DIGITAL AUDIT:LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP

 

THERE IS A RISK BEHIND GUESSING

You are considering a new product, a new service, or you are considering bringing in a new digital marketing initiative to your workplace - would you seriously think about making that decision without understanding the surrounding market, what your customers want, or who your competitors are? Unfortunately, it is a 50/50 chance that if you don't research your opportunity properly, you could end up with something that does your organisation more harm than good. 

"Your digital outreach is an allocation of time, money and resources -  so we need to ensure that we make it count"
- Edelman

UNDERSTAND CURRENT DEMAND & TRENDS

The world is undergoing mass digitalisation, and with the continuous development of new technologies, and the increasingly complex demand from our consumers, we are wise to embrace the Digital Age if we wish to keep up with our competitors and achieve our goals. As a result of this shift in dynamic, we should be continuously evaluating our position within our market, and contrary to previous years, we now rely on digital technologies as a matter of survival. Innovative technologies and ways of working for both internal use and to position ourselves in the market have changed the way we do business - and as Gary Vaynerchuk says in ‘Jab, Jab,Jab,   Right Hook’ - it makes sense to now use the system to reach our business objectives; and to “put our time, energy and dollars into the place where consumers actually are and not where you wish they would stay.” Innovators have opened up the doors for multi-directional communications, enabling us to collaborate with our stakeholders and process the information we collect in order to develop a more targeted, specialised, effective way forward. And if you are not embracing the current trends - you can bet that your competitors are. Staying on top of the latest developments in both technology and how to analyse and understand our audiences puts us in the best place to fit the ever-increasing demands from all directions, so it is vital that we conduct regular audits of our activities to ensure their validity and make forward-thinking decisions on our future actions based upon our findings. 

"Before you commit to new activity, understand the success of the old, understand the demands in the market and behaviour of customers."
- JAMES PREBBLE
DIRECTOR; PALLADIUM

Amongst the excitement of the new technology at our fingertips that will no doubt accelerate our business, we must consider what is realistic and viable for our organisation. With a set budget, financial targets and organisation goals and milestones, it is therefore critical that we stop and look at what is in front of us before we invest our people, time and money in a new digital initiative.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Audits help us take a good look at our audience and work out exactly what appeals to them. Perhaps you have a hunch that an activity is helping you when in fact it is holding you back. For example, your website might seem great but are you sure that it is driving the right amount of lead conversions in line with your targets, or awareness of your organisation? 
- or are you the best kept secret since the pyramids in China? 

So often, I notice professionals forgetting two things: firstly, that there is a wealth of information out there provided directly by consumers that will give us detailed clues as to whether a new product, campaign or initiative might succeed for their organisation; and secondly; that we can learn from our previous mistakes (or even better, those of our competitors) in order to influence the direction of the business.

We can also learn from the millions of people who now voluntarily create content every day across a multitude of channels worldwide - our consumers. Detailed analysis of our consumers and demographics, and as a result of our findings carefully articulated communications will enable us to truly understand what drives them to the point of sale, and to build “authentic and active customer relationships.” 


ALIGN ORGANISATIONAL FOCUS & BRIDGE GAPS IN YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY

The Art of Listening is not one that organisations have traditionally felt compelled to master - or at least, not to the level that is expected now. However, the most effective decisions, whether we are thinking of implementing a new piece of software in order to achieve our goals, or whether we are launching a new product and therefore require a suitable marketing campaign, are made by those who fully understand the environment, both internally and externally before they march forward.

Not only could each of our departments be inadvertently misaligned in their focus at the detriment of our overall business goals, we might also be duplicating data or working on an initiative that has already been completed or part completed (successfully or unsuccessfully) by our colleagues. We can increase the alignment of our strategy and reach a collective understanding of our direction by evaluating the impact of current efforts and utilising the wealth of knowledge inside our organisation, and following that; we can build a strategy and game-plan with planned measurement that reflects the bigger picture instead of just a ‘hunch’.

