Marketing Audit

How to conduct a b2b marketing audit

Stijn Hendrikse
Oct 8, 2020

Why do a B2B marketing audit? How? What’s the purpose? Are there any good marketing audit examples available?

What is the purpose of a Marketing Audit?

When you lead a business-to-business company or consider acquiring a B2B organization, the state of the marketing function is often the hardest to assess. Given the broad nature of marketing responsibilities, the impact on current and future success, and the number of opinions that various stakeholders typically have, many CEOs and Investors ask us for guidance on how to do a B2B marketing audit.

An audit can help to quickly assess a company’s marketing capabilities – including identifying strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. It does not have to be an exhaustive, in-depth assessment of the company’s marketing function. Rather, think of a typical audit as a prospective car or home inspection report. Ideally you use visible and readily-available information, sometimes provided by the company, or using specialized tools, to develop a high-level report to answer the following questions:

  1. Where has the company found marketing success?
  2. Are there any marketing “red flags”?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Where are the opportunities for growth, including low-hanging fruits?
  5. Are there any clear channels that are providing above average returns?
  6. Is there room for additional marketing investment? Where will additional funds have the greatest impact?
  7. Where does the company stand from a product market fit perspective?
  8. What marketing investments should the company make in the coming quarter?

The scope of a B2B Marketing Audit

Sometimes, the marketing audit extends beyond the “state” of the marketing function and includes the state of the actual market opportunity. This could be as simple as a TAM (Total Addressable Market) analysis, or a detailed review of Product Market Fit, the Serviceable part of the Addressable Market (SAM) and the state of Execution readiness (SOM, or Serviceable and Obtainable Market). Depending on the completeness of other due diligence assessments, these areas can be part of the marketing audit as needed.

B2B Marketing Audit coverage areas

What topics should a marketing audit address? Here’s an (incomplete) list:

Team

  • Do you have the right roles?
  • Is there enough versatility (a “T-shaped” skill set)
  • Agility. Ability to learn/adapt
  • What’s best done in-house vs. outsourced
  • How are you managing agencies?

Pipeline and Funnel

  • What are the lead stage definitions?
  • How are you performing year-to-date on lead stage targets by quarter vs. actual
  • What’s the lead source distribution by tactic actual vs. expected
  • Average deal size at opportunity creation vs. opportunity close. How close is this to our model?
  • Days per lead stage: Inquiry to MQL. MQL to Opp
  • Days per sales stage and how are sales stages defined
  • Pipeline coverage for the current and next quarter
  • Open pipe by close date/stage/customer tier
  • How much is closed (won or lost) on average per quarter vs. how much new pipeline generated
  • How many deals are being done per year
  • What % of deals are our ideal customer profile?
  • How are customers tiered?
  • What’s % of revenue is ARR vs. one time?
  • Where is the most friction and leakage in the funnel?
  • What’s our CAC?

Marketing Plan

  • Is there a summary marketing plan for the year?
  • What are the committed costs and activities through the rest of the year?
  • What is the budget allocation for the year by spend type? How does the budget compare vs. benchmark values?
  • Do we have a framework for campaigns and how they are built?
  • Do we have an external data source to support outbound and ABM campaigns (i.e. ZoomInfo?)

Digital Execution

  • What’s our keyword strategy?
  • Web traffic reports and trends for past 12 months, including regional breakdown
  • What are our highest visited pages and what’s our secondary traffic flow? What’s our conversion on those pages?
  • Do we have a content calendar?
  • Are we running social and is there a specific cadence?
  • What’s our Google quality score and other Advertising KPIs

Product market fit

  • What’s the proven Value proposition? What's it for?
  • What category do you service? What problem do you solve?

Go to market

  • Opportunity size
  • Ability to execute
  • Prioritization
  • ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and personas. Who's it for?
  • Tam/Sam/Som & where to find them?

Martech stack

  • Analytics and data quality
  • a/b testing discipline
  • Insights from data

When and why do a Marketing Audit?

