5 Inbound Marketing Essentials to Audit

If you've recently taken on a new job, conducting an audit of your new company's current demand generation status is a smart idea. Let's look at five essential aspects of inbound marketing you should make sure are in place before doing anything else.

1. Target Audience and Messaging

This is the starting point for all your marketing activities. You need to spend as much time as you can on defining the target audience, developing personas, and having in-depth conversations about them and with them.

Understanding your buyer is a never-ending mission. As a starting point, focus on developing a basic profile (title, company size, industry, basic demographic) and outline the primary needs/pain points your product/service solves. This will allow you to start developing the messaging, content, offers, and even the target keywords you want to rank for.

2. Website/Homepage

Do the website and homepage reflect the messaging and positioning of the company? Do they answer the basic questions that new visitors will ask – What is it? Is it for me? How much it costs?

Is the homepage simple to read and consume? Is the navigation reasonable and intuitive?

Storefront

Image Copyright: Richard Schumacher

The website is the storefront of your business. As you build your inbound marketing programs, it will also be the number one destination for inbound traffic. Your homepage will become the top entry page, so it's essential that it will be a reflection of who you are as a business and what you can offer to your prospects (both in copy and design).

As a starting point, make sure the messaging is there and that there are no technical issues with the website, specifically with your homepage (it doesn't load, the URL is wrong, links from the homepage are broken, etc.).

3. Blog

Since your core website is more of a formal (and static) representation of your positioning and messaging, your blog is where you can really show your character and engage with your audience. It will allow you to experiment with content, speak about news and topics of interest, and create content that will get shared and talked about.

As a first step in evaluating your inbound essential, go and just read the blog.

  • Are the topics aligned with the target audience and messaging? 
  • Is the writing engaging and interesting? 
  • What is the size of the audience engaging with your blog (subscribers, pageviews, shares, likes, comments, etc.)? 
  • What is the frequency of posting? 
  • Who writes for the blog? 
  • What is the process of publishing posts? 
  • Is there an editor or an editorial calendar owner?

Try to collect answers to these questions to evaluate the state of your blog as the "ambassador" of your brand.

4. Social Presence

You can quickly audit your company's social presence to learn how they engage with the audience, how strong their social presence is, and how aligned it is with the target audience and messaging. In that process, also evaluate how effective the social effort is in driving traffic back to the website and weather or not that traffic converts.

A few of the questions you need to ask:

  • Is my target audience on these social channels?
  • Do they engage with me on these channels? 
  • Do they engage with my competitors on these channels?
  • What type of content do they engage with? 
  • Are we using the right social channels? 
  • Are we using them effectively?
  • Do we see enough return to justify our efforts? If not, should we invest more or less?

Social Audit

As you audit the social presence of your company, focus on getting answers and not on making decisions. Collect enough data to get a complete (or as close to complete) picture of your current social presence and its potential.

5. Lead Captures/Call to Action

If you're in B2B marketing, your immediate goal is to generate leads. For that you'll need to make sure you have the mechanism to capture leads. Whether it's forms on the website, unique landing pages, or social sign-in buttons, you have to understand what exists and where.

In your audit, create an inventory of all the lead capture mechanisms (forms, landing pages) and all the "lead baits" the company can use – content, demo requests, free trials, free tools, webinar registrations, "contact us" forms and any other vehicle for collecting names, even the "subscribe" button on the blog. This inventory will give you a starting point to evaluate which lead capture mechanism is working and which one isn't.

Next Steps

As you go through your audit, try to avoid making decisions and call out for changes right away. Collect the information, answer your questions, and unless there are obvious red flags (e.g., the homepage returns a 404 error), wait with instructions until you have a plan in place.

When it comes to the plan, start with your target audience, messaging, and persona development before you do anything else.