A digital marketing audit is a snapshot of your current marketing activity. It’s an opportunity to review what you’re doing digitally, whether you’ve got the right marketing mix, and what could be improved.
You might conduct a digital marketing audit when you’re new in post, launching a new product, reviewing your pricing, in response to competitor activity, or as an annual good practice.
But where do you start? And what do you need to do? Here are our six steps to conducting a full digital marketing audit in your department.
Step 1 - Plan your audit
A digital marketing audit is a substantial piece of work, and the findings will inform your digital marketing activities going forward, so you need to plan it properly.
Here are some questions to consider:
What is the purpose of the digital marketing audit?
Think about what you hope to get out of the audit. Maybe you want to benchmark your performance against competitors? Or spot opportunities to improve or expand your activities. Knowing what you want to achieve will help focus your efforts, time and budget.
What’s the scope of the digital marketing audit?
Do you want to review everything - website, SEO, ads, email, content etc. Or will you focus in on one particular element of your digital marketing mix, for a deep dive into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
Who’ll conduct the audit?
You could appoint someone in your team to do the audit or you could outsource it to an external agency. There are pros and cons to both. Appointing someone external and impartial can deliver more in-depth insights. But there is obviously a cost associated with that.
What information / individuals will you need access to?
A digital marketing audit will look at people, processes, technology, performance and more. So your auditor will need access to systems, staff and information. Think about who and what they’ll need access to and organise this in advance.
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Step 2 - Lay firm foundations
Step two is all about your current strategic objectives and tactical activities - so you can assess whether they still work for where you want to be.
Refresh your memory
The first thing to do is dust off your marketing strategy document and refresh your memory. It’s easy to forget the fine details when you’re caught up in day-to-day operations. Check whether your goals and tactics still tally with organisational objectives - if not, that’s something you’ll need to review. Don’t forget to review your budget too...
List your products and services
Next, make a list of all of your products/services, along with information like their target audience, price strategy, promotional tactics, competitors and USPs.
Describe your channels
Now it’s time to look at your channels. What digital marketing channels do you currently use and why? How does each channel contribute to your overarching goals? How do you track and measure that contribution?
Review your personas
Your personas might have worked when you wrote them. But are they still fit for purpose? Do you have any new data that might reshape them - such as different buyer demographics? Have yany changes to your products or services meant they’ll appeal to different audiences now?
If you want to find out more about buyer personas and how you can effectively audit them, check out our episode of The Big Bright Podcast: How to Create a buyer persona that informs your content strategy.
Check your messaging
Once you’ve done all of the above, you can look at your messaging. Does it still describe your USPs? Is it right for the personas? (You may want to do this with a professional copywriter or marketing consultant as it is a hefty piece of work in its own right).
Step 3 - Assess and optimise performance
Step three is your opportunity to assess and optimise the performance of your digital marketing channels. It’s arguably the most time-consuming and technical part of the digital marketing audit.
Your exact steps will depend on which elements of your marketing mix you’ve chosen to audit. The information below is intended as guidance, to help you understand what you might like to explore, but isn’t comprehensive (that would be a MUCH longer article…)
Assessing your website performance is likely to form the largest part of your digital marketing audit. If your website is huge, pick your ten best and worst performing pages, to prioritise your time.
There will be lots of data available to you from analytics platforms. You should look for information about visitor acquisition and their journey through your site - such as visit duration, bounce rate, conversion rates and pages visited. Benchmarking and tracking these can help identify problems on your site that you need to address.
Don’t forget one of the easiest ways to assess your website is to use it.
Google your business and see how you appear in search results. What’s your position? Are there site links below your homepage? Do your pages have meaningful meta descriptions that invite click-through? Have you claimed your Google My Business listing?
Next, go onto the page and perform your own assessment of design and user experience. Is the structure easy to navigate? Is the copy easy to read? Is it visually appealing? Does it work on mobile? Can you perform your top tasks? Are there clear calls-to-action on each page?
SEO - on-page, off-page, technical
SEO is another huge part of any digital marketing audit. SEO falls into three main categories:
- On-page - Optimising the on-page content to make it easier for search engines to understand and rank - for example, keyword identification and placement
- Technical - This is about non-content aspects of your site, such as load speed, mobile friendliness and site architecture
- Off-page - This is what you do to drive traffic to your site from elsewhere - such as having a backlink strategy, digital outreach activities and guest posting
You can also look at your website’s overall performance in the market by reviewing your domain authority and rankings for your targeted keywords, using tools like AHRefs and Moz. Improving your domain authority using tactics like link-building campaigns will help your content go further on search.
There’s so much to explore here that we can’t include it all. Take a look at this comprehensive guide from Reliable Soft for information on how to perform an SEO audit of your website.
If social media is part of your audit, you’ll have lots of in-platform analytic tools at your disposal.
One of the easiest ways to assess your social media performance is to identify competitor organisations - for example, by size, sector or location - and see how they’re performing in terms of followers, engagement etc. You can then benchmark your performance against theirs and aim for growth if appropriate.