There are typically two reasons to do a marketing audit, with distinct outcomes:

  1. Diligence that influences an investment go/no-go decision - This can be related to the acquisition of a company, or the investment in a merger, or significant expansion of the marketing capability through a major investment.
  2. A post-investment audit to help with prioritization - Decide on focus areas, resource decisions and low hanging fruit opportunities when running the marketing function of a company.

Let’s unpack the core outcomes and needs from each type. In each instance you should expect a “report card” summarizing the company’s marketing status – strengths, weaknesses, uncertainties, and opportunities.

Pre-investment Marketing Audit

The main reason to do an audit before an investment transaction is to inform a go/no-go decision, or help with the appropriate valuation of the business. In reality, both will be driven mostly by pure financial metrics, but there are a couple interesting areas to audit that can prove helpful. The other thing to consider is that a real diligence study involves data requests, which create deal fatigue/deal risk, and can slow down the deal timeline. Any audit angle that doesn't impact the go/no-go decision, or valuation, is best done post-close.

Example outcomes are an online presence scan with insights in the brand visibility, competitive positioning, and online “digital” reputation. A thorough diligence document review can expose rosy or risky assumptions re market(ing) conditions, ROI, and state of the team and ability to execute.

Post-investment Marketing Audit

When reviewing the Marketing function of a business that you own, you can go deeper, with access to the people, processes and documentation that allow a thorough review. The remainder of this article is meant to help you do just that.

Example Marketing Audit questionnaire

The following questions are grouped by function in your B2B SaaS Company. These are optimized by our team doing many audits, and have led to great insights and uncovered opportunities and risks that otherwise would have been missed.

10 diligence questions for the leadership team

In due diligence interviews, you often have ~30 minutes to understand the state of this team’s marketing capabilities. You have to figure out if the product marketing function has been based on an actual positioning and product management strategy.

These questions are designed to help you turn over the most important marketing stones.

  1. What is it that we do best? What do we do better vs. the competition? What can only we do?
  2. What are the pains of our clients? What are their fears and dreams? What are our clients trying to do? Who are they trying to become?
  3. Would you say we have reached Product Market Fit? In what parts of the market? Where do customers pay and stay, and tell others about us? What is the maturity of our product category in the Geoffrey Moore “crossing the chasm” model?
  4. What do our clients look like? Where can we find them? What does an Ideal Client Profile look like?
  5. How are product strategy, pricing, and positioning aligned with the marketing execution?
  6. Which of our current products (or services) are most aligned to market and customer requirements? How did this happen? Is it a repeatable process?
  7. What is Marketing doing well? How would you assess the team’s strengths? What about Sales and Customer Success?
  8. What can Marketing do better? What do you need that you’re not getting?
  9. If you could get one thing from the Marketing team right now, what would be your highest priority?
  10. How can you (or your team) help with Marketing?

11 marketing audit questions for product management

  1. What is it that we do best? What do we do better vs. the competition? What can only we do?
  2. What are the pains of our clients? What are their fears and dreams? What are our clients trying to do? Who are they trying to become?
  3. Would you say we have reached Product Market Fit? In what parts of the market? Where do customers pay and stay, and tell others about us? What is the maturity of our product category in the Geoffrey Moore “crossing the chasm” model?
  4. What do our clients look like? Where can we find them? What does an Ideal Client Profile look like?
  5. How is product strategy, pricing and positioning aligned with the marketing execution?
  6. Can you share the Product Roadmap? How does this get shared with Customers? Do customers provide input? How?
  7. What market research do we have that we use to inform strategy and product planning?
  8. How can we combine marketing and product to do “growth hacking”? For example integrate adoption, referral or loyalty triggers into the product usage experience.
  9. If you could get one thing from the marketing team right now, what would be your highest priority?
  10. What’s our product for? Who's it for?
  11. Real SaaS? Multi-tenant? Shared core? Custom vs. configurable. Professional services needed? Scalable?

