All businesses require some marketing to reach their target audience. However, a marketing strategy needs to change to accommodate a business’s natural changes and allow room for growth. Regularly scheduled marketing audits are critical to your organization’s success.
What Are Marketing Audits?
A marketing audit definition states that it comprehensively analyzes how a business is being marketed and takes an in-depth look at the current strategies. The audit allows business owners, partners, and teams to understand the impact of their marketing efforts, what needs to be changed or improved, and what is working to their benefit.
Marketing audits are necessary, because they allow you to fully understand the components of your strategy, and how to incrementally improve those strategies.
Your marketing audits are a tool to help you make better decisions about the performance of your campaigns. The purpose of a marketing audit is to:
- Help set goals and future objectives
- Gather information about the business assets, overall performance, and environment
- Analyze information and gathered data
- Use the analysis results to develop new and improved strategies
Marketing audits are also split into categories, which include internal audits and external audits.
Conducted by staff within the business or company. Because this type of audit is conducted in-house, they are also conducted and finished typically faster than external audits.
Conducted by an outside party that is a separate entity from the company or business. Although an external marketing audit can take longer to complete, it’s still an effective marketing audit because the outside perspective can offer a fresh pair of eyes with little to no bias to influence the new marketing plan.
Who Is in Charge of Conducting a Marketing Audit?
Most marketing audits are conducted by outside sources, such as a third-party company. This is often done to avoid bias when the auditor analyzes the data.
Components of a Marketing Audit
These are the components of successful marketing audits:
One of the first steps to ensuring your marketing audits are successful is to ensure they are comprehensive. A comprehensive marketing audit will include and evaluate every aspect of a marketing strategy.
A marketing audit should also be systematic, meaning that it is well organized, documented, and the auditors follow a process. For a marketing audit to be systematic, every operation that affects marketing efforts and performance must be evaluated.
Running audits independently allows you to avoid bias by the team responsible for implementing the marketing plan, which protects the integrity of the analysis.
Lastly, marketing strategy audits should be a recurring feature in a business. Marketing strategies will change as the business continues operating and will need to change to maintain a positive influence.
Having regular marketing audits performed also helps to prevent problems in the business before they have a chance to arise. A business should conduct a marketing audit report at least twice per year.
Do I Need a Marketing Audit for My Business?
Every business should have a marketing team and a marketing strategy in place. Therefore, you should also consider having a marketing audit conducted. There are many benefits to a marketing audit as well.
Audits allow you to pinpoint impact with better accuracy. Even when a business is young, audits can show what areas need more attention and improvement. The more regularly they are conducted, the easier it is to course correct.
How to Conduct a Marketing Audit
Conducting a successful marketing audit is split into multiple steps and will be a unique experience and report for every business and company. This is because every business and company has different goals and visions and will have different information to include and analyze in their marketing audit.
Step 1: List Marketing Goals and Objectives
A proper marketing strategy audit isn’t complete without prepared goals and objectives your company intends to achieve. Using the SMART goal system is typically one of the best ways to start this process. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
This goal system can be used as a checklist for meeting each goal. There are a multitude of goals that your business can strive toward, including:
- Increasing marketing performance and effectiveness
- Increasing audience reach
- Diversifying from competing brands and companies
- Increasing visibility, etc.
When establishing a list of objectives, you want to achieve, it is crucial to diversify and set both long-term and short-term goals. It is also important to keep the budget, labor, and priority requirements in mind when creating goals.
Step 2: Creating Customer Personas
Creating personas of your customers helps you uncover who your ideal buyer is. To create an effective customer persona, you will need to look at factors, including job titles, industry types, company size, geographical locations, and other demographic information.
Step 3: Identify Your Competition
Every industry has competition, so one of the best ways to combat competitors and stay on top is to understand your competition. Start by identifying the top 3-5 competitors to your business.
When evaluating and learning more about your competition, you should take note of how each competing company functions and their assets, including their website, products, services, and so on. This step allows you to compare your company to others in your industry, and to benchmark your marketing performance and marketing strategies.
