What Is a Marketing Audit? (And Other Audit FAQs)

Christy Walters


November 15, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

black and white image of two people sitting behind a glass door working on a marketing audit on laptops

Every marketer has likely wished, at least once, for a crystal ball. Something to tell them exactly what’s going to work to attract leads and put their brand on top in their industry. While crystal balls don’t exist, there’s another tool that’s nearly as powerful: the marketing audit. Today, we’re looking at what a marketing audit is and how using one helps your brand uncover its strengths and weaknesses to prepare better plans and strategies for the future:

What Is a Marketing Audit?

A marketing audit is an analysis of the internal and external marketing landscape of your organization. A successful, thorough audit provides your team with an in-depth look at the department, all its assets, and the potential for new future opportunities. Your audit should look at everything from assets to strategies to help you refine specific marketing activities. A marketing audit lets your company look at what your brand wants to get out of its marketing strategies, and how to get to those goals based on the results you find.

Why Should You Run a Marketing Audit?

A marketing audit helps you understand the full scope of marketing resources and potential for your brand. It also helps your decision-makers understand what works, what doesn’t, and how best to proceed with marketing efforts for the company. Some of the key reasons for running a marketing audit include the following:

To Catch Mistakes

When you conduct any kind of audit, it highlights areas where things aren’t working as well as they should. For marketing audits, this may include campaigns that don’t perform the way you expect or being unable to reach your marketing goals. When you do an audit, you catch the mistakes that are causing these stalls or inconsistencies. When you run audits regularly, you can catch any new mistakes early and rework plans that look like they won’t become successful. Doing so saves resources and your budget for projects with better rewards.

To Identify the Marketing Strategies That Work

Audits aren’t just for catching mistakes. They can also show you which of your marketing campaigns and strategies works best. Audits allow you to identify your most successful tactics and uncover why they work so well. The more you know about your brand’s marketing success, the better you can apply those tips and strategies to ones that underperform to make them better.

To Prepare for Your Next Marketing Plan

One of the most important reasons for running a marketing audit is to plan for your next brilliant campaign. When you learn what’s working and what isn’t, you can make more informed decisions about what projects and assets you want to carry into the next phase of your marketing plan. The more information you have, the more solid decisions you can make.

Types of Marketing Audits

The term “marketing audit” is actually an umbrella term where many other, smaller audits fall. While many companies conduct one large audit that encompasses all the most important features, you can also run smaller spot audits that focus on specific areas, like:

  • External: Audits that look at how factors outside your company, like the economy, affect your brand marketing.
  • Internal: Audits that look at how factors within your company, such as campaign decisions or staffing, affect your brand marketing.
  • Function: A type of internal audit that looks at your direct sales and distribution methods, such as communication, pricing, and products or services.
  • Macro-Environment: A type of external audit that covers the big-picture factors that may influence your audience, like politics, the environment, the economy, and social demographics.
  • Organization: A type of internal audit that looks at your company’s staffing resources at different seniority levels.
  • Productivity: A type of internal audit that looks at your marketing team’s output and distribution of resources across campaigns and activities.
  • Strategy: A type of internal audit that looks specifically at your brand goals and objectives and how to attach them to marketing campaigns.
  • Systems: A type of internal audit that looks at your company’s marketing and development workflows to see how you get information from your team and distribute content to your target audience.
  • Task Environment: A type of external audit that looks at how outside activities affect your brand marketing, such as relationships with distributors and competitor marketing strategies.

What Makes a Marketing Audit Successful?

Anybody can run a marketing audit, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to give you the results you want. If you want to make sure you’re conducting a worthwhile audit that provides wonderful insights and the potential to be successful, ask these questions:

Is the Audit Comprehensive?

Though there are a variety of marketing audit types that cover different areas of the disciple, the most successful audits are comprehensive. They look at all areas of marketing, not just the most successful ones or the ones with problems. Getting this kind of broad overview of the department highlights both strengths and weaknesses in areas you may not have considered if you narrowed the scope of the audit.

Do You Have an Audit Strategy?

Every aspect of marketing benefits from having a strategy, including running an audit. When you have a plan in place, your audit is more efficient. Having the strategy also ensures that the auditors account for every potential influence worth examining throughout the process.

Are You Conducting Marketing Audits Often?

Do you conduct your audits regularly or sporadically? Do you only run an audit when something is wrong with your marketing plan? The most successful audits are ones you run regularly, even when there are no immediate issues with your campaigns or your department. Many companies run marketing audits at least once a year. Doing the audit at the end of the year helps prepare you for the upcoming 12 months.

But, depending on your budget and other resources, you could conduct audits even more often—like once per quarter. Plus, the more often you run an audit, the more proactive your team can be when grabbing new opportunities and addressing issues.

Who Is Running Your Marketing Audit?

Your team can conduct its own marketing self-audit to learn more about your assets and organizational performance. But running an internal audit could create biases from team members. It could also produce an inaccurate analysis of your department’s strengths and weaknesses.

Instead, the most successful audits come from external or third-party groups that aren’t part of your organization. Think about it this way. Outside auditors don’t have a stake in your game. They’re not worried about hurting another team member’s feelings or upsetting anyone within your organization with their results. This makes external auditing extremely valuable when taking stock of the strengths and weaknesses of your business’s content marketing approaches.

