It’s hard to believe, but we’re already more than halfway through the year. Time flies when you’re navigating economic uncertainty, staying up on the latest marketing trends, and learning about who your customers are in a post-pandemic world. It’s easy to get so busy that you lose sight of what’s happening across all areas of your digital marketing framework. To ensure the year ends on a high note for your business, assess these nine critical aspects of your approach. By asking yourself key marketing audit questions, you’ll likely uncover areas where emerging tools and technologies can help you stretch your resources further and better serve your customers.
You have a good sense of what success looks like for your business this year. Perhaps you even spent time at the end of 2022 documenting your company’s strategic goals. But continued economic uncertainty makes it difficult for marketers to plan for the next quarter, let alone the next 12 months.
Now that we’re more than six months into the year, you can adjust the goals you set in Q4 or Q1 to reflect reality better.
- Have you been surprised by the success of a specific marketing program? Increase your goal and challenge your team to take advantage of the opportunity.
- Not seeing the results you anticipated? Dig into why and adjust your goal if you need to.
- Have you had to make room for a new marketing priority you didn’t foresee back in December or January? Reassess your marketing goals against this new information.
Whichever direction you take your goals, make sure each is attached to a specific metric and timeline. Data drives modern marketing, so using measurable, time-bound goals to inform your digital strategy is imperative.
You have a top-quality product or service that people want, but who are they beyond the demographic basics? Quiz yourself with three quick questions:
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What are their values, and what turns them off?
- How have their shopping habits shifted with the current economy?
You must know who you’re serving to ensure your brand’s continued success. Take stock of customer data and ensure it aligns with your marketing personas. If there are differences, especially post-pandemic, it may be time to revise your personas to serve your audience best. Review and refresh marketing personas annually so they always align with company goals for the year ahead.
From experimental navigation to colorful gradients to Y2K-inspired visuals, there’s no shortage of eye-opening trends dominating today’s web design space. At the same time, research suggests that people only pay attention to one screen for an average of 47 seconds. That doesn’t give website visitors a long time to marvel at your cutting-edge design and convert.
Find a balance by focusing your design on user experience. Make sure your website visitors can easily take the action you want, whether adding an item to their cart, downloading a report, or filling out a contact form. Use a heat-mapping tool like Hotjar to identify where people drop off in completing these actions.
- Is it because they cannot find what they are looking for?
- Are they hesitant to supply contact information?
- Are they frustrated by an error or a page loading too slowly?
- Do they need more time or information before committing to your product or service?
Answering these questions can help guide a website redesign project—one that may allow you to incorporate some of today’s top trends in a meaningful, UX-friendly way.
4. Social Media
Your social channels are great tools for building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. But there’s likely a lot more you could be doing with them, too. Have you tested any of these tactics in 2023?
- Selling directly through Facebook or Instagram shops
- Inviting your customers to interact with you one-on-one through DMs
- Exploring new platforms like Threads, BeReal and Lemon8
- Trying a B2B influencer marketing campaign to bolster trust and credibility
- Activating Creator Mode on LinkedIn
An important part of knowing your audience is knowing where they spend time online. At least once a year, perform a social media evaluation to gauge account growth and engagement across each platform. Consider whether your current channels and content are serving your target audience. Take note of metrics that speak to meaningful engagement, like comments, shares, and video completions. Also, look at ways to optimize content to work better on each platform. For example, what text-based content can you repurpose as a video or reel?
Stay current on social media usage trends for your target audiences and explore ways to meet them where they are with content that feels authentic to the platform. If an app isn’t a fit for your brand, don’t force it.
5. Content Strategy
Quality content is critical, and your content strategy should detail how your content, formats, and distribution channels fuel your business goals. Ensure that you carry that strategic thinking into each piece of content you produce, whether it’s an email, blog, or social post. Before you type a single sentence, outline the following:
- Purpose: What aspect of your business are you highlighting, or what content pillar are you working within?
- Target Audience: Which of your personas are you creating this content for? Where are they in their buyer’s journey?
