More impact from the same budget

The marketing audit: Putting it all to the test

An audit is a meticulously designed analysis of the efficiency and functionality of individual, several or all business processes. It is typically carried out using carefully prepared checklists, taking into account all relevant factors and allowing target/actual comparisons – to enable a differentiated view of a company’s current position in relation to previously defined targets.

If audits are carried out at regular intervals, they not only act as a benchmark, but also as a driver of ongoing company development. By identifying problem areas and uncovering potential for improvement, they provide a solid basis on which companies can optimise their practices and strategies. In particular, the focus is on whether set goals are not only achievable, but whether they have also been achieved. The degree of achievement serves as an indicator of past company performance and points to future areas for optimisation.

This type of audit requires comprehensive consulting that takes a close look at all aspects of the company – from market developments and competition to sales and communication. At the Ruess Group, we have dedicated ourselves to this very mandate for many years – an activity that sets us apart in the world of full-service agencies.

Your contact

Steffen Ruess

Steffen Ruess

Managing Partner
Ruess Group

Why is a marketing audit so important?

At the heart of a marketing audit are essential questions that can be formulated as follows: Have we achieved the goals we set out to achieve? Where do we still see potential for improvement and development?

A marketing audit unfolds its full benefits in the evaluation of all activities and associated budgets, acting as a catalytic impulse for a company’s further development. Carried out regularly, it isn’t an end in itself: It represents a target-orientated investment in a company’s competitiveness.

Essentially, a marketing audit is broken down into two fundamental steps: In an initial review phase, a determination is made as to whether all objectives have been reached and what the current status is. This is followed by a secondary step in which the strategic modification of the measures is put into action.

Although there is no fixed rule as to how often a marketing audit should be carried out, one thing is undisputed:  more frequent review cycle enables more flexible action and a more adaptive response to market fluctuations, competitive dynamics and customer needs.

The four areas of a marketing audit

Auditing marketing assumptions

At the threshold of every marketing audit is the audit of marketing assumptions, embedded in the essential question: Are the original planning premises still valid or have they changed due to external circumstances?

Further questions could include: Have new market players emerged? Has the benefit of the product or service changed? Have any new competing products influenced your own offerings?

If the planning basis has changed, a strategic adjustment is required. If there have been no changes since the last marketing audit, the existing strategic principles should be retained.

The second area: Auditing the organisation

The organisational audit takes an analytical look at internal processes: How are decision-making processes structured? What paths does information follow within the organisation? How is the management and decision-making structure organised?

Here too, it is advisable to scrutinise the internal processes of the company organisation and – where necessary – to revise or adapt the internal marketing processes to become more efficient.

The third area: Auditing objectives, strategies and the marketing mix

The strategy audit focuses on the question of which strategic goals are being pursued with the marketing activities and budgets. These could change based on the results of the marketing assumptions audit (area 1).

This area of the marketing audit merges with the marketing mix audit in that it scrutinises the specific, operational measures of the marketing mix and realigns them if necessary.

The fourth area: Auditing content marketing and digital marketing

The cornerstone of the content marketing analysis is the content itself. Reviewing its objectives is first on the agenda. Is a redefinition necessary? Is a revision of the content sufficient, or is the existing content still adequate?

In the first step of the content audit, quantitative analyses and analysis tools such as Google Analytics or Screaming Frog are used to determine what content exists.

The next step is a qualitative check: Is there any content duplication? Are there thematic gaps? Is the content search engine optimised? Do the views achieved justify the effort? Which formats generate the most widespread reach?

The digital marketing audit takes a similar approach but – instead of focusing exclusively on your own content – expands its focus to include a review of SEO factors, the use of advertising measures and activities on social media.

Other components of the marketing audit:

Sales funnel audit

How many visitors do we attract to our website on average per month? How many leads do we generate on average? How many of these actually convert to customers and what turnover per lead is achieved?

Persona audit

What is the profile of the current buyers? Does this correspond to the image of our desired customer? Is our knowledge of the target group in-depth enough or is there a need to further deepen and expand it?

Social media audit

What channels do we use and with what frequency? How do users interact with the content? Is there a sufficient number of “likes”, comments etc.? What is the conversion rate?

Audit for landing pages and call-to-action elements

Are the landing pages converting as intended? Are the metrics of the various call-to-action elements indicating success or is there potential for improvement?

Competitor audit

How are the market players and the competition behaving? Have new competitors appeared on the playing field and, if so, what differentiators distinguish their products or services from ours?

