The Benefits and Drawbacks of Self-Diagnosing Your IMA

By Scott Anderson Miller

You have a choice when you assess the current state of your digital marketing. Sometimes it makes sense for you to perform your own inbound marketing assessment (IMA). This is usually because of a business’s size or budget limitations. No worries. Your needs are more basic, so you can take an IMA as far as your time and learning ability allow. Self-diagnosing your current digital marketing state is beneficial when:

  • You need a quick look at how you’re website is performing.

  • You have the technical skills to fix coding and back-end problems.

  • You need to determine the extent of any website issues in order to determine if you need help.

  • You are a one-person marketing department or you are the owner/manager of a small company.

  • You have no budget.

  • You want to get the lay of the land before you consider outsourcing a formal paid assessment with a marketing firm or consultant.

Performing an actual website grade is in itself a useful activity and mostly harmless. But it doesn’t take long for many marketers to get in over their heads. Here are some pitfalls about self-diagnosing:

  • Your reported results are less objective.

  • Your report, other than the automated graders, may be shaded by opinion rather than fact.

  • Your organization may not possess the expertise to assess, analyze, and interpret your findings.

  • Your discoveries may be discredited by others in the organization who have a different agenda.

  • You must be extra cautious to form a conclusion and build the data to support that conclusion.

Self-diagnosing

It’s possible to perform an inbound marketing assessment on your own. Doing so takes a bit more work and, if you’re unfamiliar with inbound marketing in general, there is a high learning curve. At the very least, ask yourself these questions:

  • How attractive is your website to a potential customer?

  • How does your website measure up to that of your competition?

  • What are your conversion rates for visitors, leads, and customers?

  • What is your return-on-investment?

  • Where are most of your visitors coming from?

  • Which social media channel offers you the most traffic?

  • Where do most of your contacts come from?

  • Which of your website pages are the most influential for lead generation?

  • Which pages are the least influential?

  • Which email was most successful in your last marketing campaign?

  • How much traffic did your website see last month?

Using online tools for self-diagnosis

There are some great tools for self-diagnosing your current state. The following list describes a few. In fact, even if you decide to retain a paid professional, I recommend you start by checking out some of these tools on your own:

  • Store Grader: If you run and maintain an ecommerce site, Shopify’s Store Grader is a good place to grade your efforts in website usability, site performance, SEO, content marketing, and social marketing. Grade your e-commerce site here.

  • Alexa: For a quick snapshot of your website performance, go to Alexa and type in your home page URL. The free version provides an estimated ranking for your country and the world based on a couple of factors. (Your ranking is not solely based on traffic.) While Alexa has its limitations, it’s quick and it’s easy and you can delve even deeper with their paid version to achieve more accurate data.

  • Moz Rank Tracker: Moz has been a leader in SEO initiatives for years and they provide a different look at your website. Moz ranks your site from 0 (no value) to 9.99 (highest value) based primarily on “link juice” — that is, the number of backlinks to your website as well as the quality of those links. Like the Richter scale for earthquakes, the ranking is logarithmic.

  • HubSpot Marketing Grader: HubSpot’s transition from a website grader to a marketing grader is indicative of the increasing demand for tools to measure more than just a website. HubSpot’s innovative grader runs quickly and provides useful actionable information to help you identify gaps in performance. Marketing Grader includes your Alexa and Moz ranks and much, much more. This tool is comprehensive, offering actionable points that you can begin working on today.

  • Nibbler Grader: Nibbler has a grader that scores your overall efforts on a ten-point scale, including accessibility, experience, marketing, and technology. Subcategories are broken down into individual scores, too. Nibbler also looks at social media page connections and grades your mobile site. Like HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, it provides an interesting dashboard, a customized word cloud for your website, and useful, actionable points for you to improve your efforts.

  • Woorank Grader: Woorank grades your social media, SEO, conversions, and your mobile site. Delivering quick results, Woorank outlines critical areas that need immediate attention and points out the areas where you are performing well. The action points are outlined under each of the initiatives graded with an easy-to-read actionable list.

  • Quick Sprout: Quick Sprout’s website analyzer grades your SEO based on a letter grade (like school) while measuring and displaying your mobile site. The SEO breakdown is quite detailed with easy-to-read tables, clearly displaying your results. Website Analyzer breaks down your factors into High, Medium, and Low priorities so at least you know where to focus on improvements even if you don’t plan on doing the work yourself.

  • WRC Validator: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed their Validator that’s geared more toward the Internet-technology set than toward marketers. Although it doesn’t have the fancy dashboards and easy-to-read action points, it does specifically identify potential problems.