“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”Abraham Licoln
The Value of Assessing your Effort…
I first tried chopping wood when I was six years old. I stood not much taller than the axe, but I had seen my father do it and wanted to give it a go. I positioned the log on the stump and took my first swing.
It bounced. The next ten swings also bounced. After nearly an hour, I hadn’t made a dent in the log. As I would find out later, the fibres in the wood were twisted and knotted around each other like the strands of a rope, rendering the log unchoppable.
As children, we are taught to idolize hard work, embedding the idea of excessive effort seamlessly into our minds. What we are not taught is how to direct that effort towards achieving maximum returns.
Abraham Lincoln once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Your business is ultimately all about returns: what you get back for what you put in. A Marketing Audit can tell you what aspects of your strategy are working and how you can maximize return on investment.
What is a Marketing Audit?
Imagine if my six year old self had taken the time to asses the situation before taking the first swing at the log and between swings, analyzing the variables each time. I certainly wouldn’t have wasted an hour trying to chop an unchoppable log.
In the business world, this analysis between chops is a systematic review of all marketing strategies, internal processes and procedures conducted periodically.
This is what a Marketing Audit is: a thorough examination of everything your business has been doing on-line to promote your product or service, from market assets to internal performance data. All aspects of your business are reviewed to establish overall performance, strengths and opportunities for growth and further development.
Why do a Marketing Audit?
1. It ensures your business remains focussed on meeting your original goals and objectives.
Regularly conducting a Marketing Audit forces you to continuously evaluate all aspects of your on-line business. It is very easy to lose sight of your original goals as you become enthralled in the intricacies of day to day operations. A regular Marketing Audit serves as a reminder to look at the big picture and how all aspects of your business fit in to it.
2. It provides regular comprehensive insights into which of your efforts is generating the greatest returns.
A Marketing Audit helps you assess each initiative individually, analyzing social media campaigns, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing to determine how effective they are in meeting your original goals. This process highlights which of your initiatives were ineffective, and if performed routinely can help you catch these causes of wasted effort before they become overly detrimental. It shows you what you may be overlooking.
3. Competition Analysis
Conducting a Marketing Audit requires you to examine your entire market, determining who your audience is and whether you are successfully engaging them. You learn who your competition is and how successful they are. These insights are priceless, and when attained regularly help you stay on top of your marketplace and ahead of your competition.
An Effective Planning Tool to Create a Marketing Strategy
When performed prior to launching a marketing campaign, a Marketing Audit gives you many insights into your target audience, market and competition.
The process gives you vital data to frame your initiatives in, as you can gain a clearer understanding of your underlying goals and objectives and how suited they are to your market.
Putting your organization through a full audit better equips you for a successful marketing campaign.
A Marketing Audit should encompass
Goals and Objectives
This requires careful consideration of what your underlying message is and your goals for the campaign you are auditing. Begin by asking yourself:
What is my product or service?
- How would I describe my product/service?
- How do I want consumers to think about my product/service?
What gaps does my product/service fill in the market?
- What similar product/service offerings exist?
- What makes my product/service different?
What measurable goals do I wish to achieve with my campaign?
- What does success look like?
- What individual objectives can I incorporate into my goals?
How will I measure whether I am achieving these goals?
- How often will I conduct measurements and tracking?
This requires you to carefully assess the external marketing environment. Begin by asking yourself the following:
Who is my audience?
- What demographics am I targeting?
- What is resonating with them on social media?
- What do they want to see?
- How is my audience changing over time?
Who are my competitors/benchmarks?
- What are they saying about their products/services?
- How are my competitors performing in the market?
- What are my competitors strengths/weaknesses?
- What are the content gaps can I fill using my expertise?
Where does my market sit economically?
- What is the average disposable income of the members of my market?
- What taxation/legal frameworks must I navigate to be successful?
- What economic indicators can I look at within my market and how are they performing?
This incorporates a thorough assessment of your organization’s internal environment. Ask yourself the following questions:
What human resources (manpower) do I have to work with?
- How effectively is the team organized?
- How efficiently do we currently communicate?
- How effectively does the team work together?
How effectively does my organization reach out externally?
- How are we at communicating and building ties with other organizations?
- How effective is our customer relationship management infrastructure?
What budget do I have to work with?
- How am I currently spending my budget?
- What returns is my spending generating?
How profitable is my product or service offering?
- What revenue is my product/service currently generating?
- Is my pricing structure sufficient and reflective of my product/service?
Current Marketing Plan Assessment
Once you have gone through and developed answers to the above considerations, the following should be applied to your current marketing plan:
What are my current goals and objectives?
- Are they feasible for my market?
- Are they feasible for my organization?
- Are they trackable and measurable?
How am I controlling my market process?
- To what extent does my organization have control over our marketing practices?
- How often am I evaluating my marketing practices?
How does my plan address staffing and human resource management?
- How are staff and human resources currently being managed?
- What arrangements exist to determine whether new staff is needed?
