Website Audits are a great way of bringing in new leads and clients. They help business owners to fix issues in their businesses, as well as present a large number of opportunities for you, as an agency.
Making it clear up front, as many of you know, I’m absolutely not a fan of a free website audit. It’s a huge time sink and it can attract a swathe of tyre kickers, who are interested in free information but struggle to pull out their wallets.
Your time is valuable. You are valuable. When you create any kind of audit, you’re delivering value to your lead. This is actionable content that they can use to improve their business, quite often in a dramatic way.
Today, I want to run you through the processes and systems that we used in our agency to position and sell website audits on an automated basis. This is something I’ve previously shared as a bonus document in our Website Audit Funnel Pack – today, we’ll revisit the topic and dig a little deeper.
Let’s get started…
Everything starts with a good plan!
The traditional way of carrying out a website audit is as an up-front process, with an agency offering a “free audit”. A potential lead visits your website and requests an audit via an online form. Alternatively, some use the free audit offer through cold email, sending out emails to prospective companies that they feel may be interested. Or as we should call it… spam.
Both of these methods have the same inherent issue. You’re offering and carrying out work through a website audit before you’ve qualified your lead. You know where this leads, don’t you? To work that doesn’t benefit your business.
Failing to qualify your leads and carrying out free audits is a waste of your valuable time. Do you want a lower conversion rate and less time than you have now?
There’s a better way. You need to re-think the process. You can make website audits benefit you, the agency owner, as well as deliver more value to your prospective clients.
You’re on the Funnel Packs website here, so you’re absolutely not going to be surprised by what comes next. You need a marketing funnel.
Setting up a marketing funnel for your website audits will allow you to educate your prospects, qualify your leads, provide education, show your expertise and here’s the big one… build trust. People buy from those they know, like and trust.
Your marketing funnel will remove the excessive time sink of working on and sending out website audits to unqualified prospects who were never in a position to spend money with your agency. Now you can use that time more effectively in your business.
Website audits as they are offered right now, can often be seen as “overly salesy” (yes it’s not a real term, but roll with it). People who see the free audit sign-up option or receive an email promising a free audit, expect to be sold to. It’s obviously no coincidence when a typical business owner can receive 10+ spam emails a day offering web services, hosting, domains and more.
Even as agencies you’re not immune to spam emails landing in your inbox. MikeSmith32156 really did his homework when he wanted to offer your SEO agency a free SEO audit.
Delivering and offering value first, rather than a free website audit, provides valuable and actionable content to your lead. The selling comes down the line, after you’ve qualified the lead, they’ve engaged with your content and you’ve established trust.
It’s time to think about what you’re going to offer in your website audit. This will vary a little, depending on the services that your agency provides to your clients and also your target audience.
For our agency, we provided a wide spectrum of services in-house. Probably too many in all honesty, but that’s a different blog post entirely! The core offer was aimed at prospective clients in the UK, US and Canada. These are English speaking countries, which worked for us as we wanted to avoid any language barriers. We also had existing results and case studies from clients in these countries that we could utilise in our funnel.
Our website audit offer was for a “full website audit” comprised of the following elements:
- Website Design & Branding
- Conversion Optimisation
- SEO / Online Visibility
- User Experience
- Performance (Speed)
- WordPress Review
- Return on Investment (ROI) – This was an add-on service that we included a few times. It really does need the client to have established trust with you, as you’ll be working through their sales data. They also actually need to know this data. It blew me away just how many clients didn’t have their fingers on the pulse.
I’ll break down each of those sections in more detail for you shortly.
Our audit fee was £399 (UK / EU clients) and $499 (US / Canada). The price included a full audit, delivered as a PDF document, plus two hours of development time to implement suggestions and changes from the website audit.
Typically two hours isn’t enough time to implement everything found in a detailed website audit. In these cases, we focused on the most important elements. Many clients would ask us to complete everything else on the list, which then led to us sending over an additional quote for that work.
The website audits that you carry out and your recommendations may well lead to you suggesting a larger re-design or even a new website build. Plus you have so many additional services that you can offer. Everything from SEO, PPC, marketing funnels, speed optimisation and the obvious one – Care Plans.
You don’t have to use the same offer that we had. In fact, I’d recommend not doing so as those fees could be considered a little low for the level of detail that you can go into. Our fees covered our time and were profitable, but you should tailor the offer and price to suit your target audience and location.
