What a Digital Marketing Audit Is (and Isn’t)

A digital marketing audit can act as a magnifying glass for your overall digital strategy. Sure, you can see what’s happening on the surface of your digital marketing plans. But an audit reveals the easy-to-miss details: which channels get the most engagement, which pieces of content never get used, and where you could really maximize your marketing investment dollars.

If this sounds like your situation, your business can benefit from a digital marketing audit. We’ll go over the benefits of conducting an audit, signs your business needs to complete one, and how to prepare for this important evaluation.

Digital Marketing Audits, Explained

PointVisible describes a digital marketing audit as, “a systematic, in-depth assessment of your company’s marketing strategies, systems, goals, and performance that considers both internal and external factors.” Essentially, it’s an opportunity to study your marketing performance on every level to make better informed decisions in the future.

The audit must be systematic to be effective. A comprehensive digital audit involves many components (we’ll further discuss the components in a minute), so it’s helpful to have a system that everyone understands and agrees on in case different departments are called on for feedback and participation.

What Your Company Gains from a Digital Marketing Audit

Research from Blissfully shows that from 2017 to 2018, small businesses (those with 0-50 employees) saw nearly half of their software stack change within two years. This data illustrates a few important points:

  • There are always customers looking for better SaaS solutions.
  • There is a lot of competition to be the next big tech company.
  • Competition means that your messaging must be on-point and directed at your target audience.

This is why digital marketing audits are critically important: you can’t improve what you don’t understand. An audit uncovers exactly how well your company is executing digital strategies, and this benefits your business in several ways.

Improve performance through research. Ask yourself this question: do you know, right now, which of your digital channels generates the most activity? Which channel could you stop if your budget was cut? Without an audit, you could be unknowingly wasting money on ineffective channels — money that could be better spent on another area of the business.

Set goals for growth. Day-to-day monitoring provides helpful insight, but an audit shows how all of that daily activity adds up long-term and identifies gaps in a company’s current digital strategy.

Stretch goals are good; however, you need to know what’s considered realistic before you can shoot for the moon. Reviewing key metrics across all your digital channels can provide the data your team needs to plan ahead.

Make data-backed decisions. People make confident decisions when they have the right data. This is true for your company, but also true for potential investors. They want to see you know where to improve, how to do it, and your plan of action. Completing a digital audit demonstrates agility and willingness to put in the work to acquire optimal leads.

Signs Your Business Needs a Digital Marketing Audit

If you’re in the throes of running a business, digital marketing audits probably haven’t crossed your mind. Marketing is just one of many moving parts needed to keep the business running.

But consider this: because marketing is so important, it’s also important to refine the process when possible. You could be missing out on even better, more efficient ways to reach your ideal customers.

There are many scenarios where completing a marketing audit is both appropriate and necessary. Some of these include:

  • Budgetary changes (most important if the marketing budget is getting tighter)
  • Lack of performance from the current marketing department
  • There is a new product or service and your company needs a GTM strategy
  • New company management
  • Beginning a new campaign, especially one for a new product or service
  • Team restructuring (new marketing team lead, beginning work with an agency)
  • Overhauling marketing strategy
  • Sales keeps complaining about leads not matching ICP
  • New quarter or calendar year

Work can get busy, so it might feel as though there’s never an ideal time for this kind of project. But as the list above shows, you can make this a priority at a number of practical moments.

Who Should Conduct Your Company’s Digital Marketing Audit?

The thought of completing an audit of all your digital marketing efforts can be overwhelming, especially when you’re running a small business or startup. Despite being busy, it might seem logical to have members of your team conduct the audit. After all, they already have account access and are more likely to know where to find the information they need.

However, hiring a third party offers an objective look at processes. People who are too close to the business’s daily digital marketing efforts may go into the audit with biased opinions on which parts of the strategy work or don’t. An objective third party can complete an unbiased analysis without personal opinions influencing their findings.

Another reason for hiring a third party: time. Digital marketing audits aren’t usually a one-day process. You need to be able to devote time to doing it right. Instead of taking team members away from their usual tasks, an outside third party can focus their full attention on the audit.

An experienced third party can also provide suggestions and guidance based on their findings. Having the data is great, but it’s not worth much if your team doesn’t know the best way to interpret the findings and what it could mean for your business.

How Much Does a Digital Marketing Audit Cost?

The cost of a digital marketing audit will vary depending on the scope of the project and whether you create an in-house team or outsource the audit. There are also varying levels of audit quality.

A basic audit could consist of data readouts with corresponding recommendations. This could be enough for companies with a few people on the marketing team. Another level up could include more of a narrative around the data, as well as advice from experts in your industry. If you’re hoping for a full-fledged action plan with step-by-step recommendations, be prepared to budget for that increased expense.

Because there are many possible components of a digital marketing audit, it’s hard to standardize cost. You have to consider the auditing team’s experience as well as the size of your organization, the breadth of channels being evaluated, and the timeline you can afford to commit to.

Assuming you hire a third party, an audit will likely cost at least in the low thousands of dollars. For a comprehensive audit of all digital marketing components, the price could easily be over $10,000, even $20,000.

What To Do Before the Audit

Although the project intricacies can vary, there are a few key steps to take in preparing for any type of digital marketing audit.

Areas for analysis
Determine which channels and platforms are to be evaluated. A comprehensive digital marketing audit can consist of all or a combination of the following:

  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • Lead generation
  • Marketing technology
  • Growth marketing
  • Organizational structure
  • Branding and messaging
  • Competitor analysis
  • Market research

Be prepared to allocate an appropriate amount of time for the audit. The process could take anywhere from days to weeks depending on the scope of the project, the number of people working on it, and the depth of feedback you’re expecting from the analysis. The typical scope is one year of data.

Data storage
Everyone involved in the organization and execution of the audit must agree on a central location to record data and findings, as well as a standard process for evaluation across channels. Everyone should know where data and relevant assets are stored. Cloud-based storage (at least cloud backups) is ideal, especially if hiring a third party for the audit process.

Organizing account access
This one sounds easy enough, but think for a second: can you name every single digital account your business uses on a daily basis? Obviously your website CMS, social media channels, and email marketing platforms — but there’s much more, including:

  • Ecommerce platform
  • Content management system (CMS) or website
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) system
  • SEO and SEM tools
  • Advertising channel platforms
  • Sales funnel or lead generation tracking tools
  • Email marketing or SMS texting services

If you can, provide access via email as opposed to your company’s login information.

Using Audit Data to Form a Marketing Plan

Once the audit is complete, the real work begins. It’s not enough to simply have the data; your team must be prepared to act on any gaps and inefficiencies.

One way to do this is to use successful content on new channels. For example, your most popular infographic can be repackaged into a video for social sharing. Or, use a high-performing webinar to create your next email campaign.

Building strategies around high-performing content and creating channel-specific material is a good strategy, but maybe the digital marketing audit showed that you could use a little more guidance. Consider working with a marketing consultant or hiring a fractional CMO to make the most of your findings.

Regular audits will make it even easier to stay on top of your marketing game. Once a year is appropriate for a comprehensive audit; quarterly check-ins could be even better for the digital channels that matter most to your business.

Digital marketing audits can reveal more than seems possible about your company’s current marketing strategy. Use this assessment to uncover interesting possibilities for evolving your company’s messaging, or book a consultation today to see if an audit is right for your business.

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