Marketing audit guide – what is a marketing audit, and how to do it in 2021

11 minutes to read • Published 5 July 2021 • Marketing

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      If there is one thing that all businesses need to get on top of today, it is their approach to marketing. Over the past year, businesses have faced greater struggles than they could have ever imagined due to the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions that have been put in place.

      A lot of companies had to close their doors entirely due to the nature of their operation. Others have faced a decrease in demand and financial problems. 

      The effect of the pandemic has been well documented, and it has affected media advertising particularly badly, causing a downshift in spend of a staggering 33.8% in Q2 2020.

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      The media advertising market is not likely to recover until at least 2022. When you consider this, it is not difficult to see why marketing effectively is more vital than it ever has been. You absolutely need to get every drop of ROI out of your marketing activities, particularly if you only have limited funds to spend. 

      However, you cannot move your business forward and achieve greater success from a marketing standpoint if you have no idea regarding how your business is performing. You need to make sure that you have a full understanding of your current marketing efforts, the success they are having, and what areas need to be improved.

      To do this, you will need to carry out a marketing audit. With that being said, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about marketing audits, including the process entailed and the different options that are available to you.

      What is a marketing audit?

      There is only one place to begin, and this is by explaining what a marketing audit is. A marketing audit is a process that will look at your entire promotional landscape, from your social media marketing efforts to the direct mail newsletters that you send out.

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      The aim of a marketing audit is to go through all of your marketing resources so that you can determine which of your strategies are proving a success and which of them are simply wasting your marketing budget

      An effective marketing audit will ensure that every touchpoint you have with your consumers is covered. They will assess everything from the image you use in your Twitter bio to the call to action design on your website. Some of this is more important than you might think.

      The purpose of a marketing audit is to ensure you have the right foundation for any decisions you make about marketing in the future. You will get a much better understanding of your audience, what they want from you, and the steps that you can take to make sure you are best serving their needs. 

      Why is a marketing audit important for small businesses? 

      As a small business owner, it is important to make sure that you do everything in your power to stand out from the competition and compete with the bigger businesses in your industry.

      This is where marketing audits can provide you with a competitive edge. Yes, bigger businesses may have bigger budgets when it comes to their marketing spend.

      However, by carrying out a marketing audit you can make sure that you are spending your money on the highest converting elements of your marketing campaign. This will give you the best chance of competing with other businesses in your industry, irrespective of their size or the financial resources they have available. 

      Another reason why marketing audits are important and need to be carried out on a regular basis is that the marketing landscape is changing all of the time.

      But what about your customers?
      Our customers’ needs and wants are changing all of the time. Something that worked six months ago may not be the flavour of the day right now, and so you need to make sure that your business is agile and can easily adapt to situations like this.

      By conducting regular marketing audits, you will be able to make sure that you always stay ahead of the curve when it comes to branding your business.

      Marketing audits also enable you to get a better understanding of your customers. By learning about how they interact with your website and your marketing materials, you will get a better comprehension of what appeals to them and what doesn’t.

      You can then use this knowledge to ensure you make better decisions moving forward. The best businesses today are those that never stop learning. They are always trying to find out more about their customers and what they like. A marketing audit gives you the power to do this in an effective manner.

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      You also need to consider the fact that marketing audits can help your bottom line as well. A lot of business owners overlook audits because they view them as an unnecessary expense. However, this could not be further from the truth. Without an audit, you are going to be leaking money because you will be spending your cash on marketing elements that simply are not working. By conducting an audit, you will be able to ensure that you are only spending your funds on marketing efforts that are going to directly improve your bottom line.

      Here is a brief overview of all of the benefits you can expect:

      Benefits of a marketing audit
      Get rid of what is holding you back and start moving forward
      Understand how healthy your brand is
      Find new opportunities for marketing your business effectively
      Position your brand in the best place for marketing success
      Kickstart a new marketing strategy
      Take stock of assets that your brand owns
      Determine what types of marketing are performing well for your brand and which marketing strategies aren’t doing so great
      Align brand reality and brand perception 

      What are the components of a marketing audit?

      Now that you have a good understanding of what a marketing audit is, and why it is so important, we’re going to take a look at the different components that make up a marketing audit.

      We can split marketing audits into four clear categories to get a better understanding: digital marketing and branding, outreach and advertising, customer service, and collateral. Splitting up your marketing audit in this way helps you to assess all keep elements of your business.

