How to conduct a Brand and Website Audit as a part of your yearly business planning
It’s December and for the past few days I’ve been snuggling up on my couch with my laptop, crystals, and tarot cards, planning ahead for the new year. Like many other entrepreneurs, I’m mapping out my business, sales, and marketing plan. A big part of the planning involves looking back to see what has worked and what hasn’t.
A lot of the times we forget to review our overall brand and website – which is especially important if you’re an online entrepreneur. Our brand and website are the foundations of our business and as such should be included in our business fine-tuning process.As the foundations to our business, our brand and website need regular checkups #brandaudit Click To Tweet
So I’m going to be conducting a brand and website audit, and in this blog post will be teaching you how to do the same. There are different criteria you can measure, and this process can be as extensive as you’d like. If you want a more comprehensive audit, you can hire an agency or brand strategist (like me) to complete one.
For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll be doing a quick review to get a snapshot look at the performance of your business. The idea is to discover any weaknesses and areas that are not in alignment with your brand. Ultimately the goal is to improve on what you have already built so your business can grow.
Here we go! Make sure to download the free Brand and Website Audit Workbook I created to help you through this process.
There are 4 main areas of your brand that we are going to review: your brand essence, brand influence, client experience, and your visual identity.
Your brand essence or foundation encompasses who you are, what you do, how you do it, and who you work with. For many (myself included) some of these elements might have naturally evolved over the year.
For others, they may desire to change it up for the upcoming year. Maybe you’ve gained clarity on the audience you really want to serve, decided to change the services you offer, or simply want to change directions.
In my own business, I’m naturally leaning towards working with those who have been around the block and are ready to uplevel, instead of those who are just starting out. This is a much different audience, which means my message, services, and website needs to also change to resonate with this type of client.
To start, take the time review what has changed over the year and if you’re still in alignment with who you set out to be. Ask yourself questions like:
- What do I think is working for my brand? Where do I feel challenged?
- Do I love what I am doing? Is it serving my purpose? Does my brand light me up?
- How do I describe myself? What makes me stand out?
- What is my vision? Where do I want my business to go?
- Are my values still the same?
- What is my current brand personality? What do I want people to feel about my brand?
- Who do I love working with? Has my audience changed?
- Are my products or services still in alignment? Is there anything I want to let go of? Is there anything else my clients are asking for?
- Has the quality of my service or product increased?
- What results do I create for my clients?
Your Brand Influence
In this section, we are going to be exploring our external presence to determine how we are showing up and connecting with our audience. This involves taking a look at our content (blog posts, email list, podcasts, etc.) and our social media platforms.
The first question to you is this: are you being authentic or are you pretending to be someone you’re not? If you find yourself putting on airs, trying to fit the role of who you think you should be, or imitating how others in your industry show up, just stop.
Stop doing what everyone else is doing. Better yet, stop comparing yourself to others. People can pick up when you are not being true to yourself or there is a misalignment of your personal values. They are not going to buy from you or be loyal to your brand if they think you’re fake.
I strongly believe that in order to build a brand that is unique to you and feeds your fire, you have to align it to your own inner wisdom. It’s difficult to listen to your soul’s wisdom when you are overwhelmed and caught up in what everyone else is doing.
A strong and magnetic brand is one that stands out. You don’t want to be the same, you want to differentiate yourself. There are so many different paths to the same destination, and you don’t have to take the same ones everyone else is taking. Instead, you can look to others for inspiration, and then create your own path.
Your purpose is to be you. You will create a magical and soul-aligned brand when you alchemize your own unique combination of skills, interests, and experiences. Ok, rant over.
Now I want you to actually take a look at your content and social media accounts and ask yourself the following:
- Am I being consistent? Are my brand voice and message the same? Do the words and images I use match the tone and voice of my brand?
- Do I make it clear what I do and how I do it?
- Are my profile pictures the same across all my social media platforms? Do my bios clearly describe who I am, what I do, and the value I offer?
- Does what I say reflect my soul’s message?
- Do I clearly convey what makes me and my process different? Do I show the value and results I provide my clients?
- Do I connect with my audience on an emotional level by sharing my brand stories (mixture of personal + professional experiences)?
- Do I include an opt-in opportunity on all my social media platforms?
- What type of content do I mostly create? Is it in alignment with my brand and relevant to my audience?
- What type of posts do I mostly share? Are they in alignment with my brand and relevant to my audience?
Your Audience & Their Perceptions
In this section, we are going to explore the experience we create for our clients and the way people perceive us. Our brand represents the overall perception people have of us, making it important to focus on what those perceptions are.
The real magic in branding lies in offering meaningful inspiration so your potential clients can connect with you, knowing that you can absolutely meet their personal, business, or life needs. They want to feel seen and understood. But in order to do that we need to get to know our audience. Before we look at how they feel about us, let’s review what we know about them.
