Audits Nobody likes them, am I right? I get it. I really do. But business 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 is 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 will be more successful than ever. Here is what you will need to do.
Since your website is your online HQ, it is a good place to start your audit. You may want to review your competitors’ websites to get a handle on what they are doing. Then make note of anything that is outdated or not working the way it should, including: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 Broken/outdated links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. Also be sure to update your hours in Google My Business.
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 will talk about next are two areas where I think it is worthwhile to pay for some user testing. There are plenty of sites where the ordering process convoluted. Customers hate that which means you should, too. Nobody should have to guess what to do or be left wondering whether their payment went through.
I am 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. This will also get you brownie points from Google.
> 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. This is a major culprit of abandoned carts. So do not ignore this!
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 would change about your products. Are there features they want added? You may even be surprised by what you uncover. This type of FREE market research can in many cases be highly lucrative.
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.
We have already talked about auditing your website, but what about the rest of the web? Do not worry, you do not 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 is 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 have not 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 should not take long but they can make a big difference in your local SEO, making it easy for your business to rank on Google.
Loyalty programs are popular for a reason. I have written about them before. If you do not have one, or if it has 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:
> Is not 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.
Email marketing — well, many of you are probably sick of hearing me talk about how much I love email marketing. The return on investment is great and it is 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 have not opened your emails in 6 months should be unsubscribed. Unless you are using a free service, you are 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 customers who are most likely to buy from you.
If you do not already have an email list now is the time to start. Just get a simple form on your site. You can even use a plugin if using the WordPress platform.
We already talked a little about updating your social media profiles, but there is another angle you should consider during your audit. It is common for companies to think they need a presence on every social media site. That might not be true.
For example, say you have got a Twitter account that you have been using to no avail. If the return on investment on your Twitter — factoring in ad spending and your time is low, then it would be advisable to simply deactivate your account. Or, you can reconsider how you are using it to improve your return on investment. The same is true of any other site. Basically you are better off having one or two active social media accounts than five that are not as good as they could be.
Be sure to keep in mind that not all businesses are suited to every social media platform. So, ensure due diligence when selecting social media platforms. For most businesses, the best approach is to cherry pick social media channels that make the most sense for the brand, rather than try to apply an equal amount of effort everywhere.
Your choice should be based on several different factors such as your target audience, niche and social media strategy.
If your social media game is lacking, it is an equally good time to set up a new account to market your business. If Twitter is underperforming, you might tum your focus to Instagram or Pinterest.
A60-minute business audit might not sound like fun but doing one now can make a huge difference to the health and success of your business. Especially if you are closed during these unprecedented times. What are you waiting for, get your business audit started now.