I have one friend in the US who targets high-end clients and they regularly pay her $2,500 for essentially the same offer as we’re talking about here.
One suggestion that you will likely find useful would be to deliver the audit to the business owner through a live video call, with the PDF document emailed after the call. This adds a lot more perceived value as it’s a live presentation, plus the client can get instant feedback to any questions they might have. It also gives you an opportunity to secure a deal for any additional work, immediately after the presentation.
Now let’s look at each of the elements from the Website Audit….
Website Design & Branding
This can be quite subjective and is prone to confirmation bias, so be careful. It’s really important for you to be open and to put aside any feelings you have on preferred layouts and your personal taste.
The easiest questions to ask here are: “Does the client have a professionally designed website?” and “Does the client have a professionally designed logo?”.
Think about the appearance of the website and how it fits into the industry that your client is in. Does it stand out from their competitors?
The majority of the websites that you audit will have obvious design and branding issues. So you should note these down and suggest an action point for each on how to resolve them.
As a top tip, try to avoid being really negative in great detail about your client’s existing website. It’s not unusual for them to have built it themselves and be proud of their achievements, or for a close family member to be involved. Tactfulness is a clear winner here.
When it comes to conversion optimisation, you’re looking for areas of the client’s website that could be improved on, to help them make more conversion on product sales, enquiries, etc.
Some examples of key elements for you to look out for here would include:
- Clear and noticeable phone number / contact method
- Lead capture forms – what is the client currently doing to convert in-bound traffic?
- Testimonials / Reviews – are they displaying social proof to help build trust?
- Call to Action (CTA) – does each page have a clear call to action? Are there too many CTAs on a single page, which could lead to distraction or confusion?
Take your time to look for areas where your client is not taking full advantage on their website and make a note of these along with your recommendations for improvements.
SEO / Online Visibility
In an ideal world, your client will be able to provide you with a list of keywords that they consider to be important to their business. If “keywords” doesn’t mean anything to them, remember you can rephrase this as a question to: “What would a potential customer ideally type into Google to find a business like yours?”
Most business owners should be able to give you a list of keywords that they’d ideally like to be visible for. Some of them will be of low quality, or won’t contain important keywords that you would consider to be a good metric for users who are ready to make a buying decision.
So, in addition to asking your client, it’s also a good idea for you to do a little research of your own. If you’re comfortable with SEO keyword research (I imagine most people reading this would be), then this is a must, as it will allow you to start thinking about buying keywords. That’s how you’re going to help a client get the quickest returns on their investment, when you can bring in traffic that is ready to buy.
With our agency, we took the keywords provided by the client and then looked through the client’s website as well as a handful of their nearest competitors. Our aim was to create a list of up to 10 keywords. We then used keyword research tools to refine this list and ensure we were using the most important keywords for their business. You can use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Neil Patel’s free tool ‘Ubersuggest’ or SEMRush. There are loads of tools, so whatever suits your budget / workflow is fine here.
With the list of relevant and important keywords, you can then add this into your favourite website rank tracking software. We used a new project in SEMRush. Again, there are a lot of tools – you can even do this manually if you want to.
Using a tool or a manual process, check to see how many (if any) of the keywords on your list are showing the client’s website in the first 100 results (10 pages) of Google. You can go up to 200 results (20) pages if you want to, although it’s not really necessary.
At this point it’s quite likely you’ll find that the client’s website isn’t ranking too well. If they have poor rankings, there’s a perfect opportunity for improvement here – which you can sell through SEO services.
If you don’t yet offer SEO services yourselves, you may want to consider SEOHive. They’re a recently launched company from Pete Everitt and Jeffery Patch, offering white label SEO services to digital agencies.
It’s time to put yourself right into the mind of one of your client’s potential customers. You need to think about the experience and the journey that they’ll have on your client’s website.
When you’re thinking about the journey, take into account what the potential customer would see when they first land on the website. Think about how they would navigate between the pages. Where would they make an enquiry? What’s going to prompt them to take action, such as to make a purchasing decision?
Some examples of points to consider here:
- Responsive Design – Does the website work effectively on PC/Mac, Laptop, Tablet and Mobile devices? If not – what is wrong with it?
- Images / Video – Is the client effectively using images and/or video to tell their story?
- Navigation – Is the website easy to navigate?
