10 steps to a successful community bank marketing audit

What is a marketing audit and why do you need to conduct one? A marketing audit is a systematic review of an organization’s marketing function with the goal of assessing how effective their marketing efforts are, where their strategy might be lacking, and what steps might be taken to improve their marketing ROI.

Why is an audit important? MailChimp has this to offer: “There was a time when marketing was much less sophisticated, especially when it comes to technology and the internet. Today, marketing is so much more than billboards and newspaper ads. With all the potential channels you can use to reach your customers, it’s important to be able to focus on the ones that will be most effective. Whether you’re still trying to figure that out or aren’t seeing the results you’d like to on certain channels, a marketing audit can help.”

A marketing audit, when you get right down to it, is all about answering questions you SHOULD have, questions like:

  • How effective is our current marketing strategy?
  • What are the strengths of our current marketing efforts?
  • What are the weaknesses?

Perhaps the above can be summed up with this: Are we reaching the right people in the right place at the right time with the right message?  Ideally, a marketing audit will answer this question.


1. Draft a year-end marketing report

Before you can begin auditing the year’s marketing efforts, you first need to have a record of all your marketing efforts. This year-end marketing report will be used to help determine which strategies worked and help you decide where and how you can improve your future marketing efforts.  Your year-end report should include: 

  • Last year’s marketing strategy and goals
  • A record of all marketing channels you used throughout the year
  • Performance records for each channel throughout the year
  • Dollars spent on each marketing channel


2. Confirm Marketing Goals and Objectives


The next step in your audit should be evaluating your marketing goals from the previous year. All marketing goals should be SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). If you used SMART goals last year, it should be easy to determine which goals you met and which goals you did not meet. A few examples of SMART goals:

  • Generate 250% return on investment for all clients by Dec. 31, 2024
  • Increase average monthly Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) 20% by June 30, 2024
  • Generate $1 million in marketing attributed revenue by March 30, 2024


Confirm that all key marketing goals are associated with a marketing objective. Some examples of key objectives include:

  • Increase marketing ROI
  • Increase CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
  • Reduce customer acquisition cost
  • Increase brand recognition
  • Increase profitability
  • Increase market share
  • Decrease customer churn


3.  Determining which marketing strategies did and didn’t work

In addition to identifying which marketing goals you did and didn’t meet, it’s equally important to define which marketing strategies did and didn’t work. 

First, take a look at your larger marketing campaigns. Ask yourself which campaigns yielded the most significant response, and which ones were not as successful as you would have liked. Next, look at your smaller, day-to-day marketing choices. Examine metrics such as:

  • Which social content garnered the most engagement from your customers
  • Which email campaigns or e-newsletters yielded the greatest click-through rates
  • Which website pages/blog articles attracted the most visitors


4.  Measure performance

In addition to goals, it’s important to confirm what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are linked to these goals. You’ll want to review key marketing metrics and analytics to gauge the performance of your marketing initiatives. Here are some examples:

  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Conversion rates
  • Social media engagement
  • Email campaign open and click-through rates
  • Website traffic and engagement
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Performance measurement is data driven and that data can inform you on the level of success you’ve achieved in meeting your marketing objectives. The data you’re collecting might look like the a) number of hits per ad, b) percentage of customer engagement, or c) number of organic leads from specific campaigns. Without data like this, you can only guess at what is working for you and what isn’t.  Data gathering tools – and there are a host of them that are quite good at measuring performance metrics


5. Establish personas

Who are you marketing to? What does your audience like and not like? Answering these questions will lead to a greater understanding of your audience, the preferences, the buying behaviors and much more. Understand your audience and you can avoid wasting marketing dollars, energy, and resources on ineffective marketing campaigns. Buyer personas are, therefore, critical to the efficient development of effective marketing messaging and should include considerations such as the target individual’s:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Income range
  • Education
  • Occupational status


6. Watch the competition

For an effective marketing audit, you need to know who you’re competing against. This can help you get a baseline for where you need to be, what channels you should be looking at, where your marketing efforts should be focused, and ways you can stand out. Some questions that you may want to consider when completing a competitive analysis audit include:

  • What is your competition doing that works?
  • How are they positioning their offerings?
  • What channels are they putting most marketing efforts into?
  • Who are the new competitors to keep an eye out for?

While the marketing strategy audit is about you and how your business is doing, evaluating the competition is another source of data that can help you draw those conclusions.


7. Verify the plan budget
Now is the time to determine how much you want to, or have to, spend on your marketing plan. According to SmartBug’s, What a marketing audit is and how to do one, “first, you’ll want to set your overall marketing budget for the upcoming year. Next, determine which items — if any — are staying the same as they did last year and are considered non-negotiable. There may be some items that you thought worked, but might be willing to reduce if necessary. Make note of the marketing efforts you’re hoping to start or improve upon. Do some research on the cost of taking on these projects, and determine how much of your marketing budget you’re willing to spend on those line items.” Based on how you budgeted for each item in your plan, you may need to rework your marketing calendar for the upcoming year. 


8. Summarize and Make Recommendations

After reviewing your marketing audit, you can make informed recommendations about where the company may best focus its continuous improvement efforts and what specific action plans it should consider.  Here are example recommendations for common gap areas.

  • Update buyer persona
  • Create a content plan for addressing gaps in existing content
  • Develop sales enablement collateral for each persona/opportunity combination
  • Document sales and marketing service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Address all website SEO penalties, such as broken links and 404 errors
  • Resolve analytics tracking issues. All metrics that matter should be tracked and validated
  • Identify specific opportunities for conversion rate optimization
  • Update the brand messaging matrix


9. Review Branding & Positioning

Evaluate your bank’s brand identity, brand messaging and brand positioning in the market. Use your marketing audit to assess if your brand accurately reflects your company’s values, unique selling proposition and desired image. How does your brand compare to other banks with whom you compete?  How is your brand perceived by both current customers and non-customers?


10. Perform a SWOT Analysis

Perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to identify internal and external factors that impact your business’s marketing efforts. Identify strengths to leverage, weaknesses to address, opportunities to explore and threats to mitigate. 


Plan for your next audit

Marketing auditing is an ongoing process, not a single event. Whether carried out as one comprehensive audit or a series of mini-audits, the next step or iteration should either already be scheduled by a specific auditor or be scheduled before concluding the audit. With a comprehensive marketing audit under your belt, you’ll be ready to develop strategies, tactics, and processes that align with your marketing goals and business needs. 


Bank Marketing Center

Here at bankmarketingcenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. 

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To view our marketing creative, both print and digital, as well as learn more about our new video editing feature, go to the bankmarketingcenter.com homepage and register for a one-on-one personalized demo.  You’ll learn why over 300 financial institutions have chosen us as their bank marketing partner. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com. As always, I welcome your thoughts.