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.
Having communication within your business is paramount for success. Effective communication is critical for attracting attention, engaging customers, and converting leads into sales. In addition, it makes it easy to convey your message to your audience to build loyal fans. When used correctly, communications audits empower a business to tell its story better.
If your business is ready to take the leap and conduct a communication audit, here are three simple steps to get started:
What Is A Communication Audit?
Communication audits are a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization’s internal and external communications. It evaluates both intended and unintended messages, as well as how the target audience receives them. A thorough analysis of all corporate messaging systems helps identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to understand better how to improve communication.
Communication Audit Step 1: Identify Your Avatar
Talking about your product or service is not enough to convert leads to sales. Rather than talking about something, successful businesses speak to someone. They focus on communicating with a particular audience. This is often referred to as their ideal audience, otherwise known as their target demographic or customer avatar.
For example, if you sell a product designed to be used by children — such as a toy or 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.
To determine your customer avatar, consider these tips:
- Describe your ideal customer in as much detail as possible to understand them even more
- Don’t stop with a general category like parent or teacher; consider their age, income level, job title, and other important factors
- Understand their hobbies, interests, and lifestyle
- Conduct market research to learn more about your customer and their needs
Real-Life Communication Audit Example
Our client, The Pool Punisher, sells a pool floor that looks and acts like a tank. To figure out their customer avatar, we went deeper than simply stating that this person owns a pool. Since this is a pricey product, it would be for someone with an excess income to spend hundreds of dollars on a toy. Likely this would be parents with kids who enjoyed playing in the pool with their friends, so they’d probably want to buy two.
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.”
Communication Audit Step 2: Define Your Critical Action
Now that you know your ideal customer, you must define what action you want them to take, otherwise known as a call to action or critical action. To determine this, you should work backward from your ultimate goal. Consider questions such as:
- What is your conversion? Is it a sale?
- What is the ultimate goal of your communication?
- Can you break down the steps leading up to that goal?
The path to that 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, your storefront, or even to 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 engage with your brand now, you will probably lose the lead. However, it’s important to note that a critical action isn’t necessarily a conversion. It could be any step that allows for follow-up.
And here’s a bonus tip: During your communications audit, decide on only one call to action. Some companies will offer multiple 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. Instead, focus on one call to action and make it simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate.
Communication Audit Step 3: Align Your 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’ll want your communications audit to review quality as well as alignment. For example, 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.
Committing to completing a communications audit is one of the best things you can do for your business. By understanding who your customers are and what action should be taken, you can improve your external messaging and create better relationships with potential and current customers. Want to learn more about communications audits and all things PR? Browse through our blog today.