You may have heard of an accountant performing an audit to inspect an organization’s financial accounts… Now apply that process to marketing. When we do an audit, we also perform an inspection of an organization, brand, or company’s accounts – just not financial. From combing through social media presence to analyzing each webpage by function, traffic, CTR, appearance, and more; an audit is an essential baseline to forming a marketing strategy.
In short, an audit for marketing purposes is: a detailed report analyzing a brand’s digital presence, resulting in actionable insights for implementation.
Do not let this unfamiliar term intimidate you. With a simple process and attention to detail, you too can take inventory of your digital presence and assets through auditing.
1. PURPOSE: Develop goals and objectives
An audit analyzes your current situation, but you need to have a goal in mind before you start the tedious process. If not, you will find yourself overwhelmed with a lot of content to sort through and analyze, without any relevant takeaways.
Goal-setting is an important first step in any given marketing strategy, but especially crucial for managing your expectations of an audit. Clarifying what you want to achieve will lead you to identify and prioritize what areas of your digital presence need improvement.
Improving ROI is an example of a goal for a website audit. An objective of this goal might be to improve conversion rates on your e-commerce website. However, before you can achieve this, you need to know where your conversion rate currently stands; That’s where an audit comes in.
2. INVENTORY: Take stock of your accounts
Parallel to what an auditor might do for a financial audit, a great next step is to organize a checklist according to the stock of digital assets you are set to review. This means identifying every social media account, website, google my business listing, third-party referral sites, and wherever else your audience would potentially interact with your brand.
Make sure you have access to these accounts, organize them on a spreadsheet or running list, and get to work on sorting through one by one.
3. FINDINGS: Time to get nit-picky
Now for the real fun part! Here is your chance to be as critical as you can. Not every finding should be acted upon but it is important to identify all potential weaknesses you can find at this stage.
Organize your thoughts by creating a framework for every account. This could be a mini SWOT analysis for each page on your website or social media page. It could also look like a spreadsheet with categories to fill in engagement metrics, sentiment analysis, or brand consistency.
Experiment with a process that works for you and repeat that process by combing through accounts and reporting your findings.
4. IMPLEMENTATION: Apply your findings to your goals
After the meticulous analysis stage is over, you can now turn your attention to the big picture. For every finding you reported, strategize what implementation needs to take place. This could be as simple as “maintain as is” or “increase font size on x page,” but could also include longer-term suggestions like a webpage upfit or redesign.
When forming your implementation proposals, keep in mind the goals you laid out in the early stages. Each of your suggestions should be relevant to the goals you or your organization have set.
5. RATIONALE: Defend your implementations
After suggesting potential implementations, the next phase is the rationale. The fact of the matter is, when you report a need for improvement to the brand, you are asking them to not only trust your analysis, but also allocate the time, money, and resources to act on your implementations.
Supporting your set of findings and proposals with evidence-based explanations will make your audit presentation more believable and more actionable. It is not enough to say “I think we should link the services page to the case studies page.” Instead, with confidence, “To optimize on the 97% traffic on the services page, I suggest redirecting users to click-through to the less visited case studies page to increase its traffic by x %, improve user navigation, and align users with relevant content, which ultimately increases the likelihood of customer acquisition.”
Now that you’ve completed the 5 stages of goal-setting, inventory, findings, implementations, and rationale; all that is left is producing your deliverable. This is going to look different for every brand: some organizations may prefer a thorough spreadsheet organizing each finding, implementation, and rationale; while others may want a visual presentation highlighting only the immediate action items. Align your deliverable with the organization at hand, insert the content of your audit, and present your work product confidently with actionable next steps.