image of people pointing at documents for strategic control article header image

Strategic Control — Marketing Control Tools

Audio Version — 9:18

The final of the four primary marketing control tools is strategic control. Every company should occasionally reevaluate its strategic approach to its marketplace. They need to determine if their overall marketing effectiveness — concerning long-term goals — meets their response to the marketing environment by reviewing their approach. Specifically, the review helps determine the firm’s overall strengths and weaknesses and answers the question, 

“How far is company leadership (or marketing leaders) capable of exploiting emerging marketing opportunities and facing potential market challenges and threats?”

Strategic Control Methods

Marketing professionals use four tools to measure strategic control:

Following are brief descriptions of each strategic control tool.

Marketing Effectiveness Review

The marketing effectiveness review involves a thorough analysis of marketing performance to identify if the firm has an effective-performing marketing department or an ineffective one. (See the table on the Traits of a Company with Excellent Marketing Orientation.)

The table below highlights the standards a company should follow when reviewing for marketing effectiveness. Companies that can successfully claim to follow all standards are considered a highly effective marketing organization.


Traits of an Excellent Marketing Company
The organization selects target markets it enjoys greater advantages and leaves or avoids markets where it is intrinsically weak.
All company employees are customer-minded and market-minded.
Marketing, R&D, and manufacturing share a good, collaborative working relationship.
The company shares a positive and effective working relationship between marketing, sales, and customer service.
Company incentives are established and lead to the right behavior.
The firm consistently builds and tracks customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
The organization manages a value delivery system in partnership with strong suppliers and distributors.
The company demonstrates knowledge and skill in developing and promoting its brand name(s) and image.
The company demonstrates flexibility in meeting customers' differing needs.

The Marketing Audit

The marketing audit is a comprehensive, systematic, independent, and periodic examination of an organization’s or business unit’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies, and activities. Its purpose is to determine problem areas and opportunities then recommend a plan of action to improve its overall marketing performance.

As mentioned earlier, a marketing audit is composed of four components:

  • Comprehensive
  • Systematic
  • Independent
  • Periodic

I will examine each of the four components:


Marketing audits cover all aspects of significant marketing activities, avoiding focus on smaller troubled areas. For example, in a B2B company with a large sales force, suppose the company experiences a significant turnover rate within the sales department. One attribution to the substantial turnover could be poor training. Suppose you conduct a thorough marketing audit. In that case, it may reveal that poor or weak company products and sales and marketing promotions lead to a frustrated sales force, which is the cause of a higher turnover.

Conducting a comprehensive marketing audit allows key stakeholders to identify the actual source of the problem.


The marketing audit is an orderly (systematic) examination of the company’s:

  • Macro and micro marketing environments
  • Marketing objectives and strategies
  • Marketing systems
  • Specific activities

The marketing audit identifies the essential improvements and incorporates them into a corrective action plan with short-term and long-term actionable steps.


Whenever company representatives evaluate their operations for audit purposes, they introduce bias and lose objectivity. However, employing a third-party consultant — not associated with the firm — brings objectivity and experience in varied industries they can draw upon in their marketing audits. 


Typical firm-level behavior is to conduct a marketing audit only after issues arise and not during effective and positive performance times. Rather than wait for problems to arise, companies should conduct ongoing marketing audits when they are in good health and when their marketing systems are failing. Periodically conducting an audit can benefit a company and keep them from falling short in its marketing initiatives.

An effective marketing audit requires an explicit agreement between company officers and the marketing auditor regarding the audit’s objectives, timeframe, and who gets to ask the questions.

The marketing audit’s general rule is:

Don’t rely solely on company managers for data and opinions. Ask customers, dealers, and any other outside stakeholder or group.

Most firms are not fully aware of how their customers and dealers view them, nor do they fully understand the needs of their customers. 

