Auditing is perhaps one of the most powerful tools you have in your marketing toolkit – but it can easily be overlooked. Whether you’re putting together a new plan, looking to launch a campaign or find your current activity is failing to reach the goals you’ve set, then an audit may be just what you need.
A marketing audit looks to review your current activity and establish whether action should be taken to make improvements. An effective audit should highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing, and can cover all activity from your website, through to PR and social media – or it can focus in on particular areas where you believe there may be an issue (for example, you might think thin content is limiting your website’s potential, so a content audit would be a great place to start – have a read of my blog for more tips on running such an audit). From there you’ll be able to assess where to direct your marketing activity and resources.
But auditing doesn’t just help you plan your upcoming marketing and devise a marketing strategy, and it doesn’t just give insight into what is and isn’t working. Here are some of the lesser-known reasons why auditing can give your marketing a boost:
1. Review your competitors
Auditing is an opportunity to look at your own marketing, but to also look outside of your organisation. Auditing your competitors at the same time as your own marketing should help you to benchmark where you currently sit within the market – and what you need to focus on to get where you want to be.
2. Identify gaps in resource
An audit will always flag areas for improvement – no matter how advanced your marketing, there should always be some new opportunities uncovered. But to seize those opportunities you will probably require additional resources, or at least a reallocation of resources. Auditing should flag to you where resources may be needed, and from there you can begin planning how to acquire that resource to help you achieve your goals.
3. Secure budget
By showing the big picture – of where your brand sits within the market and how your marketing is currently performing – your audits will be a hugely useful tool when it comes to justifying the allocation of marketing budget (and potentially securing more money for new activity too). Use your audits to show where additional budget could lead to improvements and you’ll be on your way to a convincing argument to put forward to decision makers.
4. Set realistic KPIs
Ever felt like a goal or objective has just been plucked out of thin air? Well, thanks to audits it doesn’t have to be that way. Audits can help you to set KPIs that are just right for your marketing – not too ambitious, but which still require a stretch to help you achieve your overarching goals. By understanding where improvements are required and how marketing is currently performing, you’ll be able to choose KPIs that show progress.
5. Celebrate your wins!
Perhaps our favourite reason for conducting a marketing audit. Taking a look at the state of your current marketing is the perfect reason to also focus on some of your achievements. It can be all too easy to focus in on what needs to change or improve, but audits can also highlight where you’ve made improvements (particularly if you regularly audit and benchmark your activity) and where you may be ahead of your competitors. Audits don’t need to be all doom and gloom – they can show you where you’re making advances and where continued investment and hard work is paying off.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the multiple benefits of auditing. If so, then you’ll be gearing up to start your audits – and you’ll want to make sure the work you put in to assess your marketing activity is worthwhile.
At Media Matters we’re experienced in running audits across all marketing channels for clients, and we’ve learnt a few tricks to make them as effective as possible – here’s a few of our must-do’s when it comes to marketing audits:
1. Have a clear system in place
Try to standardise how you audit your marketing across different channels. Establish indicators that show whether something urgently needs improvement through to areas that are working okay and as expected. Using a traffic light system might be useful – with red indicating urgent changes and green suggesting no changes required.
For each channel summarise the findings of the audit in a succinct paragraph or two, helping to give stakeholders a quick overview of what the audit has uncovered without having to go into the nitty-gritty detail. This will save you a lot of time at the end of the auditing process helping to establish where changes are needed and in what priority order.
2. Keep communication at the heart of your auditing process
Audits don’t work in silo. They need to be part of a wider planning process and simply putting together an audit document won’t help changes happen or achieve results.
Google’s Martin Splitt, who works in the search engine giant’s developer relations, recently discussed the benefits of communication as part of the SEO auditing process – and we’d argue that it benefits all aspects of marketing audits. Splitt rightly pointed out that at the start of the auditing process you’d be wise to establish what the goals of the audit are, and what stakeholders want marketing (or SEO in particular) to achieve. Establishing this and having clear conversations about it will help you to direct your auditing activity and focus on areas that will make a real difference to marketing, and wider business objectives.
Once you’ve completed audits, it’s critical that they’re discussed. Pool together expertise to create a plan that effectively actions the changes recommended from the audits, and in a suitable priority order. You won’t be able to do everything at once, so work with the experts to establish where to start and what success looks like when the changes have been made.
3. Plan to revisit your audits
Just as you would create new marketing plans quarterly or annually, schedule regular times to revisit your marketing audits to inform that planning process.
Don’t feel restricted to only conducting audits during this time though – if you see something’s not working, or you feel there’s an area of weakness in your marketing, holding you back from achieving your goals, run an audit to see if you need to change tact or if something’s missing. It can be a great way to help you realign your marketing and get you back on track to achieving your goals.
4. Work with the experts
Sometimes an outsider’s view of your marketing is what’s needed. And there’s no better time to get this than when you’re conducting audits. Working with experts in the different marketing channels at your disposal to audit your activity will help to establish what needs to be changed but should also bring fresh creative ideas on how to get your marketing to where you want it to be. An audit doesn’t have to just result in a checklist of tasks that need to be completed to see improvements, but it can also spark new ideas, tactics and direct campaign planning.
If you feel your marketing could benefit from a fresh perspective and full evaluation, then speak with the Media Matters team – we’re a full service marketing agency with the expertise to audit specific channels or your full spectrum of marketing.