we identify any areas of weakness or opportunity, but we’ll develop a course of action that will have the greatest impact on your business performance.  

Want to get started? We’re ready when you are.