If you are like most business owners, you dread a digital marketing audit like a visit to the dentist.
Whether you are in B2B or B2C, the thought of a no-holds-barred look at your brand’s marketing efforts is scary. Coming face to face with your company’s warts isn’t nice. So you’re tempted to move full steam ahead without pausing to take stock of how things stand.
But doing so will doom your company. You will lose forever all the priceless resources you’ve invested in your company and spark the ire of investors and stakeholders alike.
Scary thought, huh?
That’s why you should do a digital marketing audit sooner rather than later.
It allows you to stop for a moment, test your progress or lack thereof. You identify your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and growth opportunities. You then course-correct and keep your business on track. You reduce the chances of failure and increase the odds of success.
This post will show you step-by-step on how to do a marketing audit.
Let’s get started.
What is a marketing audit, and when might you want to run one?
A marketing audit is a systematic, in-depth assessment of your company’s marketing strategies, systems, goals, and performance that considers both internal and external factors.
A sound audit recommends a plan of action to uplift the company’s performance.
Here are four scenarios in which you should run a marketing audit:
- You want to launch a new business
When you launch a new business venture, a marketing audit is invaluable. It helps you evaluate what you have going for and against you. You get intel on how to position your business to exploit existing opportunities. You deploy resources wisely and reduce the risk of losing your investment.
- You want to introduce a new product
To increase your chances of success when launching a new product, it’s best to test your marketing efforts and landscape first. You will pick the right channels and messaging for the new product.
- You’ve bought an existing business
Whenever a company changes hands, it’s a perfect moment to critique marketing activities. As the new owner, use the results of the audit to build on the brand’s past successes and plug the gaps for better performance. Or, you may see a total rebrand as the only way to move forward.
- You’re stuck, or things aren’t working
It’s okay to admit it. Your business can get stuck. Things don’t work out as expected. When your marketing wheels are spinning, it’s time to examine your strategies. You’ll uncover ways to untie the knots and free your enterprise to prosper.
Whatever the situation, one thing is clear: a marketing audit should be part of your strategic marketing workflow.
What are the characteristics of a strong marketing audit?
A solid marketing audit that yields results is multi-faceted.
It must be:
- Structured. Your audit should be systematic, not haphazard. Have a proven process or template to follow otherwise you will miss crucial elements.
- Exhaustive. Make sure your inspection sweeps across your whole marketing mix and efforts. Cover your content strategy, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO marketing, and competitor analysis.
- Autonomous. While it’s possible to do an audit internally, for best results, invite a third party to conduct it. When you do your audit, you dodge the hard questions and are too close to the action to see certain flaws. An independent party is more objective. Management should cooperate fully and provide all the needed info for authentic findings.
- Regular. A marketing audit shouldn’t be a one-off event. If you make your marketing audit a do-once-and-forget activity you will eventually go off track because there is no monitoring system. Instead, incorporate an audit into your strategic marketing plan so you do it periodically, not as a fire-fighting tool.
- Contextual. Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. A strong marketing audit appraises the environment where your business operates. It factors in internal factors like experience, expertise, or technology. External factors like location, political-legal changes, socio-cultural conditions, or a strong competitor also come into play.
6 reasons to conduct a digital marketing audit
Why must you do a marketing assessment? Is it worth all the time and financial investment?
Well, there are at least six major benefits to inspire you to do your first (or next) audit:
- Identify bottlenecks and weaknesses
No matter how well you are doing, there is always room for improvement. An audit lays bare all the bottlenecks and weaknesses in your systems that impede growth. Once you get rid of all the hold-ups you pave way for growth.
- Spot untapped growth opportunities
If you are like most business owners, you are probably sitting on a goldmine. There are new ready-to-buy markets you can explore. You can fill a gap your competitors are missing or bundle certain products/services for more profits. A good audit opens your eyes to all these opportunities you can exploit.
- Stay aligned with company goals
You can become so absorbed in the daily grind of running your business that you lose sight of your primary goals. Constant audits remind you of your company’s northern star metric so you don’t stray.
- Rekindle your team’s spirits
When you sell a product for a long time, you become blind to its brilliance. Nothing reminds you of your products’ awesomeness than an audit. You fall in love with your company and products all over again. Above all, remember your big why.
- Build on your strengths
As a business you have so much going for you. Maybe you have an extensive track record so people trust you unreservedly. Perhaps your strategies are unmatched. Or you are innovative. Your products are always fresh and exciting. An audit reveals your strong points, so you consolidate your position on the market.
- Boost your return on investment (ROI)
An audit forces you to ditch what isn’t working and stick to what works. By getting rid of dud tactics you save and reassign resources elsewhere. You introduce new strategies to bolster underperforming areas. Not only does this increase efficiency, but it also boosts your ROI in the long run.
Here’s your marketing audit toolbox
Winston Churchill was right: to finish the job, you need the right tools.
Here is a list of helpful tools to help you perform a thorough marketing audit.
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console for traffic and website insights.
- Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest for keyword choice and scrutiny.
- Google Page Insights and GTmetrix for page speed calculation and troubleshooting.
- Screamingfrog for a technical SEO audit.
- Content Analysis Tool for deep content analysis.
- Awario, Brand Search, and Hootsuite for brand sentiment analysis.
- Ahrefs and SEMrush for comprehensive SEO.
