Audits. Nobody likes them.
That said, audits serve a critical purpose – and if your business is closed right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then this is the perfect time to change “audit” from a dirty word to a tool that can help your business thrive.
Your business could probably use some fine-tuning, and an internal audit of your resources and processes can help you get everything in order so that when you do reopen, your business will be in a position to achieve success.
Not sure how to start? The good news is, it’s easy to conduct an audit. And we’re going to walk you through the process.
Since your website is the beating heart of your marketing efforts, it’s the perfect starting point for an audit. You may also want to review your competitors’ websites to see what they’re doing. From there, focus on your own website and make note of any content and technical aspects that are outdated or malfunctioning including:
- Mobile accessibility
- Loading speed
- Broken/outdated links
Your ultimate goal should be making your website as fast, accessible, and valuable as possible. Anything that slows down or negatively impacts the user experience should be improved.
On a more topical note, many businesses have altered their hours and offerings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have done the same, your website should reflect these changes.
Do you have an online store? If so, you should look at every aspect of it from your product listings and design to the functionality of ordering.
How easy is it for customers to order online? Is your store just as functional for mobile users as it is for people on a computer? Is the checkout process intuitive?
Ordering and payments – which we’ll talk about next – are two areas where I think it’s worthwhile to pay for user testing. There are plenty of websites where the ordering process is convoluted. Customers hate a difficult purchasing experience, which means you should, too.
Far too many people have gone through the experience of adding something to their cart on a website, getting ready to check out, and then abandoning their cart because the payment process was too annoying or laborious.
The bottom line is, a difficult payment process is unacceptable. It will cost you new sales and existing customers.
Your focus should be on making the payment process easy. Doing may entail the following:
- Increasing the security of the payment page by updating the security certificate, adding encryption, and including a statement about security to reassure your customers
- Adding payment methods that are easy for customers to use including credit cards, PayPal, eChecks, and mobile payments
- Keeping your entire payment process on your website instead of requiring customers to navigate to an external page
- Minimizing the number of steps in your checkout process
Paying for an online order should be quick, easy, and intuitive. Nobody should have to guess what to do or be left wondering whether their payment went through.
Products and Services
This might not seem like the right time to revamp your products or services, but you’re already auditing, right?
Consider asking your followers on social media what, if anything, they’d change about your products. For example, are there features they want to be added? Is there an auxiliary product you could sell?
While you may not be able to afford a full product update, it’s still a good idea to take a step back and use this opportunity to evaluate your products and see what you can do to make them more appealing to your target audience.
Loyalty programs are popular for a reason. If you don’t have one, or if it’s been a while since you thought about it, this is the perfect time to review your program to see if it needs improvements.
You might need an overhaul if your loyalty program:
- Isn’t attracting new members
- Offers dated or sub-par rewards
- Doesn’t offer a mobile option
Your loyalty program should be appealing to your customers and provide something concrete in return for their loyalty. You can learn about ways to improve your loyalty program here.
We’ve already talked about auditing your website, but what about your online presence in other areas?
If customers can’t find your website and social media accounts, they can’t purchase from you. This is why making sure your SEO is in order is imperative. Take the following steps to ensure that your brand performs well in search engine results:
- Review your online listings in directories, guides, and other places to make sure your company’s name, address, and phone number are consistent across the Internet. Even small differences such as using “Ave” instead of “Avenue” can cause harmful discrepancies.
- Claim your Google My Business listing and make sure the information (including Google Maps) is up-to-date.
- Claim any review website profiles you haven’t yet claimed and check all of them to ensure the information contained within is accurate and current.
- Update photographs on review websites to reflect product updates or menu changes.
- Review your social media profiles and update them as needed.
These changes shouldn’t take long, but they can make a big difference in your local SEO and the performance of your online properties in search results.
Email marketing offers significant return-on-investment, as well as an inexpensive and effective way to communicate with customers.
Make sure to review the following email marketing considerations while conducting the audit:
- The opt-in form should be short and request essential information only.
- Subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in six months should be automatically unsubscribed. Unless you’re using a free service, you’re paying to keep them on your list.
- Review (or create) a welcome sequence to send to new subscribers.
- Consider list segmentation to target emails to the customers who are most likely to purchase.
If you don’t already have an email list, this is the perfect time to build one. You can add a simple opt-in form to your website using a plugin.
We already talked a little about updating your social media profiles, but there’s another angle you should consider during your audit.
It’s common for companies to think they need a presence on every social media platform. This isn’t necessarily true.
For example, say you’ve got a Twitter account that you’ve been using to no avail. If the ROI on your Twitter – factoring in ad spending and the time invested – is low, then you can simply deactivate your account. Or you can reconsider how you’re using it to support marketing efforts.
The same is true of any other social media platform. You’re better off having one or two active social media accounts than five that consistently under-perform.
If your social media game is lacking, it’s an equally good time to set up a new account to market your business. For example, if Twitter is returning lackluster results, you might shift your focus to Instagram or Pinterest.
An audit might not sound like fun, but conducting one now can make a huge difference in the longevity and success of your business.
What are you waiting for?