Digital marketing audits analyze and optimize an agency’s online efforts, taking stock of the approaches that deliver strategic results and shelving the tactics that fall short. With a new calendar year underway, it’s a perfect time for a digital marketing audit. But how do you start a digital marketing audit, where do you look for performance metrics, and how do you know you’ve executed this important task to completion?
This blog covers the basics of a digital marketing audit, discusses where to find and evaluate the essential metrics, and explains how an audit can take your marketing from alright to awesome.
What is a digital marketing audit?
A digital marketing audit is a holistic review of your online advertising and marketing efforts. An effective digital marketing audit looks at how your campaigns are set up and what results they’re producing, with the end goal of uncovering opportunities to optimize your strategy.
One thing that can make an annual digital marketing audit easier is having a consistent approach to your dashboards and reports during the year. Our marketing report template gallery has customizable reporting frameworks that you can use for free.
Performing a digital marketing audit
Instead of looking at all your online initiatives as a whole, a digital marketing audit is best executed by breaking down your strategy into tactics connected with KPIs.
It’s important to note that optimizing your marketing by channels can result in a myopic perspective, so it’s important to keep your goals in mind during a digital marketing audit. The four most common digital marketing strategies included in an audit are:
- Social media marketing
- PPC advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Web design
Approach your digital marketing audit with performance goals in mind. This ensures that you gather the correct data and measure the impact of your tactics against their desired effects and outcomes. If your digital marketing audit is too channel-bound, you may be judging effectiveness by the platform’s desired results and not your own.
When you audit these main areas, you can pinpoint the results of existing efforts and discover ways to improve them. Let’s cover how to approach an audit of the specific digital marketing strategies listed above.
Social media marketing audit
The main goal of social media is to generate traffic and interest. While the lead generation potential of social media can be important, it’s critical that KPIs associated with direct response campaigns, like PPC, aren’t thrown in with the brand awareness bent of social media.
It’s also critical to separate vanity metrics from strategically meaningful analytics. Click through rates and impressions are solid ways to measure brand awareness and the performance of your social media strategy, whereas follower counts and likes are not directly attributable to effectiveness.
To begin your social media marketing audit, create a dedicated spreadsheet to collect and segment your existing strategy by the platforms and KPIs you’re analyzing. Create tabs for each social media site you’re active on, with hotlinks to the sites so you, or your clients, can easily access the accounts.
The next step is to analyze all your posts on each platform within the desired timeframe for brand consistency and engagement.
- Are you using the proper color palettes, fonts, and logos?
- Is the tone of voice balanced and on-brand?
- Which posts, topics, or memes took off, and equally important, which ones tanked?
Create a simple evaluation protocol for effectiveness, like Bad/OK/Great, to quantify your efforts, and then strategize ways to double down on what worked and ditch what didn’t.
The final step is to provide a summary of your findings so your team, or clients, have a digestible reduction of the audit. Be sure to include information on how you plan to incorporate your audit findings into your strategy.
The goal of pay-per-click advertising is to generate clicks and conversions. So the main metrics you’ll want to review during your audit are click through rate and conversion rate. If clicks are higher than conversions, you may have to evaluate the effectiveness of your landing pages. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do your landing pages match user search intent?
- Are the title tags and descriptions on-brand and focused?
- Are your landing pages centered around a compelling CTA?
- Are the landing pages functioning properly on both mobile and desktop?
- Are your landing pages visually appealing?
Depending on your answers, these evaluative questions can uncover ways to optimize your landing pages and PPC campaigns.
Again, place your findings into a spreadsheet and apply evaluative protocols to separate the winners from the losers. Cap off your review with a summary of your findings and outline your suggestions for optimization.
If you’re looking for a free customizable report template for PPC, check out our Google Ads Report Template.
The goal of SEO is to drive search traffic to your website via keywords. Using a tool like Google Analytics or Search Console can make this task a breeze. However, other platforms, like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs, can help you gather this info as well.
If you see incoming traffic coming to your site, that’s good. If not, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your site, and all the desired landing pages, mobile-friendly?
- Are you using HTTPS on your site?
- Are your images compressed and tagged properly?
- Have you earned any backlinks from other websites?
- Is your content optimized for keywords you can rank for?
- Is it possible to incorporate important keywords into paid and organic campaigns?
When you answer all these questions, you’ll have a much clearer picture of ways you can address the shortcomings and optimize your SEO strategy. While you may need support to address technical SEO issues, a majority of your SEO improvements can be effectuated by having a consistent keyword strategy and approach to your digital marketing efforts.
Consolidate your findings into your digital marketing audit spreadsheet, apply your evaluative protocols, provide a summary of your findings, and end the audit with an overview of how you’ll address the shortcomings.
For more information on which SEO metrics are important to track, listen to “In Search of SEO Metrics That Matter” on the NinjaCat podcast.
Web design audit
Since your website is where all your traffic and leads ultimately end up, web design is a critical part of your digital marketing. Examining your website is a critical component of an effective digital marketing audit.
Start by isolating the pages on your site generating the highest traffic, paying close attention to bounce rates and conversion goals. If you discover a high bounce rate or anomalies on high-traffic pages, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your page-load speed less than three seconds?
- Are you using responsive design?
- Do users have a difficult time navigating your site?
- Is your site visually appealing?
- Is your copy tight and focused on keywords?
High-quality web design is the lynchpin in your digital marketing strategy, which makes it critical in your audit. A fair amount of improvements to your web design will require the help of a qualified designer, but things like copywriting and keyword research can be done in-house, bringing the optimization window into acceptable timeframes.
As with the previous steps, throw the findings from your web design audit into your spreadsheet. However, unlike the other audit segments, the evaluative protocols you should use for fixes to your web design should be segmented by low/medium/high priority. This allows you to focus on addressing the easy fixes internally while ensuring the important issues get the technical support they need.
Reporting on your digital marketing audit
After you’ve gone through all the aspects of your digital marketing audit, evaluated the gaps, ascertained your performance levels, and prioritized the issues, you are still left with the task of taking all this data, creating a report for stakeholders, and turning the analytics into actionable insights. Our Executive Summary Report template provides a free and customizable framework to package your digital marketing audit findings.
How often should you conduct a digital marketing audit?
Depending on your level of output and engagement, you should only have to conduct a digital marketing audit yearly, maybe quarterly. However, since digital marketing provides an abundance of real-time data points and makes switching tactics so easy, most marketers feel like they have to pivot and adjust their strategy daily, if not hourly.
In reality, marketers and clients can grow tired of their ads well before their target audience is properly exposed to the messaging. If you’re constantly switching out creative in your campaigns, trying out new taglines, adjusting your keyword strategy, and generally obsessed with how your marketing strategy is performing, you may curtail its chances of success.
A digital marketing audit, coupled with consistent reporting, can help define how long your campaigns are effective and help you better manage and maximize your marketing budget. A thorough digital marketing audit can reveal plenty of blindspots that will keep your team busy and help you prioritize optimizations so you can keep strategically focused on delivering results.