What is Digital Marketing?
Before we explore the importance of a digital marketing audit it is sensible to firstly explore what 'digital marketing' actually is. That way you'll not only identify how your brand is doing right now but you will also see (through areas of improvement) where it could potentially be in the future.
Whether you decide to use our services or go it alone this article aims to show you exactly how to put your digital marketing under the microscope (as part of your digital marketing audit) - only then can you see a much bigger picture of possible opportunities.
Digital marketing is an integral part of your brand's inbound online marketing strategy and encompasses its visibility, viability, relevancy and growth. The key elements of your digital marketing are your:
When Was Your Last Digital Marketing Audit?
Routine digital marketing audits are the ideal way to see whatâs working and what is not in your general marketing efforts. Do you want to know how your existing marketing campaigns are performing and to identify opportunities for growth and improvement? Of course you do. A digital marketing audit is quite simply one of the best ways to do that.
Choosing an agency to do your digital marketing audit for you means that you'll benefit from an expert team can run an in-depth check of your current activity; offering tips and pointers to help you improve performance across your website content, Google Ads, social media and more.
If your digital marketing is falling short, an agency will identify various ways to ramp it up a level or 10. So, let's have a look at how to get your brand looking it's best and how to get your ROI (return on investment) bringing awesome results.
Digital Marketing Audit - Your How-To Guide
Ok, your digital marketing audit should include every digital marketing channel that your company is active on. That includes all of your content performance and all of your paid performance. Remember to look at owned assets, competitor performance and channel-specific trends too. Gathering as full a picture as possible is essential.
You need to keep focused on areas which can potentially be optimised. That is a key part of your digital marketing audit strategy. When conducting a routine digital marketing audit you will need to consider the following:
- TIME...To assess your digital marketing efforts youâll need time and lots of it! Your digital marketing audit can't be rushed - not if you're going to do it properly. Make no mistake, your digital marketing audit is going to be a lengthy process and when done thoroughly it will take many hours to complete. Some agencies can actually take around 2 weeks to complete digital marketing audits.
- Of course you could decide to divide the work among multiple people and/or agencies. If that's the way you want to go it can help to follow a collaborative document that everyone involved can easily refer to. This may include Google Slides or Google Docs. These will allow all parties to see each otherâs audit work as it evolves - paving the way for a more organised digital marketing strategy.
- PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE... It's essential to decide how far back that you want to go with your digital marketing audit. 12 months is a typical timescale when exploring your digital strategy. Some companies choose to align their digital marketing audit with the financial year or to assign it to a specific date in their calendar - raising a reminder when the next annual digital audit is due. Remember consistency is crucial; not only when creating content etc but when running regular checks also. If you don't regularly check your digital marketing how can you identify trends? What's more, how can you identify improvements?
- STORAGE...You'll need somewhere to securely save file assets i.e. screenshots, data and exports. Why not consider Google Drive, Dropbox or Box? Cloud-based storage is undoubtedly the way to go; it's much better than storing locally especially if various parties are involved in your digital marketing audit.
- TOOLS...There are various tools out there, designed to help your digital marketing audit along. Digital marketing tools aren't a must but they can certainly help to automate the process - reducing your auditing time.
OK, Let's Break Things Down...
...starting with your website
Right, roll up your sleeves and prepare to log in to Google Analytics - it's one of the best places to start. As we've mentioned, taking an overview of the past 12 months is an ideal period to delve in to. Beginning with top-level traffic trends is an ideal way to kick off your digital marketing strategy.
Here are some key questions to guide you through your Google Analytics investigations:
Q1. How are your daily, weekly and monthly trends doing i.e. what do the peaks and troughs look like? Take a look at any patterns which may emerge.
Q2. Are your event tracking and goals set up? If not it is crucial that you get that done. Once in place, take a look at if your conversions are up or down - this will allow you to see if your digital marketing efforts are indeed paying off.
