Written by Terry Michael on Apr 14, 2021

Understanding a Digital Marketing Audit, Step by Step:

Understanding a Digital Marketing Audit, Step by Step

Many brands, digital or otherwise believe that digital marketing audits only comprise of a few key verticals, this is not the case, while these are included - they’re not exclusively the focus of the audit.

Lets Unpack Digital Marketing Audits

The most commonly audited verticals are:

  • Content Marketing Audit
  • SEO Audit
  • Social Media Marketing Audit
  • Email Marketing Audit
  • SEM & PPC Audit
  • Measurement and Recommending Improvements

There is far more to it than that, below we’ll take you on a journey through our approach and the verticals and areas we focus on and of course what the outcomes should be. 

Digital Marketing Auditing, Step-by-Step:

  • Strategy
  • The Digital Marketing Team
  • Infrastructure
  • Competitor Review
  • Campaigns
  • Analytics
  • Creative/Design
  • Vendor/Partner/ Digital Marketing Agency Review

The Strategy/Strategic Plan 

Ideally, before kicking off with a strategy, which should actually be a strategic/tactical plan - since strategies are often just pretty pictures and nice bi-lines. You should stress-test and audit this piece of work independently, especially if you’re an organisation that struggles with change - meaning your strategy needs to guide for a set 1-5yrs. 

For example:

Identify your audience, are they online and if so, how do you reach them? And on what channels, in what regions? 

So, how do you audit a strategy that you have not even deployed yet?

The first step is asking the “why”? Why are we doing this, and to what end?

This way, we set up intelligent positioning and measurement metrics for the strategy.

Setting specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-sensitive objectives will help you gain a better direction and keep stronger control. Doing this allows you to manage and execute according to your outlined KPI’s, meaning efforts are not wasted, and are intentional.

Deciding where to spend your digital marketing budget requires us to consider multiple factors. Taking a social media element of the strategy.  For example, you might want to ask:

  • Which social media platform resonates most with your brand vocale, style and of course target audience?
  • Is this platform also where your audience is? 
  • How does social media align to your business needs or objectives and have you set KPIs for this channel?
  • Competitor review, which social media channels are your competitors in, how can you compete with their presence?

This approach is merely one of a few that assist in accurately measuring and deploying your efforts. 

The concept is to align your channels to your audience’s personas and behavioural patterns. 

Questions to ask:

  • Would your customers prefer it if you provided customer service via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Telegram?
  • Would your customers prefer to learn more about your product or service via video tutorials or webinars or text based deployments?
  • What is considered to be engage-worthy and growable content, resulting in higher engagement? 
  • Do you have your benchmarks in place? Are you still considering reach and following, or have you woken up to REAL KPI’s?

Just some more questions worth asking when creating your digital marketing strategy.

2. Applications, Infrastructure and Support

Once our objectives are clear, it’s time to set up the frameworks and infrastructure to support these objectives and drive real-benefit and bottom lines. 

a. Infrastructure

This includes everything from data-management, software, telecommunications to applications for productivity and much more. This is the part of your business that is needed to assist your people in doing their jobs, reporting, measurements and of course effective management. 

A good digital marketing audit will consist of a thorough infrastructure review to see if it supports your business as it should.

b. Applications

To further reap the benefits of digital infrastructure, you’ll need the right applications for the right use cases.

Some key questions when setting this up, can be...

  • Which applications do you need to install on your e-commerce site to encourage conversions and follow-up? Have you done some comparison in the marketplace?
  • How do you intend to manage your CRM efforts better? What do your client’s value most?
  • Have you considered marketing automation software and tools? And if so, have you done some testing and beta studies?
  • What tracking and measurement tools and applications are you intending to use and does it match your desired outputs?

Running through an example of starting a campaign that involves automated email sending with the appropriate tagging upon conversion and consequent SMS supporting outreach to a customer with questions about the user experience.

In such a case, an advanced marketing automation solution needs to be utilised and the staff needs to be trained. The required software and hardware need to be installed, tested and then deployed.

One of the major questions involves your data management, including the storage and quality of emails in the database. Do you have the right tools for the database clean-up and thereafter management? We know companies with over 10 million emails in the database and over 80% email bounce rate upon every campaign. To work with Big Data the infrastructure and right applications are crucial for successful execution.

And an additional important question arises regarding the tools for measuring the campaign results. Define your KPIs! 

Here are some basic questions to get you started.

3. Creative/Design

Often, the main goal of conducting a digital marketing audit of your creative/design aspects is to evaluate and enhance your branding strategy/appeal and uplift of brand recognisability and reputation. Design plays a huge role in branding. It helps your target audience to visualise your brand identity, making you memorable to them.

How you design your digital assets helps your prospects and customers make long-term depictions of your brand mission and vision, values, uniqueness and creative flair. 

For example...

Think of what you conceive to be a brand’s identity when you browse the website.

