According to a recent survey, nearly half of all small businesses don’t even know if they’re getting what they pay for from their agency, while others receive little to no value at all. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to digital marketing, then there are three tell-tale signs that you should be aware of that can help you identify if an agency is truly bad or not.
What does a bad digital marketing agency look like?
When you’re looking for a digital marketing agency, it’s hard to tell a good one from a bad one. Here are three things that will tip you off to a bad agency 1) An absence of certifications. 2) High-pressure sales tactics 3) Reliance only on subcontractors over full-time employees. If you see any of these red flags—run! Find another agency. A true professional is going to take your concerns seriously and won’t be intimidated by your search for quality. After all, if an agency has real talent, it shouldn’t have anything to hide; in fact, its representatives should be proud of their work. And, most important of all: you want to feel comfortable with your digital marketing partner—whether that’s a firm or an individual. Again, if someone seems pushy or less than transparent with what they do or don’t do, think twice before working with them. You might not know exactly what you need today, but once you sign on to a relationship with an agency (or a person), make sure you can envision how it will grow and evolve as time goes on. You wouldn’t buy expensive shoes without knowing how often you would wear them (wouldn’t recommend doing that anyway), so don’t rush into a partnership without understanding whether it makes sense for your needs now and years down the road.
What are the red flags?
If a digital marketing agency offers you something too good to be true, it probably is. When looking for a digital marketing agency, you want to make sure they have an in-depth understanding of what they are offering and have a decent amount of experience. If they tell you that their services won’t cost you anything or charge only a tiny bit, then chances are it’s not worth your money. In addition, bad agencies will often use flashy sales pitches that don’t reflect what happens after you sign on with them. That’s why it’s important to do some research on companies before making any hiring decisions. One way to ensure you’re getting quality work from your chosen company is by checking its accreditation with groups like Google Partner and other reputable industry organizations. These organizations will tell you whether or not an agency has received proper training and can give you peace of mind that they know what they’re doing. Also, stay away from bad agencies if they ask for a lot of personal information right off the bat. While there may be very rare circumstances where a company needs access to sensitive financial information right away, most legitimate businesses don’t need that information upfront. It should also go without saying that no one wants to receive spammy phone calls or text messages during dinner time. If a potential agency tries contacting you at odd hours, ditch them immediately—these types of tactics are usually associated with bad marketing firms as well.
Expert advice on how to spot them
It’s safe to say that not all digital marketing agencies are created equal. Some are simply bad, churning out spammy text-heavy website content and guaranteeing top rankings on Google with untested (and sometimes plagiarized) SEO strategies. Others may be well-intentioned but inexperienced, still wet behind the ears in a chaotic industry. No matter what category an agency falls into, there is one surefire way you can spot them: The work they produce should speak for itself. And if it doesn’t — walk away. Here are three ways you can immediately identify bad agencies. If any of these ring true for your agency, think twice before placing your trust in their hands. 1. They guarantee results from day one. Sure, certain tactics have proven track records of success—but just because a tactic works doesn’t mean it will work for your business (especially when applied blindly without careful consideration). The bottom line? If an agency guarantees instant results, run as fast as you can away from them and never look back. 2. They advertise top positions or invisible links. But good agencies talk about how to avoid links that might get your site penalized by search engines. So how do you know if they’re telling you truths versus lies? Keep tabs on their progress throughout your campaign —you should start seeing notable improvements in search engine rankings around 3-6 months after going live. If you don’t, something fishy might be going on. 3. Their social media accounts don’t match up. You probably already use social media to engage with customers and grow brand awareness, so check out those channels. If their social accounts are filled with dozens of shoutouts from companies unrelated to yours or generic calls-to-action like buy my book or buy my stock photos, odds are they operate low-quality campaigns across the board–meaning low quality for your company too. Try engaging them directly via Facebook and LinkedIn posts; if replies are slow, canned, or unhelpful, watch out. These red flags won’t catch every bad agency out there—in fact, most aren’t easy to spot until it’s too late—but adding another layer of due diligence can only improve your chances.