If a simple car battery replacement becomes a full-blown mechanical problem that requires an expensive air-conditioning fix, it would be safe to assume you are getting ripped off by your auto mechanic. The same can be said for your General Contractor if a seemingly harmless leak in the ceiling has sprung into a rooftop replacement scenario. But how would you know that you are getting ripped off by a Digital Marketing agency?
As the Internet continues to grow in influence and accessibility and as technology evolves to give us the latest in digital innovations, it becomes more important for businesses to incorporate Digital Marketing into their brand development strategy.
Put simply, if you’re not part of the digital landscape, you will be left behind by competitors who have invested time and resources to enhance their online presence.
With Digital Marketing, you leverage the power of the Internet by using its different tools and processes to connect with your target audience. We discussed the various strategies and techniques that comprise a Digital Marketing campaign in our article “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website”.
Ways to Get Digital Marketing Done for Your Business
Entrepreneurs are risk takers by nature. They like to be in the driver’s seat; take charge of the wheel and be in control of all aspects of the journey toward entrepreneurial success. It is not uncommon to find entrepreneurs manage their businesses’ own Digital Marketing campaign.
But even if you have an extensive background and experience in Digital Marketing, it is not advisable to do it on your own. Digital Marketing is a process that takes time to manifest results. As the business owner, your available hours in the day are best dedicated to activities that directly contribute dollars and cents to your bottomline.
That leaves you with two other options for Digital Marketing: Hire a freelancer or contract the services of a Digital Marketing agency.
A freelancer is an individual contractor who specializes in Digital Marketing. He/she will be the cheaper option but keep in mind two things:
- The freelance Digital Marketer will need to hire other contracted talent;
- The freelance Digital Marketer will also have other clients to manage.
With these 2 factors to consider, it will be difficult for the freelance Digital Marketer to devote 100% full attention on your campaign because he/she cannot guarantee the schedule of the other contracted talent and available time might be constrained by deadlines to other clients.
Contracting the services of a Digital Marketing agency would be your best option as it provides you with the following advantages:
- A ready team of experts in every area of Digital Marketing.
- Experience and track record for providing excellent service.
- Availability of backup services; if your content writer is indisposed, another one can be recommended and assigned to your campaign.
- More professional approach; built-in workflows and processes for reporting, record-keeping and client collaboration.
- Centralized system of management makes it easier to organize and oversee progress and track performance.
- While generally more expensive than freelancers, agencies are open to negotiate their payment structures.
More companies are outsourcing their Digital Marketing needs to third party service providers/ agencies because it is not their core competence. They prefer to leave Digital Marketing to the experts.
Plus, as a contracted service, the company does not incur additional expenses for payroll, benefits, rent and other operations-related items as they would have if they had chosen to do Digital Marketing in-house.
Over the years, more agencies have entered the Digital Marketing industry which has resulted in the dilution of the quality of work rendered.
How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Digital Marketing Agencies
No doubt, some of you may have heard horror stories from well-meaning entrepreneurs who fell victim to the “Digital Marketing Agency from Hell”. Perhaps some of you have been victims themselves.
As with competitors within an industry; no two service providers are ever the same. One will always provide better service and performance than the other. In some cases, the quantity of substandard service providers may outnumber the good ones and the Digital Marketing industry is no exception.
There will always be principled proprietors of Digital Marketing and there will always be scammers out to stiff you of your hard earned money.
Here are our tips on how to avoid being ripped off by Digital Marketing agencies:
1. Learn All You Can about Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing is a dynamic approach; it is always in a state of evolution because markets never remain passive.
Through the Internet, consumers have greater access to information. Tastes and preferences are much more sensitive to change than ever before. Digital Marketing has developed different terminologies and jargon that agencies may use to impress or throw you off.
Arm yourself with knowledge; learn what you can about Digital Marketing and its various processes. You don’t have to be an expert but get your proficiency up to a level that you can make heads or tails of the conversation thread.
Another option is to bring a friend or an associate with experience in Digital Marketing during your meeting with the agency.