Step 4: Describe Your Products and Services
Next, take time to properly and thoroughly describe what your products and services entail. When doing so, ensure to include every detail, including pricing, benefits, distribution methods, etc.
From there, you can compare the products and services of competing companies and develop a list of strengths and weaknesses of your products and services.
Step 5: Map Out Your Inventory
The next step is to compile a comprehensive list containing all marketing assets currently in use. This can include websites, inventory, materials, and so on. A spreadsheet will be useful in compiling this list of information for easy reference.
Step 6: Analyze Data and Draw Conclusions
All data will have been compiled and documented by this step, so the next step is to analyze what you’ve gathered. Again, this step also involves finding the strengths and weaknesses in your current marketing strategy.
Step 7: Make a Plan and Put It into Action
Once all data and other information has been analyzed and considered, the results can be used to create a thorough plan. This plan should be set into motion immediately and should allow your business to avoid potential problems that may have arisen if a plan were not in place.
This step should also point out areas as a result of the audit that could use improvements and areas that are beneficial to the marketers.
What Are the Marketing Audit Examples?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing audit. There are different types of audits fit for different purposes. To categorize the audits, there are three components: external environment, internal environment, and current marketing strategy.
One of the two types of external environment audits is the macro environment audit. As the name suggests, this type of audit process focuses on the big picture and outside factors of the business’s marketing strategy. These often include factors related to demographics, economic factors, factors surrounding the culture and environment, and so on.
Any of these factors can influence how well a business is marketed and how the marketing is received. Social trends and beliefs can also impact a business’s marketing strategy, and the marketing team must adapt to continue marketing effectively.
Task Environment Audit
Similar to the macro-environment audit, the task environment audit is also an external environment type of audit. However, this type of audit not only focuses on the external factors mentioned earlier, but also focuses on the operations behind the marketing.
This includes taking into account the size of the industry that the business is a part of. With this marketing audit, you will also look into your company’s competitors and the relationship your company has with its partners, distributors, and retailers.
Marketing Organization Audit
One of the three internal environment marketing audits is the marketing organization audit. This type of audit looks at the staff and labor behind the company and evaluates their performance by what is benefiting and hurting the company.
Marketing Function Audit
Another internal environment marketing audit type is the marketing function audit, which looks at the company’s abilities. This audit evaluates pricing, communication, distribution of goods and services, and the sales force. When conducting this type of audit, looking at the competitor’s data for comparison is worthwhile.
Marketing Systems Audit
The marketing systems audit evaluates the current marketing system in use. This includes the marketing information system, the marketing control system, and the new product development system.
Marketing Strategy Audit
This marketing audit evaluates the current strategies in use, as well as the business vision and purpose or mission. Marketing strategy audits evaluate if a strategy is appropriate for the business.
Marketing Productivity Audit
The marketing productivity audit evaluates the company’s productivity of marketing strategies. This type of audit will also evaluate if the strategies are cost-effective and their profitability.
Other Marketing Audit Tips to Know
Before starting the audit process, it is a good idea to list the marketing goals your company or business wants to achieve between audits. Goals can include increasing profit margins, expanding your target audience, and building or increasing brand awareness.
Also, get a clear picture of your target customer and how you compare to competing brands or companies. Taking a moment to look inward and evaluate your company’s marketing department will allow you to truly gauge what you need from a marketing audit.
To best benefit from the audit and improve your marketing plan, a marketing audit should be conducted at least twice a year. Still, businesses can also benefit from quarterly audits. Depending on the length of time it takes your company to pivot, twice-yearly audit is typically the perfect amount of time to see the before and after of a new strategy.
Marketing audits are great tools for any and every business and company to improve marketing plans and find ways to implement new strategies. Having a marketing audit checklist ready for yearly, semi-yearly, or even quarterly audits will ensure that your business will be ready to prevent any potential problems that might arise in any strategy or environment.
It’s important to remember to invest time examining multiple factors surrounding your business to ensure that your marketing audit will provide the most comprehensive snapshot. If you’re interested in learning more about conducting a marketing audit, contact Ultralight Co.