Marketing Excellence Review

The marketing excellence review encompasses three performance categories in regards to their level of marketing excellence:

  • Poor 
  • Good
  • Excellent

Each category identifies a list of traits that a firm practices regarding marketing initiatives. Excellent marketing companies initiate a series of best practices that ensure they have achieved marketing excellence. See the Marketing excellence chart in the article titled, Does Your B2B Company Measure up to Marketing Excellence? 

The Ethical and Social Responsibility Review

An ethical and social responsibility review is undertaken by companies that set higher standards for their overall existence and operations. These types of companies are socially conscious toward their employees, customers, community, and environment.

As part of the ethical and social responsibility review, organizations must examine their marketing policies and practices and determine whether they are ethically and socially valid. In the same way, marketing practices should adhere to societal norms and values; a company’s products, policies, and practices must not negatively impact its customers, stakeholders, and the community.

Some standards used to review the ethical and social responsibility of an organization may include the following list.

  • The company should have a clear set of definitions for the meaning of illegal, immoral, and antisocial activities.
  • The firm actively practices, promotes and communicates its moral principles (company values) while holding its employees responsible for observing the values.
  • A company makes contributions to the social welfare of its employees.
  • The company follows all local, state, and federal laws and regulations that relate to social responsibility.
  •  They are actively engaged in business ethics in the product, price, promotion, and distribution (placement).

Companies that fall short in achieving excellence in their ethics and social review can better determine how to correct their actions to serve their employees, customers, and community. 


Conducting a strategic control review requires a complete commitment from an organization’s leadership. Leadership should conduct strategic control reviews frequently to see if the organization meets its objectives. If they are not meeting their objectives, they should have a plan to improve their strategic goals.

Marketing professionals have four strategic control methods at their disposal to evaluate the company’s strategic readiness. The methods include:

Each method has its own set of criteria to follow in determining its effectiveness. Companies that regularly engage in strategic control review and conduct marketing audits are market-oriented and better positioned to excel in their respective market environments.


B2B website quality ranking article image header of woman discussing web development

22 Factors that Improve Your B2B Website Quality SEO Ranking

Audio Version — 12:31

How do you build a high-quality B2B website according to Google? 

Quality is a subjective concept. The Oxford dictionary defines quality as:

The Standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.

The definition of quality can vary from person to person, and what is quality to one person might not be for another. However, Google apparently has an opinion about what quality means to their search algorithm and how they define whether or not your B2B website can rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Google determines that poor-quality websites are ranked low or not even ranked altogether, while high-quality websites and content receive a higher organic search ranking. 

When Google released its Panda update in February 2011, it shook the internet. Panda was a major algorithm update that penalized low-quality websites by reducing their rankings and rewarding websites with “high-quality” content.  

Google carefully guards the exact ranking signals in their algorithms to prevent people from gaming their system. However, the search engine giant has listed 22 factors that can improve the quality of a website, increasing the chances that quality websites will rank higher on SERPs than those with lower quality content. Keep in mind, though; the factors are just guidance for creating quality B2B websites and content. They are not exact measurements of Google’s algorithm.

22 Factors that Contribute to Developing Quality B2B Websites and Content


Trust is critical for getting visitors to take action on your website, whether to stay and read your content, make a purchase from your site, or return to your site. ECommerce websites are especially susceptible to building trust and credibility, given they are transactional websites and gather a person’s financial information. 

With so much misinformation and disinformation available across the internet and printed media, you need to be extra vigilant when creating trustworthy content. Do you trust the content you present in your article or blog post? That’s the one question you should ask yourself when assessing your content or website for trust.

Topic Depth

Google is concerned about delivering relevant and valuable content to its readers. An excellent way to tell if an article on your website offers value is to look at its depth. In other words, is your article written by an expert or an enthusiast that knows the subject well. Or is the article written with too few facts or ideas; is the article shallow in nature?

Some B2B firms tend to lean toward the shallow side of content writing. Their business leaders or marketing managers believe that quantity is better than quality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Focus on developing articles with depth that subject matter experts write within your business or by third parties.

