Audits. Nobody likes them, am I right?
I get it. I really do. But audits serve a 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.
Not sure how? The good news is, it’s easy to do. 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, when you do reopen, you’ll be more successful than ever. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Since your website is your online HQ, it’s a good place to start your audit. You may want to review your competitors’ websites to get a handle on what they’re doing. Then make note of anything that’s outdated or not working the way it should, including:
- Your site’s design
- Mobile accessibility
- Site speed
- Broken/outdated links
Your focus should be on making your site as fast, accessible, and useful 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, your website should reflect the changes.
Do you have an online store? If you do, then 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 some user testing. There are plenty of sites where the ordering process is convoluted. Customers hate that – which means you should, too.
I’m willing to bet that you’ve had the experience of adding something to your cart on a website, going to check out, and then abandoning your cart because the payment process was too annoying or laborious to handle.
Bottom line – a difficult payment process is unacceptable. It will cost you sales and customers.
Your focus should be on making the payment process an easy one. That may mean:
- Increasing the security of your payment page by updating your 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 site instead of asking customers to navigate away.
- 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. Are there features they want added? Is there an auxiliary product you could sell?
You may not be able to afford a full product update, but 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 the people in your target audience.
Loyalty programs are popular for a reason. I’ve written about them before. 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 it to see if it can be made better.
You might need an overhaul if your loyalty program:
- Isn’t attracting new members
- Offers dated or sub-par rewards
- Doesn’t have a mobile option
Your loyalty program should be appealing to your customers and provide something concrete in return for their loyalty. You can find a list of options to improve your loyalty program here.
We’ve already talked about auditing your website, but what about the rest of the web?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to audit the whole internet. That would take too long. But what you should do is to audit the rest of your online presence with an eye toward improving your local SEO. Here’s a checklist of what to do:
- Review your online listings in directories, guides, and other places to make sure your NAP (name, address, & phone number) are consistent. Even small differences, such as using Ave instead of Avenue, can dilute your online presence.)
- Claim your Google My Business listing and make sure your information (including Google Maps) is up-to-date.
- Claim any review site profiles you haven’t yet claimed and check all of them to ensure your information is accurate and current.
- Update photographs on review sites 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, making it easy for your business to rank on Google.
Email marketing – well, you’re probably sick of hearing me talk about how much I love email marketing. The ROI is a great and it’s an inexpensive and effective way to communicate with your customers.
Here are some things to review in your audit:
- Your opt-in form should be short and request only essential information.
- Subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in 6 months should be 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 your emails to the customers who are most likely to buy from you.
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 site 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 site. That might not be 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 your time – is low, then you can simply deactivate your account. Or you can reconsider how you’re using it to improve your ROI.
The same is true of any other site. You’re better off having one or two active social media accounts than five that aren’t as good as they could be.
If your social media game is lacking, it’s an equally good time to set up a new account to market your business. If Twitter is underperforming, you might turn your focus to Instagram or Pinterest.
Internal Processes and Procedures
While the aforementioned all tie into your organization’s digital marketing efforts, you should also seriously consider auditing your internal processes and procedures, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve done so. Technology changes at a whirlwind pace, and new solutions are constantly being introduced into the marketplace, all with the end goal of streamlining how company’s operate to maximize efficiency. This digital transformation is literally changing the way organizations operate, so that employees are no longer married to monotonous manual tasks and can instead focus their efforts on more meaningful work that enhances the bottom line.
By conducting an audit, you’ll be able to quickly identify key areas for improvement. And from there, can start devising strategies to address them. It’s important to note, however, that many organizations struggle with strategy and implementation, and turn to outside company’s like Cavendish Wood to assist in the process. Regardless of whether you keep things in-house or use an outside 3rd party to assist in the process, this is an extremely critical piece of the audit puzzle, and one that should definitely not be overlooked.
Looking Towards the Future
An audit might not sound like fun but doing one now can make a huge difference to the health and success of your business.
What are you waiting for?