February 20, 2021

How to be Proud of Your Digital Marketing Report Card

In this post, we review the key elements that make up a digital marketing report card, and what you need to ace in order to get your internet marketing 4.0.

Digital Marketing Report Card

Your digital report card comprises several factors, but we choose to focus on the four we believe are the most important: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Digital Advertising, Website Performance. 

There are other important factors such as email marketing, marketing strategy, and content marketing, but we will save those for a deeper discussion.

There is one key theme that underlines all online marketing. Speeding up access to relevant and useful information will yield the best results.

Want to know your grade? We can score your efforts and show you how you stack up versus your peers.

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Search engine optimization, namely Google search in the US, requires three things to be effective: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. You need A’s in all three to get an “A” overall on your digital marketing report card.

To do all three well requires a level of knowledge that most small business owners do not have. It also requires time to create all these reports. Therefore, this is one good area to outsource to a trusted partner. 

On-page SEO

On-page SEO focuses on helping the bot understand what the page is about. It also helps the bot assess its quality and relevance. This involves the use of relevant keywords according to SEO best practices. We can perform SEO after the fact, but it is often best to determine your keywords before you create content.

Choosing the right keywords can be challenging. Many think writing about desired search terms or keywords is enough. This, unfortunately, is not the case.

 It requires research into both the content that your audience wants to read and the competitiveness of the keyword, or more likely, key phrase. The biggest mistake people make is attempting to rank for a keyword that’s beyond their reach. 

This is where a local SEO service provider can help the most. For example, localized terms, like SEO NYC or SEO New York, are less competitive than non-localized terms. You might also find local citations, business listings, and other high-quality local links with minimal effort.

3 elements of SEO: on page, off page, technical

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO focuses on building up your online presence and authority. It focuses mainly on building links that get users to the information they want quickly.

When a relevant site links to yours, that link acts like an endorsement. The more quality links you have, they will perceive the more credible your site. 

While social media may not be a ranking factor, the more presence you have, the more likely someone will link to your site. Therefore, it can have an indirect effect.

Technical SEO

As the name implies, this predominantly focuses on the site code, tags, page speed, and the like so it does not slow down access.

Digital Marketing Report Card: Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM), as it is most commonly used, focuses on awareness and engagement. It can play a role in lead generation, but it is usually most effective after awareness and engagement are generated.

You need A’s on both followers and engagement metrics to get A for SMM on your digital marketing report card.


Followers are the key metric. People will follow you if they believe that your content is meaningful and relevant to them. This is where knowing your audience is key. It is important to know what they care about and what they talk about.

Social listening is a great way to understand what topics are most important and how your audience feels about them. Social media ads, such as Facebook ads, can help boost followers. However, these followers tend to be less loyal and engage less in general.


If you give your audience what they want, they will engage with you. Poor engagement is an indicator that there is a mismatch between what your audience cares most about and the content that you are providing.

Competitive benchmarking can be useful here. It pays to explore how your target is interacting with your competitors. You will see which topics are gaining the most traction. Once you know that, you can react accordingly.

There are reporting tools such as Sprout Social or SEMRush and others that can help make this task easier. This can be a very time consuming task for small businesses.

Digital Marketing Report Card: Digital Advertising


We return again to relevance. We need to examine how relevant the ad copy is to the user’s query. We also need to ask ourselves if the landing page makes it easy to find the information the user wants. Finally, we need to look at conversion.

To get an “A” in Advertising on your digital marketing report card, you need to perform well on CTR, Bounce/Dwell Time, and Conversion. Google analytics is a great place to measure and to track these metrics.

Click-through Rate (CTR)

The CTR is a direct measure of relevance. The more relevant the ad, the higher the CTR. To increase the relevance of the ad, you need to understand how your target looks for information (searches, etc.), and how to communicate effectively so they immediately know that you have the answer.

Bounce & Dwell Time

The landing page bounce rate and dwell time is how the user votes on how relevant and/or easy it was to find the information they were seeking. If both are low, it is likely that neither were true. If the bounce is high, but the dwell time was not, then the landing page was relevant. However, we likely failed to convince them to go deeper.  


The goal of advertising is to drive revenue. CTR, bounce rate, and dwell time are all helpful in determining the relevance of our content. Conversion rate is the metric that informs us of the relevance of our offer or solution. If we have significant results on all the other metrics, but poor conversion, then our solution is likely not relevant or interesting.

Site Performance

Your website performance measures how easy it is to find relevant information quickly. This is both a function of page speed and navigation. You need both speed and great navigation to get an “A” on your digital marketing report card for site performance.

Digital Marketing Report Card: Web Design & Performance


Page speed is critical. Bounce rates soar if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This is especially true on mobile. Therefore, measure your page speed on both desktop and mobile formats. 

Poor website design can significantly impede page speed. Themes on content management services are the worst violators. Even if a theme claims to be responsive, the extra code it carries can cause problems. Excessive event tagging can also lead to issues.


According to DesignRush, "90% of website visitors bounce due to poor design. The key reasons for this are related to usability and encompass various factors including mobile responsiveness." It is important the the user experience is not harmed by a weak design that doesn't not perform equally well across all platforms. This is why it is often important to design from a mobile-first perspective.


Navigation is second only to page speed. If the navigation is not intuitive, users will bounce or exit. If you are seeing good metrics on all the above, then you should analyze your navigation to see if it is clear and intuitive.


To achieve a 4.0 on our digital marketing report card, we need all A’s on:

  • SEO: You want to make sure that the bot and the user agrees that your content is relevant and useful for each of your target keywords
  • Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing is a conversation, not a broadcast medium. Therefore, we must design content accordingly.
  • Advertising: We must know how our users search to ensure that our ads and landing pages are relevant.
  • Website Performance: We must not allow our website performance to interfere with user finding the information that they want.

All the Top Digital Marketing Companies can help you ace the test. We are proud to be one of them.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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