By: Neil Sniffen

Date: October 5, 2016

There is a list of things that brand managers and digital marketers know for certain about their websites and email marketing programs.

They know that they need to maximize their often too small budgets to increase conversions, revenue and goal completion rate. They know that their digital programs hold great potential, but often are held back by technical, content or design limitations. They know that if there is a way to figure out exactly where to place their finite budget dollars to extract the maximum value, they’d take it.

For all those knowns, there are just as many unknowns. Who, really, is using their websites? Why do so many customers put items into their cart only to abandon them on the first checkout screen? Why does the abandon cart email get a 90% open rate, but less than half of 1% actually click through and complete checkout? Why is it that every time a website is relaunched, it seems to be missing that one key ingredient?

What if there was a way to answer all those questions and maximize your digital budget.

Fortunately there is, and it has one of the least sexy names in all of the English language, it’s called an audit.

Digital Experience Audits: Bringing Sexy Back

So audits are about the most uncool thing on earth. They bring up images of stuffy rooms, reams of paper stacked to the ceiling, and a pencil scratching across a note pad.

Digital experience audits however, are anything but a stuffy experience. While they do involve an in-depth look at your website and email data and analytics, the results are something to cheer for.

While digital experience audits often cost money (unless you’re undertaking one yourself), the investment upfront to pinpoint specific courses of action can save money on implementing those actions because they are focused.

Let’s look at three different types of audits and how they can help you get the most out of your budget.

Digital Landscape Audit

Brands struggling to understand the health of their digital channels, identify benchmarks and KPIs, define their core audiences, or are looking for prioritization recommendations should consider a digital landscape audit.

This deep-dive audit, appropriate for new and veteran brands, looks specifically at where your website fits into the digital ecosystem. Specifically, a digital landscape audit helps identify gaps in a website’s customer experience, evaluates the health of digital channels, and evaluates the fidelity of analytics data. The result is a clear roadmap for improvement that isolates issues and provides recommendations for resolving those issues.

A digital landscape audit typically includes:

  • Audit of social, SEO, SEM, and website
  • Review of website analytics
  • A recommendations roadmap

Additional components that can provide an even more robust review and set of recommendations include:

  • Identifying customer types and creating personas
  • Setting KPI benchmarks
  • Competitive analysis

A digital landscape audit typically runs $5,000-$15,000 depending upon the complexity of the brand’s digital presence, depth of discovery, and other brand specific factors.

Email Program Audit

An email program audit looks deeply at the health and effectiveness of a brand’s email programs and campaigns.

Often the best generator of site traffic and conversions is a healthy (and growing) email marketing program. This revenue pipeline can often be clogged by ineffective messaging, broken email templates, and poorly segmented lists. Auditing your programs can clear those clogs, freeing the pipeline, increasing list growth, engagement, and driving increased conversions.

A typical email program audit includes:

  • A review of the program against best practices
  • Audit of lead capture opportunities
  • Audit of existing email campaigns (for user experience, calls to action, and messaging)
  • Competitive email analysis
  • Recommendations roadmap for improvement

An email program audit typically costs $8,000-$10,000 depending upon the number of email campaigns audited, whether a competitive analysis is performed, and the complexity of the email program.

Crucial Shopping Path Audit

Crucial shopping path audits are for brands struggling with increasing their year-over-year website revenues and conversion. Often brands perform a crucial shopping path audit after launching a redesigned website or before embarking upon a redesign. They notice that despite their best efforts, there seems to still be something blocking the website from achieving its full potential.

A crucial shopping path audit will help prioritize initiatives that engage customers, drive conversions, and increase brand loyalty by identifying friction points on the path to purchase.

A typical crucial shopping path audit can include:

  • Crucial shopping path audit
  • Analytics review
  • A recommendations roadmap

A crucial shopping path audit costs $5,000-$15,000 depending upon the size and complexity of your brand website, the validity of analytics data, and other brand specific factors.

Digital Experience Audit

A digital experience audit is a robust audit that combines aspects of most of the other digital audits (where appropriate).

This is the most intensive audit, but it also is the most holistic. It takes into account the full customer-brand digital experience and examines all the traffic and transactional touchpoints online, messaging, UX, crucial shopping path, and the competitive landscape. The end result is a targeted list of improvements and a plan for implementation.

A typical digital experience audit can include:

  • UX audit
  • Crucial shopping path audit
  • Email program audit
  • Digital landscape audit
  • Competitive analysis
  • Recommendations roadmap for improvement.

A digital experience audit can run $30,000-$40,000 depending largely upon the complexity of your digital ecosystem.

Time To Start

The best time to start your path to progress is now. Whether you connect with a digital marketing agency to help you with your audits or undertake it yourself, don’t wait. Progress only happens while pushing forward. So even if you’re over budget and underwater, start looking objectively at your data to find trends and patterns that can start to shine a light on areas that are a drag on your digital world.

If you start and get stuck, we’re here for you. Shoot us a line, ask us a question we’re happy to point you in the right direction.