- Accessibility – This will vary between countries, but you may wish to include some notes on if their website is accessible (or most likely, how it is not accessible).
Again, this would be delivered as a list of points, with the recommended action steps to improve.
Website speed is a great topic and one of the easiest opportunities to up-sell from a website audit, as you can prove to your client that their website is loading slowly.
To carry out speed tests, you’ll want to use tools such as GTMetrix or Pingdom Tools. If you use GTMetrix, make sure that you sign up for a free account, so you can choose a test server that is closest to your client’s website. If you don’t do this, you’re left with the default test server, which may not be optimal.
To keep this section simple, let’s say that your sweet spot will be for a website to load in under 2 seconds. In an ideal world you could go even faster than this, but do remember that most websites you test are going to load in more than 2 seconds.
From a tools perspective, I’ve always favoured Pingdom Tools for speed tests as for me, they gave a more accurate representation of the loading times inside a browser. This is what your client would see, when loading their own website. Of course, any speed testing tool is fine. It’s okay for our opinions to differ here!
Some common issues that you’re likely to find include:
- High TTFB (Time To First Byte) – This would indicate that the hosting server and/or the website are not optimised with caching in place. You will usually see much slower TTFB results for websites on standard / cheap shared hosting.
- Large page size – Wherever possible, page size should be kept to a minimum. If there are a lot of images / videos on the page, these should utilise lazy loading, so they only load as they need to be visible on the page. Page sizes of 2Mb or more – present opportunities for optimisation. We used to aim for 1Mb or less, whenever possible! Images nearly always need optimising on every site you look at.
- Many Requests – Each request is an element that is loading on the page. We want to have the lowest number of requests possible. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but I always looked very carefully at anything that had over 100 requests.
The most important recommendation that I can give is not to pay too much attention to percentage scores or letters for things like Page Speed or YSlow. These are vanity metrics. They mean nothing at the end of the day. There are many websites that have an “A” and 90+% for each, yet still load slowly.
Your most important metric is website speed.
The speed test results can either be shared with a direct URL to the test result, you can screenshot them, or you can even create an appendix PDF document with the full results. If you can find competitor websites which are a lot faster than theirs, including those results to show the difference is a great motivator.
When it comes to security, you’ll want to start with your client’s WordPress website. So, it’s crucial that you ensure you’re requesting login details as part of your on-boarding process.
The first thing to look at would be to see if the client has any effective security measures currently in place. Are they using a WordPress security plugin? Have they taken any steps to manage their website security already?
Next, you should definitely consider a password audit. How often is your client updating passwords for all administrative users? The frequent answer you’ll hear in response is “rarely” or “never”. It’s a very wise idea to educate the client on updating their passwords on a regular basis. Every 2-3 months is a great starting point.
You’ll want to run an internal scan, as well as an external scan of the client’s website. There are various tools for this. WordPress security plugins will handle internal scans. For external scans you can use a website such as Sucuri. Again, other tools are available – so use whatever you’re comfortable with.
Finally, if you have experience with cleaning up hacked websites previously – you will want to check the files via FTP / sFTP and look for any obvious instances of hacked items. These can sometimes be missed by security plugins, so if you know what you’re looking for – there’s a good chance you can spot something that is out of line here.
If you find any security issues, these should be noted, along with your recommended fixes.
Ahh, the place that (almost) everyone reading this is likely to be comfortable. The WordPress dashboard.
When you’re looking at your client’s WordPress website, you want to take into account how the website has been created and if there are any potential issues that they (or you) might face, as you move forwards in assisting them.
Here are some examples of potential problems that you can look out for:
- Plugins / Themes – Are these all up to date and stable versions? Are there any plugin versions in use at the moment that have potential security issues?
- Plugins / Themes – Does the client have an active premium license for all required items? If not, they might want to get this in order so that they can keep these updated and access support for the particular license.
- E-Commerce – Is the website using WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads or any other E-Commerce option? If yes, is this all working correctly?
- Specialist Work – Does the website use Custom Post Types or have any content in use that would need specialised assistance moving forwards?
- External connections – Are there any external connections to services that are no longer required? Here’s an example we’ve seen a few times… a client’s website that is still connected to their old web designer’s ManageWP or MainWP account, long after they stopped working together! This is a potential point of failure, so it’s a good idea to make sure they are aware of this.