      See also →  How to maximise your brand value in an online-centric market

      Let’s take a look at what each component should assess and look at:

      Audit componentWhat to look at…
      Digital branding and marketingEmail marketing, social media, website, videos, photography, fonts, colours, and brand logo
      Outreach and advertisingAll advertising efforts, influencer campaigns, sponsorships, partnerships, and press releases
      Customer serviceInternal processes and paperwork, customer experience, reviews, and your staff members
      CollateralAny piece of media that is used for the promotion of your business, i.e. promotional clothing, coupons, flyers, pamphlets, brochures, menus, and so on

      Marketing audit process: do it yourself in-house or hire an external consultant?

      One of the main decisions that we need to make is whether to hire someone from an outside party to carry out our marketing audits or whether we should do them in-house. This is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong answer.

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      When it comes to doing your marketing audit in-house, there is no denying that this is the most cost-efficient approach. Plus, no one knows your business as you do. If you have a team of experienced marketing personnel who will be able to carry out the audit in an effective manner, this could be something worth considering. 

      However, there are a number of drawbacks associated with this approach. Firstly, the closeness that you have to your business can work against you. It can mean that you are not able to see things clearly, and this is where an outside perspective can often be extremely beneficial.

      Aside from this, if you hire an external consultant, you know that they have carried out hundreds if not thousands of marketing audits before. They know exactly what to look at and what to consider. They will also have access to state-of-the-art tools that will be able to provide them with all of the relevant data and information.

      Unless you have the personnel in-house to be able to do a marketing audit to the level that is required, it is often better to outsource. Yes, this will cost money, however, the improvements that are made to your bottom line as a consequence means that you can expect a large ROI.

      How to do a marketing audit – step by step

      No matter whether you decide to do a marketing audit in-house or you hire an outside company to take care of this for you, it makes sense to have an understanding of the steps that are entailed. Below, we will walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to do a marketing audit.

      How to do a marketing audit

      1. Create an overview of your business

        You need to start by taking a look at your business plans – both your original and revised copies – so you can determine how your business has progressed and moved forward over the years. This helps you to understand the different changes that you have made and where changes may still need to be made.

      2. Determine your objectives and goals for your marketing plans

        Next, you need to figure out what your marketing goals are. It is imperative that you are realistic and take your resources and current position into account. Think about goals that span both the short-term and the long-term. For short-term goals, we are looking at what you hope to achieve from your marketing efforts within the next 12 months. When it comes to long-term goals, we’re talking about your five to ten-year objectives. Listing around 4 to 6 goals is a good place to start, as you can then narrow this down.

      3. What is your ideal client?

        The third thing that you need to do is determine what your ideal client would be. What would qualify someone to fall into this category? Your market is going to dictate the qualifiers for your ideal candidate. This could be something general, for example, age and sex. However, it could be something that is more specific. This is an important part of the process because it is going to help you to make sure that you tailor your marketing efforts effectively in the future.

      4. Know your service or product

        Next, you need to go through all of your services and products, outlining each one. It is important to make sure that every service and product you provide can be linked together in one way. For example, if you sell golf clubs, then selling golf shoes, golf balls, and golf memorabilia makes sense. You can even sell golfing weekends or golf lessons. However, selling cake decorating equipment or fluffy rugs does not make much sense, does it? When you have an item that can be linked to another, you are going to sell more gross items than when you have lots of dissimilar products. 

      5. Describe previous marketing encounters you have had and the results of them

        This is one of the most critical parts of the process. You are looking at marketing interactions you have had, whether this is a social media discussion or an interaction on your website. How did it go down with your customers? What caused the conversion? What caused a sale to be missed? By learning from your past mistakes and successes, this is the only way that you are going to be able to keep moving forward and achieving greater success. 

      6. Assess what your competition is doing

        Aside from the points that we have discussed so far, looking at what your competition is doing is critical. You need to be able to assess their efforts without copying them, though! There is nothing wrong with gaining inspiration, but you should be looking at what they are doing right, and then going one better than this! Moreover, you can learn by looking at what competing businesses are doing wrong as well. This will help you to get a better understanding of some key mistakes without actually having to make the mistakes yourself, so it can be a great lesson. 

      If you want to make sure that your business is able to continue moving forward and shine brighter than the competition, you need to carry out regular audits of your marketing efforts to ensure success. Whether you do this in house, or hire someone to do it for you, being able to analyse your marketing efforts and update your plan quickly gives you the best chance of moving your business forwards. 

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