Marketing Audit

You may think a marketer's job is done once a marketing campaign is launched and products get sold. However, this is not the case. After running a marketing campaign, the business needs to conduct a marketing audit to measure its effectiveness and suggest improvements. If you're curious about marketing audits and how they work. You will learn about marketing audit concepts, characteristics, and much more.  

Marketing Audit Marketing Audit

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Table of contents

    Marketing Audit Definition

    Marketing is a crucial business function ensuring a product is delivered to the right customers. An equally important task is a marketing audit which assesses marketing effectiveness.

    A marketing audit is a systematic analysis of internal and external marketing activities to identify opportunities and gaps for improvement.

    Through marketing audits, marketers gain deeper insight into the marketing ecosystem, discover underlying issues, and formulate better strategies to meet business objectives.

    Marketing audits use real-life facts and data to identify high-performing and low-performing marketing areas. They also assess how well the business uses its resources to drive performance.

    The four main objectives of a marketing audit include:

    1. Evaluate marketing activities,

    2. Assess objectives and strategies,

    3. Identify opportunities and gaps,

    4. Uncover issues and suggest solutions.

    Now you may wonder who is involved in the marketing audit process.

    You might have heard that external examiners frequently mark your papers at university. Similarly to university, marketing audits are best conducted by someone outside the company. The external auditor could be a marketing agency or consultant who thoroughly examines the company's marketing performance. External marketing auditors provide a fresher and more objective viewpoint to help the business improve its situation.

    That said, companies can also employ their own staff to conduct marketing audits to save time, money, and effort. Internal marketing audits occur more quickly and frequently since the team is already familiar with marketing processes and systems.

    Marketing Audit Characteristics

    So, what are marketing audit characteristics? Overall, a marketing audit includes four key features:

    • Periodic,

    • Comprehensive,

    • Systematic,

    • Independent.

    "Periodic" means the marketing audit should be conducted regularly, not only when the company encounters a crisis. This is to ensure any oversight that affects the company's performance. Regular audits allow companies to adjust and adapt their marketing strategies to meet market needs better.

    "Comprehensive" suggests that an audit should be thorough and cover all marketing aspects. It is the opposite of a functional marketing audit - an audit of only one marketing function, e.g., product development, sales, promotion strategies, etc.). Comprehensive audits are more effective at identifying the root of the problem than a functional audit.

    "Systematic" refers to the "systematic and organized" manner in which an audit is carried out. A marketing audit should assess the marketing environment, objectives, and strategies to identify areas for improvement.

    "Independent" means that marketing audits should be objective. An independent consultant or agency should perform the audits. When conducted internally, the marketing expert should provide honest and unbiased feedback on marketing performance.

    Elements of a marketing audit may include:

    1. A SWOT analysis: This is an analysis of marketing strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. Understanding what you are good at or lacking and what gaps and opportunities you can fill or capitalize on to attract more customers is essential.

    2. Market research: A marketing audit should also include market research to collect opinions about the marketing campaign. This research will allow the company to understand the motivation behind customers' actions.

    3. Competitive analysis: Competitive analysis is the study of competitors in an industry or business sector marketers use to uncover which tools and strategies they utilize to attract customers. It also shows marketers what elements competitors are missing that they can provide.

      Check out our explanation of Competitor Analysis to learn more.

    Types of Marketing Audit

    There are two ways to categorize marketing audits based on the aspect of marketing evaluated and the individual performing it. Based on marketing aspects, there are six types of marketing audits:

    • Marketing environment audit - This marketing audit analyzes the micro and macro environments where marketing activities occur. It includes studying forces and trends that might affect marketing performance, such as customer behavior, competitive environment, policy changes, or new technology development.

    • Marketing organization audit - This type of audit assesses the organization's capacity to implement marketing strategies based on the forecasted environment.

    • Marketing strategy audit - This audit evaluates whether marketing objectives and strategies are effective or match the current marketing environment.

    • Marketing systems audit - This audit analyzes the system for conducting marketing activities, e.g., marketing planning, control, and analysis tools.

    • Marketing productivity audit - This audit measures the ROI of marketing activities and how marketers can optimize marketing costs for the best result.

    • Marketing functionality audit - This audit is performed for each marketing function, e.g., the marketing mix, such as price, place, price, and promotion.

    Based on whom performs the assessment, marketing audits can be split into two categories:

    • Internal marketing audits: These are audits conducted by internal staff. The benefits of internal audits are clear. Companies can save money and time doing assessments as the team is already familiar with the marketing processes and systems. However, there is a high risk of bias and subjectivity.

    • External marketing audits: These are audits performed by someone outside the company. External audits are more time-consuming, though they can offer more objectivity and fresh viewpoints to help the company improve its situation.