- Who is my audience and what do I know about them? What are their fears, dreams, and aspirations?
- What is important to them?
- What is their pain and how do I solve it? Which struggles am I dissolving or how am I fulfilling their dreams?
- What situation are they in before working with me?
- Where are they after they work with me?
- Where do they hang out online?
Next, we review how they perceive us. The best way to do that is to ask them. Send out a quick survey to your email list and past clients. Ask them for feedback on their experience working with you, how you can improve, and how they feel about you.
Keep in mind that we also want to analyze what everyone else thinks of us, not just those who have worked with us before. For these people, take a look at your social media comments, blog comments, or anywhere else you’ve received feedback throughout the year. You can also create a short poll to share in Facebook (on your profile, page, and/or Facebook groups).
Review all the feedback you receive and ask yourself:
- How do my clients feel about me?
- What does my client experience look like?
- How can I improve my client communication and processes?
- Who is interacting with me (content, social media, etc.)? What do they have to say about me?
- What type of content does my audience enjoy?
- Is there a disconnect between the brand image I want to portray and the way my ideal clients are perceiving me?
Your Visual Identity
Our visual identity will most likely set the first impression people have of us. It includes your logo, colors, fonts, website, and images. In this section we want to review if our visuals are still in alignment with our brand, are they consistent, and if they are still relevant.
One of the essential elements of a powerful brand is consistency. We want the same look and feel throughout everything we do – that means sticking to our brand colors, fonts, and style. It’s also important that the visuals are in alignment with our brand message, personality, and values. What we say has to match what others see.
As you continue to grow as an individual and entrepreneur, you’ll reach a point where your brand no longer represents the quality of your business. If your current brand visuals are not resonating with the quality of service you are providing, or the clients looking for that higher quality, it may be time for a change.
Another thing to keep in mind is that design trends come and go quickly. It’s likely that your brand visuals and website are only going to be fresh for a few years. After 2-3 years they may start looking outdated.
Review your visual identity and ask yourself the following:
- What vibe do my logo, colors, and fonts give? Do they represent the vibe and feel of my brand?
- Do my visuals represent the brand image I want to portray? Are they in alignment with my audience?
- Are my logo and website still fresh and relevant?
- Am I using the same colors and fonts across the board?
Even though our website is a part of our brand’s visual identity, it gets its own special section. The goal of reviewing your website is to improve performance and increase conversions. Not only do we want to make sure it looks great, we want results – more bookings, more email subscribers, and more sales.
Our website is a natural expression of us, a home base for all things business, our 24/7 salesperson, and a unique experience we create for our ideal clients.
To make sure that we are using our site to its best potential, we are going to review the following areas. Download the Brand and Website Audit Workbook to get a complete website checklist.
CONTENT & DESIGN
A good design is more than just beautiful. It has to build trust, communicate well, and give your visitors direction. A good design is also smart and strategic. Here are some things to look out for:
Are you in alignment with your brand and are you being consistent?
Like I mentioned above make sure your website is relevant to your brand and audience. Use the same personality, message, voice, fonts, colors, etc throughout the site. For example, all your headlines should be the same font and buttons the same color. You can differentiate your text using bold, italic and uppercase.
Is it clear what you do?
Have a clear idea of who you are, what you are offering, and who you are offering it to. Then make sure your website showcases that within seconds of someone landing on it. People don’t spend a lot of time on a site, so use the most prominent areas of your pages to clarify your message. What problem are you solving for your visitors? How will they benefit from working with you? Display the answers in your headlines, images, graphics, logo, and tagline. Make it clear.
Is the design clean?
Less is more – declutter your site by removing anything that is not necessary. When you keep it simple, you can really make the important content (like your CTAs) stand out, instead of having everything screaming for attention. Tip: use plenty of white space around and between your content to keep it balanced and clean.
Are you building trust with your visitors?
You want to show people there is a real person behind your website, someone they can trust and eventually buy from. The three best ways to build trust are:
- Including high-quality photos of you (and your products if applicable)
- Showcasing Testimonials – People want to know they are in good hands and learning how you helped others is a great way to build confidence in you. You can have a separate testimonials page, or sprinkle them throughout your site: the about page, the services page, and homepage.
- Showing examples of your best work – If it’s appropriate for your industry, have a curated portfolio of your top 6-20 projects.
Does it look good?
First impressions are everything. People will decide whether or not to buy from you based on their perceptions. You can help them form the right perceptions through your copy and design.
Is the design responsive?
Your content should resize itself to look great regardless of what kind of screen your visitor is using to view it.
You might want to navigate your website like someone who has never seen it before. Go through your potential client’s journey and see how intuitive and easy the flow feels. To take it even further you can ask others to do the same and give you feedback on their user experience.
Is my navigation clean and clear?
