Digital marketers and agencies love strategizing and rolling out new digital marketing campaigns.
But audits? Just hearing the word seems to induce boredom or nausea – or both.
Audits are boring, tedious, and should be done by your account, right? When it comes to digital marketing, we’d rather just roll out awesome campaigns and assume everything is going just fine.
If things aren’t going well, we’d almost prefer not to know about it and keep going about our work.
However, the truth is that digital marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” growth strategy.
Measurable data and well-defined KPIs are what set digital marketing apart from other marketing tactics.
You can’t let your digital marketing efforts go unchecked. They must be audited and optimized regularly.
We all know they’re necessary, but they can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry — in this post, we’ll guide you through:
- The basics of digital marketing audits
- Clear signs you need a digital marketing audit (for yourself or clients)
- The characteristics of a solid digital marketing audit
- An overview and how-to for each channel
- How to implement the recommended changes
Let’s dive in!
What Is a Digital Marketing Audit?
A digital marketing audit is a comprehensive review and analysis of your digital marketing strategies, channels, tactics, and results.
Most marketers, directors, and agency owners are fully aware of the strategies and tactics you’re investing in. You may even have access to a helpful dashboard with analytics that helps you evaluate each channel.
Still, how often do you take a step back and truly evaluate your marketing efforts?
When you pull yourself out of the weeds and take a holistic look at your marketing efforts, you’re able to see its strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
Why Should You Audit Your Digital Marketing Channels?
If you’re in charge of marketing performance, you need to have confidence and clarity that what you’re doing is working.
You need to be sure that your strategies, channels, and tactics are earning you the best return on investment.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you know where all of your marketing budget and resources are going?
- Are your marketing and sales goals on track to be met for the year? What about the quarter?
- Which efforts and channels are performing the best?
- Are any efforts or channels are underperforming?
- What is your current cost per acquisition (at least a ballpark estimate) for each channel?
- Is your website converting visitors?
- Is your site traffic stagnant, dipping, or increasing month-over-month?
- How do your site metrics compare to last month’s? What about last year’s?
If you’re unsure about any of the above questions, you should strongly consider auditing your current digital marketing channels.
Additionally, a digital marketing audit will be necessary any time you’re rolling out a new product, moving into a new market, or bringing on a new client.
Digital marketing audits don’t necessarily fix anything in and of themselves. It’s just an audit.
Nevertheless, going through the process should give you an understanding of strengths and weaknesses, direction on what needs to be improved, and clarity around your goals and objectives.
These three things are invaluable to agency owners, marketing directors, and clients.
Characteristics of a Solid Digital Marketing Audit
A digital marketing audit should be both useful and effective.
Here are some characteristics that should be true of your audits:
A quality digital marketing audit doesn’t handpick the channels and efforts you know are doing well to feel good about your work. It should look at all aspects of your digital marketing.
After all, if you neglect to look at what isn’t working, you won’t be able to implement the necessary changes to make improvements.
A great audit is done effectively – which means it’s systematic and well structured. You shouldn’t just start looking through data willy-nilly, or else you might miss things.
Also, without a well-thought-out structure, you might spend far too much time auditing.
All ego and pride need to be left at the door when an audit is taking place. If this isn’t possible, consider getting help from an outside perspective.
Good audits are honest and unbiased.
Take a step back and leave preconceived notions at the door to get the best insight. Don’t sweep anything under the rug or beat around the bush.
Like your campaigns themselves, digital marketing audits aren’t one-time things. Plan to perform them regularly.
Markets change, products get updated, and people’s preferences shift over time. Therefore, perform audits on a recurring basis to stay on top of those changes.
You should be evaluating your performance against your marketing goals and objectives.
Ideally, you already have overall marketing goals in addition to specific ones and performance indicators for each channel. These should guide the audit.
If you don’t have clear goals set, there’s no better time to start than now.
Digital marketing audits should grant clarity and peace of mind. However, if that’s all an audit does, it has failed.
Audits should provide actionable steps for you to take to optimize digital marketing efforts. Once complete, you should have a roadmap of tasks and deliverables.
Remember these characteristics of solid digital marketing audits to make yours a success.