  • Do the graphics have a lasting impression on you?
  • How easily does the desktop website or mobile version layout make it to find the information you need, and how does that make you feel?
  • The colors, illustrations, and brand voice are easy to identify anywhere online or on just on various social media platforms?
  • Is Design consistent?
  • Are you deploying A/B split testing to ensure a solid return and drive up engagement?

A design audit will help improve your creative/design elements so you can visually engage your target audience. That way, you can help them form a strong emotional bond with your brand personality.

A design/branding audit can help you achieve key outcomes such as:

  • Create an effective visual communication strategy and tactical plan
  • Create and use only designs that resonate with your preferred brand identity, and brand voice
  • Ensure your digital assets help visualise a consistent message across multiple online channels
  • Ensure your brand logo, color theme and topography are consistent throughout your website and social media platforms

That brings us to perhaps the most popular component of a digital marketing audit.

 4. Campaigns

Campaigns are the digital marketing highlights and tactics in many respects of a digital marketing plan. And there are many types of digital marketing campaigns.

All these types have specific benefits and potential catch-22’s, making sure the KPI’s are well-thought-out and aligned to your business efforts and goals helps you understand in which times through your fiscal to deploy. Some are better at engagement, some are better at reach, and some are just meant to drive up sentiment.

Auditing your Content Strategy, Content and Content Marketing

Of course we need to know if we’re speaking, appealing and engaging with our audiences properly and effectively.

Some key questions to ask before deploying communication journeys and executions include:

  • Who is your target audience and is the content appropriate to them?
  • Decide what you want your blogs, social media posts, and guest blogs to achieve for your business.
  • Do you want to educate, boost brand engagement, build authority, convert more readers to buyers, all of the above and so on?
  • Is your content messaging clear and highlighting your unique value proposition (USP) at the right stage of the buyer’s journey?
  • Do you really understand the user intent at each stage of the buyer’s journey?
  • Does your content bring out your brand identity as it should?
  • Is your brand voice consistent across multiple marketing campaigns?
  • Are you creating share-worthy content to grow your reach?
  • Are your guest-posting on authority websites to enhance your backlinking strategy?
  • What are the best assets (video, text, images, infographics, etc.) to use for your content marketing at different stages of your marketing funnel?

Your goal will help you decide what quality content looks and feels like to your readers. That way, you can create it and offer them the value they expect at a given stage of the buyer’s journey. Of course, you can also ask your selected readers to let you know what they’d like you to communicate with them via survey tools.

These are some of the questions you can use to determine how to create a blog strategy. When you have conducted an audience evaluation and content strategy audit, you can then switch to content optimization.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Audit:

SEO is the long-term investment that empowers your content to show up on a search engine and be available to an ever-growing audience. The aim is to make the content visible to interested readers and provide true value. These readers are also referred to as organic search traffic.

The higher up you appear on search results, the higher your chances of receiving more traffic that can convert to sales.

If you have quality content posted on your webpages and still can’t seem to get a high enough CTR (Click-Through Rate) and a decent number of views, shares, likes, and comments on your content, it might be time for an SEO audit.

Auditing your SEO Strategy involves several undertakings:

  • Keywords Research and Analysis: Finding the right keywords for your business goals to help you become visible to a specific audience in the right channel.
    • Directly related to “Intent” aligning the customers intention with your desired outcome.
  • On-page SEO auditing: Auditing for internal site issues that need fixing such as duplicate content, slow page load times, mobile responsiveness, redirecting errors, page title and meta description, Headings and Schema Markup, and many more factors. 
  • Off-page SEO auditing: Finding and fixing concerns such as backlinks issues. For example, spammy link-building is a black hat SEO technique that can get your site de-ranked-or ranked poorly on search engines.

The focus here is to make your content discoverable to as many interested readers as possible,  having in mind a user intent always.

Auditing your Email Marketing Campaign:

Also crucial to any digital marketing auditing process is finding how your email marketing strategy is working out for you.

Here are some indicators you’ll want to watch out for when conducting an email marketing review:

  • Is your email copy clearly communicating your USP?
  • Is the copy appealing without being pitchy?
  • How good is design? AB Testing is helpful!
  • Are your emails sent at the right time? 
  • Are you using strong calls-to-action (CTAs) and subject lines?
  • Are your emails read by your recipients (open rates)?
  • What is the relation between the open rates, click-through rates, and bounce rates?
  • Have you A/B/X tested your messages enough?
  • Is your email marketing campaign well positioned in your marketing funnel?
  • How well do you follow up on leads that do not convert immediately?

Those are just a few questions you can answer.

Social Media Marketing Audit:

Again, this campaign method is a big influencer on visibility, engagement, conversion and sales. You might want to start by seeing if you continue to build your social media influence by increasing followers and page likes with the right audience. Because if not, you might want to rethink your social media marketing strategy.

