Audits are a powerful tool for boosting business effectiveness. Often, they are used to assess operational efficiencies, financial risks, or regulatory compliance. While all audits are beneficial, none is more impactful than a communications audit.
Business communication is critical for attracting attention, engaging customers, and converting leads into sales. It is what allows a business to tell its story to its ideal audience in order to build loyal fans. When used correctly, a communications audit empowers a business to tell its story better.
Here are three steps that can be taken by those who are ready to engage in a communications audit.
Communications Audits Start by Identifying The Avatar
Talking about your product or service is not enough for converting leads to sales. Rather than talking about something, successful businesses talk to someone. They frame their communications for a particular audience. They identify their ideal customer, which is sometimes known as their target demographic or their customer avatar.
If, for example, you sell a product that is designed to be used by children — a toy or children’s clothing or a tool for early childhood education — you know that your target audience is limited. But who exactly is your customer avatar? Is it a child? Or a parent? Or a teacher? The optimal goal is to determine the person who would ultimately buy the product and communicate with that person.
Be as detailed as possible when developing your customer avatar. Do not stop with a general category like parent or teacher or single adult. Determine their salary range. Determine their age group. Determine their family size. Determine their geographic location. Determine their hobbies. Determine what they have for dinner on Friday nights.
Communications Audit Use Case
One of our clients at Otter is The Pool Punisher, a pool float that looks — and acts — like a tank. When identifying the customer avatar for The Pool Punisher, we did not stop with someone who had a pool. The Pool Punisher is pricey, so we decided the customer avatar would be someone who could spend a few hundred dollars on a toy. We decided they had kids who liked playing in the pool. We even decided that they had friends over to swim on the weekends, which meant they should consider buying two Pool Punisher floats.
Really dial down into the customer avatar. The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it will be to communicate well. All of your communications decisions will be motivated by the avatar’s identity. When your ideal customer reads your advertising, they should think, “Oh my God, they’re talking to me. Specifically to me. This product is for me.”
Trying to market to everyone can mean that you do not effectively connect with anyone. A communications audit is critical for defining your market and refining your marketing.
Communications Audits Define The Critical Action
Now that you know who your ideal customer is, you must define what action you want them to take. To determine this, you may want to work backwards from your ultimate goal. What is your conversion? Is it a sale? Do you want them to read your blog? Do you want them to give a donation? Start by defining your desired end result.
The path to that end result begins at the top of your sales funnel. Public relations or marketing campaigns will bring them to the funnel and start them toward the end goal. It will bring them to your landing page or your storefront or your event. From that point, the potential customer must take action. We call this a “critical action” and a communications audit will help you to identify what it should be.
Once you have traffic in front of you, whether eyes on a landing page, brochure, or commercial, you must guide them to action. Define what you want the potential customer to do at that point. That is your critical action. We call this a critical action because if they don’t engage with your brand now, you have probably lost the lead. And it is critical that you do not lose your lead.
Keep in mind that a customer who takes a critical action is not necessarily a conversion. Most of the time people do not convert the first time they land on your website or go into a store. They may just be visiting to browse and have no intention of buying anything. You still want them to take a step that allows for follow up. They must watch a video or book a consultation or fill out a form. If they do not complete the critical action, they have not yet bought into your brand.
By defining a critical action, you are creating a mechanism for generating leads. It ensures that visitors stay on the path to conversion.
And here’s a bonus tip: During your communications audit, decide on one call to action. Some marketing gives a list of options like “book a consultation,” “read the white paper,” “subscribe here,” and “win a prize.” As a result, people get lost and confused and end up bouncing off. Focus on driving traffic in a funnel to exactly where you want them to go and following your process.
Communications Audits Align External Messaging
To complete the communications audit, you must review all external messaging and ensure it aligns with your strategy. Review your website to determine if it speaks to the customer avatar. Does it acknowledge their needs or wants? Does it consider their limitations? Is it written in the right vernacular for the targeted age group or culture?
In addition, you will want your communications audit to review quality as well as alignment. Are there spelling or grammatical errors? Are there broken links on your site? Is the resolution of the graphics too low?
At this point in the audit, issues that are keeping you from converting will become obvious. You may find that your communication is too broad. You may find you do not have a well defined critical action. Or you may find that you do not communicate in a way that inspires people to take an action step. Armed with those findings, you can make improvements that will make a difference and allow you to tell a better story.