9 marketing due diligence questions for your sales team

  1. How many people are in the sales organization? What are their roles? (Account Executive, BDR/SDR, Account Management)?
  2. How does your team balance new business vs. up-sell? How is the revenue split between these?
  3. How many new opportunities does your team qualify per week? Who qualifies the leads that turn into these opportunities that you “accept”? How do you qualify opportunities? What do you look for? What are the criteria? (e.g. BANT)
  4. What does an Ideal Customer Profile look like? Describe the perfect attributes of a dream account. What are your ‘dream accounts’ to win?
  5. How many leads do you get weekly, and how many turn into opportunities? How fast do we typically connect with a lead after they “knocked on our door”? How many opportunities come from marketing generated leads vs. your sales team finding opportunities themselves, and how many are coming as inbound calls or referrals from partners direct to the sales team?
  6. How often do you have a sales meeting with a pipeline review? How do you create your forecast for the month or quarter? Can you share the sales meeting materials that you use ? (Pipeline report, CRM view)
  7. What is marketing doing well? What can marketing do better? What do you need that you’re not getting?
  8. What would make you very proud of the Marketing team 4-6 months from now? What would success look like?
  9. If you could get one thing from the Marketing team right now, what would be your highest priority?

10 marketing audit questions for your marketing team

  1. What’s on your marketing dashboard? How often do you review it? What do you do with the insights?
  2. Describe the marketing team and roles. Do you use a quarterly objective or goal setting system like OKRs? How do you cover Writing and PR, Branding and design, Web, Social and Automation, Sales- and Event support, Product marketing, positioning and research, Channel marketing and Content marketing?
  3. Do we have a marketing plan for the quarter? And for the year? What’s going well and according to plan, and where can we do better?
  4. Can you share our positioning/messaging strategy (document/hierarchy/framework), most important collateral (sales materials, videos, webpages), and brand style guide?
  5. What’s your marketing budget? How do you prioritize resources vs. the company strategic goals? What’s the cost-per-lead given to the sales team? Do we know what our Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is?
  6. How many customers do we have? Are they segmented in cohorts of ideal customers vs. non-ideal? Tenure? Revenue size or product usage? What’s our churn? What is our Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU, Unit can be customer, device, user or any other denominator)? How is our pricing aligned with our customer segmentation?
  7. How do we drive demand? Where do our leads come from? (Owned/Organic/Direct, Earned/Social/Referral, Paid, Events)? How many leads do we get per week, and how many of those become “Marketing Qualified Leads” that we pass on to our Sales (BDR/SDR) team for qualification? How many MQLs convert to Opportunities that the sales team manages?
  8. What does an Ideal Customer Profile look like? How are we finding more of these? What are their fears and dreams that our messaging connects with?
  9. Can you share our content calendar and the current content performance? What content or pages are driving the most leads?
  10. What are our automated campaigns? Do we nurture prospects/customers? Do we have up-sell or referral campaigns? What tools do we have in our Marketing Technology stack to support email, social, analytics, testing and audience engagement?

10 Audit questions about marketing for your customer success & support team

  1. What’s our logo churn per month? What’s the revenue churn of these clients and how does this compare to the company revenue numbers?
  2. How many People are in the customer success and support organization? What are their roles? (Technical Support, Customer Success Manager, Training and On-boarding, Account Management)?
  3. How does your team balance customer service vs. up-sell? How is the capacity split between these?
  4. How many new clients does your team onboard per week? How many up-sells?
  5. What does an Ideal Customer Profile look like? Describe the perfect attributes of a dream account. What are your ‘dream accounts’ to service?
  6. What accounts are the hardest to onboard and support? Describe what they look like. Are these profitable for us?
  7. How often do you have a commercial check-in meeting with sales to discuss new customer pipeline and issues with existing clients?
  8. Are you using Technology and Content to scale your team without having to add people? How are you working with marketing on that?
  9. What is marketing doing well? What can marketing do better? What do you need that you’re not getting?
  10. If you could get one thing from the marketing team right now, what would be your highest priority?

