Agencies that promise too much, too quickly
Be wary of agencies that promise unrealistic results in a very short amount of time. This could be a warning sign that they’ll say anything to get your business but can’t deliver when the time comes.
In reality, the success of your marketing campaigns will depend on a number of factors, such as where your business currently stands in terms of online engagement and even your type of business. Good results are rarely instantaneous, they take time and effort.
Going with the cheapest
Good digital marketing isn’t cheap. Agencies that offer fast results for cheap have little hope of achieving these promises. Effective digital marketing takes a certain number of man-hours and initial outlay, there’s no getting around that.
Likewise, an overly expensive digital agency doesn’t necessarily equal quality. Bigger agencies might quote a higher price because they’re used to dealing with bigger companies that can afford it, but this doesn’t automatically mean they’re the better agency.
Assuming bigger is better
Bigger agencies tend to have more experience and more staff, which might make you think they’re the better digital marketers. However, because of their size, bigger agencies can also suffer from poor communication and a lack of personal attention.
Smaller companies benefit more from a boutique digital marketing agency where they can get one-on-one attention. Smaller agencies can take the time to work closely with their clients to arrive at the best marketing campaigns for achieving their clients’ goals.
Black hat tactics
If an agency uses bad digital practices, sometimes referred to as black hat SEO, stay away.
These practices might yield what look like good or even excellent results at first, but will – sooner or later – attract penalties. They can result in a dramatic drop in rankings and traffic, or even get your website banned from platforms like Google.
If an agency does any of the following, they are using black hat tactics:
- keyword stuffing (packing keywords onto pages where they don’t belong in an attempt to “trick” search engine algorithms)
- using hidden links or text, again to trick search engines
- buying backlinks to content on your website
- paying for followers
- using code swopping (submitting a text-only web page designed to rank well and, once it has achieved a good ranking, replacing it with another content page)
- using redirect pages (keyword-stuffed landing pages that redirect to other content pages)
- negative SEO (undermining competitors’ rankings)
- duplicating content or websites.
Lack of history or experience
This is a bummer for newer digital agencies, but no one wants to hire an agency with little or no experience. Today, it’s all too easy to set up a small agency with young, low-paid staff, who don’t really know their stuff.
Verify that an agency knows what it’s doing by requesting case studies and testimonials, along with statistics indicating the results of its efforts for other clients. This will give you a clearer idea of the agency’s performance and level of expertise, and of how it can help your business.
A lack of communication will be clear from the start. If agency personnel fail to get back to you or aren’t readily available, this could indicate that they’ll be poor communicators going forward. You need to be able to communicate with your marketing agency on a regular basis.
It also helps to have a close relationship with a digital marketing agency. The best agencies are those that always keep their clients in the loop, updating them on the progress and efficacy of their marketing campaigns.
Just bear in mind, this is a two-way street. To market effectively, an agency will need to be kept informed of relevant developments, changes and priorities in your organisation.