Marketing Audit Requirements
To perform a successful digital marketing audit as outlined above, there are a few things you’ll need.
This might be a given, but make sure you give yourself enough time to conduct a thorough audit.
Depending on your total budget and how many channels you invest in, an audit could take anywhere from 6 hours to 30 hours.
Therefore, make some space in your calendar, create a timeline, and set expectations with your team or client.
To start with, you’ll need access to relevant accounts.
You’ll almost definitely need an analytics account, but you may also need access to Google Search Console and other tools used.
If performing an audit for a client, you can use tools like BuiltWith to find out what technologies they have on their site that you need to be aware of.
Additionally, for an in-depth analysis, you’ll also need access to the right tools for data and analytics. We’ll guide you through the best tools to use on each channel further on in the text.
Finally, if the audit is done for someone else or you want to present your findings to your team, you will need some kind of presentation tool.
Google Slides, Powerpoint, or Canva can all work well for this.
Once you have all your requirements lined up, you can get started reviewing each channel’s performance.
Digital Marketing Audit Dissected
Now that we have a firm foundation of the importance and qualities of a great digital marketing audit, it’s time to get to work.
In this section, we’ll break down the most popular digital marketing channels and how to effectively audit each one.
The biggest categories to evaluate on your website are design, performance, engagement, and conversion.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Design and Messaging
Your website is central to your digital marketing efforts. Here are some things to consider when designing it.
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Is the design aesthetically pleasing?
- Is it immediately clear what the company does and who they serve?
- Is the design cohesive and in line with the brand?
- Is the design responsive across all devices?
- Are there clear calls to action and next steps for users?
Design isn’t everything, but it has a direct impact on the usability of your site.
Slow loading, poor performing sites lead to low conversion rates and poor user experience.
Look at the following:
- Do your pages load quickly?
- What’s the average FCP (First Contentful Paint)?
- What’s the average TTI (Time to Interactive)?
- What’s the average CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)?
SERPtimizer is a great tool to measure page speed and load time.
Make sure your website’s performance is optimal to keep your bounce rates at a minimum.
Engagement and Conversion
While design and performance are the foundation you need for an effective website, engagement and conversion are the metrics you should pay the most attention to in a digital marketing audit.
Analyze the following:
- What are your bounce rates?
- How much time are users spending on the site?
- How many pages are users viewing?
- How frequently are users converting? Break this down by conversion, such as email signups, free trials, quote requests, etc.
As you can see, those metrics tell you whether your website is really doing what you want it to do, or if it’s time for improvement.
Tools for Conducting a Website Audit
The design and messaging aspect of a website audit can be done qualitatively for the most part.
Here are some helpful tools for performing website audits.
For Technical Performance:
For Engagement and Conversion:
- Google Analytics
- Adobe Analytics
- HotJar for site behavior analytics and conversion insights
Try to get outside input – especially if you’re performing the audit for your own company.
Remember, your goal is to take an unbiased look at your company and take stock of what you’re working with. These tools help you achieve that.
The biggest categories of an SEO audit are keywords, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, content quality, and technical SEO.
Keywords are the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. Ask yourself:
- Are focus keywords ranking well and earning traffic?
- If not, are target keywords too competitive?
- Are the most highly searched keywords still being prioritized?
- Are there new, relevant keywords that need to be targeted?
- Are there keywords ranking just outside the first page that can be improved upon?
Markets and search trends change regularly, making keyword audits crucial.
If there are SEO improvements to be made, on-page optimization is often the place to start.
Look at the following elements when auditing your website’s on-page situation:
- Are focus keywords mapped to specific pages?
- Are title tags and meta descriptions optimized?
- Are headings optimized for target keywords?
- Are supplemental and semantic topics covered?
Your page should follow SEO best practices in addition to providing valuable content.
If keyword research and on-page optimization are on point, off-page factors might be the biggest factor to focus on for improvement.
- How many linking root domains does the site have?
- How many total links does the site have?
- Does the link profile have a balanced breakdown of different types of links?
- Do links contain relevant anchor text?
- What is the site’s DR (Domain Rating) or DA (Domain Authority)?
- What are key pages’ UR (URL Rating) or PA (Page Authority)?
- Do we have an up-to-date link prospecting process?
