How do you know if your marketing is working, and how do you know if your in-house team has the skills and qualifications to do a full audit to find out what you’re doing wrong?
In truth, that’s a question that most business owners ask, and the answer can range from the small right up to the huge when it comes to issues. Still, from a marketing perspective, it’s actually a really good idea to hire professionals with real qualifications, such as a masters in communication.
What is a Masters in Communication?
A masters in communication is a degree program for the modern marketing professional. Taken over two years and fully online, students will enjoy a deep dive into the professional field of marketing, encompassing everything from social media to content marketing, analytics, and even public relations.
Getting a masters in communication isn’t easy and requires dedication and effort on the student’s part, but employers’ benefits are really clear.
Anyone who studies a professional marketing qualification, such as the masters in communication, will work with industry experts and learn from the best while spending time with other aspiring professionals, effectively growing their own networking with like-minded peers who will be valuable assets throughout their careers.
Learned Technical Skills
When studying for a masters in communication, students learn how to work on their creative skills and also their technical skills. Experience in analytics, PPC campaigns, and doing a marketing audit are invaluable for businesses to have in their employees.
Skills such as the ability to do a marketing audit, a full look at how all of your marketing efforts are working and whether or not you’re achieving your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the set period, are difficult to learn on the job, but cost-effective if they can be done in-house.
It’s risky to leave a marketing audit up to the intern or those who have ‘learnt on the job’. People who have skills and experience learned on the job are usually very good at what they do, but hiring people with full qualifications gives you peace of mind that your audit will be done fully and in the right detail.
Different Types of Marketing Audits
During their studies, students taking a masters in communication will be taken through the steps of a marketing audit and why it’s so important for businesses and brands.
These audits may include:
‘Micro Environment Audits’, are much smaller marketing audits. These are useful to do each month or each quarter.
Smaller marketing audits involve taking one aspect of your marketing, and breaking it down by reports helps you to keep track of your goals, set goals for the next period, and adjust accordingly if things have changed significantly.
A great example of this adjustment process has been the previous year, 2020. Many travel companies will have had their marketing plans set out for 2020, usually by the end of 2019, but three months into 2020, and everything changed due to the global pandemic.
This is an extreme example, but it shows the utility in always being flexible with your plan and your goals, adjusting things as needs arise, and not being afraid to pull plans when outside factors make your marketing plans inappropriate.
Bigger marketing audits, usually called ‘Macro Environment Audits’, are a great idea to do every six or twelve months, depending on your company’s size or when there is a significant shift in focus for your company.
If you’re looking for a marketing audit to encompass your entire marketing effort, a bigger audit is what’s needed. Graduates will know how to look at your whole set-up, what marketing channels you’re using, and how these can be improved.
One of the most useful things that a masters in communication degree teaches students is the importance of goal setting, both short-term and long-term goals, and these are vital for planning marketing campaigns. Graduates learn to ask critical questions like ‘What does this business hope it will achieve from this marketing channel?’.
All too often, businesses assume they must appear on every channel, go down every avenue, and put content everywhere to ‘do’ marketing right, when in fact, that just leads to a case of being spread too thinly. Students learn that it’s better to create content for and appear in the right places, on the right channels and do it well, rather than for a brand to spread themselves too thinly.
A strategy audit is slightly different from both a macro audit or a micro audit because it focuses on planning rather than what is happening right now.
During a masters in communication degree, students learn the vital skill of critical thinking and strategic thinking, which leaves them better prepared to plan the marketing efforts for the brand or business they are working with.
Why is a marketing audit important for brands?
You need to be sure that the marketing you are doing is working, that you’re not spending too much time and money on things that aren’t working, and that your brand is performing in the best way possible.
Communications students learn that a marketing audit is important to ensure that businesses on track to achieve the goals they set out in their marketing strategy.
Understanding Marketing Components
Students taking a masters in communication learn about the main two types of marketing that brands do: inbound and outbound.
Inbound marketing is the type of marketing that is meant for people who are already looking for your service. They know they need you, and you’re allowing them to find you easily so they can take up your service or buy your product.
Some examples of inbound marketing include:
- Offline advertising (magazine ads etc.)
- Printed brand assets (giving out flyers, for example)
- Regular posting on social media
- Blogs and article content marketing
- Your website content
- SEO (both content and technical)
- Paid ads (social ads or PPC ads)
This type of marketing is usually fairly passive on a brand’s part because their potential client or customer is looking for their service or product; all they need to do is make sure that their service or product is easy for the audience to find.
