How to master a marketing communications audit

How to master a marketing communications audit
Sandra Gudat is president and CEO of Customer Communications Group, Inc. (CCG), an industry-leading customer relationship marketing (CRM) and loyalty marketing firm. Sandra’s extensive background in consulting, data analysis, advertising, retail and business management helps CCG’s retail and financial services clients increase customer acquisition, activation, engagement, retention and ROI.

You spend valuable time and money crafting your marketing messages, but do you really know what your company is saying? Sometimes the message you think you’re sending isn’t always the one that’s being received. It's important to occasionally take a step back and conduct an in-depth audit of your customer communications plan — particularly where loyalty is concerned — to ensure you’re sending out a cohesive message that upholds your brand and program promises.

Step 1: Review your communications

Sounds obvious, but to make the most of your communications audit, it helps to have a solid approach. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Evaluate past materials. Gather the last years’ worth of campaigns and touch points, and compare them against your goals. Are the graphics and messaging consistent? Do they help cultivate a relationship with your customers?
  • Review media coverage and advertisements. Analyse your paid ads as well as any newspaper articles, blog posts, press releases, etc. What was the frequency and reach? Were your key messages promoted? Are you missing out on any media opportunities?
  • Go straight to the source. Don’t just make assumptions — ask your customers how you’re doing. Whether you conduct one-on-one interviews, focus groups, online surveys or all of the above, find out what they really think of your messaging.
  • Get help. Whenever possible, hire an objective third party to conduct your communications audit. Your marketing team may be too close to the projects to accurately gauge their success.

With these steps in hand, you should have a good picture of how well your communications have been working and an initial overview of some adjustments you might want to make.

Step 2: Leverage your data

To more fully develop a plan for refining your future communications, take your review results and layer data analysis onto it.

Like most companies today, you’re probably accumulating a mind-boggling array of information about your customers. The trick to making it work for your communications audit — and your loyalty program overall — is to sift through all that data and act on it. To help you lessen the challenge of making data actionable, start by focusing your efforts around the customers who bring in the most revenue — your best customers.

  • Know your best customers inside and out. Find out what motivates them and why they choose to shop with you. Then use that knowledge to support the loyalty and marketing programs that help you retain those customers.
  • Understand your company differentiators. Zero in on how those differences resonate with best customers and use that information to shape your loyalty and CRM initiatives.
  • Focus on those most likely to become best customers. With analytics, you can statistically determine who is most likely to become a best customer. Then focus your intervention strategies on those folks to make sure you bring them into the fold.

Once you’ve analysed your data along these lines, take that information and apply it as you adjust your communications — from the overarching strategy to specific components and messaging.

Step 3: Keep moving forward

Remember: A communications audit isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a good idea to do mini-audits quarterly. For instance, you could take a sampling of recent communications and data rather than a year’s worth. And plan to repeat the comprehensive process annually. With this approach, you’ll be able to scrap ineffective tactics, build upon successful ones and benchmark your future progress. You owe it to yourself and your business.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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