Duplicate or Redundant Articles

Google’s algorithm favors websites with original; articles; these websites get recognized as the first site to post the original content. Any other website that copies the content and posts will not rank for that particular article or rank very high in the SERPS. 

Google also looks to see if your site has duplicate content or similar content but slightly different keywords. Google will deem any website with duplicate content or similar content but somewhat different keywords as a low-quality website.

Comfort Disclosing Financial Information

Not all transactional websites are created equal. You have probably visited a few poorly designed websites that looked a bit “shady.” You thought to yourself that there is no way you would input your credit card information to make a purchase on the website. If a website is questionable to you, leaving you reluctant to provide financial information, Google probably sees the same thing and ranks the site as low quality.

If you’re collecting visitors’ financial information to complete a transaction, be sure your website is credible. There’s nothing like arriving at a website to make a purchase to see that they have not updated any content in months; they have broken links and poorly written content.

sketch of man writing notes for B2B website quality ranking SEOError-Free Content

Before the Panda release, writing blogs or content was primarily based on quantity and not quality. Blogging “experts” would state that it was okay to have a few spelling and grammatical errors in your writing, as long as you are consistent with your content postings. A lot has changed since the release of Google’s Panda. Google’s algorithm for quality website content considers such factors as spelling, style, and whether there are factual errors in your content.

If you are not sure about errors in your writing, solicit the help of an editor who can review your content before taking it live. Also, make sure that you fact-check your information because Google will penalize you for articles with factual errors.

Reader Interest Topics

When you arrive at a website, you think that the content is carefully thought out and created with the reader’s interest. Unfortunately, this is not the case with many websites. 

Web admins are looking to drive traffic to their website for several reasons, and most often, it’s to lure the visitor into a page filled with ads or links to click to other websites. That is how these websites generate revenue; with ad clicks. When auditing your website for quality content, ask yourself, “is my content and articles driven by a genuine interest of my audience, or am I just generating fluff content to game the SERPs?” 

Original Content

To Google, a quality website offers original content. As discussed earlier, duplicate content does not help your website rank higher. Google wants to see authentic content and information on your website. Are you offering original reporting, research, or analysis to your visitors?

Page Value Compared to Other Pages

Does your page offer substantial value compared to other pages in the search results? If you are writing about Marketing Control Tools, does your page provide more value than any other page that offers similar information? You may have to compare what other websites have posted about the topic to what you wrote.

Your page may offer a deeper insight into the topic, with interactive elements like a calculator and a downloadable supplemental document or tool, or possibly a marketing control tools forum to give readers a place to discuss the topic. All of the ideas, as mentioned earlier, add value to the user’s overall experience when looking for information on, for example, marketing control tools.

Quality Control

Do you or your marketing content team have a quality control process for reviewing your site’s articles? This concept ties back into what we’ve already discussed above, are you eliminating errors, poor grammar, and spelling. Is your article or content delivering value to your reader versus what other search results are providing?

UnBiased Article

One way to ensure that you offer valuable content is to provide at least two perspectives or sides to your writing. Articles that offer just one view are biased and can lead your site to rank lower than other sites with the same content that articulates opposing sides of the story.

Recognized Authority

Is the website a recognized authority on the written topics? That is, are you writing topics that belong on the website? For example, imagine a B2B website that is a contract manufacturer for personal care products. You should write content about personal care topics. 

Suppose you are writing about topics that are not related to personal care. In that case, Google may not recognize your B2B website as an authority on the subject, thus lowering your search ranking or simply not ranking your website. 

Mass-Produced Content

Some content across the internet is mass-produced or outsourced to a large number of content creators. Thus, the content spreads across an extensive network of websites, and individual web pages do not get the needed attention or care that a well-crafted document on a single website or page receives. The warning here is that your duplicate content is spread all over the internet, reducing the value for readers. Google frowns on this type of content creation behavior.

