As marketers, we're always looking for ways to improve our game plan. But with so many tactics and channels available, knowing where to focus our efforts can be challenging.
Ultimately, no marketing strategy is perfect. A marketing audit gives you a holistic view of your marketing efforts, including what's working, what could be improved, and where new opportunities are present.
Here, we'll take a closer look at marketing audits, the best time to conduct one, and a few best practices to pull one off.
Table of Contents
What is a marketing audit?
A marketing audit takes an objective look at your current marketing activities, strategies, and performance. The goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and identify opportunities for improvement.
A marketing audit identifies the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy. It highlights what plans, processes, and practices are most effective at meeting goals. Just as importantly, it builds a foundation for future decision-making by identifying opportunities, gaps, and areas for improvement.
To get the best results, your marketing audit should be objective, systematic, and recurring:
- Objective to ensure it's free of bias
- Systematic to ensure your audit is structured, organized, and measurable
- Recurring so you can discover and address problems early on
Keep in mind that a marketing audit can encompass your entire operation or a subset of it — such as a specific campaign, process, or focus (e.g., social media marketing).
Elements of a Marketing Audit
A comprehensive marketing audit may include one or more of the following elements:
1. SWOT analysis.
A SWOT analysis outlines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your marketing. Using this framework, you can take inventory of your marketing assets and roadblocks.
2. Competitive analysis.
As the name suggests, a competitive analysis takes stock of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. It puts a magnifying glass on their products, prices, marketing strategies, campaigns, and target audience.
3. Market research.
Even if you think you know your customers through and through, market research can reveal even deeper insight into their needs, preferences, motivations, and behaviors. On top of that, you can tap into emerging trends and new opportunities in the marketplace, helping you stay ahead of the curve.
Who does a marketing audit?
A third party typically conducts a marketing audit. This is for a few reasons.
First, your audit needs to be as objective as possible. With this in mind, outsourcing to a third party – rather than conducting it internally — is the sounder option.
On top of that, third-party firms have more experience in conducting audits, and that experience really matters. Often, they're better equipped to identify best practices and opportunities for improvement, and they may have access to specialized tools, technologies, and research capabilities.
When should I do a marketing audit?
A marketing audit should be conducted on a regular basis. After all, the sooner you capitalize on what's working (and remedy what's not), the stronger your marketing plan will be.
Of course, the exact frequency depends on your organization's industry, size, and goals. Generally, it's good practice to conduct an audit on an annual basis.
Other factors may trigger the need for an audit, including:
Now let's cover the steps for conducting a marketing audit and a few best practices.
How to Do a Marketing Audit
- Choose what you want to audit.
- Identify your goals and objectives.
- Collect the right information.
- Surface any findings or insights from the data.
- Make recommendations (and track them).
1. Choose what you want to audit.
As already mentioned, your marketing audit can cover your entire operation or target a specific campaign, process, or area. That said, your marketing is likely comprised of interrelated components, so it can be beneficial to analyze "the big picture."
Ultimately, what you choose to audit is entirely up to you and will depend on your marketing priorities.
2. Identify your goals and objectives.
Want to know which of your social media campaigns are performing well? Or how your content strategy stacks up against your competitors? Or, maybe you want to refresh your branding or customer personas.
Start by picking an objective that will serve as the "North Star" for your audit. Next, break down your object into measurable goals.
For example, suppose your main objective is determining which social media channels provide the best engagement. In that case, your goal might be, "Meet a minimum quota of 200 new followers per month on TikTok." Then, your marketing audit would put this to the test.
3. Collect the right information.
Now that you have well-defined and measurable goals, the next step is gathering information. This can come from a number of sources — such as campaign metrics, website traffic, social media metrics, and marketing spend.
For instance, if you're tracking the effectiveness of a specific campaign, HubSpot users can access a wealth of campaign data via the marketing analytics dashboard. From here, they can direct their marketing budget toward their most successful efforts.
You can also gather data from external sources like market research reports, industry benchmarks, and competitor analysis — but ensure the data is reliable and accurate.
Once you've gathered the data, organize it in a way that is easy to analyze and reference later. You may want to create charts and graphs, and consolidate data into a single document.
4. Surface any findings or insights from the data.
How you evaluate your data depends on the goals of the audit. For instance, you might perform a competitive analysis if you're looking to evaluate your pricing strategy against your competitors.
Document the results or findings from this step so you can make effective recommendations down the line.
5. Make recommendations (and track them).
Lastly, make recommendations for improving your marketing strategy — such as readjusting your messaging, marketing channels, or spend.
For example, if you discover your Facebook advertising strategy isn't capturing enough leads, a recommendation might be to redirect that spend to another channel.
After you make these adjustments, monitor the results to determine their effectiveness. This involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and making changes as needed.
Back to You
Again, no marketing plan is perfect. By running a marketing audit, however, you can capitalize on what's working and resolve what's not. The result? A more optimized strategy that drives results.