What is the best approach for reviewing an organisation's digital marketing strategy to identify ways to improve results from online channels?

This is one of the questions we will answer in the upcoming E-consultancy "Managing Digital Channels" Best Practice Guide.

This post presents ten essential steps to complete a digital channel performance audit and improvement plan audit based on initial interviews with senior e-commerce managers from a range of companies including Bupa, Dell, EDF Energy, FT.com, Mercedes Benz, Oxfam, Ted Baker, Thomas Cook, uSwitch and Virgin Atlantic.

I'm currently working on updating the E-consultancy Managing an E-commerce Team research report.

As with the last report, we want to make it useful for those involved in managing internet marketing in different situations. For example, if you are:

  • New in a digital marketing management role
  • Working on the annual plan or budget
  • Experiencing a change in the senior manager you report into

Here is our 10 step digital channel performance audit and improvement plan.

These are the questions to ask, according to the managers in our interviews as they put together a plan to audit and improve digital marketing strategy in their companies.

Please let us know what you agree with or what you think we're missing - what have you found important to "get the ship on an even keel" when you have taken on a new role?

Step 1. Senior management commitment.
Assess and encourage senior management commitment. What is the level of understanding of digital channels and physical commitment and sponsorship among the senior management team? Developing a plan to educate and influence senior management team.

Step 2. Digital channel contribution.
What are the digital channels delivering across different markets and product categories now to support business goals in terms of sales, cost of acquisition, profitability and customer loyalty?

Step 3. Brand alignment.
Reviewing how digital channels and website functionality can support traditional brand values but also enhance the brand through development of online value propositions (OVPs).

Step 4. Marketplace analysis.
Customer insight is key, i.e. qualitative and quantitative research of customer characteristics, behaviours and opinions. Also includes benchmarking of competitors proposition, marketing communications and capabilities. Developing detailed understanding of online intermediaries, e.g. key portals, search engines and social networks which influence audience.

Step 5. Technology infrastructure.
Review capability of technology infrastructure to support online marketing innovation. Is an acceptable “time to market” for new functionality available dependent on legacy system integration, business case authorisation and prioritisation, dedicated development resource and agile technical development processes?

Step 6. Vision and Goals.
Develop a long-term vision for how digital channels will contribute to the development business. Set short term goals for digital channels in areas of customer acquisition, conversion and customer experience, retention and growth.

Step 7. Strategy and planning.
Ensure digital marketing is integrated into different planning cycles (i.e. long-term 3 to 5 year plans, annual plans and quarterly/monthly operational planning reviews). Establish method and budget sources for identifying, reviewing business case and prioritisation for new site and campaign functionality.

Step 8. Review capability of marketing resources to deliver efficient, integrated cross-channel communications.
Including organisation structure, staff roles and responsibilities, skills levels of staff, agency capability, marketing campaign management and review process.

Step 9. Refine Management Information and reporting.
Ensure web analytics and other business reporting tools maximise understanding of the influence of different digital media channels on delivering leads or sales. Implement a culture and process for integrating review and action based on defined Key Performance Indicators and structured tests.

Step 10. Identify and implement “quick wins”.
Based on strategic analysis performed, identify short-term projects to deliver business results across areas of customer acquisition (e.g. improvements to digital media channels such as search engine marketing, aggregators or affiliate marketing); conversion (improvements to landing page messaging and usability through small findability improvements to navigation or search labelling possibily based on AB or multivariate testing or customer journey improvements on home page, category, product or other landing pages and basket, registration or checkout process ) or retention and growth (encouraging repeat site visits or purchases through email marketing or on site merchandising).

So that's the 10 steps - please let us know what you think and keep a lookout for the survey which looks at other challenges of managing digital channels.


Dave Chaffey

Published 26 March, 2008 by Dave Chaffey

Dr Dave Chaffey, CEO of Smart Insights, is author of the Econsultancy Best Practice Guide to SEO.

8 more posts from this author

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Comments (3)

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Please complete the "Managing Digital Channels" survey if you are involved in managing digital channels and would like a copy of the free report summary.

The survey is now live http://surveys.e-consultancy.com/survey?iv=b5118ea8c84d5ec

Dave Chaffey

over 10 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

A bit late I know.... I think section 9 'Management Information and reporting' could benefit from inclusion of KPIs to cover the ever-changing user experience : of slow downs/ speed ups, sporadic errors: that is due to varying traffic levels and ongoing small and major infrastructure changes.

I come across a lot of organisations who have Web Analytics coming out of their ears, but seem in the dark as to how good/bad the user experience was for 'last night's email campaign' or 'last months peak shopping season', or don't know how slow the user experience will get if their Christmas rush hits 10% more than their forecasted sales.

Perhaps because the issue straddles the business, marketing and tech teams: it kind of is left with no one?

Just my tupence... based on 24/7 user journey KPI work across a range of online portals.


almost 10 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Thanks Deri. Yes you're quite right. We could have given availability/performance of site processes more prominence and can include it in the next report update. It wasn't mentioned as an issue in the companies involved, but they are generally more advanced than average.

BTW in my Ebusiness and Ecommerce Mgt and Internet Marketing Books which I am currently updating I reference your Scivisum research from a couple of years back on proportion of failed journeys. Do you have any other more recent published research showing the extent of this problem - please mail me?

Thanks, Dave Chaffey

almost 10 years ago

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