- Are staff given opportunities for skill development and training?
How does my plan address financial considerations?
- How am I using my budget?
- What do my returns/revenue generation look like?
- Do I need to make any changes to my current budget?
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Enhance your Marketing Audit with a Data Analytics Dashboard
Digital data analytics can greatly enhance the efficiency of your Marketing Audit. Using a dashboard tailored to your organization’s needs enables you to set customized options for amalgamating, sorting and tracking data relating to your operations, market engagement, social media analytics, google analytics and more.
Picture a personalized menu enabling you to select the datasets and parameters you want to view. You can also visualize selected datasets and generate real time reports.
Your dashboard grows with your business. As your requirements for data increase, the dashboard’s aggregator can be programmed to gather data from new sources and run it through new filters.
A regularly maintained dashboard can receive continuous data updates and store datasets until you need them.
When you conduct your marketing audit, simply login to your dashboard to get the information you need in real-time.
Learn more about Braintrvst’s data analytics services here.
At this point, you likely have one question: why bother with a dashboard? Imagine all the data associated with your business––from your social media, web traffic, advertising initiatives, open source data and more––printed out and stacked in piles on your desk. You would be overwhelmed.
Now picture a machine that organizes and stores these stacks of paper, bringing you the data you need when you need it.
This is essentially what a dashboard is: a programmable, automated solution that brings you valuable insights on demand. A data dashboard makes your life and work much easier.
Find High Traffic and Cost Effective Keywords for SEM
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) relies heavily on keywords. Keywords must be relevant to your target audience and direct the right audience to your site.
You must research and choose these words carefully to ensure maximum return on effort and investment in the form of click-throughs and conversions.
The formula for selecting the right keywords for SEM is fairly straightforward. You want words that appear very frequently in searches within your target area. At the same time, your keywords should have the lowest possible cost-per-click and difficulty rating.
3 SEM Keyword Search Hot Tips
When searching for the optimum keywords, it is easy to get caught up in search volume and keyword ranking.
While these are important elements, keep in mind that your keywords should score well in these categories within your geographical area. Be sure that your ranking and search volumes are reflective of your target area.
English is not the only language
When targeting campaigns to different countries and regions, be mindful of the languages common to those areas. This can be as simple as translating your existing keywords to your target languages, but even the translations require careful cross-checks to ensure that they are indeed the best keywords in that language.
Make sure to run the new keywords through the same tests as their English counterparts and pull up any additional relevant words that come up in the process. Also keep in mind that Adwords enables you to conduct language targeting.
Social Media is a good testing ground
Your first attempts with your new keywords will bring you a few bumps along the way. SEM campaigns can be expensive, so trial and error may not be the best option, particularly if you are running a low budget.
Luckily social media channels have lower click through rates than most search engine platforms, giving you a way to test your keywords without overusing your social media budget.
Use Low Difficulty Keywords in your Content for SEO
Use keywords to rank well organically in the least amount of time
Once you’ve found and established keywords for your niche and your market, populate your site with content that is rich in these words. Keep your content regularly updated, relevant, helpful and timely. You want to build trust with your audience by sharing your expertise and engaging them in a meaningful way.
Search engine algorithms work by identifying relevant tags throughout your content. You want your webpages to be in the top few search results, meaning keywords need to appear in headings and throughout the body of your text to make search engines work for you.
While you should strive to make your copy as engaging as possible, content without proper SEO structure gets minimal exposure online, meaning you efforts are wasted.
Look at the Content Gaps to Build content to Rank to the Keyword
A good part of your marketing audit efforts should be directed towards determining what is resonating with your target audience. Start with a scan of what is being put out on the web.
Enter your keywords on search engines to see what comes up. Ask yourself what you can provide that isn’t already there. Go where your competition isn’t and get a faster return on your marketing efforts.
Build content accordingly. You want to demonstrate your expertise and be helpful. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind, which states that 80 percent of your content should be focussed on adding value while only 20 percent should directly promote your brand.
Aim for longer pieces with a wealth of information, as search engine algorithms are programmed to see value in quality content.
Find the influencers that use your keywords and let them know of your content. Remember that social media revolves around a conversation. The more others talk about you, the more valued your brand will become.
Test landing pages from social media channels and adwords. Always create no less than two ads to test on marketing initiatives per channel.
Be sure to continuously update and modify your content accordingly.
Search engines like pages that are updated regularly, whether this is adding more information or simply keeping facts and figures up to date.
A well written piece is a goldmine for engagement and social media content. Always follow this sequence: test, measure, refine, repeat.
If nothing else, remember the following…
1. A Marketing Audit is an invaluable way to assess your efforts and ensure maximum returns, preventing you from trying to chop an unchoppable log
2. Conducting a full keyword analysis is vital to ensure your content is getting the reach it deserves
3. Crafting quality web content with tactful keyword use can help engage and grow your audience
Keep these in mind along with the best practices and tech tips discussed and stay on top of your organization’s online marketing efforts with regular marketing audits.