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Marketing Strategy

5 Signs Your Digital Agency Isn’t Performing

Good marketing isn’t cheap – there, I said it. Working with an agency that doesn’t have their act together can make things even more expensive. Even worse, you’re spending money you won’t get back.

As with most of our colleagues in the industry, our clients have past experience with other digital agencies. While not all of these clients’ experiences are terrible (some agencies outgrow their clients, or vice versa), there are some nightmare stories we hear over and over. If any of these sound familiar, bring it to their attention. It’s up to the agency and the client to create and maintain a mutually beneficial – and profitable – relationship.

1. No pushback from the agency.

During strategy sessions, it often feels like your agency team serve as little more than order-takers. Ideas should be challenged, both the client’s and the agency’s. This is how good ideas become great, and bad ideas hit the curb.

2. Incomplete data.

When receiving reports from your agency, the Google Analytics reports only show the past couple weeks, with no previous period to compare them too. Or you only get a report of social media likes, with no mention of clicks or shares. While these can be examples of an agency with something to hide, it is usually just a lack of setting proper key performance indicators (KPIs) at the onset of the relationship.

3. Money for nothing.

You’re in a situation where you pay $100 per month for “website maintenance” when the website goes down every six months, or run into objections when you want a periodic rundown of how your budget is spent. A well-run agency knows their worth, and prices it accordingly. They also know how to best use your budget so that doubts of their worth never come into question.

4. Lack of internal QA.

Understanding that typos sometimes slip through, you’re experiencing far sloppier work than you should from an agency. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re incompetent, they could be too busy to catch problems before they turn into an unnecessary round of revisions that you’ll more than likely get billed for later.

5. Obvious lack of research.

The agency often asks questions to which they should already know the answers, and it feels like they’re learning on your dime. An obvious but often neglected part of an agency’s job is to dig deep into your business – its history, people, points of difference and competition – and be able to give you insights instead of the other way around. Granted, there will always be questions (after all, no agency will ever know your business better than you), but the questions should get deeper and further between after the first couple months.

Experiencing any of these with an agency shouldn’t be cause for letting them go, in most cases. However, you are well within your right to ask that the agency corrects the issues and becomes a better partner for your business.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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