It is important to measure the effectiveness of online activities on a regular basis. Often, the priorities related to the development of a company do not allow for regular feedback on overall performance.
A marketing strategy audit allows you to have a detailed analysis and to identify the strong and weak points of your digital strategy.
1. Define your online goals (increase traffic, generate leads or sales)
2. Collect data from each digital channel
3. Analyse performance using analytics tools
4. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy
5. Develop an action plan to improve underperforming areas and exploit identified opportunities.
In this article, I present you my method and the tools I use on a daily basis to perform an efficient digital marketing audit.
I. Requirements for a digital marketing audit
The audit itself sometimes has a bad reputation, because many agencies offer automated audits that come from standard tools.
For this reason, it is essential to define the scope and the tools needed to carry out the project.
Generally, the most commonly used tools are :
Web analytics tools like Google Analytics, Matomo, Adobe Analytics or Piwik pro
Platforms to understand in detail the presence on social media (BuzzSumo, Hubspot, Tapinfluence)
SEO tools that give precise indications on organic presence (SEMRush, Ahrefs or SEranking)
The Google Search Console which allows you to identify potential indexing problems and especially to understand how Google identifies and ranks your site.
Tools to analyze the competition (Similarweb, SpyFu)
Some of these tools offer all-in-one solutions. This is a very good option for recurring analysis and reporting.
However, to optimize the results of a digital audit, it is preferable to use specific tools for each channel and/or activity.
Also, as with the use of artificial intelligence, it is necessary to have an understanding and some expertise in digital marketing.
More than just an analysis
It is not enough to launch an analysis to get good results. You also need to be able to interpret and identify weaknesses as well as opportunities.
Each tool has its own metrics. For example, Google Analytics 4 uses events to measure the interactions of visitors to a website.
With SEMRush, you can identify search volumes as well as the difficulty to rank on a specific keyword.
Finally, Hubspot offers to monitor the number of times your brand or company name is mentioned on social media (social monitoring).
It is important to first set objectives and then analyze their performance with these different tools.
An audit should not be a 50-page PDF report with very technical terms that only mention the weak points of a site.
We can (and should) offer recommendations and solutions based on the latest trends and technologies to optimize a marketing strategy.
The methodology I recommend is mainly built on the ability to identify opportunities for improvement.
II. Methodology for conducting a digital marketing audit
Once the need for a digital audit has been identified, the project is implemented in three main phases:
Phase 1 – Planning
First, the objectives of the audit are established.
Which channels should be analyzed?
What is the main function of the website?
What is the strategy so far?
What resources are available to carry out the recommendations?
Then an overview is made of the different people/partners and their roles within the Audit. Often, external agencies are responsible for website development or online advertising activities.
Just like the internal teams, they need to be informed and work with the person in charge of the marketing audit.
Finally, it is essential to define a budget, resources and to agree on a schedule model to be respected to be sure not to face delays during the project.
Phase 2 – Data Collection
Once the objectives have been defined, an assessment of the current performance must be made.
Generally speaking, with access to web analytics tools, one can quickly get a first impression of the traffic, the most relevant sources and also the activity of users on the website.
The data must then be collected, taking into account both quantitative and qualitative aspects.
Generally, I make sure that there is a fairly consistent data history without going too far back in time.
In my experience, having the data available for the last 12 months gives a good visibility on the differences in traffic due to seasonality. Optimally, when available, I recommend analysing data for the last two years.
At the granularity level, it is recommended to classify the data by week rather than by month. On the one hand, because the comparison with the previous period is much simpler, and on the other hand because it is easier to detect anomalies linked to the absence of tracking.
Hopefully, regular reporting has been put in place.
Once you have collected the data, you can quickly identify the strong points, weak points and especially the periods with tracking problems where the data is missing.
Phase 3 – Analysis
Once you have collected and sorted the data, you can move on to the actual analysis.
This is done by combining the historical data with the objectives defined at the beginning of the project.
The idea is to identify similar models, and in particular to understand which channels or activities are the most profitable.
Generally, we start from the different sources of traffic and then we analyze the interactions on the website.
For example, we analyze the number of people coming from specific search engines on Google (organic traffic) and their path once they have visited the website.
How long do they stay?
Which parties did they consult?
How many of them went straight out of the website without interacting?
How many have converted?
This allows us to establish the ideal paths and, above all, to know in detail which channels are the most likely to improve the overall performance of the website.
I recommend standardizing the analysis method and establishing priorities and a process at the beginning of the project. We can quickly spend a lot of time on a particular channel and get lost in the details.
The interest of the audit is not only to identify weak points, but also to propose new strategies and tactics. Digital is evolving very fast, which makes it complex, but offers many (new) opportunities.
III. Key elements to analyze during a digital marketing audit
When it comes to doing a complete audit of digital activities, there are many elements that can be analyzed. The number of emails sent per week, the number of followers on different social media, the number of visitors coming from a partner website, etc.
Here is a summary of the fundamental elements to analyze during a digital marketing audit.
A. Trafic web
This is probably the most important element of the audit. Knowing where your website visitors come from allows you to understand in detail the performance of different acquisition channels.
