For a lot of people, “audit” is a scary word — and with good reason. An audit is essentially a deep look at what you’re doing, whether you’re doing everything right, and what you should be doing differently. That kind of self-examination can be intimidating, but it’s important.
When it comes to marketing, a regular internal audit is even more vital. The landscape of digital marketing is constantly shifting. Your customers, products, and competition change on a seemingly daily basis. New channels open up and old ones become less efficient. Re-examining your strategy will help you make sure you’re getting the best return on your marketing dollar.
Here’s how to get started.
Types of Marketing Audits
The first thing to consider when you want to conduct a marketing audit is what kind of marketing audit you’re interested in. There are a few different options:
An environmental audit is a broad fact-finding mission. Essentially, you’re taking stock of the business and financial environment in which your company is operating. On a macro scale, you might look at the political environment, the public’s spending power, the state of the economy, new tax laws, and cultural shifts.
On a micro scale, an environmental audit will include factors like your staff, your budgets, the tools you use to spread your message, and the positioning of your brand.
A strategy audit will be more focused on the specific goals of your business — increasing profits, expanding into new markets, adding new customers, converting more leads, or whatever else they might be. A strategy audit is simply a way to examine which of those goals is most important and whether your priorities have changed.
A competition audit is (unsurprisingly) all about taking stock of your competition. The competition in your space should inform a good deal of your marketing strategy, from how much you spend on various channels to the specific features you call out. It’s important to take a look around and see who you’re up against.
Conducting a Channel Audit
In this case, we’re taking a look at the variety of marketing channels you’re using to spread the word about your business and products. There are dozens of possible channels you might be using — every business’ spending strategy is different — but our goal here is to show you how to get the best return on your marketing budget for each of the channels you use.
Auditing Your Website
In the 21st century, your website is the core of everything you do . All of your marketing will direct back to your site, and the majority of your leads will be funneled through your site at some point. If your site isn’t in tip-top shape, the rest of your strategy will be built on an unstable foundation.
Start with SEO. Use a site crawler to find any broken or misdirected links, and register your site with Google Webmaster Tools and/or Bing Webmaster Tools (depending on which search engines your visitors use) to diagnose any other problems.
Look for other SEO pitfalls, like keyword stuffing or exact-match anchor links. It’s a good idea to go through your top-performing blogs and update keywords, internal links, anchor text, and headers every once in a while to keep pace with SEO best practices.
Next, re-evaluate your website in terms of conversion. Look for which pages and CTAs are most effective at converting visitors into leads, then apply those lessons to your underperforming pages. Are those pages too hard to find? Is the content unclear? Are the forms too detailed? Finding deficiencies in your landing pages will make a dramatic difference to the effectiveness of your site.
Don’t forget about performance. Long loading times and poor mobile optimization will drive away prospective customers who don’t feel like waiting around for images and buttons to load.
Auditing Your Social Media
Virtually every business benefits from marketing on social media. Your customers use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and all the rest, so you need to maintain a presence if you want to interact with them.
Where applicable, compare the same metrics across all the platforms that you use. Clicks, likes, comments, and shares are nearly universal to social media platforms, so you can get a good sense of which of your channels is performing the best. Make sure to account for the number of followers and posts on each platform so that your numbers are weighted appropriately.
Within each platform, compare the types of posts you publish. Do you get better engagement on images or text? What difference does a link make? Do your followers respond more if you ask a question in the post? What about more interactive posts like polls or videos?
Go through your audience’s demographics and interests. If your buyer personas are accurate, you might not find any surprises — but then again, you might! Taking stock of who’s reading and interacting with your content might open up new opportunities for content, targeting, and partnerships.
Make sure your branding is consistent across all your channels. If you update your cover photo or profile picture for holidays or special events, don’t forget to update it everywhere. Imagery, language, colors, fonts, and all the other visual aspects of your brand should be in harmony — no matter where your visitors interact with your brand, it should look and sound the same.
Compare ROI. You might not express your business goals in simple dollars and cents — for example, you might be willing to take a loss on your boosted social media posts in order to spread the word about a new product — but you should still know what you’re getting for your money. Take into account ad spend, your employees’ time, the price of social media management software, the tools you use to take photos or generate graphics, and anything else that goes into your social media presence.
The Bottom Line: An Audit is Worth the Effort
You might be tempted to put off auditing your marketing simply because of the extra time and effort it will take to examine everything you’re doing. As the saying goes, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
The problem with that mentality is that something might actually be broken. Just because you haven’t changed your strategy doesn’t mean that it’s still effective — the world is changing around you, and you need to pay attention in order to keep up. There’s no denying that an audit is a significant time investment, but it’s worth it.