2. Look at The Agency’s Previous Work
Before you schedule the meeting, ask all prospective Digital Marketing agencies to provide you with client references or a link to a website that shows their body of work.
Take a look at the websites they have built and designed for clients. Do they all look the same with similar content and images? Are the websites functioning well? Are they mobile responsive?
How about the social media pages they set up for clients? Is the level of engagement impressive?
If they gave you a list of clients as references, make it a point to establish contact with them and find out all you can about their experience working with the agency.
3. They Push One-Size-Fits-All Campaigns
Be wary of Digital Marketing agencies that offer you set packages. Digital Marketing campaigns do not follow a blueprint because the goals and objectives of clients will vary.
Marketing strategies must be customized to fit the needs of the client. A big part of the process is market research. A reputable agency will conduct extensive research even at the preliminary stage to learn as much as it can about your business, the industry and your target audience.
Research will be the basis of the Creative Brief or the campaign strategy for your business.
And don’t get fooled by basement bottom pricing tactics! These agencies know pricing is an important consideration for businesses trying out Digital Marketing for the first time because you want to manage risk exposure.
They will get you hook, line and sinker with an attractively priced package. Once your account is in their grasp, they’ll slowly add on to the original contract price with more charges and “unforeseen” fees.
The best Digital Marketing agencies are willing to negotiate their fees or work with you on your budget.
4. Ask as Many Questions as Possible
You don’t want to become the client that sees hard earned dollars flushed down the toilet simply because the agency could not deliver results.
Some agencies will insist on using online marketing tools or specific software programs where the subscriptions could cost you thousands of dollars every year.
What they won’t tell you is that they are earning a commission from the supplier for the continued use of the program even though you are not seeing results.
It all sounds good at the start. You can be dazzled by an amazing PowerPoint presentation. But don’t let the bright colors, fine graphics and enticing numbers on the screen fool you.
Push, prod and probe as hard as you can. Don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible. Again it comes down to learning what you can about Digital Marketing.
Lastly, don’t commit to anything until you have given the proposal enough thought.
5. The Agency Guarantees Immediate Results
If an Agency guarantees you top billing on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page after a few months, head for the door and run away as fast as you can without looking back.
The Agency is getting ready to scam you of your hard earned money. The same goes for agencies that assure you of more than 1,000 followers every week or 100% guaranteed sales conversions. There are no guarantees in Digital Marketing.
You cannot establish a time-table and identify when results will be realized. It is a process that requires consistency, constant review and frequent upgrades. As markets change, so will your campaign specifics.
To get to the top section of the first page of the SERP requires consistent production of high quality and keyword-rich content, a strategic distribution schedule, high level engagement and a consistently high performing website.
This will not be an easy task and you will be competing with other websites that may be using similar strategies.
6. They Are Not Involved in the Process
Does the agency email you with charts that you can’t make heads or tails with? Is the explanation on the report vague and inundated with terms that read Greek to you?
Agencies that flood you with reports that don’t make sense want you to think they are doing their job. Another serious red flag is if the agency does not set meetings with you to discuss web analytics or to give you a more comprehensive idea on how your campaign is doing.
It should never be enough just to send reports. A respectable agency should take the time to sit down with you and explain how the campaign is performing. They expose themselves to being questioned and are fine with it.
7. They Don’t Respond Within an Appreciable Time Frame
In business, correspondence should merit a response within 24 hours. That is enough time for the recipient to formulate a well-thought out reply.
Agencies should conduct themselves as professionals and respond to all communication from you within an appreciable time frame.
It does not matter if the agency’s days are busier than usual. It will not take more than a few minutes to craft an email or to schedule a phone call.
Digital Marketing is a proven way to effectively promote your business on the Internet. But its growth as a process has opened up the industry to opportunistic agencies that overpromise and underdeliver results.
Always take the time to prepare before committing yourself to a venture. Conduct research on the industry, uncover its best practices and perform due diligence on all Digital Marketing service providers who want you to sign up with them.
Time spent on preparation will save you thousands of dollars on unfulfilled objectives and expectations.
If you want to learn more about Digital Marketing, give us a call or drop us an email. We would love to help you take your business to the next level!