10 marketing audit questions for agencies & contractors

  1. Can you share your Statement of Work? What are your key deliverables this month? What are they for the engagement?
  2. How do you report on progress of the work? What are the weekly KPIs?
  3. How is the engagement currently going vs. the original agreement and expectations?
  4. How do you think our marketing is doing? What’s going well, and what do you think we can do better?
  5. How can you help us even better vs. what you are already doing?
  6. How are you measuring the value you bring to us?
  7. What would a great engagement look like? What would have to happen beyond or agreed upon commitments?
  8. Is anything blocking you from doing a great engagement? Any blockers or dependencies that we control?
  9. How many customers are you servicing? How many customers are serviced by the same people supporting us?
  10. Where do we rank on your ideal customer list/profile? Are we a profitable customer for you?

Diligence questions for customers & partners

One of the quickest ways to confirm or “test” a company’s product value proposition and customer journey assumptions is to speak directly with a company’s happy and unhappy customers. This interview guide is full of questions our CMOs ask customers and partners in our full-service engagements.

Example of B2B marketing audit documents to review

Marketing materials that can be helpful to review to complete the marketing audit:

  • Messaging document
  • Prospect pitch deck
  • Analyst pitch deck
  • Ideal customer profile and key buyer personas?
  • Top content assets (white papers, infographics, etc.)
  • Main collateral pieces (brochure, data sheets, etc.)
  • Mapped existing content by stage and persona. Any priority that needs to be filled?
  • Intel material for top competitors and how it's being used
  • Any win/loss analysis? A summary of findings?

What to expect from a Marketing Audit report?

A marketing function report card generated by an audit should typically cover the following areas:

  • What’s working and what isn’t?
  • Go-to-Market strategy strength (are the right pieces in place? Is there a clear vertical focus?)
  • Team (are the right marketing skills being filled by the right people?)
  • Content (what content exists? What should be created? Are there SMEs on the team to leverage for content?)
  • Website (Is traffic being created? Is it likely converting? Is there anything that needs fixing?)
  • Martech stack (what technology is being used? Will it scale with the company?)
  • SEO (trajectory, strengths, gaps)
  • Paid Search (What is being spent? Is money being spent effectively? Is there a dependence on pay-to-play?
  • What are the quick wins & low-hanging fruit. The weaknesses and potential blind spots?
  • What’s the marketing team capacity recommendation?

Here is a marketing audit example

Kalungi performs a standard Marketing Audit for B2B SaaS Companies. Here’s an example of what a typical report would look like:

b2b saas audit

 

How to get a free digital B2B marketing audit?

There are many sites like neilpatel.com where you can get a free audit of your website, often including your company’s organic and paid search results to help you understand some of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of its inbound reputation. Below are some sample reports based on our website kalungi.com. We are happy to show you how to get your performance to grow like that.

b2b brand audit

 

Domain overview

Is the company’s general online presence growing or shrinking over time? Is organic domain authority tracking upwards or downwards over time? A good B2B website audit includes many aspects found in a tool like SEMrush: 

content audit for saas

 

Organic traffic over time

Increased organic traffic over time is a good leading indicator that a company’s online brand and website is getting stronger. But, alone it doesn’t tell us much. We also need to understand how much traffic results from relevant intent-based keyword and branded search terms. 

b2b website audit

 

Branded keyword volume and search volume over time

An increase in search interest over time for branded keywords can indicate positive brand awareness in a particular market segment. This will go hand-in-hand with a content audit for your company. 

example marketing audit report

 

High intent (HI) keyword rankings

These signal buying intent. Ranking for HI keywords means your company's content and website appear when people are in the “Consideration” and “Decision” stages of the funnel. These are the most important keywords a company's website can rank for – as long as they align with the company’s value proposition and industry category.

free marketing audit report example

 

Competitive positioning map

This shows us an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of a competitive domains’ presence in organic search results. Data-visualizations are based on domains’ organic traffic and the number of keywords they rank for in Google's top 100 organic search results.

Free marketing audit report template

Please email mike@kalungi.com for more information about how we can partner to run an audit like this for your company.

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