Now this blog isn’t virtue signalling. In fact, the reason we know so much about agency warning signs is that we’ve made loads of mistakes working with our clients. But like any good business, we’re committed to learning from these mistakes and improving our PPC & SEO service offering.
In the era of relentless technological innovation and evolving consumer behaviour, the importance of a strong, smart, and result-oriented digital marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Having a reliable digital marketing agency as your strategic partner is a huge advantage. They can help navigate the complex digital landscape, leverage emerging trends, and drive business growth.
However, not all digital marketing agencies are created equal. There are signs to look out for to determine if your digital marketing agency isn’t performing as well as it should. Here are some indicators that your agency might be falling short of expectations.
Do they actually understand how your business works?
This is a big one and you’ll see it pop up again in some of the points below. But to create truly effective digital strategies, your agency must understand how your business operates. This includes things like your financial margins, your full enquiry/sales handling process, how you service customers, who your biggest customers are, and, well, literally everything. They should know as much as you and should be asking all these questions to fully become an extension of your team and create strategies that completely align with your business.
Lack of Clear Communication
Good communication is the bedrock of any successful relationship. If your agency doesn’t communicate clearly and frequently, this can be a major red flag. They should be transparent about their strategies, progress and results (even the bad bits). If they’re not sharing data, reports, insights, and strategic changes with you, they may not be serving your best interests and avoiding any difficult conversations.
This is very similar to the communication point above, but as a business stakeholder, you want your questions answered ASAP. This is especially true if your progress relies on getting quick answers.
We would ask what communication channels the agency uses and if the answer is solely email, then that could be a warning sign you may be waiting a while for your responses. One channel we’ve found to be incredibly successful is WhatsApp. The reason is that 99% of people already have it and use it daily, meaning you don’t have to get anyone to download and use what could be alien software to them.
Every business is unique, with its own set of objectives, target audience, and brand identity. A top-level digital marketing agency will understand this and customise its approach to meet your specific needs. If your agency is offering cookie-cutter solutions that seem to fit any business, they’re probably not investing the time and effort to truly understand your brand.
Lack of Proactive Ideas
The digital marketing landscape is dynamic and constantly changing. Your agency should stay ahead of trends and proactively come up with new ideas to boost your marketing efforts. If your agency is reactive instead of proactive, they’re not maximising your potential.
In the past, we’ve struggled with this as we didn’t like coming across as too salesly. Adding new marketing channels to the mix obviously equals more management fees for us (it’s funny how people can get awkward when it comes to money). However, now what we do is proactively test and learn new platforms and digital strategies. Then we can put a business case to our clients to see if it can be integrated into their overall business and marketing strategy.
Outdated Strategies / Lack of Experience
Many of our clients our marketing managers and therefore know their stuff. When they hire a specialist agency they expect the agency to be creating strategies that go above and beyond what they already know.
Stefan Afrăsinei from Clip said “We tried to work with an agency to scale our product, Social Cat, and their paid social strategy for us was based on interests audiences and lookalikes. This was a few months ago, and we know this targeting is no longer the most effective method with Facebook Ads.
Now, having some experience, we knew these were outdated, which was a warning sign for us. It’s a bit harder because you’d need to be up to date with what’s happening in the field, I guess, but still a sign, in my opinion.”
Now if you’re not in the marketing department then you probably don’t know what’s a good strategy or what’s outdated, making this so much harder to get right. One way to get a better idea of the skills of the agency is to look at their employees on LinkedIn to see how much marketing experience they have. Even then you may end up working with a stubborn marketer who still holds onto outdated strategies.
Results Aren’t Measurable or Aren’t Improving
At the end of the day, digital marketing should drive tangible results and a return on investment of your outlay. If your agency can’t show how they’re positively impacting your business or if their reports seem vague and inconclusive, you’re right to be concerned. An awesome agency will set measurable KPIs and regularly provide clear, in-depth reports that show progress towards these KPIs. If your metrics aren’t improving over time, it might be time to re-evaluate your agency.
No Long-Term Strategy
Effective digital marketing isn’t generally a short-term win. It requires ongoing effort and a long-term strategy that aligns with your business objectives. If your agency is just running ads or optimising your site without a clear overarching strategy, they’re probably not setting your business up for sustainable success.
Navigating the digital marketing world can be complex and challenging, but with the right agency, the journey can lead to exponential growth for your business. If your current agency displays any of these signs, it might be time to consider a change. Remember, your agency should act as an extension of your team, sharing your goals, and working to achieve them.
If you’re looking for a new agency, we’d love to throw our hat into the ring. Get in touch with us here and let us know what you’re looking to achieve. Hopefully, together we can achieve it.