Let’s face it, the ongoing task of conducting a digital marketing audit can sometimes feel like solving a jigsaw puzzle without looking at the box.

From free to professional versions, there are now many products on the market that boast countless features to track the progress of your digital efforts against competitors. If you are feeling spoiled for choice, a little help can go a long way and to get you started, here are some of the most popular digital marketing audit tools available.

First up, is Alexa, an Amazon.com owned traffic ranking tool that provides historical figures based on the last three months. The tool tracks the activity of visitors during the time period, collecting browsing details and a number of metrics, including bounce rates and engagement data. In contrast to most other tools, the lower your Alexa rate, the better and a score of 100,000 or less is generally perceived to be achieving a reasonable level of traffic.

To an extent, the results rely on people to have installed the Alexa toolbar, although the business also draws upon a number of (undisclosed) browser extensions and plug-ins to gather information. That being the case, data sets can be somewhat limited and are unlikely to consider a website’s total traffic. Overall, the tool can therefore be handy for approximate competitor comparisons for a digital marketing audit, and the ranking provides a functional set of figures for businesses who are looking to value their website or considering ways to monetise a website, perhaps by selling advertising or by using other forms of revenue generation.

Next, let’s take a look at SimilarWeb, a crowd funded newcomer that was launched with the intention of nudging Alexa off the top spot. With a number of capabilities on offer, the freemium version offers easy-to use, one-click access to a suite of information, including global ranking, referral sources and estimated traffic. This is ideal if you are a big-picture kind of marketer. However, If you want to drill down for further information you will need to upgrade to a paid subscription; one downside to a useful comparative tool for finding out more about your customers and competitors.

If we consider Google Keyword Planner next – the offering that evolved from the Adwords Keyword tool. Along with being an invaluable free resource that was created specifically for advertisers, strengths also lie in its ability to identify the keywords and bid prices being used by your competitors. Based on a twelve-month average, the keyword planner makes it easy to gain an understanding of how your target audiences are searching for your products and services. Capabilities are somewhat limited in terms of trends given the average-based approach; however, a combination of Google Trends and Google Alerts can easily step in to fill these gaps and enhance the information provided for your digital marketing audit.

Finally, we shine the spotlight on Compete, a versatile offering that describes itself as a ‘digital intelligence tool’ that allows you to spy on the analytics of your competitors. With strictly no free trials on the table, the insights comes at a price, starting at $249 for basic reporting and benchmarking for one user. With a subscription in place, users can then access detailed traffic data and competitor comparisons, ideal for any digital marketing audit. Further add-ons and notably nice features include custom dashboards, prospecting tools and the ability to integrate fully with your own Google Analytics dashboard.

Of course, the tools above are just a starting selection and clearly there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Information from a number of different sources should be compared, contrasted and cross-referenced as an integral element of your digital marketing audit, to inform your strategy and help tackle your competitors.

As an agile and responsive digital marketer who expects and accepts change, the trick to master here is to find the best tools to suit your objectives, budget and resources. From advanced features to time-savings or the price tag, whatever is important to you, design a solution and way of working that works for you.

Why not tweet us at @oxcom_marketing and tell us the tools you find most effective for undertaking your own audit.

This blog post was written by Sue Ollerhead; lecturer and tutor at the Oxford College of Marketing and a consultant, blogger and speaker in digital and marketing. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Heads Up Marketing, a Liverpool based agency, established in 2010.

With over 18-years client experience in helping organisations of all sizes, Sue has led projects in marketing strategy, social media marketing, online marketing campaigns, email marketing, content strategy and PR.