- Call to Action: What do you want the reader/viewer to do after consuming the content? What numeric goal have you associated with this action?
Once you’ve hit publish, ensure you have a process to help your company make the most of every piece of content. Find opportunities to share it across all channels—website, email, social, search, SMS—by envisioning your work as part of an ecosystem that helps immerse your audience in your brand.
Is your email strategy reactive or proactive? Are you rushing to put together an email when you have an event or announcement? Or are you facilitating valuable dialogue with your customers year-round? If it’s the former, explore the automation capabilities within your email service provider that can help you automatically send a series of emails to accomplish things like:
- Welcoming a new customer to your brand
- Nurturing a job applicant through the interview process
- Introducing customers to supplemental products or services based on their shopping behavior
- Encouraging customers to review your product or service post-purchase
- Reconnecting with past customers or clients you haven’t heard from in awhile
Once your sequence is written and designed, you’ll have branded content banked and ready to go.
7. Search Engine Optimization
As searchers get savvier, SEO follows suit. While quality content that’s well-optimized for the keywords you want to rank for is still the leading signal for Google, your website’s user experience matters, too. A comprehensive SEO audit typically includes an evaluation of:
- On-page SEO (content and keywords)
- Off-page SEO (backlink profile)
- Technical SEO (site speed and performance)
It’s also valuable to take a look at how your competitors are performing in these areas. Today, evaluating how well you’re catering to local searchers (those using “near me”) and how well your site performs on mobile devices is also important.
Ensuring your SEO is in great shape now will only help your business as the nature of our online searches evolves. For example, the latest conversational AIs search the internet and synthesize their findings. If your content is discoverable and valued by human searchers now, you’ll likely have a leg up with chatbots as well.
8. Tech Stack
Are there areas of your marketing where your team spends too much time? Are you reinventing the wheel every time you start a new marketing project? Adding to your tech stack sounds like serious business–and a significant investment–but it doesn’t always mean buying costly enterprise software. It can be as simple as introducing tools that help your team work more efficiently. Explore tools like:
- HubSpot: The platform unites aspects of your marketing, such as blogging, digital ads, and email, under one umbrella to give you a sense of how your customers interact with each touchpoint as part of their buyer’s journey.
- Yoast SEO: The WordPress plugin suggests keyword optimizations to help your website perform better in search results.
- Canva: The graphic design tool has added AI features to speed up the creative process. Instead of searching through pages of stock photos, simply describe what you’re looking for, and Canva will produce it.
Start by asking your team members about their wish-list technologies or platforms and suggestions for at least three vendors per category. Then evaluate the pros and cons of each, looking at price, features and functionality, case studies, and customer support.
Speaking of tools, ensure you’re using the right ones to measure your progress toward your goals. If you tackle one analytics to-do this year, make sure your organization is properly set up on Google Analytics 4. The switchover is simple, but like with any new platform, you’ll need time to train team members and ensure everyone is comfortable with GA’s new reporting style.
Having real-time access to metrics, and reporting on them regularly, will allow your team to make optimizations and better position your business for hitting time-bound goals. If the amount of data available in any one platform feels overwhelming, decide on the KPIs that matter most for each area of your marketing. Here are a few overlooked areas of analysis:
- Website Traffic to Website Lead Ratio: You invest a lot into maintaining your website, so make sure it’s serving its business purpose. Beyond the number of unique visitors your site receives each month, look at the quality of your traffic. Is it resulting in leads, and ultimately sales?
- Sentiment: Go beyond social comments, like, and shares to learn how your customers feel about your brand and content. Social listening tools can give you some clues. Many scheduling platforms like Hootsuite and Sprout come with social listening features built in—make sure you’re taking advantage of them.
- Hashtags: While not a traditional metric, it’s important to keep tabs on what content users are associated with your branded hashtag. If you aren’t, you could miss valuable UGC to share on your marketing channels. Also, take note of what hashtags users are associating with your brand on their own. Perhaps there are new tags you could be adding to your own posts.
Your next step is to pull those analytics into a central location. Monday.com and other user-friendly tools let you easily create custom dashboards and track progress and performance.