The word "audit" may strike fear in the hearts of taxpayers, but it shouldn't scare marketers. Conducting an audit of your marketing department can be a fruitful—even fun—exercise. Finance departments undergo annual reviews, but too few marketing departments bother to do the same, which means your entire business might not be running as efficiently as it can be.
The Main Reason to Audit Your Marketing Department
The success of your company rests on the quality of both your marketing strategy and its execution. Whether you have a marketing budget of $50K or $50M, you can benefit from a structured audit process. I've audited marketing departments that range from B2B startups to Fortune 50 companies. Here are two examples of the types of results an audit can produce.
Real-World Marketing Audit Success Story 1: Conducting a Post-Merger Marketing Audit
Before melding your marketing teams or making personnel cuts after a merger, it's critical to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each organization. We reduced the sales cycle of a health IT company by three months and increased conversion rates 80% by introducing campaigns and personnel changes that were the direct result of a marketing audit. We also made recommendations that decreased overhead, freeing up more budget for high-performance campaigns.
Real World Marketing Audit Success Story 2: Startups, Too, Need Audits
Early-stage companies often think audits are not necessary because their marketing departments and budgets are small. Even if you have only one marketing employee, or if you use an agency, you can still benefit from an audit. We showed a biotech supply company how to expand its marketing spend in a way that was supported by cash flows, thus reducing risk. The company has since grown revenues 200%.
An Audit Framework
Here's an actionable framework that can turn a marketing audit from a "root canal experience" to an exercise your team will value. Each topic contains a list of questions you can use to guide your audit.
Set metrics and routinely measure against them. At Clarity Quest Marketing, we developed a Goal POST acronym: "performance measurement, objectives, strategies, and tactics." The method ensures Marketing understands high-level business objectives and your executive team knows Marketing's key performance indices (KPIs).
- Are you clear on high-level business objectives from the C-level and expectations from Marketing?
- Have you set Goal POST metrics?
- How do your key metrics compare with best-in-class companies and competitors?
Budget and ROI Assessment
Many marketing departments submit a budget to management that is merely above the previous year's budget—with padding to compensate for standard cost-cutting. However, you should assess whether you are spending money on the highest ROI campaigns and most fruitful events.
- What factors are you using to calculate your marketing budget? (Read our whitepaper for tips.)
- Are you attributing revenue from marketing programs? If so, does your model need to be evaluated?
- Can you eliminate programs without affecting KPIs?
As companies grow, they too often try to pile more and more responsibilities onto the same set of people. It's vital to assess your team each year for satisfaction, availability, and skill levels.
- Is your marketing team passionate about your company and your objectives?
- Do you have the right people in roles in which they can deliver but are still able to learn and grow?
- Do you need to hire or downsize your marketing department?
- Do you need to involve an outsourced marketing agency more or less?
Demand Generation (Inbound/Outbound)
As sexier outbound channels emerge, it's easy to relegate your inbound efforts, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and funnel nurturing, to the marketing dungeon. But you should set them free instead: They are (probably) still your top source of qualified leads!
- Does your organization have the optimal ratio of inbound and outbound programs?
- On which area of the sales funnel/process are campaigns focused? For example, are you concentrating too much on volume leads at the top of the funnel when your real issue is the conversion of sales qualified leads?
- How do your metrics compare with industry averages and best-in-class marketing companies? For example, are at least 35% of conversions coming from Marketing?
Content Marketing Audit
With inbound playing such an essential role in successful marketing efforts, it's vital to evaluate your content library that supports those efforts.
- Which content types or individual pieces have garnered the most engagement?
- Do you have enough content to support current and future marketing programs and cadences?
- Is the quality of your content gold or crap? Do an honest in-house evaluation, and ask your customers.
Lead Management, Sales Integration, and Sales Enablement Processes
When evaluating your marketing department, remember Sales and Marketing functional alignment. With processes such as account-based marketing ( ABM) taking off in B2B marketing, the two departments must have open and metrics-driven communication channels.
- Are your current funnel definitions and metrics in need of an update?
- What can Sales and Marketing do as a team to improve lead conversion?
- Are leads falling through the cracks at any point in the sales cycle?
- Does the sales team need improved sales enablement materials or processes from Marketing? What about competitive and customer research?
- What can be done to shorten sales cycles?
Social and PR Evaluations
Social and PR go hand-in-hand because they both get the word out and invite interaction.
- What's the optimal channel mix between social and PR efforts? Given your sales and business objectives, which channel should you prioritize?
- Are you using each social channel to its maximum potential? If not, should you focus on one channel where most of your customers are versus "spreading the peanut butter too thin" across 3-5 channels?
- Has your PR media contact list been updated in the last six months? How about your editorial calendar?
Technology Stack and Database Health
Gone are the days when marketing departments didn't need to worry about data, analytics, and tool sets. However, too often marketing groups purchase a tool and use only a small portion of its capabilities, or workflows become overly complicated.
- What's the optimal software configuration for your organization?
- Are there tools you own or subscribe to that you don't use? What can you eliminate to simplify workflows?
- When's the last time you cleansed Sales and Marketing databases? Have you paused campaigns to contacts that haven't engaged in a particular timeframe?
- How well does your database map to target customer personas?
- If you are using ABM methods, does your database map to ABM company targets?
Handling Resistance and Objections
As a marketing leader, you may get pushback from company leadership, Sales, and even Marketing personnel. Show stakeholders the facts, such as funnel conversion metrics or conversions where the first touch came from marketing programs.
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Marketing is the lifeblood of any company. The above audit process ensures a company's marketing arteries stay clear and the blood keeps pumping!
Although it may be onerous to set up the process and templates the first time, you should be able to complete subsequent audits in 1-3 weeks, depending on the size of your organization.
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