Just like a yearly physical will tell you if there are problems with your health, regular digital marketing audits will tell you if there are problems with your marketing that need to be addressed. As with your body, marketing problems in your company can often creep in silently as time goes by.
The first thing you need to do is look at your strategy. Study your goals, objectives and key performance indicators to see if
a) They still make sense
b) You’re meeting them
If you don’t have any strategy metrics, then you need to develop some now because none of your marketing will make sense except in light of what you want to accomplish. The “How are we doing?” questions only make sense in light of the “Why are we doing this?” question.
Look at the objectives you’ve set for your various outreach platforms. Let’s imagine, for example, that you’re running a Google ads campaign and one of your objectives is to generate 2,000 phone calls a month to a call center. You might think that the first thing to do would be to check your records to see if you’ve been getting those 2,000 calls, but what you’d want to do first is to see if that objective still even makes sense. For that you need to go one level up and look at your business goals.
So, let’s assume the business goal is to increase qualified leads by 25% across all marketing channels, but the goal was met in the last quarter. Then the objective no longer makes sense, and you’d need to revise the business goals and set new objectives.
They say content is king. Content is important, but it isn’t the most important thing in marketing. Even more important than content is understanding your audience well. You can develop content that isn’t even all that good, but if it speaks to your audience’s interests and pain points at that particular moment, then it’s going to get their attention.
So, relevance is king.
Most companies don’t make enough effort to understand their audiences deeply. Some companies will conduct focus groups around their products and services, and maybe even develop user personas. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give you a granular enough understanding of your users’ psychology to truly understand them. Asking a roomful of people what they think about your latest product is too small a sample size to be useful. People in a room with an interviewer will often say what they think others want to hear.
The only way to truly understand people is by observing their actions; what they’ve bought, what they click on, what they sign up for, what they download, what website links they click on and on and on. There are so many mechanisms for understanding human behavior online.
So, a good audit should be able to utilize user behavior data to reverse engineer what your audience truly cares about. One part of that should analyze your internal user behavior data across your various platforms. The second part should involve a process called perception mining, which is a form of market research that looks at what kinds of problems, pain points and motivations your audience has based on what they search for and interact with in search engines.
A good audit should be able to uncover all this information and once you have it, you can see whether the content you’re creating aligns with this data.
What the audience analysis task does is it puts you in the right position to know where and how to allocate your digital marketing dollars. The way many companies go about deciding how to spend on digital marketing is by looking at what’s popular. Just because Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are places where your competitors are doesn’t mean you should necessarily be using them.
An audit will help you refine your goals and objectives and provide more granular insights into your audience’s psychology. Once you understand what you want to achieve and who your audience is, then it isn’t hard to figure out what platforms you should be using and in what ways. If, for example, you’re trying to sell a financial product to a particular immigrant community, then it’s going to be easier to find them on Facebook than Google because you can target based on interests. In that instance you should be on Facebook. You just have to look at your users’ interests and behaviors and use that information to decide how to allocate resources.
Only after you’ve gotten the higher-level strategy audit out of the way can you focus on auditing the platforms themselves. I won’t go through all the platforms out there, but I’ll give you an example of some things you’d want to look at if you were auditing your Google pay per click campaigns.
1) Proper account structure
How you organize your ads into different ad groups and how you categorize your keywords into these ad groups is crucial to maximizing your campaigns.
2) Tracking conversions correctly
Improperly installed tracking code can lead to incorrect link click, phone call or web form signup numbers. You need to be absolutely certain that your tracking code is installed correctly and that you’re even tracking the right metrics for what you want to achieve in the first place.
3) Ad Quality Score
It’s one of the most important metrics in your ad account because it determines how many people see your ads. You want to make sure your scores are at least 6 out of 10 for all your keywords.
4) A/B Testing
Is ad copy being properly a/b tested, if at all. A/B testing is the heart and soul of progress in pay per click advertising.
5) Are your KPIs correct?
The metrics you might be using to track your progress may be the wrong ones. Lots of people will focus on clicks and conversions, but ignore other crucial metrics like search impression share. You have to know how to figure out what matters to your particular situation.
6) Keyword optimization
Keyword match types and negative keywords are important to getting the right type of traffic to your site, but even more important is the kind of research you did to select your keywords.
7) Impression share
Without impressions, people don’t see your ads and nothing happens. You also have to be able to interpret how your impressions stack up against your competition in the ad auctions. Many people aren’t even aware of this crucial metric.
8) Your competition
Many people are so focused on the campaigns that they don’t bother to focus on what their competitors are doing. If your competitors’ ads are getting higher placements in the search results, you have to know by how much and why because you if they’re outperforming you, it may be time to learn some of their tricks.