A complete guide to conducting digital marketing audits

Karin Rio, Director of Digital Marketing
Carly Thurlow, Digital Marketing Manager, Team Lead
Posted on Jun 15, 2021

“I’m spending (insert generous amount here) on digital marketing, but I’m just not seeing a return on my investment.”

Does this sound familiar? This is precisely the time to call in the digital marketing experts.

Imarc’s Digital Marketing Services (DMS) team came together to cover all things digital marketing in this post – from understanding marketing attribution to performing a digital marketing audit.

Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll cover:

What is a digital marketing audit?

A digital marketing audit is a comprehensive review of your digital marketing strategies. It helps you see which of your marketing channels are working, how your website is performing, where there is room for optimization and improvement, and where it makes sense to invest your marketing dollars.

You should conduct a digital marketing audit if:

  • You’re not generating quality leads

  • You didn’t hit your quarterly or yearly sales goals

  • You want to build a new website

  • You want to launch new campaigns, but you don’t know where to start

  • You want to learn more about your target audience

  • You’re falling behind your competitor

  • You’ve noticed sizable or unexpected dips in website traffic and analytics (sessions, page views, bounce rate, page duration, etc.), organic rankings, engagement metrics, email open rates, clicks, impressions, inbound leads, or press coverage.

It’s like knowing the game plan before you hit the field. When it comes to testing, both successful and unsuccessful tests are immensely valuable. Figuring out what isn’t going to bring you new business is just as valuable as knowing what will.

How to perform a digital marketing audit

Every business has different goals, audiences, and needs – so the structure of your audit will be unique too.

Maybe you’re a small business and don’t run paid campaigns. That’s fine! Skip that section. Maybe you track patient visit data in an internal application. That’s also fine. Don’t be afraid to add what you need and remove what’s unnecessary.

Performing a digital marketing audit consists of evaluating five key marketing channels:

  1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

  2. Organic SEO

  3. Social media

  4. Email 

  5. Content

Evaluating these data points creates a holistic story. It can lead to changes in strategy, development of A/B testing, or a shift in marketing goals.

If you find something during this process that disappoints you, that’s okay. This is your chance to use what you learned as a setup for success moving forward.

Remember, all insight is good insight.

Building your data tool kit

The most challenging part of a digital audit is asking the right questions, and deciding what data points provide the best answers and solutions. It’s important that you get insight into as much data as possible. There are far too many great tools to list them all here, so for the sake of simplicity, here are the most common among our clients:

Understanding marketing attribution

According to Salesforce, it takes six to eight touches before a user converts. But which touch is the best touch or most effective touch? Which touches drive engagement and which ones incite action?

Marketing attribution helps to answer these questions. Marketing attribution can be defined as “the science of determining which marketing tactics are contributing to sales or conversions.”

Think of attribution as the terrible group project you did in the past. At the end of the day, everyone wants to take credit, but not everyone did the same amount of work.

Marketing channels work the same way. For example, your Google Ads campaign wants all the credit for the lead that came in today. In reality, the user first saw your brand on social media, then they visited your website and signed up for your newsletter. Three months later, they searched for you on Google and converted on your ad.

Does your Google Ad campaign deserve 100 percent of the credit for that lead? No way! So how do you properly attribute conversion data? Set up an attribution project in your Google Analytics account to help you assign and monitor attribution.

Attribution models

Google has a set of rules-based attribution models that “follow fixed rules for assigning conversion credit regardless of the conversion type or user behavior.”

These model definitions come directly from Google:

Last click: Gives all credit for the conversion to the last-clicked event.

First click: Gives all credit for the conversion to the first-clicked event.

Linear: Distributes the credit for the conversion equally across all clicks on the path.

Position-based: Gives 40% of credit to both the first- and last-clicked event, with the remaining 20% spread out across the other clicks on the path.

Time decay: Gives more credit to clicks that happened closer in time to the conversion. Credit is distributed using a 7-day half-life. In other words, a click 8 days before a conversion gets half as much credit as a click 1 day before a conversion.

Data-driven: Distributes credit for the conversion based on observed data for each conversion type. It's different from the other models because your account's data is used by Google’s AI to calculate the actual contribution of each click interaction.