Organic traffic generated by search engine results pages, paid traffic, traffic from other websites, but also traffic from social networks.
Once you have identified the main sources, you can then make recommendations to improve each of them and generate more traffic overall.
User behaviour (UX in marketing) is the second parameter to analyze. It is not enough to generate traffic, you must also ensure that users find the information they are looking for and do not leave the website without having interacted (bounce rate).
Finally, the average session duration (time spent) is an excellent indicator to monitor in marketing. It can be more or less long depending on the type of page and the content proposed.
This is why it is important to define an average time per type of page and not to rely on the default average.
Once the sources of traffic are identified and the customer paths are properly analyzed, conversions are analyzed.
They can be synonymous with new leads or sales if the website has an E-commerce part.
The conversion rate per channel is an indicator to be taken into account in the digital marketing audit.
The idea is not to compete with each acquisition channel, but to better understand which one is the most likely to generate conversions.
In marketing, the goal is to understand the different stages of the customer journey and then optimize the pages that have the most conversions.
C. ROI (Return on Investment)
An audit allows defining or evaluate business objectives. It is important to remember that only measured activities can be optimized.
This is why it is important to establish upstream KPIs that, once measured, will allow improving online activities.
One of the most important KPIs is without a doubt the cost per acquisition (CPA). It is calculated by dividing the relative costs (advertising campaign, creation of an article, etc…) by the number of conversions generated.
Then comes the cost per lead (CPL) which is calculated in the same way by dividing the budgets invested by the number of leads generated.
Finally, we can also analyze the Return of Ads Spent (ROAS), which is different from ROI (Return on Investment).
ROAS is calculated with advertising budgets. They are easily accessible in tools like Google Ads or Facebook Manager and the revenues generated by the ads.
ROI is a more complex calculation, as it includes all business costs (employee, material, etc.)
D. Other performance indicators (supported metrics)
The click-through rate on the advertisement is an important element, especially for measuring the effectiveness and relevance of campaigns.
Thus, a low click rate is synonymous with a poor choice of targets or an irrelevant message.
However, companies with successful advertising campaigns usually have a high click-through rate.
User engagement on social networks can also be part of the indicators analyzed during the audit.
They allow evaluating the impact of social media strategies, but also to understand in detail the perception of a brand’s products and services through its users.
Finally, for the email channel, the email opening rate and especially the number of interactions (clicks) with the email are key elements to analyze during a digital marketing audit.
IV. Mistakes to avoid when performing a digital marketing audit
The marketing audit requires the analysis of many channels. As well as the structure of the site, which can be in several languages and sometimes even have an E-commerce part which lists 100’s of products.
One can quickly get bogged down in practical details and lose efficiency.
A. Lack of clarity of objectives
A marketing audit should only be conducted if SMART objectives are defined. Project objectives that are too broad or unclear will only slow down the audit.
Specific: by costing and defining deadlines
Measurable: by ensuring that objectives are tracked
Achievable: the objective must be attainable
Realistic : based on resources and knowledge
Temporal: set up a roadmap
This is ultimately the best way to bring clarity to the objectives of a web marketing audit.
B. Focus only on the weak points of the marketing strategy
While weaknesses are a priority to be addressed, strengths must also be valued.
Digital marketing allows you to put in place leverage effects to compensate for certain weaknesses.
For example, while the technical SEO part is being improved, the Google Ads budget can be increased to avoid a drop in overall performance.
Some weaknesses may require significant effort. That’s why it can sometimes be interesting to find a balance between improving weaknesses and exploiting strengths.
C. Ignoring market and competitive trends (social media)
Finally, even if they should not be the only priorities, a competitive watch and regular market analysis are necessary.
This allows to understand what are the latest trends and strategies implemented by the competition in terms of digital marketing. Also, to adapt its strategy according to the trend and the evolution of the sector.
A channel can work very well, because it is popular for a certain period of time and become obsolete very quickly.
For example: when Apple changed its privacy rules on the iOS 14 update, many companies saw their revenues decrease. Not least because they were using Facebook as their primary acquisition channel before this update.
For this reason, it is important to stay informed about the latest marketing trends. In this regard, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter.
A digital marketing audit offers the opportunity to analyze and understand in detail the performance of your online strategy.
To do this, you need to define clear marketing objectives. And make sure that the data collected for each channel is of high quality.
The use of specific tools is necessary to have an effective webmarketing audit.
You should avoid trying to analyze all the metrics and focus on the KPIs that are directly related to the company’s activity (web traffic, conversions, ROI or ROAS).
The frequency of the audit depends mainly on the volume of activities, however, it is a good practice to review every six months.
By conducting an audit, you will be able to identify weaknesses as well as strengths and exploit opportunities to maximize the overall performance of your business.
If you wish to have a digital marketing audit adapted to your online activities, do not hesitate to contact me, I would be happy to discuss your project with you!
I’m a digital marketing consultant with 20 years of experience in digital growth in Switzerland.
I assist small and medium-sized businesses in enhancing their online presence and generating more leads.
Based on research and data-driven approach, I create digital marketing strategies and effectively implements them.
I also train marketers in SEO, SEA (Online Advertising), and Web analytics to enhance their skills.