Content Editing

Is your article or content appropriately edited, or does it appear sloppy and rushed? When it comes to B2B websites and their content, many B2B marketers are concerned with just getting some content on their website, thus editing plays a backseat to their content strategy or is non-existent altogether. 

To ensure that you have a fighting chance for being ranked for a higher quality B2B website, have your articles and content edited by either an in-house editor or outsource it to freelancers like those found on

Recognized Authoritative Source

Google wants to know if your website is a “go-to” (authoritative) source for information. Do people in your industry or market recognize your B2B website as an authority on the subject matter? For example, if you are a logistics company and regularly post articles and content about business-to-business logistic services, are there other websites that link to your website? Do your customers (and non-customers) recognize you as an authority in logistics? 

There is room for many authoritative websites across all industries. You can become an authority in your industry by posting valuable content to which other websites will want to link.

Comprehensive Topic Description

Does your content or articles present a thorough description of your topics? Again, the idea is that when posting articles on your website, are the articles complete? Do your articles or content offer insights to your readers that similar articles on competing sites in the SERPs do not? 

Are your readers gaining value from visiting your site and reading the articles? Do you provide value to your readers with your writing? Keep that in the back of your mind when you are developing your content.

sktch of man looking through telescope B2B website ranking article imageBeyond Obvious Information

Does your article or content provide insightful information or analysis that is beyond the obvious? 

Can you begin to see the pattern in this list for developing quality B2B websites? Google wants to make sure that content creators create unique and original content that delivers value to their readers.

Page Recommendation

Would you recommend your webpage to a friend or bookmark the page for yourself? The act of sharing or bookmarking a page signifies some value in the content for the reader.

Too Many Ads

Many websites want to drive any traffic to their pages. B2B websites are no different if executed poorly. Google will recognize if an article has too many ads placed within it, causing a significant distraction for the reader. 

Again, Google wants to deliver value and high quality to its readers. Pages with ads that shroud the articles do not signal quality content, but rather the opposite, as Google sees that article as bait for the ads.

Print Expectations

Would you expect to see the web article you are reading published in a credible print publication like a magazine or a book? Let’s face the fact that not everyone is a world-class writer, me included. However, you can tell if an article is suitable for print within a newspaper, magazine, or book over pieces that do not make any grammatical sense or have poor spelling. 

Google is not asking you to become a published author. Again, they want websites to deliver well-written, thought-out articles that provide value.

Avoid Short, Unsubstantial Articles

Google likes long, thought-out articles that offer your readers specifics. As a B2B firm, is your content helping your readers solve challenges to their problems? Is your content delivering valuable insights into your products and how they can help your readers? If you answered no to these questions, you might want to revisit your articles to see where you can improve the ones falling short of delivering valuable insight.

Detailed Web Pages

There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at a web page to find very little information or detail on the page that is relevant to a search query. When designing your B2B web pages, place a good amount of attention on creating detailed pages with proper navigation and valuable content.

User Complaints

Do your readers or customers complain about your webpage? Are there missing elements, poorly written content, or hard to navigate or find information? Google wants to deliver the best quality to its readers. Poor design and a lack of depth in your site’s content can turn readers away. Make sure that you create a quality B2B website that readers will want to come to, stay, and share with friends.


The days of simply placing anything on your website and spamming with keywords are long gone. Google emphasizes creating quality websites that deliver value to its readers. Yet, google even recognizes that assessing their algorithm for site quality is a difficult task. While it is nice to hit every one of the 22 factors above for creating a quality B2B website, keep in mind that very few websites achieve everything on the list. Instead, focus on developing unique content and delivering value with little to no page distractions, especially distractions from too many ads.

Since Google does not disclose their exact strategy for their search algorithms, they recommend following the 22 factors for developing quality B2B websites. However, Google notes that websites with several low-quality ranking pages can cause the entire website to drop in SERP rankings. The advice here is to make sure that all of your pages are delivering high-quality content.


