Audit—not a word that conjures up a warm and fuzzy feeling for most of us. But in the world of digital, an audit is surprisingly more fun than it sounds—our pandas promise it.
A digital audit is a study of your brand’s digital capabilities. It’s designed to help you understand where your digital strategy is ahead of the curve and where it’s lagging behind. It can also provide an expert view that is independent of your team and stakeholders, delivering important insights quickly and helping you prioritize critical issues.
A digital strategy can be examined from any or all of the following angles:
- Acquisition—how you are attracting your audiences
- Retention—how well you’re creating customer loyalty
- User experience—the ease by which your customers can find what they need on your website and apps
- Web analytics—the methods you use to track the results of your digital campaigns
- Marketing technology—the tools you use to do all the above
From SEO and content marketing to paid search and display advertising, there are many tactics for driving traffic and conversions. A digital audit of these tactics is the first step to improving upon them. The first question to ask: are your tactics are consistent with your business objectives? If your goal is to draw as much attention to your site and brand as possible, for example, your paid search campaign will look different than one designed to convert targeted leads. Casting a wide net with broad search terms may mean your ad is more visible, but it may also mean you’re spending money on ad campaigns that have little to no relevancy to the people viewing them. An audit can reveal if your digital goals and tactics align, whether you’re leveraging analytics and what changes need to be made to improve your acquisition return on investment (ROI).
You’ve grown your audience—but how good are you at keeping them around? An audit of your retention strategies looks at the digital channels used to nurture your relationships with customers, including:
- Email communications: Is your email service provider the right tool for you? Can your audience be segmented differently to increase personalization? Are you leveraging automation and trigger emails? How frequently do you communicate with your audience?
- Shopping cart: How can the experience on your site be improved to decrease cart abandonment? Are you using retargeting ads to bring customers back to your site?
- Blog: Is it time for a keyword refresh and additional links to relevant articles or pages on your site? Are your posts reaching your target market or getting lost in the shuffle?
- Social media: The social landscape changes on a dime. Are you successfully engaging influencers and your audience? Are there new social networks worthy of exploring? Do your profiles need updating?
A user experience audit is a deep dive into a website and/or mobile application that seeks to answer a relatively simple question: are people able to do what you want them to do? A website assessment will look at:
- Navigation: Are the terms you use intuitive? Is the navigation consistent from page to page? Is there an accurate breadcrumb trail, so users always know where they are and how to get back to where they were? Is the site directory accurate?
- Accessibility of information: Is important content easy to find or buried on the page/within the site? Is content optimized for scanability?
- Function: Are there any broken links that might be hindering SEO or frustrating users? Do the forms and/or cart work well, or are they harming the overall experience?
Ultimately, a user experience audit should identify areas that are causing grief for visitors and result in a plan for increasing conversions.
Sometimes you just can’t trust what the reports are telling you—digital analytics are only as useful as they are accurate. A thorough audit of your data intelligence will:
- Determine if the tools you are using are the right ones for your business
- Assess whether your internal or external resources are using these tools to their fullest or leaving value behind
- Ensure that site search keywords, e-commerce, social media and display ads, among other assets, are being measured
- Review administrative settings and ensure best practices are implemented
- Identify issues with tracking codes (a unique ID that corresponds to specific emails, links, or campaigns) and skewed or incomplete data
- Recommend improvements to dashboard layouts, summaries and reports
- Suggest different ways to report and share data internally
- Provide additional recommendations to enhance tracking and areas for future investigation or development
Email services providers, analytics software, content management systems, CRM tools, hosting platforms, shopping cart technology, booking engines and form tools—these are all important aspects of your digital strategy, as well as areas where that strategy can go off the rails.
You may have worked previously with an agency that left you high and dry with a proprietary tool, and now you’re struggling to figure out your next steps. Maybe your ROI is flat lining due to a software issue that has yet to be discovered. Or perhaps you are spending too much time and money fighting a CMS that is in need of a replacement. A thorough digital audit of your technology tools and systems is essential if you want to make sure you aren’t wasting effort and money, or losing data. Digital technology should be improving your business outcomes, not hampering them.