We’re all guilty of it…
Pick a strategy, create some collateral, automate as much as possible – sit back and relax.
For some of us, simply turning up day-after-day will deliver results. Because most people don’t even turn up consistently.
But for others, that strategy you picked 12, 18 or 24 months ago is most likely obsolete and ineffective now.
If you want to get consistent results from online marketing, audits are a necessity. A digital marketing audit is essentially a review of the strategies you use to build an online presence and the outcomes of these efforts.
If you conduct regular inspections of your digital marketing practices, it’s easy to identify areas where time and money are wasted, as well as the tactics that are driving real business growth.
Strategize > Execute > Audit > Adapt > Repeat
It’s a proven workflow for continuous improvement with anything you do, and digital marketing is no different. The more regularly you analyze your performance and find areas to improve, the better your results will be.
If you haven’t taken a hard look at your metrics for a while, a digital marketing audit could literally 10x your outcomes in a very short timeframe.
But where do you start?
Here are some tips on how to conduct a digital marketing audit to identify opportunities and exponentially improve your results.
Be clear about your goals
If you don’t have clear goals as part of your digital marketing strategy, there’ll be no way to truly evaluate their effectiveness in your audit.
Maybe you’ve heard of SMART goals – they’re relevant to marketing just like every other goal-setting scenario. SMART goals are:
Here are some examples of marketing goals that meet the SMART criteria:
- Conversions: Decrease your average cost-per-acquisition to $15 within a year.
- Brand engagement: Achieve a minimum of 100 social shares for each blog post this quarter.
- Sales: Increase the average customer order value to $35 by December.
By having clearly defined SMART goals, it’s easier to measure how well your marketing strategy is working to achieve them. Then you can adjust and refocus your strategy when needed.
Track the right things
Next, you need to ensure you’re tracking the right marketing metrics that align with your goals.
Let’s go back to the example goal of decreasing your average cost-per-acquisition to $15 within a year. There are a lot of metrics that can impact your progress towards this goal. If you’re using paid advertising to get acquisitions, you’ll want to look at impressions, ad position, cost-per-click, and clickthrough rate in addition to the cost per lead. All are valuable indicators of your progress towards this goal.
This periodic table of marketing metrics is a great place to start brainstorming the metrics you need to track:
Create brand consistency
Marketers publish a lot of content and stamp their brand on a variety of platforms around the web. Over time, it’s easy to slip up and create some inconsistencies in how your brand appears. But if you want to be as memorable as possible, brand consistency is a must.
The best way to do this is to create a branding style guide for you and your team to follow.
Your style guide should include instructions on using your:
- Company name
- Versions of your logo design
- Image and photo styles
- Typography on your web pages and in your visual content
- Color schemes and variations
Of course, this is a pretty simplistic summary of what a style guide will look like, but it is a good starting point. Use your style guide to cross-check how your brand appears across all social channels, your website, email, and other platforms. You could even create a “Brand Style Checklist” to conduct this part of the audit.
Create message consistency and simplicity
Your product or service most likely has a number of different benefits that you can promote around the web. But if you don’t boil them down to a clear and concise value proposition, your message can get lost in the noise of digital media.
Let’s look at Slack as an example. The platform has a lot of benefits. It keeps all of your communication in one place, makes it easy to search an archive of messages and files, and helps you stay out of your inbox. But that’s all really the fine print.
When they were first starting out, Slack instead focused on building credibility using this specific value prop:
They were basically saying, “Productive and successful people use this tool.”
And the value prop worked. Now more than 4 million people use Slack daily. So they adjusted their value prop:
Now they’re saying, “Everyone uses Slack, so you should too.”
Instead of focusing on the details, pick a clear, underlying message, and make sure it’s consistent across the web. Check to make sure your landing pages, social media taglines, and paid advertising messaging all convey the same thing.
Ensure content quality
As part of your digital marketing audit, you should also create a content quality checklist for each type of content (Blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.).
You could use these checklists retrospectively as part of your audit, or better yet, refer to them every time you create new content.
A compelling blog post, for example, would include these key elements (You can use this as your content checklist):
- Headline. Coming up with a provocative and enticing headline for your content is super important. It’s perhaps the most important component for drawing a reader in, and getting them to click on your content at all. It needs to grab the reader by the shirt and compel them to click. Use things such as numbers, emotive language, curiosity, or negative connotations to entice people to read your content.
- Big WHY – a hook. Why should the reader care? You need to answer this question as early as possible in your content. This hook isn’t generic, it is written in a language that your audience understands and resonates with. What you’re about to say is important to them, and they are desperate to keep reading.
- Visuals. It doesn’t matter how well you have written your content, or how many helpful tips there are. A wall of text just doesn’t cut it any more. It’s no surprise that the biggest social movements of our time are all about visual media like Snapchat, Instagram and Periscope. Try to use images, screenshots, infographics and videos as much as you can.
- Short punchy sentences and paragraphs. Our attention spans are shorter than ever. Instead of writing long, bulky paragraphs – aim to pack a punch with short, action packed statements. Not only does this way of writing increase the chance that someone will read your content. It also keeps them interested and intrigued to see what is about to come next.