    Marketing Audit Process

    While the marketing audit process differs from one company to another, it includes five key steps:

    1. Select what to audit - First, you need to identify which type of marketing audit you want to carry out. Is it a comprehensive or functional audit? Does the audit assess a process, workflow, or specific campaign? For example, you can conduct a content marketing audit for the company's blog.

    2. Gather relevant data - The next step is to collect data for the audit. Data may include marketing assets like blogs, emails, social posts, etc., as well as marketing metrics or KPIs. In digital marketing, metrics can be page views, click-through rates, conversion rates, returning visitors, etc.

    3. Document methodology - At every step of the marketing audit, you can document the process and findings for future reference.

    4. Create results reports - The auditor can document the results or insights collected in step 2 in plain text and/or visuals such as graphs and infographics. Result reports should also include an executive summary and data source reference.

    5. Analyze findings - The data collected will be analyzed and assessed to identify trends, patterns, gaps, and opportunities for future decision-making.1

    Businesses should repeat all these five steps of the marketing audit process at regular intervals to adjust and adapt marketing strategies.

    Marketing Audit Examples

    Now that you understand marketing audits, let's see how they work in practice. We'll look at examples of digital marketing audits and content marketing audits.

    Digital Marketing Audit

    A digital marketing audit is a thorough examination of your digital marketing efforts. For example, you may conduct audits for a content marketing campaign, SEO (search engine optimization), and social media pages.

    A digital marketing audit often breaks down the company's marketing channels and examines their effectiveness.

    For example, a digital marketing audit might assess marketing performance on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, websites, and apps.

    To assess the performance of each channel, auditors often use digital marketing metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs may differ depending on the type of marketing platform and campaign.

    For example, email marketing uses metrics like open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, and unsubscribe rate, while social media metrics include the number of likes, shares, replies, impressions, etc.

    Then, there is an assessment of digital marketing assets. This assessment may include digital content archives like blog posts, social media posts, emails, etc., as well as content management platforms or marketing automation tools.

    In many cases, digital marketing audit extends to competitive analysis. The auditors may want to look into the strategy and tools that competitors are using to identify gaps and opportunities.2

    Content Marketing Audit

    A content marketing audit is a subcategory of digital marketing. It involves assessing website assets such as blogs or landing pages. A content marketing audit aims to determine which type of content to create, repurpose, or remove to improve website performance.3

    For example, a company can conduct an SEO audit to identify keywords that generate the most leads, then create more content around those keywords to drive the target audience to the website. During the SEO audit, you may also see if blog posts with SEO metadata or keywords in headings are performing better than those without. You may also notice pages with broken links and update them to improve customer experience.3

    Marketing Audit - Key takeaways

    • A marketing audit systematically analyzes internal and external marketing activities to identify gaps and opportunities in marketing practices.
    • An outsourced party or internal staff can perform marketing audits.
    • Internal marketing audits can occur more frequently and consume less time than external marketing audits.
    • There are six main types of marketing audit: marketing environment audit, marketing organization audit, marketing strategy audit, marketing system audit, marketing productivity audit, and marketing functionality audit.
    • The marketing audit process may include five steps: selecting the marketing aspect to audit, gathering relevant data, documenting methodology, creating results reports, and analyzing findings.
    • Nowadays, digital marketing is a significant part of marketing audits. It includes an examination of digital content and marketing efforts.

    References

    1. Lori B. 7 Steps to Conducting a Marketing Audit. LinkedIn. 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-steps-conducting-marketing-audit-lori-berson.
    2. Andrew Mendez-Spera. What is digital marketing audit? 2021. https://getwithtipsy.com/marketing-basics/what-is-a-digital-marketing-audit. Get With Tipsy.
    3. Kayla Carmicheal. How to Run A Content Audit in 2021. Hubspot. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/company-content-audit.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Marketing Audit

    What are the 3 elements of a marketing audit?

    The three elements of a marketing audit are SWOT analysis, market research, and competitor analysis. 

    What are the types of a marketing audit?

    There are two main types of marketing audits: internal and external. Internal marketing audits are carried out by internal staff, while external marketing audits are outsourced to an independent marketing consultant or agency. 

    What is the purpose of a marketing audit?

    A marketing audit aims to help marketers gain deeper insight into the marketing ecosystem, uncover underlying issues, and formulate better strategies to meet business objectives. 

    What is included in a marketing audit?

    A marketing audit often contains a SWOT analysis, market research, and competitor analysis. 

    What are the six components of a marketing audit?

    The six main components of marketing audits are marketing environment audit, marketing organization audit, marketing strategy audit, marketing system audit, marketing productivity audit, and marketing functionality audit. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Companies should always outsource marketing audits. 

    Internal marketing audits are more time-consuming and inflexible than external marketing audits. 

    What type of marketing audits analyzes the micro and macro environment where marketing activities take place?

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