- Are there any spammy links that need to be disavowed?
- If a local business or product, are there positive mentions and reviews around the web?
Making sure these factors are in order will help you attract high-quality leads in the future.
Quality content can make or break an SEO campaign, and it shouldn’t be neglected in SEO audits.
- Does the site have content that addresses different stages of the buyer’s journey?
- Does content comprehensively cover the topic written on?
- Is content engaging, valuable, and well-designed?
- Is content focused on relevant keywords?
Without great content, even the best SEO won’t be of much use.
Larger sites can suffer tremendously due to overlooking technical SEO.
- Are mobile page speeds up to par?
- Are all relevant pages being crawled and indexed?
- Does the site have a sitemap? Has it been submitted to search engines?
- Does the robots.txt file have any problems or make obvious mistakes?
- Are there many dead links or broken pages?
- Is relevant content effectively internally linked throughout the site?
- Do priority pages have an adequate number of internal links?
- Are ALT attributes used throughout the site?
Make sure the technical aspects of your SEO are just as good as your content.
Tools for Conducting an SEO Audit
There are plenty of tools on the market for SEO analysis and auditing. Some are all-in-one tools while others specialize in a specific area.
SERPtimizer is one of the best tools on the market for backlink analysis, competitor analysis, and keyword analysis.
There are other tools that can help you conduct an SEO audit.
For instance, Screaming Frog is great for larger crawls and data visualization, while Google Search Console offers click data and CTR analysis.
Finally, Google PageSpeed Insights is great for assessing page speed and technical performance.
Paid Ads Audit
Depending on the platform, the biggest areas to evaluate in paid advertising are the campaign performance, copy and creative, and landing pages.
Poorly-structured campaigns can be detrimental to ad performance. Make sure to always have an overview of how your campaigns are performing.
Monitor your CTRs and conversion rates. What are the CTRs and conversion rates of your ad groups or ad sets? How are individual ads performing?
Always break down your campaigns by goal, and make sure that Google ad groups are well-organized by keywords.
Finally, for Google ads, ask yourself if your quality scores are up to par.
Copy and Creative
Often overlooked in audits, ad copy and creative should also be evaluated.
Ask yourself if your ad copy is enticing and compelling to your target audience, and make sure search ads include relevant keywords.
Moreover, display and social ads have to be creative and eye-catching.
Most importantly, your copy should always paint a benefit for the user.
Landing Page Performance
Your landing page is where the real effectiveness of advertising really comes through, so make sure to set up tracking to monitor how much time users spend on your site after clicking.
Keep track of post-click conversion rates across campaigns in the same way.
Additionally, to improve your conversion rates, make sure the CTA’s on your landing pages are clear.
Tools for Conducting a Paid Ads Audit
Much paid ad analysis can be performed directly within the platform itself.
Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn all provide fairly robust reporting, but there are many other helpful tools for paid ad audits.
For instance, WordStream’s Google AdWords Performance Grader is free, while Optmyzr has a free trial that gives account optimization suggestions.
Finally, Adzooma also has a free version that helps optimize ad accounts.
Social Media Audit
The most important facets of a digital marketing audit are channel performance, content performance, and audience insights.
Let’s take a look at what it entails.
You should take a look at every channel and platform to evaluate each on its own. For each platform, take a look at how your follower counts changed over the last year.
Then, review the frequency of your posts and the number of likes and comments each post receives on average.
Consider how much each channel contributes to your overall marketing goals. Also, look at what your competitors are doing with that channel to find ideas.
A social media audit should also look at content performance across all channels.
Take a look at the following:
- What were your top-performing posts from the past few months?
- What types of content earn the most engagement?
- Which posts are driving website traffic?
- What kind of content are your competitors pushing?
This will help you re-evaluate your content strategy, allowing you to focus on what works best for you.
Lastly, a good social media audit looks at who is engaging. Take a look at:
- What demographics are engaging with your posts most frequently?
- If B2B, do your followers match your ideal personas?
- If B2C, do your followers look like your target audience?
This audit will tell you if there are followers and engagers you aren’t targeting but could start.
Tools for Conducting a Social Media Audit
We’d recommend using native platform tools for analysis, and if possible, pulling data together into one dashboard for easy analysis.