Efficiency control illustration main header image

Efficiency Control — Marketing Control Tools

Audio Version — 9:18

Efficiency Control

illustration of segmentationThe efficiency control portion of the marketing control process measures spending efficiency as it relates to marketing activities. As you may have read in the Profitability Control Analysis article that profitability control concerns itself with where the firm is making or losing money in regards to:

  • Product
  • Territory
  • Customer
  • Segment
  • Trade channel
  • Order size

Efficiency control aims to evaluate and improve the firm’s spending efficiency and the impact of marketing expenditures such as:

  • Sales force
  • Advertising
  • Sales Promotion
  • Distribution

Larger firms sometimes implement a marketing controller role within the controller’s (finance) office to improve marketing efficiency. The marketing controllers may get involved with one or all of the following activities:

  • Examine adherence to profit plans
  • Help prepare a brand managers’ budget
  • Measure promotional efficiency
  • Perform media production costs analysis
  • Evaluate customer and geographic profitability
  • Staff training on the financial impact of marketing decision’s 

How Efficiency Control Improves Marketing

illustration of business man using archery for efficiency control

In essence, efficiency control may improve a marketing department’s activity efficiencies in two ways.

  1. It may improve the ability of various marketing activities to better contribute toward reaching marketing objectives.
  2. It can help reduce waste and marketing expenses.

Let’s take a closer look at the four different efficiency control tools, sales force efficiency, advertising efficiency, sales promotion, and distribution. Each efficiency control has its set of marketing metrics to determine if the marketing initiative meets its goals or falls short.

Measuring Sales Force Efficiency Control

Sales force efficiency analyzes if a particular salesperson is efficient in meeting their goals through a set of predetermined metrics. Some standard sales metrics may include some or all of the following measures:

  • The average number of sales calls per salesperson per day
  • Average time spent on sales calls per contact
  • Average revenue generated per sales call
  • Average costs incurred per sales call
  • Percentage of orders per group of calls (For example, how many orders did sales receive per 50 sales calls?)
  • The number of new customers created during a specific period
  • The number of customers lost during a specific period
  • The sales force costs as a percentage of total sales

Marketing professionals or controllers may deploy various tactics to gather the necessary information to calculate the above metrics. Information gathering tools such as sales reports, internal databases, questionnaires, meeting discussions, and observations may aid in determining metrics for calculations to determine the sales efficiency.

Conducting a sales force efficiency examination based on the metrics mentioned earlier can lead your marketing management team to discover answers to the following questions.

  1. What role does the sales force contribute to generating revenue? Is online marketing playing a higher position, or are your salespeople in the field generating the bulk of the sales?
  2. Which salespeople are more or less efficient in utilizing resources to convert prospects into buyers?
  3. What are some other reasons for poor efficiency within your sales force, assuming there are inefficiencies.
  4. What is some course of action to take to correct and improve the efficiencies?

Measuring Advertising Efficiency

Advertising is perhaps the most costly expense of the marketing budget. Traditional (offline) marketing typically costs more than online marketing. However, both can become expensive over time. Because of its high costs, it’s essential to determine the advertising efficiency of a given campaign or the efficiency of the overall marketing budget.

While online advertising effectiveness is easier to track, offline advertising proves more challenging. While advertisings efforts and costs contributions are complicated to determine, marketing managers can develop systematic qualitative tools to measure:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Changing attitudes toward a brand
  • Creating brand loyalty

Some standard advertising metrics for determining advertising efficiency may include:

  • Advertising costs per thousand through a specific communication vehicle such as television or online video ads
  • The percent of a target audience that read or viewed a print media or online advertisement
  • Customer opinion on advertising effectiveness
  • The measurement of an audience’s attitude toward an advertised product
  • The number of leads generated by an offline or online ad campaign.
  • Cost-per-lead
  • Cost-per-acquisition

Marketing managers can use the advertising efficiency metrics to measure internal and external benchmarks that determine if an advertising campaign and its communication channels are efficient in reaching its goals. Should the manager discover inefficiencies, some corrective actions they can initiate are to change:

  • The company’s advertising objectives and policies
  • Ad messages
  • Switch communication channels or media type
  • Media schedule or ad frequency
  • the advertising budget
  • Marketing staff training
  • The advertising agency if the company is using one

Depending on what metrics you measure and their results, you may need to modify or add additional corrective actions to your plan.

