4 Business Events Triggering a Marketing Communications Audit
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The sheer number of marketing opportunities in today’s world is certainly exciting. There are more ways than ever to engage, delight, and convert your audiences. However, it is also easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of overarching company goals. And, when marketing on a day-to-day basis, it can be hard to take a step back to ask, “Is what we’re doing actually serving our bottom line?”
Marketing communications audits provide this much-needed wide-angle view. They allow companies to take a step back from the minutiae of everyday routine and examine communications to better understand what’s working, what can be improved, and where they need to focus.
Although audits offer a wealth of value, businesses often do not take the time and energy to conduct them. Scheduling a regular communications audit can ensure you have a stable marketing infrastructure to support your company’s business development goals throughout various transitions and turning points.
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Initiating a Post-Crisis Audit to Refocus Communications
A crisis can change the way your company approaches business, how it interacts with customers or even what it offers. After the dust settles, one of the first actions should be a marketing communications audit. Effective communications can help your company move beyond the crisis and re-establish trust with your target audience.
Following a crisis, take a close look at all company communications that a potential client or customer might encounter, ranging from your company website, to proposals, to sales kits and email communications. During this process, you may realize very minor changes are needed, or you might decide that your company could benefit from a complete communications overhaul to mirror your post-crisis approach. Determine what needs to be changed, scrapped or created anew, and work with your team to craft an action plan to address these issues.
After a post-crisis marketing communications audit is complete, all customer-facing materials should accurately and consistently reflect your company’s corrective actions, updated goals and refreshed direction.
Rebranding Goes Hand-in-Hand with Marketing Communications Audits
Change is an integral part of company growth. At a certain point, a company will likely undergo a rebrand as a response to the evolution of products or services, changing circumstances, customer expectations, or industry best practices. Initiating a marketing communications audit before a company rebrand can reveal needed adjustments to support the rebranding process. Areas to examine during the audit include:
- Your digital presence, including websites, landing pages, drip campaigns, and funnels
- Your social media presence, including type, tone, and aesthetic of all feed and profile content
- Educational and thought-leadership communications, such as blogs and videos
- Marketing and sales collateral, such as brochures, sales kits, and proposals
- Email communications, including transactional and marketing emails
A marketing communications audit is among the first steps in ensuring customers have a consistent experience whenever they encounter your company. Consistency builds brand recognition and trust with prospects and loyalists alike. Therefore, cross-channel alignment is key.
Don’t stop there, though. After your rebrand is complete, take benchmark analytics to monitor progress and your marketing communications’ efficacy moving forward.
A Marketing Communications Audit to Dispel Persistent Customer Confusion
Is your customer service team bombarded with repetitive questions? Do people not understand how to use your product? Do you operate within a complex industry that’s hard for others to understand?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then a marketing communications audit might be an effective way to pinpoint where confusion originates — which could be stalling a purchase or commitment. It might be helpful to review materials such as:
- FAQ Pages – This resource on your website is often the first place a potential customer goes when researching your company’s offerings. An effective FAQ page can simplify complex processes, offer instructions and define jargon.
- Educational Content – Some companies publish a slew of 750-word blogs, but somehow omit valuable information to address customer pain points. During an audit, take a deep dive into your educational content, including blogs, case studies, whitepapers, infographics and videos, to see if they effectively serve your audience’s needs.
- Sales Communications – Is your sales team armed with the most updated information? To ensure your company is on the same page, you might audit materials like sales sheets, brochures, proposals, RFPs or other collateral that a prospect might receive.
Confusion around your business, industry or offerings is an opportunity to reach out to your customers for feedback. This can be accomplished through an online survey, interviews or focus groups. Doing so can help you see your product or service through the lens of an outsider — maybe they have questions or challenges you’d never considered before!
An Audit to Respond to Evolving Industries and Societal Expectations
In 2020, companies of all sorts and sizes made swift and dramatic changes to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with that, marketing and sales communications needed to be revamped to connect with a new customer experiencing different pain points and opportunities.
A June 2020 McKinsey & Co. study found that during the first months of the pandemic, 90% of B2B sales went digital and there was a surge in e-commerce sales. Many businesses have embraced a “digital-first” approach that is expected to remain for years to come. A marketing communications audit in these circumstances might focus on a company’s online presence, identifying areas to enhance and better support the sales process.
Social uprisings and calls for racial equality were also an unforgettable facet of 2020. Many companies issued their own statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, only to have their own inequitable practices or internal communications later exposed. Companies need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk — underscoring the need for marketing communications audits with a sensitivity focus. Companies might revisit all messaging to ensure they are sensitive to world events and inclusive of a diverse consumer.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that companies need to keep up with an ever-changing world. A regular marketing communications audit can ensure your messaging keeps pace.
Audits take time and energy, but in the long run, they’re worth the investment — especially if a business is navigating a crisis, going through a rebrand, encountering customer confusion or keeping up with a changing industry or societal expectations.
Further, you may want to consider developing a messaging framework. Messaging frameworks are comprehensive documents to guide all communications, often including elevator pitches, brand statements, differentiators, and key sales points. These documents can save you time and stress later and provide an excellent starting point when executing a marketing communications audit. An experienced marketing agency can help develop a messaging framework and guide complex or lengthy audits.
About the author
Taylor Haynes is a Content Manager at Aker Ink, a full-service PR and marketing agency that helps companies increase brand awareness, enhance thought leadership and generate leads.