Once you have a better understanding of how the website has been put together, the tools that have been used, the plugins and theme installed, you can have a clearer view of what work would be required from both the client and yourself as you move forwards together.
There’s a great opportunity to up-sell a WordPress Care Plan here if this is something that you offer. If you don’t yet offer WordPress Care Plans, there has never been a better time to start.
Return on Investment (ROI) [bonus item]
As I mentioned previously, I don’t always recommend including this in the full website audit. Your website audit, plus an hour or two of your time will constitute a fair amount of work. It’s definitely advisable to include a Return on Investment section if you offer Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) services.
To carry this out properly, you will need the trust of your client and for them to provide you with some accurate and true sales data. You’ll need data such as:
- Average Monthly Traffic
- Average Monthly Leads
- Conversion Rate
- Monthly Revenue
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Once you have this data, you can show your client a new future. What could their website and business be like if they could have a 5% higher conversion rate, more traffic, etc?
You have another good opportunity to up-sell additional services here. When you’ve established a level of trust with a client who is happy to talk through their sales data with you, they’re going to listen to what you have to say in return.
Of course, not every client will know their numbers and some aren’t willing to talk about it. So if that’s the case, you can easily skip the Return on Investment section.
Now we get to the fun stuff!
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to create your marketing funnel. I’m not going to teach you how to build a marketing funnel here, as that’s another topic. We will have something on this in the near future though.
For your marketing funnel, you’ll want the following elements in place:
- Lead Magnet – This is the free guide that your lead will sign-up to receive. It should educate and deliver value, ideally with action points.
- Landing Page – This is where your leads will sign-up to receive your free guide.
- Thank You Page – Your lead will be directed to this page after signing up.
- Welcome Email – This is the first email sent out to your lead. You’ll include a link to your free guide here.
- Nurture Emails – These emails deliver additional value to your lead, giving them more education and action points.
- Sales Email – At the end of your funnel, you’ll present your offer which is going to be your paid website audit.
- Sales Page – This page will sell your offer. The lead can click through to make a purchase.
- On-Boarding Emails – After purchasing, you’ll on-board your lead with a series of emails to let them know the information you need to get started and what to expect.
If you want a quick start with building your marketing funnel, we’ve created the Website Audit Funnel Pack just for you. When you purchase the Funnel Pack and the Sales Add-On, you’ll have everything you need to set up your funnel and automated sales process. Check out the video on the page for more details!
You can save 20% until the 31st May 2020, using the coupon code: FIRSTBIRTHDAY
Your funnel can be built directly into your WordPress website. If you don’t use WordPress, then use the software of your choice for this.
Once your funnel has been set up, you’ll need to set up your emails with your chosen email provider. We recommend MailerLite as a good free option for this. If you would like something that is the next level up, you could consider ConvertKit. We use ConvertKit internally for Funnel Packs and are delighted with it as a tool.
Let’s pretend for a moment that you’ve purchased our Website Audit Funnel Pack and Sales Add-On. Here’s an example of how we would schedule all of the emails from the Funnel Pack and sales process:
- Day 1 – Welcome Email
- Day 2 – Nurture Email 1
- Day 3 – Nurture Email 2
- Day 4 – Nurture Email 3
- Day 5 – Nurture Email 4
- Day 6 – Nurture Email 5
- Day 7 – Nurture Email 6
- Day 9 – Sales Email (this leads to your sales page)
- Day 11 – Sales Email Reminder
- Day 13 – Sales Email Final Call (here is where you may offer a slight discount on the service, as that can help to prompt a lead to take action)
- Day 20 – Consultation Email
- Day 21 – Follow-up Consultation Email (not provided in the Funnel Pack – but would be a variation of the Consultation Email)
- Day 22 – Final Consultation Email (not provided in the Funnel Pack – but would be a variation of the Consultation Email)
- Day 25 – Closing the loop (a variation of the Magic Email. At this point we just want to close out the sequence for the lead, as they haven’t taken any action in the previous two weeks)
In terms of driving traffic into your funnel, you can send them directly to your landing page. However, do be aware that this can deliver lower conversion rates, as the visitors won’t yet know, like or trust you.
One important step that you can add into the process that will really help with conversions is to create 2-3 high quality blog posts around common website issues that your audience suffers from. Think about the type of complaints that you here and the questions your leads and customers ask you the most.