Q3. Do you know which pages are being viewed the most? Are these constant or do they vary?
Q4. What are your highest sources of traffic? Ask yourself, have these changed and if so why might that be?
Q5. Can you identify your main sources of traffic when it comes to conversions? Once again, ask yourself have these trends changed over time and when? Are they seasonal perhaps? Not only seasonal holiday but events too such as Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and Halloween may have an influence.
Q6. What is happening with your bounce rate? Is it going up or down? If shoppers aren't completing their path-to-purchase journey take a look at where they are dropping off. It may be that the pathway is too long or complicated.
Q7. How much time are people spending on your site - less or more? How can you add value to keep them there - give them a reason too stay. Videos, how-to guides and offers are a great starter for ten.
Q8. If you have an e-commerce site, are you tracking return visitors?
Once you've answered these questions it's time to dig even more deeply. How? Well, you now need to divide traffic by source, device, and country. You can then use behaviour flow to map typical journeys through your website.
The more you learn more about site visitors the more you can start to identify what changes need to be made and where you can optimise - reaping even greater returns from your digital marketing efforts.
Let's look at a specific example. You may find that your Conversion Rate is going down but your traffic is actually increasing. Why does that happen? Sadly this may be an indication that although the website is attracting an audience it may be the wrong type of audience. Alternatively, it may show that the type of people onsite are correct but your products or services are not being communicated to their full potential.
Like most website owners you probably believe that you need more website traffic. Who wouldn't? You'd be right in many ways, more traffic is beneficial however there may be other factors which are a higher priority for you. Which ones you ask? Well, reducing bounce rate or increasing Conversion Rate are two main factors to begin with. Your agency will have the expertise to explain how and where to begin.
User Experience - a closer look...
Examining your UX or 'User Experience' as it is also known is an essential part of your digital marketing audit; especially when it comes to your conversion rates.
Conducting a qualitative analysis is a good way to explore this area. Speaking to target users directly and asking them what they think of the website is a useful first step. Why not contact some of your customers or simply reach out to non-customers who fit your target demographic? All you need to do is to gather their thoughts - simple. Incentivising them with perhaps a gift card or free gift are beneficial carrots to dangle.
Spend some time when talking with users. If you can watch them use your site then that's even better. By asking them to âthink out loudâ you'll get invaluable qualitative insights. What's more, you could also show them competitor sites then ask them to rank which ones they like best and why.
You may want to consider website optimisation tools as part of your digital marketing strategy. Some of the most popular choices are: Hotjar, Crazy Egg and Mouseflow. Tools such as these will enable you to see a wealth of information - adding real value to your digital marketing audit. Delving into info such as click and scroll heatmaps will help you to identifying potential UX (user experience) issues or potential areas for improvement. In addition, these tools tend to open the way for session recording. Being able to rewind and replay previous visits means you can see exactly what users did and didnât click.
By carrying out these stages you'll get the invaluable chance to piece together your typical userâs actual onsite experience. So, if you haven't already installed any digital marketing audit optimisation tools we recommend that you give them serious consideration.
Throw in a branding audit to your digital marketing strategy
Enrich your digital marketing efforts even further by auditing your brand too. Come on it's time to get a full picture of your marketing efforts; so now's not the time to cut corners. To do this you will need to compare your brand to competitors in your market.
Ok, your overall digital marketing audit will help form a picture of how your brand is performing. But that is just part of it. A key question to ask is, 'how do your site visitors perceive your brand?' As we've mentioned earlier, speaking to your customers is one of the simplest ways to answer this. You may want to consider sending polls or surveys to your customers - gathering invaluable data as an essential part of your digital marketing audit.
Adding SEO auditing to your digital marketing audit means you will gain yet another insight into your digital marketing efforts. So, yes you've guessed it, this is where your content marketing comes into play.
As you are probably aware, creating high-quality, valuable content is one of the best investments you can make when increasing your organic search traffic. It's integral to your digital marketing plan and it should feature in your routine digital marketing audit.