Next, turn your attention to your own platforms. Firstly, is all of the information correct - the About info, web address, contact methods? Are your header and cover images optimised to appeal to your audience and appropriate to your current messaging and campaigns?
Next, look at which platforms and content perform best. If you aren’t already, record monthly metrics to capture your best performing content in terms of:
- Platform and when posted
- Media (eg text, video, image)
- Content (eg customer story, product information)
Consider whether you’re using the right mix of social media for your audience. Is it worth experimenting with new channels? All of this can help you decide how to prioritise your social media marketing efforts in future.
Paid ads / SEM
If you use paid advertising, on search or social, review the efficacy of your ad strategy, content and placement. Record everywhere you advertise and record metrics such as:
Similar to your social media audit, look at which ad content and formats perform best, so you can optimise future spend. Paid ad campaigns need regular refreshing to avoid audience fatigue, but that can also be a great way to test what messages and visuals your audience respond best to.
- your demographic targeting is still fit-for-purpose for your personas
- you’re targeting the best keywords
- you’re using the right platforms
- new tech opportunities, such as automated ad placement and optimisation, could help
There’s lots to consider in an email audit. You should review analytics from your CRM or mailing platform to understand how individual emails are performing - for example, open rate, click-through-rate, bounced emails. You may be able to get actionable insights from this. For example, poor open rate may indicate your subject line isn’t optimised and you need to do A/B testing in future.
You should also review your audience segmentation to make sure your messages are targeted and reaching the right people. Personalisation can really help with your KPIs.
Check technical aspects of your email activity too, such as:
- List hygiene - make sure your subscribers are active and want to be on your list
- Sender details - does it look legitimate and trustworthy? Do you go straight to spam?
- Image size - Images make your emails more engaging - but do they load in a reasonable time?
Also think about subscriber acquisition and unsubscribe processes:
- How can people sign up to your email list?
- Where do you promote it and how do you make it irresistible?
- Are you observing GDPR best practice?
Collect and assess information about why people unsubscribe - for example, do you email too frequently? Is your content irrelevant to them?
If you're interested to find out more about email marketing, check out the extraordinary email campaign that On the Beach ran during the pandemic along with tips on how to increase your email open rate.
If content marketing is part of your strategy, you should assess the state of your content for each stage of the customer journey - often categorised as awareness, consideration, decision, and customer retention.
Have you got all the bases covered?
- How do you distribute your content? How’s that working?
- Is your content likely to appeal to your target audience in terms of topic and media?
- How is your content performing? What’s working and what’s not?
- Can you update and reuse popular content?
- Can you improve, combine or retire underperforming pieces?
- Do you have an effective funnel in place to capture and nurture leads?
- What topics are competitors covering?
Use this information to create a plan for high-performing content in the future.
You may also want to include brand mentions in your digital marketing audit.
What are people saying about you online? Look at your ranking on third-party sites like TrustPilot or Amazon. Is there anything you need to respond to?
If you have social listening processes and tools set up, see what people are saying about you on social media. Assess the sentiment - is it positive, negative or neutral. Do you want to set goals around that?
Step 4 - Examine internal factors
Congratulations. You’ve completed step three. That’s the really hard stuff done. Now you need to look inwards and assess the holy trinity of PPT - people, processes and technology.
Consider the following questions.
- Do you have the right mix of staff and skills for your strategic objectives?
- Do any staff need to be upskilled to move forward in their roles?
- Does your team collaborate effectively? How do you manage projects? How do you communicate?
- Could you outsource any specialist work, to deliver it faster and to a higher standard?
- What processes do your team currently use? And how are they performing?
- Are processes designed for the purpose or sticking-plaster solutions that cause problems?
- Which processes cause the greatest frustrations or delays?
- Could any manual processes be automated, delegated, reassigned or outsourced?
- Are you paying for any technology or tools that you no longer need? Consider cancelling them.
- Are you under-utilising any technology due to poor implementation or user adoption? Look at how to improve use, for example, through training
- Are there tools that you could and should be considering - such as Digital Asset Management software? Do some research and demos.
- Can you integrate any of your apps to streamline and automate processes?
Step 5 - Evaluate and action
Step five is about assessing what you’ve uncovered and identifying actionable insights. It’s about thinking through what’s working and what’s not. And deciding what action you can take to have the highest impact on your deliverables.
You’ll likely come up with a long list of possible improvements, so you’ll need to prioritise the most impactful actions to take. Apply the priority matrix to help work out a plan.
Don’t forget to establish ways to measure impact - including what you’ll measure and how long for. You need to know if your changes have improved things. This might mean an agile test-and-learn approach to trialling a new social media platform, or a longer-term assessment of content marketing ROI.
Step 6 - Rinse and repeat
Step six is to do it all again. Marketing audits aren’t a one-off. The landscape is constantly changing and if your strategy stays still, so will your revenue and growth.
Think about how frequently you’ll repeat this exercise. Would an annual audit work for you? Perhaps you’d prefer to make it a rolling process, where you audit specific elements of your marketing mix every few months.
Whichever you choose, make sure it’s realistic and manageable alongside your business-as-usual activities.
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