Every year, the number of people who use the internet on an hourly basis continues to grow exponentially. Yet, with many entrepreneurs being bogged down with the minute details of running their businesses, they unknowingly discount moment-by-moment missed opportunities to help their digital platforms work to convert sales on their behalf.
Picture a potential customer using Google to search for a product you offer, but your website isn’t found because your site designer didn’t use search engine optimization best practices. Also, imagine that a potential customer makes their way to your website and is looking for a specific item, but after 15 seconds of clicking around, they leave frustrated with the challenges of navigating your site.
The stories above are typical examples of lost opportunities for your website to work on your company’s behalf. A company’s digital platforms should function as an independent agent and serve as one of the employees who delivers the best returns. In each example above, the company has experienced epic fails when there are simple fixes that can significantly reduce these lost opportunities.
There’s one simple action that can help business owners make a huge difference in the performance and delivery they can expect from their digital presence — having an independent digital platform audit. But what is a digital platform audit and what should it include? What professional is qualified to perform an audit? What can an entrepreneur do on their own? How does an audit help improve a business’ bottom line?
What is a digital platform audit and what platforms should it cover?
A digital audit is a professional evaluation of a company’s entire digital presence. It provides unbiased feedback and guides business owners to take actions that create and help maximize their digital marketing opportunities. An audit includes a complete assessment of a company’s website (content, design and user experience), social media profiles (content and branding/presentation), email marketing (tools, content, and strategy), and all other digital platforms and strategies.
Who should perform a digital platform audit?
An auditor should be an experienced objective professional with a broad understanding of the digital experience from a customer’s perspective and the strengths and limitations of digital technologies. Having the review completed by an unbiased individual will minimize the risk of blind spots brought on by content or brand prejudice. The reviewer should always ask candid questions to have a clear understanding of a company’s marketing goals.
It could be very tempting to want to call a familiar person (like your web designer or developer) and assign them this task. But your best option is to hire a digital marketing strategist.
Digital marketing strategists are experts who help companies plan and analyze an overall digital presence including considerations of best practices in design, selection of graphics and pictures, copywriting, and user experience. They are primarily knowledgeable in how each of these affects marketing outcomes, your customers’ journeys and identifying opportunities for creating marketing funnels that generate sales.
What’s the difference between a digital marketing strategist/consultant and others?
A website designer is trained and knowledgeable in making your website and other digital platforms visually-appealing (color, layout, font selection) and may have some experience with web development.
A web developer is a programmer with expertise in coding applications to enhance and expand the features and functionality of your digital platforms. They may also have some experience with web design.
A graphic designer is trained and knowledgeable in the visual presentation of print materials (photos, custom graphics) but some may have experience with supporting website design (colors, layouts, web icon creation, picture edits).
A user experience (UX) designer is trained and knowledgeable in how users navigate digital platforms and how factors such as choices in color, content placement, and navigation can affect consumers. UX experts often have some background in web design or development.
A web content writer is trained and knowledgeable in writing copy for use on digital platforms and may have some essential experience in website structure considerations as well as search engine optimization (SEO).
What results should be expected after a digital platform audit?
The result from an audit should be detailed reports with findings (strengths and challenges), recommended solutions for identified problems, justifications for any recommended changes — including an explanation of how each recommendation ties back to business goal and a company’s bottom line, and a suggested timeline for prioritizing and implementing the recommended changes.
How can a digital platform audit help improve a business’ bottom line?
By completing an audit, a business can eliminate marketing blind spots by learning what platforms and channels are worth the time and financial investment. An evaluation of existing analytics from each platform as well an analysis of the platforms themselves can further assist a business in tying dollars to what makes sense. And if we revisit the examples given at the beginning of this article, we can see how opportunities are easily missed when platforms aren’t optimized for use by potential customers.
So, while entrepreneurs are busy managing the day-to-day priorities of their businesses, an auditor can perform a review and provide the business team with a scheduled step-by-step plan for making quick updates and fixes to their digital platforms. The report and recommendations tie back to the company’s overall business goals and help them with devising a robust digital marketing strategy that improves outcomes in the months and years to come.