OK where do you start with your SEO audit? Well, firstly you will need to explore all the existing content on your website. What's more, you will also need to ensure all of your pages are indexable by relevant search engines. If you're not too sure how to do that there are various handy tools out there.
Of course you may find it easier to ask for an agency's help. Try and pick a tool which identifies SEO on-page issues; helping to view your digital landscape even more closely.
Local Search Audit
No digital marketing audit would be complete without a 'local search audit' and this all starts with, 'Google My Business'. It is important to note that the advantages of 'Google My Business' (GMB) really depends on which type industry you're in. GMB is the go-to place when managing local search optimisation and includes essential company info such as reviews, contact information, locations, opening hours, photos and posts. You may not be aware but i
t now also includes direct messaging.
Your reviews and star ratings are like gold dust especially if you are a local business. As part of your audit it's important to track your star ratings; paying specific attention to how they are tracking over time. You may not want to hear this but we'll say it anyway. If your business is getting multiple 1-star reviews it is a big warning sign of failings with products, services or poor customer experience.
Having said that, before you do anything drastic take some time to check local competitor reviews and star ratings too - see how they're doing and if any trends arise. You may not be the only ones struggling with certain issues or finding it tricky to push certain services/products.
On-Page SEO Audit
Take your digital marketing audit even further as you ensure your on-page SEO is on point.
Let's look at what on-page SEO actually consists of. Basically it is made up of all the structural SEO aspects on the website such as word count, presence of a sitemap, robots.txt, meta description, titles tags, heading tags, image alt tags and structured data. Sounds like lots of areas to check?
There is, however there's good news; these website areas are actually quick and easy to check over. Better still, when it comes to fixing and amends in this area, changes can be made with just a few clicks.
Key on-site SEO aspects to investigate are:
- Keyword density & consistency
- Word count
- XML sitemap
- Meta descriptions
- Title tags
- H1 & all header tags
- Image alt tags
Check your site speed
Google decided to focus on mobile indexing a few years ago; so it's not surprising that load speed has become an increasingly important ranking signal ever since. Testing your website load performance is most easily done by diving it down into three key areas which are: 1. the response time of the websiteâs server, 2. load time of page content and 3. load time of page scripts. It is important to be aware that if your web server response time isn't greater (note - you're aiming for under 0.1 seconds) then your first serious consideration should be to move to a better hosting provider.Boost It's true, we all like to save money, however it's false economy to save a little money on monthly hosting costs. By cutting costs you will inevitably experience slow server response times. We think that you will agree, itâs not worth risking search rankings.
Social Media Audit
OK, finally no digital marketing audit would be complete without a 'social media audit'. There are three main areas to consider here which are: organic, paid and earned performance.
Organic (Non-Paid) Content
Let's take a closer look at the area everyone has in common, 'organic content'. When it comes to organic (non-paid) content, tracking the Organic Reach Rate (ORR) over a period of time is definitely the way to go. This will help to indicate how many people actually saw your content organically as opposed to the number of fans, followers or indeed paid traffic. Remember that ORR is a cross-channel metric, that means you can actually benchmark content performance channel vs channel.
Your digital marketing efforts will never be finished!
No matter how great it looks your website will never be finished. What's more, no matter how happy you are with your digital marketing and social media presence, changes will always be required. That's the way it is. Digital advancements, changes in industry, Google developments, spending patterns, demographics...there is an extensive list of reason your website and digital media channels should never stand still.
Regular digital marketing audits are a routine process you should factor in if you want to avoid being left behind. Auditing with no expert assistance is possible if you have the time, tools, know-how and patience. Remember that keeping an unbiased eye it critical too if you are to gain an objective view and identify all possible areas of improvement. Of course if you don't have copious amounts of time on your hands and don't happen to have invested in the latest tools it's a sensible idea to choose an agency that does.
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