At the end of each of these blog posts, you can position your new website audit funnel.
The delivery of the work to your client is relatively straightforward.
Once they’ve purchased your audit, you’ll work on producing the audit – either manually or in an automated way, using a tool such as MyWebAudit.
MyWebAudit is a great tool for digital agencies, from a good friend of ours Clifford Almeida. Whilst we started out offering audits manually, finding Clifford’s software helped us to put together audits really quickly and effectively. We highly recommend his software. It saved us a couple of hours of time, every time we ran a new audit.
When you have finished gathering data and running reports, you’ll want to create a final PDF report document.
In your report, you’ll collate all of your findings together, including a list of recommendations and key action points that should be worked on. It would be helpful to the client to let them know which action points are the most important – e.g. the ones that you’ll be tackling together with them, in the time that you allowed as part of you offer.
Now you can send the finished report over to your client!
We found delivering reports to clients on a live video call to be a very successful process. We were able to talk through the key areas, show them any specific issues and answer questions live. That last part in particular was a very enjoyable aspect for our clients.
For our video calls we used Zoom. They have a free plan, and also some paid options as well. There are many other video tools that can deliver the same thing. Essentially you’re looking for software that will allow you to have a video call and also to share your screen.
If your recommendations are for further work to take place, you can either discuss that live on the call with your client or in a follow-up email. The live option works well here, because you can get their instant thoughts and they can ask you questions. Getting follow-up work signed off after delivering your report is a wonderfully empowering moment.
Your results will vary between industries, locations and businesses. I’ve set out a template for your paid website audits here. The more of this that you customise and make your own, the easier it will be for you to sell to your clients. It’s all about speaking in a language that your audience understands.
When we ran Website Audit campaigns, we typically generated between 2-10 conversions per month. This depended on the ad campaign and the time of year. For example, we found a common theme with our particular target audience in the UK, in that they weren’t looking to spend as much around Christmas time and the holiday season.
With our advertising, our target cost per conversion was $200 on a $499 sale. We aimed for some wiggle room between the initial sale price and the advertising cost. We also knew that a typical new customer to our agency was worth $2,500.
Realistically, there’s an opportunity here to spend up to $499 on that initial sale, because of the client’s Lifetime Value (LTV) to our agency. It doesn’t matter if we don’t make profit immediately, as the next piece of work with them will be profit.
When you’re just starting out with this, it’s much easier to start slowly and build from there. You definitely want to have an idea of the LTV of your clients. If you don’t know this, take a few minutes now to work out what the average new client is worth to your business. Even if you just have the number for the first year, that will be very helpful.
So, what can selling website audits mean to your business?
Let’s look at the $499 audit figure…
If you can sell two audits per month, you’re making approximately $12,000 per year in additional revenue.
If one out of 6 of those 24 audits leads to a website redesign and you charge $3,000 for a new website – that’s another $18,000 this coming year.
Let’s say you also get 8 Care Plan sign ups too at $100/month – that’s another $9,600 over the 12 months of those Care Plans being in place.
You can see how profitable this all starts to be for your business when you look not just at the initial audit, but at the additional services that you can provide. Which is again, why I love website audits. You have almost limitless potential with the valuable services you can offer.
A quick example of a great client that we enjoyed working with. He runs a gifts company in the UK, with an E-Commerce website. Initially, we provided a paid website audit. After this, we worked together on SEO, Social Media and Conversion Rate Optimisation. He had a web designer already, so we provided consultation on that. In total over 2.5 years, he paid our agency around $80,000.
It’s time for you to get started
I know this was a long read, so thanks for sticking with me. You’ve now learned everything that we did to sell paid website audits to our clients.
The main principle is that you’re going to create a marketing asset for your business and drive traffic to that asset.
The leads who enter your funnel will be educated, nurtured and receive tremendous value. You’ll build trust with them and now you can position your offer of a paid audit.
You get a new client, they pay for their audit and you deliver a fantastic audit, full of recommendations and tips for their business. From here, you can offer further services that are designed to really enhance your client’s business.
What can you do with paid website audits in your business?
If you’re serious about website audits and you want to get up and running quickly, check out our Website Audit Funnel Pack. We’ve made it for agency owners just like you. There’s a 20% discount available till 31st May 2020. Use the coupon code: FIRSTBIRTHDAY
Happy auditing friend!