Let me be clear. A digital audit is not something to be feared, and should be seen as a step forward rather than a danger zone for marketing professionals. It is natural for focus to drift if it is not monitored regularly, especially since the technologies now available to monitor success and return on investment in the digital space have historically been few and far between. 


AVOID WASTED INVESTMENT

It sounds fantastic -you have decided to go hell for leather on achieving your goals as an organisation - you are going to embrace social with a shiny new strategy, create a range of products or services that your customers really want, and better still you are going to disrupt your competitors with an engaging (although expensive) campaign to market your new approach. But what if the initiative doesn’t bring the return on investment you expected? What if your audience don’t engage with your campaign, and you haven’t reached your sales targets because you haven’t positioned yourselves correctly and your employees are not aware of (or aligned with) your new, customer-centric ethos?

Before investing in new initiatives, however large or small, you should understand the implications on your organisation. By collecting and processing the right data and information effectively, evaluating what’s going on in and around your organisation and evaluating it against your aims and goals and then deciding exactly what it is you need to build upon, you can achieve a far more informed decision about what’s next. You could uncover hidden gems that you had no idea existed or had an impact inside your business as well as valuable insight into your audience and the current trends in your environment. 

“Start respecting the platforms and understand the nuances that make them interesting”
- Gary Vaynerchuk

Working out why an activity has an impact and exactly which elements should be exploited is also a key part of understanding the impact that digital has on your business. For this reason, there are a multitude of tools to enable auditors to do that - by carefully examining the digital activity of both your organisation and those who have an impact on its success. 


MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND INVESTMENT

Thinking about buying shares in a business or even acquiring one? Before you take that leap of faith, it is important that you understand exactly what you are (thinking about) getting into. For example, a business may look peachy from the outside, especially having been shown the best things about it by its advocates. However, you should consider whether this company is going to be worthwhile financially long term as well as in the short; and digital is a key component of that decision-making process. 

If you were to buy a house, only to move in and find out that it needs thousands of pounds worth of work doing to it in order to be liveable, only to find out, having spent that money; that the foundations are not supporting the building properly- how would you feel? Frustrated, right? Possibly even cheated. This is why an audit should be conducted before hand. 

Digital is and should be at the forefront of a companies overall strategy. Not only does a correctly formulated digital strategy enable better interaction with stakeholders, an audit of a firms current approach will evaluate how effective (or ineffective) it is at utilising digital. It could uncover detrimental points about the direction of the organisation - what exactly drives the business or hinders it? Where exactly do the firms strengths and weaknesses lie? Is there an opportunity that they could uncover and thrive upon, and what are the threats that it faces? Is the venture actually viable?


WHAT DOES A DIGITAL AUDIT LOOK LIKE?

A digital audit will assess all aspects of digital: reach over all the channels including Social and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), lead conversion, use of technology, content (and the consequent engagement), integration between channels and customer experience, and finally an view of how your competitors use of digital to carry out their strategy. By listening to the signals, communicators and marketers can then build a strategic plan, integrating all aspects of the business to form articulated communications to distribute to their stakeholders.

See Palladium’s Digital Audit Model, based on CultureHive’s principles, below:


IN SHORT, DIGITAL AUDITING WILL HELP YOUR BUSINESS:

  1. Stay on top of current consumer demand & digital trends
  2. Measure true impact of your current digital approach 
  3. Bridge over gaps in your current digital strategy
  4. Align organisational focus across departments
  5. Ensure that you make informed, evidenced decisions

BEFORE YOU CONDUCT AN AUDIT, ASK YOURSELF:

  1. What are your overall business goals?
  2. What is the state of the business now?
  3. How do you currently use digital?
  4. Where do you see yourself going with digital?

This article was co-authored by James Prebble & Imogen Wakerley ofPalladium, a digital consultancy specialising in transforming business process, knowledge and marketing through intelligent use of digital technology.