When you are considering a merger, acquisition, or other significant business transaction, it is important to perform a thorough digital due diligence investigation. This involves reviewing all of the digital assets and data of the company that you are considering doing business with.
In this blog post, we will discuss the 7 key elements of a successful digital due diligence process and look at the tools you need to conduct a thorough analysis.
What Is a Digital Due Diligence Analysis?
A digital due diligence analysis is a process of investigating and reviewing a company’s digital assets and data. This includes looking at their website, social media presence, online customer reviews, and any other digital information that can be found about the company.
The goal of this analysis is to get a better understanding of the company’s business model, its reputation, and how they operate online.
Why Is Digital Due Diligence Important?
Digital due diligence is important because it can help you avoid doing business with a company that has a poor online reputation or one that has inflated the value of its digital assets.
Additionally, this process can help you identify any red flags or areas of concern that you should be aware of before entering into a business transaction. It can also help you get a better understanding of the company’s business model and how they operate. This information can be used to negotiate a better deal or to decide if you want to do business at all.
7 Steps to Digital Due Diligence
1. Identify all digital assets
One of the key elements of digital due diligence is identifying all of the company’s digital assets. This includes their websites, social media accounts, apps and any other online property that they own.
2. Gather publicly available data
Aside from their digital assets, there is a wealth of publicly available data that you can gather about a company’s digital presence. This includes marketing materials (e.g . website copy, blog posts, etc.), customer reviews, social media posts, website analytics data from Google Analytics, and anything else that is publicly available online. This data can be used to understand the company’s reputation and how they are perceived by the public.
3. Request relevant private data
In some cases, you may also be able to request access to private data. This includes things like their CRM data, email lists, and internal marketing materials. This type of data can give you a more detailed look at the company’s operations and help you understand its customer acquisition strategy.
It is important to note that you should only request data that is relevant to your due diligence analysis. Requesting too much data can overwhelm the company and make it more difficult to get the information that you need.
4. Get Analysing!
Once you have gathered all of the relevant data, it is time to start your analysis. We’ve outlined a list of things to look out for:
A brand’s website is the main touchpoint that a potential customer has with the company. It is important to review the website and look for any red flags. Things to look out for include:
- Is the website up-to-date?
- Is their domain name registered in their name?
- Who is hosting the website?
- Is it professional and visually appealing?
- Is the tone and style of the website aligned with the company’s brand?
- Do they have a blog? If so, when was the last post published?
- Using a web analytics tool (e.g. Google Analytics), what is the traffic volume to the website?
- Where is the traffic coming from (e.g. organic search, social media, direct)?
- Is the website optimised for search engines?
- Are there any broken links on the website?
If the company has an eCommerce platform (e.g. Shopify, BigCommerce), it is important to review it to ensure that it is up-to-date and secure. Things to look for include:
- When was the last time the platform was updated?
- Is the platform currently running on the latest version?
- What payment processors are they using?
- Is the platform compliant with any bank and card issuer regulations (e.g. PCI)?
- Do they have an SSL certificate installed?
- What is the average order value (AOV)?
- What is the conversion rate for the website?
If the company has a SaaS platform, it is important to review it to ensure that it is up-to-date and secure and that it isn’t plagued with any major technical issues. Things to look for include:
- Is the platform up-to-date?
- Is the platform currently running on the latest version?
- What is the uptime for the platform?
- What is the average response time for the platform?
- How many users are currently using the platform?
- What is the customer churn rate for the platform?
- What is the customer lifetime value (LTV)?
- Social media accounts
Online reputation & brand health
In the age of Social Proof, where as many as 95% of consumers read online reviews before they make a purchase, a brand’s online reputation is more important than ever.
Social media and online reviews are two of the main ways that potential customers can research a company before they make a purchase.
As a result, a vital part of digital due diligence is understanding how a brand interacts with its customers through these channels and what customers say about them. Here’s a list of what to cover in your digital due diligence report:
- What social media platforms are they active on?
- How many followers do they have on each platform?
- When was the last time they posted on each platform?
- What is the quality of their posts (e.g. engaging, informative, well-written)?
- What do customers say in online reviews e.g. Google reviews, Amazon, Gartner, G2?
- Are the reviews positive or negative?
- Do they respond to negative reviews?
- Do they have a process for managing customer feedback?
- What are customers saying in comments and conversations on social media?
- Is customer sentiment positive/negative/neutral?
- What are the key topics that customers are talking about?
- What are the most common drivers and pain points?
- Are loyal customers vocal online?
- What proportion of online commenters are promoters/detractors of the brand?
- How does their performance compare with market leaders/direct competitors?
- Do they respond appropriately to negative and emotional comments?
Employees also make up an important part of a company’s reputation. You can learn a lot about a company by reading employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed.
- Do employees generally seem happy or unhappy with their job?
- Do they feel like they are fairly compensated?
- Is the workplace environment conducive to creativity and collaboration?
- Do they have opportunities for professional development?
- Do employees feel like their voices are heard and that they can contribute to the company’s success?
Much in the same way as social media and review sites, you can use Symanto to get a quick, comprehensive and unbiased overview of employee sentiment, emotions and key psychographic information to boot.
Email lists and CRM data
If you’re looking at acquiring a company, one key metric to look at is the size of their email list and CRM data. This will give you an indication of the number of potential customers that they have and how engaged they are with the brand.
Some things to consider:
- What is the size of their email list?
- Do they have a process for collecting email addresses (e.g. sign-up form on the website)?
- Are their emails segmented?
- What is the open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribe rate for their emails?
- Do they have a CRM system in place? If so, how many contacts are in the system?
- Are the contacts categorized and segmented?
- When was the last time they sent an email to their list?
- What sort of content do they send in their emails (e.g. promotional, educational, personal)?
5. Assess value of digital assets
Once you’ve conducted a thorough analysis of the target company’s digital assets, you will be in a much better position to assess their value. This will help you determine whether or not the purchase price is a fair reflection of the company’s true worth. A great online reputation is one of the most valuable digital assets that a company can have and impacts the growth potential and valuation of a business.
6. Cyber security risks
You also want to review the company’s cyber security posture. This includes assessing their ability to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats.
- Are their systems and processes adequate to protect against today’s sophisticated cyber attacks?
- Is their data storage secure?
- Do they have an incident response plan in place?
- Is their staff trained in cyber security best practices?
- Have they undergone cyber security audits and if so, what were their results?
- What third-party applications do they use and how secure are they?
7. Build a report
Compile all of this data into a comprehensive report that will give you the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with an acquisition, and/or how best to negotiate the price.
Conducting due diligence is a critical step in any acquisition, and digital due diligence is now an important part of the process when analysing most target companies. By taking the time to thoroughly assess the target company’s online presence, you can avoid some costly mistakes down the road. And with the right tools and approach, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task.
This is just a high-level overview of some of the key elements that should be included in a digital due diligence report. It’s important to tailor the scope and depth of your analysis to the specific company that you’re looking at and the stage of negotiations that you’re in.
Get Started With Symanto
With Symanto tools and services, you can answer many of the questions listed above and get valuable insights to build a complete picture of the target company’s digital health.
Contact us today to get started on your digital due diligence journey today.