Outbound marketing is an aspect of marketing is designed for a brand’s potential customers or clients who don’t know that they need their product or service. Brands need to go out and find their audience and put their service in front of them to let them know they exist.
Outbound marketing also covers marketing to people that may already use a competitor brand’s service and showing them why their service or product is better for them.
Some examples of outbound marketing include:
- Email marketing
- Direct mail marketing
- Cold calling
A Professional Approach to Auditing Your Marketing Efforts
If you’re considering getting a marketing audit, you will need to decide which aspects of your marketing efforts to look at.
Graduates from a masters in communication course are well versed in understanding how brand messaging and marketing segments affect all areas of a marketing strategy. They will be used to looking at how each aspect of your marketing is achieving the goals set out in your planned strategy and measure your performance against the KPI goals that you’ve set.
It is entirely possible to do a marketing audit on your own, but the big caveat here is that it might not be easy to evaluate your work. In most cases, it’s actually better to have a qualified marketing graduate do a full and comprehensive marketing audit for you, either as part of your internal team or working on a consultancy basis.
During the course of a masters in communication degree, students will be taken through the whole process of a brand marketing audit, whether it’s for a small company or a large organization.
What’s Included in a Marketing Audit?
Marketing audits can be carried out in a number of different ways, but to do an effective marketing audit, the overriding similarity is that it needs to be planned and meticulous to gain a full look at what your marketing is doing for your brand’s position.
Three main aspects of every marketing audit, no matter the size, are:
- SWOT analysis – SWOT analysis can be done on a small scale (your Facebook page, for example) or as a wider overarching analysis of a while channel (your website, for example).
- Competitor research – Finding out what your closest competitors are doing and how successful their efforts are.
- Brand identity – How your brand is seen by others in your industry, your clients, your competitors, and your brand placement.
There’s no point in looking at your current marketing efforts without knowing what you want to get out of your marketing going forward, which is why creating goals is so important.
- Do you want to get more customers, sales, or conversions?
- Do you want more website traffic?
- Do you think you’ll need a branding refresh?
- Do you want more leads?
- Are your customers aligned to your messaging, or do you need to adjust it?
Getting some goals down on paper and creating some benchmarks will mean that you will know how well your marketing efforts are working and how you’re likely to get the best results.
A goal for more leads from your website may be useful. For example, if you currently get 2000 visitors to your website a month and generate 50 leads, you have a benchmark to work with. If next month you get 2000 visitors and 200 leads, this is an improvement, but if you get 2000 visitors but only 52 leads, this means your marketing efforts aren’t working.
Graduates from a masters in communication course learn that not all marketing fields are created equal. Brans may want to boost their clicks through to their website and, although their social media accounts may have great engagement rates, if no one is clicking through to their website, this is still not a successful campaign.
Like brand warmth, some marketing efforts are a lot more difficult to track comprehensively because they rely on so many different factors coming into play.
How much does a marketing audit cost?
Asking how much a marketing audit costs is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string, the answer is generally ‘as much as is necessary’, which isn’t particularly helpful if you’re looking at budgeting.
A good way to break it down, however, is to consider what you actually want to get out of your audit and how in-depth it should be.
If you’re doing an audit of just one small aspect of your marketing, it might be as little as $160 for a few hours’ work on a very small business.
A much larger business might spend a few weeks doing a very thorough audit of their entire marketing efforts; this is likely to mean a significantly higher cost and may even be over $10,000!
As a freelance or consultancy marketing in communication graduate, students learn to speak with all of their clients before beginning an audit to make sure they know exactly what the brand wants to get out of it and how much it will cost.
Doing a marketing audit is incredibly useful for your business; it will allow you to find out what you’re spending money on and where, spot problems with your marketing activities, and help you to make changes to your marketing efforts to ensure you’re spending money and time effectively.
There’s nothing worse for a small business than wasting money on channels or current campaigns that aren’t working.
Students who have undertaken a masters in communication learn during their course how to go through a marketing audit in a professional and clear way. This is a huge bonus for businesses whether they are looking to hire a new marketing professional for their in-house team or looking to get a freelancer or consultant in.
While it’s not a requirement for marketing audits to be undertaken by a graduate with a masters in communication or similar degree course, there is a clear bonus for brands.
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