How to do a Marketing Audit: A Beginner's Guide

We know, we know. AUDIT. Who wants to do one of those?

Just like shoveling your driveway or getting your teeth cleaned, it’s not maintenance you’re thrilled to do.

But also just like shoveling your driveway or your teeth cleaned, it’s maintenance you really need to do every so often to keep things working.

If you’ve been putting a market audit off, or are approaching one for the first time, we’re here to help. We may not be able to make auditing fun, but we might be able to make it easier.

What is a marketing strategy audit?

The word 'audit' sounds scary, but it's really just a systematic and thorough look at your marketing activities to help you see what's doing well and what needs improvement. That's it!

An audit can be as thorough and complex as you like. One of the most straightforward things to take a look at, and one of the ones you have the most control over, is your marketing strategy.

In the end, a basic audit of your marketing strategy should answer these main questions:

  • Is your current marketing strategy aligned with your business goals?
  • Are you using your time and energy effectively?
  • Are your current marketing activities working?
  • If so, what’s working best and what can you leverage?
  • If not, what are your obstacles and what needs to be improved?

Why should you do one? When?

Day-to-day, it's easy to start taking on projects because they're exciting or fun, without thinking about if they truly contribute to your main goals. If you're not careful, you can find yourself burning valuable resources (and employee energy!) on marketing initiatives that aren't driving your core business goals.

A marketing audit can help you take a dispassionate look at how your market strategy is performing, and make you match each activity to a core business goal. It's a great way to ensure you keep your focus tightly on high-value activities for your business.

As to how often you should be sitting down and combing through your analytics, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. A one-person dynamo marketing team will handle a marketing audit schedule differently than a 10 person department.

In an ideal world, we’d be able to check in on our marketing strategies monthly. However, as marketers, we all know that getting a strategy updated quarterly can be a struggle.

You can opt for:

Constant maintenance

While a weekly in-depth look at every channel and every strategy would be unnecessary, you shouldn't wait too long between doing an analytics check. How thoroughly and how often is up to you.

For example, you might check in on how your main channels are doing in a weekly analytics meeting. Monthly, you might do a deeper dive where you review how closely you've stuck to your goals.

If you’re on track and continually seeing improvement, you might be fine without scheduling a quarterly deep dive on the calendar.

Regular check-ins

If the idea of looking at numbers every week makes your head spin, you should check in monthly, or at the very least quarterly, to see how you’re performing vs. how you think you’re performing.

A marketing audit is like car maintenance: it’s better not to wait until there’s a problem to make time for it. Then, it’ll probably be far more difficult (and costly) to fix.

Step by step:

We’ve covered the what, the why and the when. Now, let’s get to the bit you’re probably all here for: the how.

There are two hard parts to a marketing audit.

The first: being thorough and collecting all your data. But this can be easily solved by a good data collection system.

The second: being clear-eyed about your own processes.

When we’ve spent a long time on designing our own marketing strategies, it can be difficult to be objective if they’re not achieving the numbers we want.

Step 1: List your main marketing goals

As marketers, we want to do all things at all times. Raise our company’s brand profile among potential employees and customers, promote your new product, bring in a new target market, bring in more clients, innovate, start movements, go viral.

The fastest way to get nothing done is to try to do everything.

List your top three goals: the ones that will decide whether your company continues to operate and grow, and then work from there. Everything else is just nice to have, and doesn’t necessarily need to be on your audit.

Step 2: List all your marketing activities

Yes.

All of ‘em.

Take your time with this. It can be surprisingly hard to do. You’re probably doing marketing you’ve forgotten you’re doing.

Here’s a few ideas to help:

CONTENT MARKETING

  • Blogs
  • Email newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Downloadables (Checklists, Templates, Calendars)

SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest

OUTREACH AND NETWORKING

  • Media Spots (Print ads, TV Spots, Radio)
  • Conferences
  • Sponsorships & Scholarships

Remember, you likely have additional activities, or some of these don't apply to you!

Step 3: Write which overall goal each supports, and a target number for activity.

This is where an excel sheet comes in handy. This might look like this, for example:

Get specific with your targets. Instead of writing ‘more traffic’, for example, zero in on a number or a percentage improvement from last period.

If you didn’t have numeric targets outlined, that’s fine! That’s a good thing to know, and a great place to start.

Step 4: Record your analytics for each activity.

Write down what your current data says. If you hadn’t already, place a number next to each for a defined space of time. Whether it’s that week, that month, that quarter. Ensure you’re measuring the same period of time for each activity.

This can be a little bit of a pain to do manually. Management systems like Wishpond’s marketing automation tool can help, keeping track of analytics and metrics for you, and integrating with other major tools seamlessly for a powerhouse marketing suite.

Step 5: Decide if the goals are actionable or vanity metrics

This is where the really hard work starts.

Some metrics are more fluff than anything else. Likes on Instagram and Facebook, for example, might feel good to see tallying up, but are difficult to channel into ROI for your business.

Investing your finite energy in actionable metrics is likely to result in a much higher impact on your business.

For example, email open rates and clicks mean your targeted mailing list is actively engaging with messages you’ve chosen for them.

Shares of your blog posts show that your blog content and your brand are being seen and organically spread among networks.

If you're really good at racking up likes, it can be difficult to let that go to focus on less immediate rewards, but the rewards for your business, and the deeper relationships with your loyal customers, will pay off in spades.

Step 6: See which actionable metrics need improving and why.

Once you have your metrics looking at you, especially if you're able to compare period by period, you can identify trends and see where your strategy is doing great or needs some extra attention.

Sometimes simple changes can make a huge difference. For example, if you know you've followed best practices for great newsletters, but you’re still not seeing the open rates you want, are you sending your emails at the optimal time of day?

If your blog posts are interesting and thorough, but not getting shares, are there share buttons on your page and in your posts to make it easy for readers?

You don't always have to make big changes to see big results.

Step 7: Implement changes.

Here's the fun part!

Change what you need to and see if you get the results you want. Remember that changes do take time -- run any tests or experiments for a few weeks at least before deciding if they're a grand success or a dud.

Ready to level up your auditing?

Once you've gotten the hang of a marketing audit at the most basic level, you can expand the scope! Business Jargons explains the types of marketing audits there are:

  • Organization and Systems audits involve looking at each person in their roles or the team as a whole, as well as the software and systems they're working with.
  • Environment audits are much more wide-ranging and look at factors outside your organization (cultural, economic, political) that could be contributing to your performance.
  • Task environment audits look at how the factors directly related to the business - i.e. markets, competitors, distributors, retailers, etc. - are affecting your performance.

Need some help?

If this seems overwhelming, Wishpond's expert team of marketers is always here to help walking you through a marketing strategy that works to get you started right. You can book a demo anytime to talk to one of our friendly team members to see what Wishpond can do for you!

Summary

As a recap, here's a 7 step guide to a basic marketing strategy audit.

  • List your main marketing goals
  • List all your marketing activities
  • Write which overall goal each supports, and each activity
  • Record your analytics for each activity
  • Decide if the goals are actionable or vanity metrics
  • See which actionable metrics need improving and why
  • Implement any changes

Written by Farahnaz Mohammed

Farahnaz (you can call her Farah) is a content marketer at Wishpond, with a background in journalism and a love for digital marketing, travel and dogs. You can find her on twitter @FarahColette.