Digital Marketing Audits & Priorities. Too Many Cooks Can Spoil The Broth

Digital marketing audits and reviews

When things are busy there can be a bit less attention paid to digital marketing as the cash keeps coming in, but in the times of Government subsidies and paid strategies around there seems to be a bucketload of cash in various countries helping businesses ‘pivot’ or survive and often we see that endless free advice hinder people instead of helping them making progress.

We’ve worked with some of the largest tourism businesses, many activity providers, and some relatively new businesses and ecommerce stores and we’ve seen patterns that help us identify who’ll get the most out of digital marketing reviews, and what to look for in your provider so you can grow your business revenue by getting more out of what you already have, without having to get new websites, brand reviews and other expensive time consuming exercises.

We’ve seen the difference between businesses who are still waiting to implement areas of improvements highlighted months ago as the jump into another “free” review, and the ones who have established new found confidence to invest in business saving digital marketing campaigns in one of the most challenging markets to date.

There’s no doubt many businesses have had to suffer a huge deal due to worldwide lockdowns and the loss of business through no fault of their own and there are horrific stories about financial burdens, mental health and loss of people livelihoods. This article does not take away from that but it specifically discusses digital marketing for existing businesses. The reality is when it comes to digital marketing there are very few businesses in sectors like tourism making complete pivots (although there are some wonderful examples) – they are just changing their marketing or looking how to improve historical digital assets for when the going gets good again.

A lot of government funded advice is being taken largely due to a lack of training and investment in digital marketing when the going was good, and this all has to be paid by taxpayers, but are these free reviews really benefiting your business?

Should You Take Advantage Of Every “Free” Digital Review Available?

Like everything in life, everyone has an opinion and if everyone was the same, well life would be boring right?

The main issues we see when working with multiple digital marketing providers during digital audits and reviews are

  • You can be inundated with everyone’s thoughts then you don’t know where to take action first
  • You take the wrong action, or take no action at all.
  • You get advice without someone having access to your data so see what you are currently capture
    (tip : if you’re not tracking stuff and doing any paid marketing the algorithms cannot work well so get your digital foundations in place first)
  • You get advice on one specific area like Facebook when you don’t have core digital foundations in place and you go off chasing the latest shiny object
  • You don’t get a holistic review so you can’t see the bigger picture and don’t get options

What most businesses need is a holistic approach and priorities, not four of five recommendations that are all off in in different directions as that is more likely to lead to analysis paralysis and no action.

One big thing to be aware of is all this free advice isn’t truly free. Even if we forget it’s taxpayer’s money, each set of advice will take you or one of your team’s time to work with the provider, and give them background information (they are asking questions right?), then time taken to digest the information. You may not have to pay for their time, but it is taking some of your time.

In New Zealand there’s been Regional Business Partners funding, Qualmark funding for tourism providers and loads of other funding and some of these are making recommendations without even getting access to your existing data (because that’s more time consuming). If they are not looking at your data or getting an understanding of what you’re not tracking, then you often get advice without having the fundamental tracking in place to understand whether it is making any differences or not, either that or its generic advice.

Imagine your accountant giving you advice without looking at your bank account?

That’s like getting a digital marketing review without your provider asking about data and about getting access to your digital assets. If this happens, you’re very likely to get a review and not realise how messy your setup is (top tip : the majority of businesses we work with really struggle to give us the correct access, or they don’t actually have ownership of their own data which means its like only your accountant having access to your bank account).

If you work with a pure social media company as an example, their focus is on social media, but should that be your focus if your organic search engine optimisation is terrible? If you work with a creative agency there’s a good chance they’ll talk about branding, or revamping your website when it may be possible to make relatively minor changes to your existing site that make massive impact (like an example where we took a restaurant from page 4 to organic #1 with some very subtle changes – no site redesign required).

Now is the time to improve on what you have not necessarily make huge investments into shiny new things. Improving what you’ve got can make a huge difference for far less cost if you do it well.

Are Your Digital Marketing Priorities Correct?

The biggest thing we see in digital marketing is chasing the latest shiny object without having the foundations in place. Many businesses are spending a disproportionate amount of time worried about how much to post on Facebook or when’s the best time to post is (note it’s likely not 4pm on a Tuesday like that article in the US told you for a completely different business).

Facebook is not digital marketing…..on its own. If you are are getting a ton of revenue through Facebook that’s awesome, but then what happens when the algorithm changes and you have all your eggs in one basket? This is why a holistic approach to digital marketing is crucial.

We recently ran a full day workshop with a business and it was refreshing to hear them say “We don’t do much on Facebook and don’t see it being worth the time for a business like ours, what do you think?”. It was absolutely the right call for them as their organic SEO wasn’t great, their website was slow and they weren’t doing any paid marketing in a very specific area that has the potential to drastically reduce the revenue they are paying to third parties. For this business, investing in those areas would give them far more bang for their buck than feeling the obligation to be more active on Facebook.

