Digital marketing now accounts for over 50% of marketing spending,according to a 2021 report from the American Marketing Association, Deloitte and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Almost every business is investing in digital marketing, but how do you know if it is working? How can you be sure that your investment is generating a positive return on investment?
One of the best ways is to conduct a digital marketing audit. The purpose of the audit is to step back, evaluate your efforts, evaluate the landscape, assess your competitors and build a plan to move forward.
The goal of the audit is to understand your performance and the changes you can make to accelerate your success. Often, it is helpful to get an outside perspective that is unbiased and has additional perspective and expertise.
Regardless of whether you conduct your audit internally or with external help, there are 10 steps to follow.
1. Look At The Entire Landscape
Start by looking at the entire digital marketing landscape. While you may be participating on a few channels, every business has blind spots or areas that it hasn’t thought about yet. Look at the entire landscape to assess where your strengths and opportunities are.
2. Review Your Analytics And Performance
The starting point for an audit is always data. Data provides the clearest, most unbiased view of performance. Businesses often believe that their digital marketing is providing results that it isn’t.
For example, a business recently told me that its Facebook page was vital for building awareness; however, when I looked at the data, I found that it was reaching very few people. Another business told me it used LinkedIn to promote events, but website analytics showed that LinkedIn sent under 1% of the traffic to their events pages.
Looking at the data and analyzing it is a good starting point for understanding how your digital marketing is actually performing.
3. Compare Your Execution Against Best Practices
Once you’ve looked at the data, it is important to also conduct a qualitative analysis. Evaluate if and where you are using best practices. This applies to every aspect of your digital marketing execution. Consider your strategy, concepts, content, creative and every aspect of your execution.
Consider where you are using best practices and where you have opportunities.
4. Assess The Trends And Changes
Digital marketing is constantly changing. Be sure you are keeping up with it. Consider new trends and whether or not you are integrating them into your strategy.
For example, Instagram now has the newsfeed, Lives, Stories and Reels. Each of these provides a different opportunity to connect with customers. Evaluate your execution relative to the changes in the digital channels and how you are (or aren’t) integrating them.
5. Evaluate Your Competition
Evaluate your main competitors on digital channels. What are they doing? What is their strategy? What seems to work for them? What doesn’t work for them? What can you learn and reapply?
Looking at competitors or other industry players is a great way to get new ideas and insights. It also allows you to see how your execution really stacks up compared to others. One of the things that makes digital marketing great is that you can see what your competitors are doing. There are many tools that can show you exactly what others are doing.
Analyze and learn from your competitors.
6. Articulate (Or Re-Articulate) Your Strategy
Once you’ve evaluated your efforts, the state of the industry and your competitors, it is time to articulate (or re-articulate) your strategy. Take some time to articulate your strategy and goals as clearly as possible. The GSOT method (goal, strategy, objective and tactic) is a great approach for clearly articulating your goals and strategies and tying your tactics back to them.
7. Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses
Once you’ve determined your strategic goals, take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. For every business, there will be things it executes well and areas that it can improve. Take stock of where you are doing a great job and where you can improve.
8. Discover Your Opportunities And Threats
Next, determine the opportunities and threats for your digital execution. For example, you may have an opportunity to dominate on a channel that you aren’t active on yet. Alternatively, a threat could be that a channel is becoming more expensive or cluttered.
9. Decide What To Start, Stop And Continue
The next step is to synthesize all of the information and ideas you’ve accumulated. Determine what activities you want to start, stop and continue. Activities to start should be new areas for your business to explore or areas that you want to actively improve. The stop list should be comprised of things that aren’t working for you or no longer fit into your strategy. Finally, the “continue” activities are those that are working for you that you can continue and optimize.
It is important to take your resources into account when you’re building this list. For example, if you have the same resources, make sure your start and stop lists are relatively equal.
10. Build An Action Plan To Move Forward
Finally, build a specific action plan for how you will move forward. Determine what you’ll do when. Keep in mind that everything doesn’t have to happen all at once. There may be low-hanging fruit that you can take action on immediately. Don’t try to do too much at once.
Taking the time to conduct a detailed audit of your digital marketing can set you up for success moving forward. You’ll know what is and isn’t working and be able to take action to grow your results.