Photo via Disruptive Advertising

Depending on your industry, one model may make more sense than another. A quick Google search can give you guidance.

It’s okay if you don’t have this set up yet. You should absolutely still complete your audit. As you evaluate the success of your marketing channels, you may notice that Google Ads brings in the most conversions. This doesn’t mean your other marketing channels aren’t valuable.

Understanding marketing automation

96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to commit to buying and 80% of leads never translate into sales. Marketing automation tools help you focus on the 20% that matter. Simply put, marketing automation uses technology to automate marketing activities. It helps ease the burden on your marketing department and allows you to formulate more effective marketing strategies.

A common misconception about marketing automation is that it’s used solely to automate emails, but they are capable of so much more than that! These systems, like HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot, go way beyond email needs. They allow marketing teams to track insights, segment their leads, create personalized messages, and design the perfect customer journey to convert leads into sales.

What marketing automation can do for you

Track customer behavior: Marketing automation makes it possible to track which pages a person clicks on, identify the industries they come from, recognize behavioral information, and then respond to that data in real time with personalized content.

Upgrade your email marketing process: Your emails have to be relevant, timed perfectly, and engaging to generate the most impact. Use marketing automation to send emails when they are relevant to your audience, with content they want.

Nurture prospective customers: Turn potential buyers into loyal customers by nurturing them effectively. Marketing automation allows you to serve up specific content based on user activities and interactions. For example, if your lead doesn’t open your first two emails, you’re able to send them different messages than the clients who have clicked and interacted.

Lead scoring model: Lead scoring helps marketers prioritize leads by making it easier to identify strong leads and establish meaningful relationships with them. Having data on hand enables organizations to boost their ROI. It also promotes a healthier relationship between sales and marketing, allowing for more efficient lead follow-up.

A/B testing: Marketing automation software provides various options for A/B testing. Test some different variations of subject lines for email messages, CTAs on landing pages, online forms, and more to determine the most engaging combination for your customers.

Choosing the right platform

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of platforms out there. Below is a list of things to consider while looking at marketing automation tools:

Business goals: As with any decision, you want to consider your business goals. Map out your digital strategy in detail and determine which platform will assist you in achieving all of your goals effectively and efficiently.

Integrations: Make sure the software has API integration for the system that covers all the communication channels you’re currently using.

Budget: Analyze your marketing budgets and decide how much you want to spend on the software. Keep in mind that the bigger your database, the more it will cost. Some tools do offer tiered pricing, so do your research and see what makes sense for your business.

Ease of use: A rich feature set often comes at the cost of ease of use. Take some time to do the necessary research on your top automation selections and see what each one has to offer. If possible, ask the providers for a free trial – this will allow you to test usability and get a feel for what it would be like working with the system.

Read reviews: As you do with any large purchase, read reviews or reach out to others in your network who have used the tool. The most highly rated or well-known tool may not always be the best tool for your team, so dig deeper and do your research.

Online demo: Always get a demo. It allows you to see the tools in action, and it allows you to connect with the team and understand how that relationship can grow. Trials typically last a couple of weeks to one month – enough time to determine if the tool lives up to your expectations.

Marketing automation tools

Here are a few of the most widely used marketing automation tools that Imarc clients use:

How an audit can drive your digital marketing goals

Your digital efforts may be working now, but it doesn’t mean they will remain successful. There will always be a new update, technique, software, or feature that you will need to react and adjust to. We recommend that you do a comprehensive digital marketing audit at least once a year.

Think about the companies in your space that really excel at digital marketing. They’re leading, not following. So never be afraid to follow the data and try new things. Imarc’s Digital Marketing Services team is here to support your marketing efforts and keep you up-to-date on the latest marketing tools and trends.

Read on!

As part of our complete guide to conducting digital marketing audits, we have gone into detail on how to perform digital marketing audits on these key marketing channels:

  1. How to perform an SEM audit
  2. How to perform an SEO audit
  3. How to perform a social media audit
  4. How to perform an email marketing audit
  5. How to perform a content marketing audit

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