The Components of a Marketing Audit

A marketing audit looks at a variety of key areas within your team and brand outputs to determine what works, what doesn’t, and where you’ve missed key opportunities to better connect with your audience. Here are the components that every marketing audit should account for:

Marketing Goals

Whether your team is running its own marketing audit or you’re working with a third-party analysis team, you need to specify your marketing goals at the beginning of the audit. If you don’t document your goals, what’s the point of running the audit? Nobody knows what you’re working towards, so there’s no way to tell what you’ve done successfully or what needs improvement.

Include both long- and short-term goals in your audit. Long-term goals are those that you want to achieve within a few years. They’re often bigger, more extensive, and loftier than others. Short-term goals are those that you want to achieve within the next year, or sometimes even sooner. They’re often more focused or have a higher priority than your long-term goals.

Time Distribution

Part of the audit process involves looking at how you distribute your resources. How long does it take your team to complete certain marketing tasks each week or each month? Looking at the distribution of time and resources may highlight areas that are out of alignment with your plans. It may show that you don’t have enough resources to reach the goals you’ve set. Or it might show you where you’re not using your time and resources as effectively as possible.

On the other hand, the audit could show that you’re actually using your team’s time and resources successfully. That would show there’s a different reason you’re not currently meeting your goals.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Even if you’re working with a third-party group to conduct your audit, it’s important to be realistic about your team’s known strengths and weaknesses. Every brand has both, and the weaknesses especially are nothing to be shy about. When you openly acknowledge your weaknesses and work to understand them, that’s how you make your brand and your marketing better.

While the audit might reveal additional strengths and weaknesses your team didn’t know about, reflecting on what some of them may be before you start the audit helps. This information could help you find areas you want to pay closer attention to during the audit.

Client Personas

Whether you use client, buyer, customer, or UX personas to explore your audience’s wants and needs, include those documents in your audit. These profiles help you learn more about your target audience and what they want and expect from your company. If you don’t currently have client persona documents, you can develop them before you start the auditing process. When creating your personas, account for things like client or user demographics, geographic location, and pain points or needs.

Related: How To Create a UX Persona (With Template and Example)

Competitor Data

Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You always have to be aware of what the competition is doing and how they interact with your shared audience. Even when you’re auditing your own marketing performance, you still have to include competitor data. For each audit, look at the performance of your top three to five direct competitors and how their marketing efforts overlap with your own. You can also look at up to five of your indirect SEO competitors, specifically for content marketing or search marketing audits, to provide even more insight into how your rivals appeal to the audience.

Want to get a head start on sourcing competitor and internal content data? Request your free content marketing analysis from CopyPress. In this report, you’ll learn about how your content stacks up against that of your top three industry competitors. Browse keyword rankings and reveal content gaps you could fill based on findings from your marketing audit.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Brand Assets

Marketing audits help you understand how all of your brand assets appeal to your audience. These assets include the obvious, like the products and services you offer. You can break these down into even smaller categories to look at price, features, or other comparative elements your audience may use when deciding which product or service to pick from all offerings.

But your marketing assets go beyond your products and services. They also include your marketing channels, such as your website or social media profiles. Other assets include the content you create and user-generated content, like reviews. Examine all your brand assets and how they affect your interactions with your audience as you progress through the audit.

Performance Data

You need to include your marketing performance data in your audit to understand how well you’re reaching your current goals. Create a detailed document that lists the performance data for all your marketing assets. Some of the information to include in the document is:

  • Channel traffic
  • Engagement rate
  • Page views
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Keyword positioning

Besides your traditional metrics, it’s also important to look at some specific web metrics like broken links, duplicate content, page speed, and 404 errors. Using this data, you can see the specifics of your website and the underlying factors affecting the analytics from traditional metrics.

Related: 7 Steps to Scale Content Using Data

What Do You Do After You Get Your Audit Results?

At the end of the audit, your team or the third-party service presents the findings. Now what? When you have the audit results, you’re able to plan for your next marketing strategy and how you want to move forward. This could include taking action like:

  • Eliminating campaigns or strategies that no longer serve the brand
  • Redistributing budget or resources to make them more efficient
  • Brainstorming new campaign strategies that better target your audience
  • Conducting additional research to determine what next steps you should take

The most important thing to remember after you receive your audit results is that you should calculate your next moves and be strategic. You should also complete any changes in phases or steps rather than overhauling your entire marketing department at one time. Use what you’ve learned to make incremental changes and then run additional audits to check the progress you’ve made with those changes. By making adjustments bit by bit, you can further pinpoint exactly what wasn’t working before or catch potential missteps that could throw off your marketing plan.

Create the Best Marketing Strategy for Your Brand in 2023

With content marketing, sometimes auditing is actually the simple part. This type of analysis teaches you what you need to focus on to improve your brand so you can figure out how you’re going to put those plans into action. And don’t forget: CopyPress has you covered with the tools you need to get started.

Join us on Search Engine Journal for the webinar, How To Analyze Your Content & Craft a Winning Strategy in 2023. At this live session, you’ll learn from our VP of Client Success, Sabrina Hipps, and Director of Content Analysis, Jeremy Rivera. Discover how to analyze your content to set up your strategy for the new year to take your audit data and turn it into an actionable marketing plan. Not sure if you can make the live session? Register today and get a recording that you can take into 2023 (and beyond) to help you make your next brilliant marketing move.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

More from the author:

Read More About Measurement