For a lot of people, audit is a scary and intimidating word. In reality, conducting a business audit just means gaining a better understanding of your business’ money. In fact, the definition of an audit according to Merriam-Webster is “a formal examination of an organizations or individual’s accounts or financial situation.” Regardless of the industry you’re in, or the years of experience your company has, an audit is essential to the fiscal success of your business.
Just like you would set up a business plan to identify your brand’s objectives and the tactics you will use to achieve them, an audit helps you analyze key operations within your business that could contribute to accounting irregularities or even fraud. For eCommerce businesses, this is especially important because everything is done online. While auditing eCommerce and eBusiness operations are mystifying some digital professionals, the eCommerce website audit checklist we will cover today will help you understand the steps you need to take to perform an effective audit so you can increase your conversion rate.
As an online business owner, there are certain things that need to be done beforehand to set your company up for long-term success. Below we’ll go over some preparation work that needs to go on your eCommerce internal audit checklist.
An audit in an eCommerce environment can also be seen as going over your website’s analytics, which are important because they reveal trends and shifts in your customer’s behavior in relation to your business. Especially with Google, analytics can reveal how long users spent on your website, what pages they visited, which users converted, and how well your site is doing compared to your competitors. With analytics tools you can also audit eCommerce transactions to gain a better understanding of what your best performing products are and why. All in all, your website’s analytics reveal crucial information every business leader needs to improve their eCommerce business. These reports are also done in real-time so you always know what the state of your site is.
You’ve heard it all year long—that data is power in the age of the internet. Market research is important because understanding your audience and how they interact with your business will help you understand how to improve your brand. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to uncover how many people are searching for specific items in your industry and what keywords they’re using to do it. Google Trends is another good tool to see what users are interested in based on geographic location. Use this information to correctly position your eCommerce business online. Alexandra Sheehan, writer for Shopify, says:
When you conduct market research, you’ll gain an understanding of the cultural, societal, socioeconomic, geographic, and personal makeup of your target customers. You’ll understand whether there’s a demand for your product, how big that demand is, and who is generating the demand. It’ll also help you understand the competitive landscape.
Essentially, market research will help you understand how you can better service your audience and increase your ROI.
User Experience (UX)
For eBusinesses, UX is essential for success. Think of UX as a digital variation of customer service. If you’re at a restaurant and the service is exceptional, you’re more likely to visit that establishment again. However, if you dine and your waiter is rude or nasty, you probably wouldn’t want to experience that again. All of this is true of UX as well. In fact, more than 9 out of 10 users surveyed agreed with the statement, “good user experience just makes sense.”
In a study done by Forrester, they discovered that a well-designed user interface could increase your conversion rate by 200%, and “better UX design” could increase conversion rates by 400%. User experience is at the top of this eCommerce launch checklist because the bloodline of every business is its customers.
Usability is at the center of UX—if a user can’t navigate or is confused by the order of your website, needless to say that that is very bad. Some of the main factors that affect usability are design, navigation elements and the organization of your website. To address issues on such elements, set aside a budget and a lot of time to sit down with your web developers and come up with a design that not only looks appealing, but also makes sense organizationally.
A user’s ability to access your content, whether on a desktop or mobile device, is crucial! This is especially true in this day and age, where users spend more than 5 hours a day on their mobile devices. Neil Patel, Co-Founder of Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics says, “[a] third of all online sales come from mobile devices. Mobile users convert.” This is why it’s imperative that your content is available for users on all devices. For your eCommerce website audit checklist, ensure your website is mobile friendly by employing web developers who understand responsive design for flexible layouts.
Issues with PageSpeed also affect your conversion rate because, if your website takes too long to load, it can steer users away from your website or deter them from coming back. In fact, if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 53% of users will exit out of the page. Some of the main factors that affect PageSpeed are images, videos, fonts and server issues. To address these issues, sit down with your developers to see what can be done about them.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is important because how you rank on search engines can determine the amount of traffic your website receives, which can affect your conversion rate. In essence, SEO is about optimizing your content so your website shows up in relevant search queries on SERPs (search engine response pages).
Below are a couple elements that will need to be covered for your eCommerce SEO audit:
For many eCommerce businesses, digital written content means writing blog posts. Blogs are essential to any digital strategy because they are important for raising brand awareness. As a matter of fact, 70% of consumers learn about a company through their blogs rather than ads. To audit your blogs, you need to see how your written content aligns with your keyword strategy. Are your writers using the correct keywords throughout their content? Are they backlinking correctly? Go over best practices with your creative team for content so you can receive higher ROI on your investment.
It may not seem like a huge factor, but having relevant imagery to go along with your content is important for SEO. Imagine reading an article about how to cook spaghetti, but the images were of cats… yeah, not good. Post pictures and videos that coincide with your messaging to improve your SEO and visual search in eCommerce (make sure to also use proper alt tags!). This will greatly help you because users and website crawlers alike are searching for relevance when it comes to user queries. One way to enhance your SEO strategy and generate more leads is to have open graph tags on your pictures and images for cohesive branding.
Conducting an audit in an eCommerce environment may sound weird at first, but hopefully this post has helped you gain a better understanding for what an eCommerce audit program would look like. Let’s sum up the main points of this eCommerce website audit checklist so you can start ticking away at those boxes:
✔ eCommerce Essentials
● eCommerce Analytics
● Market Research
✔ User Experience (UX)
● Page Speed
✔ Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
● Written Content
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to write them in the comments!
Author’s Bio: Therese Palmere is a content writer for Aumcore, a digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO and all things digital. She writes about everything, from eCommerce web development to emerging marketing trends.