Measuring Sales Promotion Efficiency

Depending on the organization’s internal structure, the marketing or sales department may monitor sales promotion efficiency. The sales promotion efficiency process measures the impact of the sales promotion efforts on:

  • Sales
  • Profits
  • Competitiveness
  • Consumer Satisfaction

efficiency control illustrationGenerally, sales promotions offer a range of incentives to customers and vendors (dealers) to stimulate sales and product trials. Running an inefficient sales promotion can end up costing the company money and other resources. That is why marketing and sales managers need to measure the cost and impact of each sales promotion tool. 

Sales promotions are applied at three levels typically. They include the:

  • Customer level
  • Dealer level
  • Sales force level

Some standard sales promotion efficiency metrics used to measure sales effectiveness include:

  • The total sales promotion percentage expense to actual sales
  • The cost of samples, coupons, and other tools per unit selling price
  • The number of inquiries or leads generated from a specific sales promotion

By analyzing the costs and contribution of the sales promotion tools, managers can determine which promotional tool, channel, and level are most efficient. Companies can use their efficiency data results to reduce or eliminate underperforming sales promotions or bolster effective promotions. Additionally, sales promotion metric results can help firms design more efficient promotional strategies in terms of:

  • Costs
  • Level of sales promotion
  • Promotional timing
  • And sales promotion strategies at each level:
    • Customer
    • Dealer
    • Sales force

Measuring Distribution Efficiency

Distribution costs for consumer products, electronics, and apparel can be as high as 35% of retail sales prices. Distributors are the middlemen and are part of the value chain in product distribution. A distributors main assets include their:

  • Sales force
  • Transportation means
  • Storage capabilities

With their assets, distributors will try and optimize margins. In other words, the distribution efficiency control tool allows companies to assess the efficiency of their distribution processes. In essence, the distribution efficiency control tool measures how well a company’s distribution system is to achieve its marketing objectives. From time to time, it may be necessary to make changes to distributors or help distributors better understand the company’s goals and see if distributors may accommodate those goals in their processes and costs.

Some typical criteria used to assess the distribution efficiency process include:

  • The percentage of total distribution costs per unit price
  • The share of physical distribution costs per unit price:
    • Warehousing (storage)
    • Inventory
    • Ordering
    • Transportation
    • Communication
    • Fixed business costs
  • Percentage of channel partners’ cost per unit price:
    • Wholesalers
    • Retailers
    • Agents
  • The costs and contributions associated with direct and indirect channels
  • The potential for using online marketing and network marketing channels or by retail chains
  • Evaluating costs of marketing channels as they relate to offered services to the company and consumers

Companies that regularly evaluate their distribution efficiency costs can determine the effectiveness of their distribution channels and partners. Through their analysis, a marketing manager can minimize distribution costs while maximizing or improving profits and its price and earning competitiveness. Additionally, managers can improve customer satisfaction by adjusting to enhance distribution efficiencies through improved costs and quicker product delivery or service.


The four efficiency control areas, sales force, advertising, sales promotion, and distribution, each have a set of metrics. Marketing managers should measure the metrics and understand the various courses of action to take if any control area is functioning inefficiently. Taking swift action and correcting any issues can boost a company’s profit and keep them competitive.

Firms that fail to establish efficiency control metrics and act on inefficiencies may find themselves bleeding resources and ultimately falling behind their competition or shutting their doors altogether.