- Spyfu for analyzing your competitors’ most profitable keywords.
With the right tools on hand you are ready to do the audit without wasting hours on manual data gathering and comparison.
How to perform a digital marketing audit in 5 steps
#1. Determine your goals and key metrics
First, decide the metrics you want to focus on. Google Analytics alone can track 200+ metrics.
So it’s crucial to narrow down what you want to measure. Besides, there are countless other analytics tools you may be using.
If you try to measure everything you’ll get overwhelmed. For you not to drown in data, whittle down your metrics to a handful that matter.
- If someone asked me to choose one metric to get the pulse of my business, which one would I pick?
- Which single metric quickly shows the health or sickness of my business?
- What are the top three metrics for each of my marketing channels?
- What are my goals: per quarter, year, or channel?
Once you’ve noted your goals and metrics, move to the next step.
#2. Gather performance data
Secondly, collect data from all your channels.
You may ask yourself where you get the statistics from.
- Website performance. Jot down your bounce rates, dwell time, page load times, opt-in rates, and click-through rates. How many leads turn into buying customers. Also, rate your site’s user experience.
- Email performance. For emails, record open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. Are your emails targeted at different segments of your list or are you using a one-size-fits-all strategy?
- Social media performance. For social media gather likes, shares, and click-through rates. Are you maximizing the power of paid social? Are you splitting your focus by being everywhere or only present where your audience is?
Got all the key numbers?
Now it’s time to contrast your results with your goals and key metrics. How are you faring? Weigh yourself against industry standards. Are you happy with your progress or you need to pull up your marketing socks?
Whatever the case, heed the message of your data because numbers don’t lie.
#3. Gauge your content marketing strategy
Next, grade your content marketing approach.
I’m surprised that despite the maturity of inbound marketing, only 41% of B2B brands have a documented content marketing strategy.
Let’s just say they are winging it.
That said, revisit your strategy and check:
- Keywords – are you targeting the right keywords?
- Content types – which content types work best for brand awareness, lead generation, or link building?
- Content buyer journey match – do you write content for specific stages of the customer journey?
- Distribution – are your content distribution channels effective?
- SEO – Jot down your bounce rates, dwell time, page load times, opt-in rates, and click-through rates. How many leads turn into buying customers. Also, rate your site’s user experience. is your on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO on point?
- Links – are there any broken, spammy, or links from irrelevant sites?
- Prospect-to-lead-to-customer – how can you minimize drop off when a prospect becomes a lead and when a lead becomes a customer?
- Post-purchase – how best can you optimize your funnel so customers buy more and stay longer with your brand i.e. increase Lifetime Customer Value.
- Social media – where are you getting value, free or paid social?
With your content, the enormous question is: is it aligned to your goals? Powerful content that gets results is synchronized to your goals. Highly aligned content performs well, poorly aligned content performs dismally as shown by this matrix from the Digital Marketing Institute.
What’s the goal of appraising your content strategy?
To identify and plug leaks in your funnel. Plus, to grab any low-lying fruit.
#4. Evaluate the competitive landscape
Thereafter, because your business exists in a particular context, you also need to weigh your competitive environment. Competitors include not only companies targeting the same market as you, but it also covers the surrounding conditions that may hamper or help your brand.
- Competitor tactics – what’s working for them? Can you copy and tweak them to your advantage?
- Competitor gaps – is there space your competitors aren’t filling for you to exploit?
- Competitor tools – what tools are your competitors using?
- Cultural considerations – are there any societal tendencies both positive and negative, you can leverage or counter?
- Legal shifts – is there a change in laws that are hindering your business? How best can you navigate it?
You don’t have total control of these external forces. But you can manage or make the most of them.
#5. Examine your messaging and positioning
Lastly, most marketers focus on their products’ features and benefits.
They don’t give enough thought to messaging and positioning. Messaging is how you communicate value to your prospects. Positioning is creating a positive impression of your brand in the minds of customers, so they choose you over your competitors.
Sometimes you may have stellar products but fail because of poor messaging and positioning.
For messaging, check for two things:
Does your communication face inward or outward? Messaging should show the value of your product using your customers’ language. And it must focus on their needs so it resonates with them.
Is your messaging the same across channels? The more familiar prospects and customers are with your brand, the more likely they are to buy. Inconsistent branding brings disharmony and confusion in the way customers experience your brand as noted by Lucid Press.
In terms of brand positioning, probe two vital signs:
- Value proposition
Does your value prop clearly state the value of the benefits you offer? And does it scratch an acute customer pain? Finally, does it distinguish you from competitor offers?
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Does your USP make a strong, concrete, promise memorably? Is it short, sharp, and sweet, so people remember it easily?
In summary, I know a digital marketing audit sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But it’s worth it.
At the end of the day it all boils down to three things:
- Identify and close gaps in your strategy.
- Discard what doesn’t work and embrace what works.
- Brainstorm fresh ideas and leverage your strengths.
Optimize for growth. Boost your ROI through a timely marketing audit.
According to his cheeky wife, Qhubekani Nyathi aka The Click Guy is an irresistibly handsome guy. He’s an offbeat certified content marketer who writes zingy long-form content that ranks, drives massive traffic, and generates tons of leads for B2B SaaS companies. He contributes to prestigious blogs like Search Engine Watch, Crazy Egg, Smart Blogger, Business 2 Community, Get Response, and more.