- Sub-headings and dot points. To help readability you can also include sub-headings and dot points. They let your readers scan and choose their own journey – by deciding what they would like to read more about.
- Formatting. Appropriate formatting also helps your readers spot the most important information. It taps into their visual senses, and allows them to skim your content – while still picking up the information they really need to know. Use bold text, colons, italics, capital letters, block quotes – even different font colors if you want. Breaking it up like this lets someone consume it quickly, share it around and go and take action.
- Stats, metaphors and stories. Stats engage the head, and metaphors and stories engage the heart. When packed together, metaphors, stories and stats allow us to find complementary meaning for ideas. They allow us to access understanding we never thought possible and accelerate the time it takes to learn a new concept.
- SEO Optimization. Consider things like keyword optimization, search-friendly URLs, page loading speed, as well as being user and mobile-friendly.
- Call-to-action. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to get a lead. After all, why are you writing this content in the first place? Make your call-to-action unique, tailored and specific to your content. This is how you will convert more readers into leads.
Audit and optimize for SEO
Search engine optimization has a lot of different elements. Beyond keyword optimization, there is inbound and outbound links and other aspects of technical SEO to worry about.
Use a comprehensive SEO checklist to ensure you’ve covered all of these areas in your digital marketing audit.
If you want to speed up this part of the audit, use an auditing tool like SEO by Yoast for your on-page SEO. It will assess your keyword density for all of your content and tell you where the gaps are:
There are also a number of elements of technical SEO you should consider in your digital marketing audit too:
- Make sure your pages are indexed. Head to Google and search for your site using “site:yourdomain.com.” The number of results Google comes up with should equal the number of pages on your site.
- Check your site’s crawlability. Use an SEO crawler tool to make sure Google can crawl your pages properly.
- Use Google’s Page Speed Insights. Page Speed Insights will offer suggestions for improving your site speed.
- Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. This tool will help you make sure your site is mobile friendly and notify you if there are any issues loading page elements on mobile.
If your site has been around for a while there are a number of other technical issues that can pop up and negatively affect your SEO performance. Things like 404 error pages, duplicate content, and poor content structuring are some things to consider. If you don’t have someone technical on your team who can address these things, consider working with an SEO specialist to clean everything up.
Do a conversion assessment
As you build your website page-by-page over time, it can be difficult to notice gaps in your sales funnel that prevent site visitors from converting.
That’s why you need to create a conversion checklist and use it regularly to assess all key pages on your website.
Your checklist should include all major elements that help drive conversions, such as:
- Do you include calls-to-action above the fold on each important page of your site?
- Does each page offer a lead magnet to convert leads?
- Is your value proposition clear on every page?
- Are you A/B testing different page titles, calls-to-action, visual elements, etc?
- What happens after someone converts? Is your back-end funnel optimized for customer acquisition?
You should also note any user-experience factors that may impact conversions, such as:
- Is your page loading quickly?
- Are all the page elements functional? (E.g. broken links, missing images etc.)
- Is the page layout easy to navigate? Can visitors find what they need in 3 seconds?
Assess your digital marketing plan
If you have a digital marketing plan in place, now’s your time to assess it.
How well are you and your team sticking to your plan? Is it working?
If you don’t have a plan in place, then create one to help keep everyone accountable.
Here are the core elements of a 6 to 12 month plan:
- Executive summary (Write this last)
- Target customers
- USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
- Pricing and positioning strategy
- Offers (products) and distribution strategy
- Overview of your marketing materials
- Details of your promotion strategy
- How you’ll drive sales (conversion, retention, and referral strategies)
- Financial projections
Constant Contact has a nice slide deck that goes into more detail on these elements:
Assess your workflows and processes
As part of your digital marketing audit you should assess how efficiently you and your team are working, in terms of cost and time. Ask questions like:
- Are there any underused marketing tools that you’re paying for?
- Are your teams collaborating efficiently on group projects?
- Does outsourcing certain tasks save you enough time to be worth the cost? Or alternatively, are there tasks you could be outsourcing that you aren’t currently?
- Are your team meetings productive or is another form of communication more appropriate?
The more time and money you can save by assessing your workflows and processes, the more you can invest in other digital strategies later on.
Establish team guidelines
If you haven’t already, it’s important to establish team guidelines – expectations about the work your team does and how – to help everyone stay on task. Create a standard that aligns with your marketing objectives and optimizes your workflows.
Establish guidelines for:
- Responsibilities (What social media management entails, what managing the blog entails, etc.)
- Content creation (Topics, style, length, etc.)
- Deadlines and revisions
- Communication (Email, Slack, Trello, etc.)
- Submitting work
As part of your audit, you can perform individual assessments of your team members based on the guidelines and identify areas of opportunity or improvement.
Smart marketers constantly monitor their approach and make adjustments along the way to improve.
But if you add the occasional comprehensive audit to the mix, it’s easier to identify the big, overlooked problems that keep your campaigns from meeting your marketing goals.
Take the time to establish audit guidelines and use them diligently to get more from your marketing investment in the long run.