There’s more:

  • Are you using the appropriate social media platform for your target audience?
  • Has your brand engagement improved recently? If yes, what are the posts that have helped in that regard? Find them. They might be what your target audience really cares to know from you.
  • Have you reached out to a social media influencer in your niche before to help boost your brand visibility and credibility, and at what point should you reach out to one?
  • Is your brand identity consistent across all your social media channels?
Mobile Marketing Audit:

Since 2016, more online visitors access the web through a mobile device than they use a desktop. In fact, 52% of them will not buy from you if you do not have a mobile-responsive website. Experience is everything! 

What does this mean to you?

A mobile digital marketing audit can show you how this trend is affecting your reach, customer experience, conversion rate, and sales. Are your desktop conversions dropping? It is definitely time to use a mobile-responsive or mobile platform that works to attract more sales. But do you know this for sure? Are you deploying any live-time dashboard with alerts to stay ahead of the curves?

Paid Search/Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing Audit:

Paid search can yield impressive results when implemented well. But it can also turn out to be a short-lived, expensive affair. That is if you are not sure how to deploy ads, measure performance, and implement continuous improvement to drive a healthy return on investment (ROI).

A digital marketing audit can help you decide the ratio between the paid search and organic search depending on what you want to accomplish in a given time.

You must learn important indicators such as your campaigns’ cost-of-acquisition per customer and various conversion rates. With PPC you learn about your buyer’s reaction to your digital efforts in real-time. This is priceless information for your SEO strategy adjustment.

You can also conduct a digital advertising audit to evaluate precisely how you use your online marketing budget. So you can see where you are losing money and figure out which alternative avenues to use to optimize costs and maximize ROI.

5. Analytics

The immediate purpose of conducting a digital marketing audit is to measure the performance of your digital assets. Collecting and using data to understand the important metrics to watch out for is essential here.

You can use data from your website’s analytics dashboard. You can also conduct an e-commerce conversion audit with heat maps. Still, you can collect feedback from customer surveys, client case studies and so on. There are countless tools for analytics these days.

Performance analysis is imperative because you get to measure what has been working, how well and what has been failing.

That way you can understand where to lay more effort and where to reduce investment. The point is to avoid flogging dead horses to only feed productive horses that get you bottom-line trimming with the highest ROI possible.

Some details to flesh out in digital metrics auditing:

  • Do you have the right marketing automation tools set up correctly? And if so, what quantitative results are you getting from them?
  • Are you using the right business reporting processes and tools?
  • How is your conversion tracking?

Using data to analyze performance results helps eliminate the guesswork from selecting the best digital marketing campaign type for your target audience.

6. Competitor Reviews and Benchmarking 

Gathering business intelligence on what your competitors are doing can help you to stay a step ahead. Competitive benchmarking is also a fantastic opportunity to understand what works for your rival and what doesn’t.

Also, you can use the intel to see what tools, goals, and platforms your competition is currently using and where they are planning to shift to in the future.

That way, you can improvise on standard practice in your industry to satisfy more ideal customers, gain new and repeat business, and stay competitive.

So use your digital metrics audit to:

  • Conduct a digital review of your top competitors for practical benchmarking
  • Conduct thorough reviews of your competitors’ digital assets and performance
  • Benchmark your USP and call-to-actions with your top competitors
  • Find out their future plans and whether that is a way you would like to go
  • Discover how much info your competition might also have on your business to stay ahead

7. Digital Marketing Team

It is easy to miss this step when conducting a quick digital marketing audit for your digital brand. But whether your company has a knowledgeable in-house digital marketeering team is crucial to sustaining long-term digital success.

You might want to team up with a digital marketing consulting agency to help you build the talent pool needed to sustain new-found online marketing success.

Ask yourself if:

  • You have the right set of skills in your digital marketing team to conduct a thorough digital audit and derive accurate conclusions?
  • Your team well-skilled to use the right metrics and recommend resourceful and actionable improvements?
  • You need to train new talent, hire an expert employee or hire a digital marketing consultant?

8. Vendor/Partner/Digital Marketing Agency Review

By hiring a digital auditing partner, you are paying for services. And you want to see returns on your investment (ROI). So how thorough and results-driven a vendor performs an audit is important.

It is not uncommon for some digital marketing companies to claim a “campaign” based digital marketing audit is good enough. However in a holistic digital marketing audit, the campaigns are just one of eight components of an exhaustive review.

A thoroughly performed Digital Marketing Audit that draws the right conclusions can boost your growth. Therefore, a choice of the right partner for your firm is of utmost importance.

Your Online Marketing Audit: Summation/Conclusion 

Getting a digital marketing audit report will help you to pinpoint what works and what does not for your business. The immediate benefit you get is, you can eliminate cash-holes and invest in a strategy that works for you. In the long-term, you will increase your online traffic, engagement, visibility, conversions, and sales.

So you can save costs as you switch to the right means to boost your growth.

Any other technique you use to create a comprehensive digital audit report that works? We invite you to share your hacks in the comments.

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