It’s ok not to chase the latest platform. You don’t have to be pumping out TikTok videos or pumping out funky Instagram stories if that’s not the platform that’s going to bring you the most revenue in the shortest amount of time. If they are, go for gold.

Are You Looking At The Right Digital Marketing Metrics?

Looking at the right metrics is vital when analysing your digital marketing. I’ll let you into a ‘secret’ we shout as loud about as possible when we can, to the point it starts to sound like a broken record.

We have never encountered a business that is tracking everything they should be online.

This is so important I’ll repeat it.

We have never encountered a business that is tracking everything they should be online.

Why is this important? Facebook Likes are easy to track and very visible but usually they are vanity metrics.

Most business should be focusing on revenue, not vanity metrics like ‘likes’ from your mates.

Tracking all the relevant conversions in your business are very important, not just for your analysis, but if you are not feeding the algorithms of Google and Facebook the correct conversion data, then the algorithms cannot optimise, and your ad spend budget will not be working as well as it could be. That could be tracking phone calls (very often phone numbers still aren’t even clickable on websites, never mind trackable), contact forms, email clicks as well as revenue.

It floors me every time I see an established business who has no Google Analytics or ecommerce tracking on their website.

If you are not tracking all the conversions on all your platforms like Google and Facebook then you either cannot tell how your campaigns are working, or you are likely under reporting their success.

If you use a third party booking system for things like hotel bookings they won’t tell you the full story of where your bookings came from when its organic search, and if its set up to track conversions, the majority of the time there are error in how it’s setup.

We always think getting this tracking as accurate as possible should be your number one priority before embarking on any digital project. Without it you can’t track success (or failure / improvements) and its shocking how many providers will run marketing without the knowledge of how to set this up correctly.

Here’s Some Examples Of Digital & Business Priorities Gone Wrong

To follow through on the points made above here’s some examples of when digital marketing priorities haven’t quite been right in a business :

  • A business approached us asking how to get their site more visible just after their new site was built
    Unfortunately that discussion should happen right at the start of a project with a marketer. They had a slick looking website that wasn’t structured for search engine optimisation, and very little content. The correct answer was the site needs to be tweaked just after the website budget has been used.
  • A business was reviewed and told to be more active on Facebook but they didn’t even have the fundamentals of tracking their website activities in place, never mind their Facebook tracking. That may have ticked a box, and it may have made a difference, but it wasn’t measurable, and the foundations to feed to Facebook to improve were not there.
  • An agency advised a business to run Google Ads campaigns, they ran them with the agency but they only had vanity metrics like clicks and impressions in place – no work was done to track the sales data.
  • A business had a thorough review from us, but instead of taking action on the advice to improve their website and implementing campaigns to bring revenue, they jumped into yet another ‘free’ digital marketing review, despite having 40 pages of worth of notes and actions to take. This was 4 months after the initial review was done which was plenty time to have implemented some actions.

We could go on. We have hundreds of examples like this and see them on a daily basis.

How Do You Solve Analyse Paralysis in Digital Marketing?

So the takeaway here is too many cooks can spoil the broth not only in cooking but also with digital marketing advice.

Here are some notes to take when you are looking to review your digital marketing :

  • Ensure you are working with a partner that has your best interests in mind
    Some providers are just taking the free funding they have access to, and they may not be experts in it.
  • Don’t rush into using a partner just because they are available today or tomorrow.
    Like tradespeople, good practitioners are busy and you are trusting elements of your business with them.
  • Ensure you get advice covering a wide variety of your digital marketing, that covers the basics through to the advanced, and ensure your provider actually looks at your data.
  • Don’t just follow generic advice that may not be suitable for you.
    (don’t feel you have to post on Facebook at 4pm on a Tuesday – see my earlier comment).

Most importantly take action on any areas of improvement.

Take small steps first if you are more comfortable with that. It may be optimising your Google My Business listing, it may be updating your website Title tags to improve SEO, or it may be finally setting up all your conversion tracking on Google and Facebook.

Don’t think of your digital marketing being your website – that is just one component of the customer journey.

We’ve seen big improvements with relatively small changes. Changing website hosting, drastically improving web speed and updating the title tag on one page website allowed us to take a restaurant from Page 4 to organic search position one. We’ve done similar with travel agents and hostels, and we’ve run paid Google Ads campaigns that have brought in more business than organic search, allowing a business to keep all their team intact.

What action are you going to take today that will start making shifts in your business online?

Note : We have been a big beneficiary of the great Regional Business Partners scheme in New Zealand and have reviewed digital marketing and the online presence of dozens of businesses. We see very similar patterns, regardless of whether the website was DIY, or $50k. We’ve worked with dozens of businesses – some who have taken the bull by the horns and make significant differences quickly, and some who have placed reports from various providers on the shelf gathering dust.

Darren Craig

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