Your users should be able to find exactly what they need quickly and efficiently. Don’t make them jump through hoops to get the information they are looking for. Keep your main menu limited to 6 links or less, making sure they are your primary pages.
Is it easy to use?
The functionality of the website, including speed and easy navigation, is absolutely important. Nothing is more frustrating than a slow loading website or confusing layout that leaves you feeling lost. People have short attention spans particularly online, and they’ll most likely not stick around to figure things out. So make it clear what you want your visitors to do next, and easy for them to do so.
Ways to improve your speed:
- Reduce image sizes by uploading the exact size you need and then compressing it. You can compress your images using a plugin like WP Smush (automatically compresses your image uploads), or by running it through TinyPNG before uploading them.
- Deactivate and delete any plugins you are no longer using. Be mindful of the plugins that you do use, as some of them are bloated with code that will slow down your site. Pay attention to the ratings and how frequent a plugin gets updated.
- Get better hosting – This is especially true if you are using shared hosting instead of a dedicated server. My recommended hosts are Siteground (absolutely love them!), WP Engine, or Flywheel. The worst, both in customer service and speed, is GoDaddy. You get what you pay for.
- Use a caching plugin like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.
- Minify your files with a plugin like Autoptimize (this is a cache plugin too).
Other elements to look out for:
- Is my website mobile friendly and responsive?
- Do I have any broken links?
- Are there errors or outdated information on my website?
- Is my website easy to read? Here are some tips for your fonts and typography:
- Body Text : Use a font-size between 16-25px
- Line-Spacing: Use a value between 1.2 and 1.6
- Line-Length: 45-90 Characters per line
Do I list prices?
While every business and industry is different, showing prices on your website helps improve your user experience. It doesn’t have to be exact pricing, and instead can be a range or sample project that you price out.
For example: “You can expect to invest between $1,000-$3,000”, “Starting at $XXX”, or “On average for a project that includes_________, you can expect to invest $XXX.
The point is to give visitors some sort of reference point. Customers want to be well informed, and your website should give them all the information they need to decide if they want to do business with you. Here is a blog post where I go more in-depth about showing prices.
PERFORMANCE & CONVERSIONS
What are my website statistics?
Hopefully, you’ve set up Google Analytics on your website and can take a look at where your traffic comes from. If you haven’t, here is a great article that will walk you through the process of setting it up on WordPress: How to Properly Setup Google Analytics in WordPress. Here is an article directly from Google if you don’t have WordPress: .
Google Analytics Help Center. Google Analytics gives you insight into who’s been visiting your site, what they’ve been looking at and how they got there. Analyze your traffic over the past year and see what trends you notice.
- Has there been a continual increase or is it more sporadic?
- What are my most visited pages?
- Where is my traffic coming from (direct, social media, organic, paid)?
- Is my website optimized for SEO? What improvements can I make?
Am I using call to actions to increase conversions?
Make sure to use call-to-actions to create a website flow that fulfills the purpose of each page. Every page should have 1-2 CTAs at the most. What do you want your users to do – book a call, view your portfolio, sign up for your email list, etc.? Also, your homepage should include a CTA above the fold — whether it’s a button to sign up for your email list or a link to your services page.
Do I have an email list-building strategy?
An email list is one of the most important marketing tools you’ll have for capturing and nurturing leads. Use a great lead magnet (or multiple) and place the sign-up form in at least three different spots of your website (top, footer, sidebar, after each blog post). Another great way to grow your email list is to offer content upgrades on your blog posts (like the Brand and Website Audit Workbook I created for this post – have you downloaded it yet?).
Am I backing up and securing my website?
In order to keep your website happy and secured, you have to regularly maintain it. The three important elements to website maintenance are backups, updates, and security.
- Use a plugin like Updraft to automatically backup your website on a regular basis (at least once a week), and right before you make any changes.
- Update your WP core files, plugins, and themes on a regular basis (once a week or bi-weekly). Make sure to backup your website before you update anything (sometimes updates don’t play nice and break your site).
- Secure your website with the following:
- Install a security plugin like WordFence or iThemes Security. Depending on the plugin you use, you’ll get brute force protection, IP banning, and malware scanning.
- Remove the username “admin” and create a unique user instead
- Use strong passwords that contain letters, characters, uppercase, etc. (perfect time to use a random password generator).
- Update your website regularly! A lot of the times updates include security patches for vulnerabilities that hackers would love to exploit.
Once you’ve completed your brand and website audit, take what you’ve learned and create an action plan. Make a list of all the issues you found, how you plan to fix them and how long it would take you to do each item. Keep in mind that this process involves refining what you already have — rebranding is about evolving not starting from scratch.
That’s it! Woohoo, you did it. Good luck with the rest of your new year business planning. If you’re struggling with which goals to set and need a little inspiration, check out my 2018 Business Outlook Tarot Reading, it gives you an overview of what you might face and advice on how to best navigate the year.