Nobody wants to be audited by the IRS, but as part of a marketing team, you should look forward to conducting a thorough marketing audit annually.
It’s easy to become so hyper-focused on execution that it seems like there is no time to take a step back and evaluate performance. Without auditing, however, there won’t be consistent improvement.
When AJA Marketing facilitates a marketing audit, we take into account all forms of business and how they are impacted by marketing. Lead generation, conversion, retention, and new business growth are all impacted by marketing.
Our marketing audit determines if that impact was positive or negative, and in cases of the latter, how to improve.
What Is a Marketing Audit?
An effective marketing audit is a comprehensive and systematic review of the marketing actions taken, their impact, and what factors impacted the effectiveness.
Whether the audit is conducted internally or has the benefit of a neutral third party, dispensing biases before the audit is essential to learning all the necessary information.
A third-party audit can be particularly effective in avoiding too much time being spent lauding or condemning a certain set of results.
The analysis should include assessments of how the marketing efforts compared to previous years, whether results aligned with established goals, and what this year’s results mean for setting the following year’s goals.
How to Make a Marketing Audit Successful
A marketing audit should include an assessment of the marketing environment that the campaigns were run in. If a campaign with significant resources and a history of driving business in prior years falls flat, a critic may quickly declare the concept stale.
A comprehensive analysis, though, may unearth an outside factor, like an economic downturn or natural disaster, that played a larger role in the decline in revenue.
It’s just as important that the audit pinpoint successes and determine their causes. If 10% of a marketing budget is being spent on paid social media advertising but the ROI is robust, it’s important for management to have the facts to consider committing more resources.
Conducting the audit systematically, with a consistent approach and set of criteria used, is another key tenet of a successful audit. A helter-skelter approach could lead to gaps in information that negatively impact future decision-making.
The audit must be a regular occurrence, ideally occurring at the same time annually for comparative analysis year over year.
A company that only conducts an audit when something has gone wrong is likely to fail to properly acquire and consider evidence of what they have previously done right.
Steps for Your Marketing Audit to Ensure It’s Comprehensive and Systematic
Don’t let the task of conducting a marketing audit seem too daunting. Break the task up into segments and enjoy learning about the big picture of your year of marketing efforts.
Simply follow these steps:
Draft a Year-End Report
Create a report documenting your marketing efforts from the previous year. Use this as the baseline of data to be referenced throughout the audit. Document goals, strategies, and outcomes. Note every channel of marketing that was used and what financial and human resources went into each campaign. Include website performance, user flow, bounce rates, and heatmaps to get a sense of your digital real estate.
Evaluate Past Goals
If your goals were clear going into the year, this step will take far less time than the year-end report. This will be especially efficient if you used SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive) goals. Determine which goals were met and which fell short.
Using the data from the report and the knowledge of your goal outcomes, assess what strategies did the most to contribute to successes and which ones lagged. This is also when it becomes important to consider external factors in the marketing environment that could have played a role in the yearly outcomes.
Identify Next Year’s Goals and the Actions Needed to Meet Them
Take what was learned over the first three steps and make a plan for the year ahead.
What Other Methods Can Our Audit Benefit From?
Within the broad phases of the marketing audit listed previously, many sub-strategies can help lend context to the data:
- Identify your ideal customers and leads. Assess your marketing through the lens of how well you are reaching those groups.
- Use a checklist. Make sure all areas of marketing are covered by maintaining a checklist of where reports are needed. These can include website, social media, paid advertising, earned media, content creation, concept ideation, and any other categories deemed relevant.
- Start with matching schedules. Set up next year’s schedule after review of the previous year and make adjustments until satisfied that new goals are accounted for in the year ahead.
- SMART goals. If you aren’t using this method yet, consider it the next time your team sets goals. Meeting the five tenets of SMART makes goals both easy to evaluate in terms of success and failure but also helps ensure your goals align with your strategies.
Let Us Help You Make a Change
Whether you have just completed a marketing audit or know your organization needs one but you’re not sure how to go about it, AJA Marketing can help. Developing strategy and taking an analytical approach to successful marketing are what we do every day.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 30-minute marketing discovery session.