Let’s face it: Most larger companies don’t have their digital assets in order. Teams across the globe commission their own assets, but a central overview and performance management system is often missing.

What are the typical problems?

Let’s start with a lack of a centralised list of assets. Your company might have thousands of websites, apps, social media accounts and other digital channels floating around the depths of the internet; in many different countries and languages. But a missing central overview of these assets runs counter to any effort of implementing a consistent digital marketing strategy across the company.

Performance and the monitoring of assets is another critical area. How does a company define success for its different digital assets? Which ones are performing, which ones aren’t? And: Is anybody even monitoring the performance? You’d be surprised how many corporate website owners have never looked at their on-site analytics or – worse yet – not even implemented it on their site(s).

Naturally, the bottom line is affected by an aimless array of digital assets without proper oversight as well. For one, the lack of oversight restricts coherent strategic planning as to which areas and assets to invest in and which are sufficiently covered. Furthermore, the lack of performance measurement effectively rules out the possibility to make data-driven decisions based on performance as well as to draw on internal best practices. And a truly unnecessary cost factor are thousands of either underperforming, forgotten or unused websites and domains that serve no clear purpose but still incur hosting fees.

I should also mention a special case for the pharmaceutical industry: compliance. Unmonitored websites with free text forms or unsupervised social media channels are any compliance manager’s worst nightmare.

Asset audits can help

The challenges a lack of oversight creates are clear. But what about solutions to the problem? One research exercise that can help is to conduct a digital assets audit.

From our experience at Nitro Digital, an audit typically starts with a number of different sources that list digital assets from around the company. These lists can be merged together into one master document which can then start as the basis for investigation. Depending on the requirements, it can be necessary to conduct a manual search for assets as well utilising search engines and other methods of investigation.

Once the template with the list of assets is set up, the information we collect can roughly be divided into two buckets: general asset & qualitative information gathered via investigation (e.g. type of website, target audience, language etc.) and the collection of performance, technical and other metrics (such as Alexa Traffic Rank and Moz authority metrics for websites, community size for social assets etc.). Learn more about comparative performance metrics for websites in one of my other posts.

For an individual website, it is in most cases appropriate to determine its status before anything else. Is it live and can be audited for the data we want to collect? Is it behind a log-in? Is it redirecting? Or is it non-resolving and can be classified as a domain without a live website on it?

Another useful piece of information to corporate digital marketers wanting to get a global overview of assets is the asset owner. In many cases this is not known and has to be established via manual investigation within the organisation. It’s a key piece of information, however, as it allows for later follow-up with the asset owner.

Outcomes of an assets audit

Following an audit, you end up with a host of invaluable information. You now have a centralised list of your digital assets (may not be 100% complete, but a great start nonetheless), complete with general information about the assets as well as performance data. This makes categorising and comparing assets quick and easy. Ideally, the audit has also generated full ownership information.

A lot of follow-on projects can come out of the original audit. You could for example create a methodology for scoring the identified assets and then decommission the ones that seem superfluous and invest in the ones worthy of development. Or you could pick certain assets and do a more specific follow-up audit on them, such as a pharmacovigilance compliance audit on all your websites.

Wherever you want to go with your digital strategy, a centralised and comprehensive overview of your assets is essential.