Network audit

How is the network structured? Is it comprehensive enough or should it be expanded? What synergies could still be revealed and how can the network be effectively integrated into the marketing strategy?

The five steps of the marketing audit

The thorough implementation of a marketing audit can be concisely illustrated in five clear steps:

01. A comprehensive inventory

The start of the audit involves a detailed collection of all relevant data to ensure a systematic organisation of the essential factors that influence business objectives. The data collection covers all marketing assets – including branding, business objectives, social media channels, website health, target audience personas and competitive activity. As this phase requires specific consideration of each aspect, it is often the most time-consuming stage of the process.

02. Analyses of the collected data

Once the data have been collected in full, they are analysed. Various business tools can be used to measure, compare and analyse the data. A SWOT analysis can provide insight into potential opportunities and risks, while digital tools enable the performance of various communication channels to be assessed. The aim is to gain insight into the suitability of the channels used and to identify possible alternatives.

03. Preparation of the marketing audit report

Based on the analysed data, the marketing audit agency or consultancy creates a comprehensive report that provides in-depth insights into the marketing programme and key systems. This report can show whether specific challenges exist, for example in terms of the website or the choice of words used in the social media channels. It serves as a basis for discussing and planning adjustments and realignments of the marketing objectives.

04. Realignment of the marketing objectives

The audit reveals a comprehensive overview of the company’s marketing activities and performance. It lays the foundation for realigning the company’s objectives, defining an updated marketing plan and achieving favourable results.

05. Implementation of marketing strategies post audit

In the final phase, based on the findings of the audit, the required measures and actions are assigned to the relevant team members. Each member then implements corrections, adjustments and strategies in line with the updated marketing plan.

This thoughtful, five-part process ensures that every element of marketing is subjected to a rigorous review process, analysed and, if necessary, optimised to maximise its contribution to overall business objectives.

Responsibilities of a marketing audit agency or marketing audit consultancy:

Defining marketing and sales

In view of changing customer expectations and an increased merging of technical and commercial functions, the audit defines a clear role and mission for marketing and sales – for example, whether they act as internal service providers, content initiators or lead generators.

Structuring marketing and sales

With the constant evolution of requirements for digital marketing and sales organisations, the audit ensures that both new and existing functions are coherently integrated and coordinated. It is essential to clearly define areas of responsibility and break down silo structures.

Optimising workflows

The audit ensures that coordinated procedures and clearly defined processes and workflows are implemented – while automation potential is exploited with a clear governance model to ensure transparency and maximise efficiency and effectiveness at key interfaces.

Integrating agile methods

The aim here is not to blindly follow agile methods, but to understand their principles and use them wisely for faster, more effective and targeted company processes.

Managing partners and agencies

In collaboration with external partners, the focus is placed on whether it makes more sense to concentrate on fewer agencies or to diversify towards more specialists, with a marketing audit providing decisive insights.

Developing marketing leadership and competencies

The audit takes into account the systematic mapping and development of competencies within the marketing and sales organisation, especially in light of the shift towards technical, agile and data-driven capabilities.

Use of digital marketing tools and systems

The audit helps identify specific technology needs and derive the optimal solution – always focusing on the actual business benefits.

Proactive change management

The audit not only serves to recognise the need for change, but also activates and energises it – for example through inspiring change communication and the implementation of new strategies and approaches.

Conclusion: The audit as a catalyst for change

Carrying out an audit often represents a turning point that questions the status of every aspect of the company – from competitive analysis, market research and target group definition, all the way through to sales and communication. Objectives also come under scrutiny: Where are we heading? Should we initiate new processes, introduce greater digitalisation, develop more efficient methods or expand internationally?

An audit serves as an eye-opener: The realisation that new resources, sales channels and markets are essential, that target groups have changed and that previously unused leads are now coming into focus becomes more clearly tangible.

But simply carrying out a marketing audit is not enough. An external partner is needed – an unbiased voice with a clear, objective view. A partner who not only analyses, but also assists with implementation.

This is where generalists come into play who have both the analytical expertise and the resources for implementation. Experts with skills ranging from marketing, media and content creation to change management.

We at the Ruess Group are precisely this kind of generalist: As a management consultancy, full-service and media agency, we offer everything that is needed to successfully carry out and manage audits, marketing audits and change processes.

Your contact

Steffen Ruess

Steffen Ruess

Managing Partner
Ruess Group