Here are some other tools that could be of some assistance:
- SocialBakers has some awesome free audit tools.
- Klear does a great job of analyzing brands’ social accounts.
- Union Metrics gives awesome social insights.
For instance, this is what the Twitter Assistant tool from Union Metrics looks like.
You should also take a good look at your editorial/content calendar if you have one.
Email Marketing Audit
Three of the most important areas of email marketing to audit are deliverability, engagement, and your lists.
The first of these, deliverability, refers to how often your emails land in the recipient’s inbox. Take a look at your delivery rate and how it has changed over time.
Check how many hard bounces and soft bounces you have had in the past year, then do the same on the level of individual months.
Next, engagement is the bread and butter of email marketing campaigns.
Make sure you have an overview of your open and click rates. Be aware of your unsubscribe rates, too, and monitor how they have changed over the last year.
This will let you know which types of emails have the best open rates and consequently inform you of the type of email content that performs best.
Finally, who you’re emailing and how they’re segmented is crucial for successful email marketing. Therefore, put some effort into your list management as well.
Assess how your lists are segmented and the kind of content you send to each list.
Look at which lists have the highest and lowest engagement rates and consider whether there are emails that need to be removed due to bounces or inactivity.
Tools for Conducting an Email Marketing Audit
Your email marketing platform should be able to give you open rates, click rates, unsubscribes, and a whole lot more. Here are some additional tools to help you conduct a sound email marketing audit:
- Mail Tester checks to make sure your DNS records are set up correctly.
- Google Analytics can help you measure traffic and post-click metrics from email campaigns.
- MX Toolbox audits MX records and checks for blacklisted IPs.
Here is what the MX Toolbox blacklist checker looks like.
Use these tools to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
How to Implement Recommendations and Changes?
A key principle of successful digital marketing audits is that they’re actionable. This means that each segment of the audit should have a list of required action items to be implemented.
It’s worth noting that each of these objectives will differ in complexity.
For example, one action item might be to add a form to a landing page, while another might be to improve open rates across all email campaigns.
One can be completed immediately, while the latter is more complex.
Let’s go over in the level of complexity.
Short Term Objectives
A short term objective might be to make an adjustment to a landing page, split an email list into two segments, or submit the sitemap to Search Console.
These are action items from the audit that can be completed within a week or so. The task itself should range from ten minutes to a few hours.
These are action items from the audit that likely require a few more steps, or even a separate, smaller audit to meet the objective.
They are usually the result of an important metric not being where it needs to be.
For example, the audit may show that organic CTRs are much too low.
The objective is to improve CTR, which likely requires the SEO expert to perform a title tag and CTR audit to determine which tasks need to be accomplished next.
Long Term Objectives
Long term objectives might take months to accomplish and tend to be the result of major goals being off-track.
For example, your audit may uncover that cost per acquisition from ads is twice as high as it should be.
If the objective is to cut ad CPA in half, then multiple team members may need to be involved to make copy adjustments, landing page adjustments, and changes to campaign structures.
Digital Marketing Audit Template
Using a digital marketing audit template can be extremely helpful.
Templates can save you time, resources, and prevent you from starting from scratch.
On the other hand, templates can also box you into a specific structure, not allowing you to make adjustments on the fly based on the audit.
Some templates are for specific channels, while others are more big picture and less in the weeds.
- Check out this template from Belladia for a big picture analysis of the marketing department.
- Try this one from In Motion Hosting for a solid SEO audit template.
- This spreadsheet from Buffer can help you perform a social media audit.
- This content audit template from Coding is for Losers is a great content resource.
- Check out this PPC ROI Calculator to find out how your paid ad campaigns are performing.
Feel free to use a combination of templates to get the job done.
Digital marketing audits are vital for companies’ clarity, direction, and ultimately – their success.
Don’t forget that the best audits are comprehensive and well-structured.
They should be unbiased in order to give you an objective view of the state of your digital marketing.
Make sure they are also goal-driven and actionable, so as to facilitate the implementation of all necessary changes.
Perform audits regularly to ensure your digital marketing campaigns are working effectively and giving you a return on your investment.
They may not be as much fun as rolling out a new, exciting campaign – but they’re worth it.