David Reeson is a University of Leeds graduate currently working as a digital marketing intern at TidyChoice. He has years of experience working in digital marketing sales and has heard all the tricks of the trade that some agencies use to make you buy bad solutions.
Online marketing is one of the best ways to grow your business and bring in an audience who have never heard of your company before. A good advertising campaign may well be the only thing separating you from outperforming your local competition. With so many small to medium sized businesses wondering how best to optimise their online profile, it should come as no surprise that there is a plethora of marketing companies catering to this exact audience.
Digital Marketing is a fiercely competitive sector and there is no shortage of independent contractors, small agencies, and international giants who all want to tell you why they are the best agency for your business. Don’t get me wrong, there are some truly fantastic companies and specialists out there who do amazing work for their clients. The trick to finding the right agency for you is understanding whether you’re being solicited by one of the good ones.
In my time working in digital marketing sales, I spoke to thousands of businesses and heard every horror story imaginable from businesses who felt ripped off by their previous agency. By following these simple guidelines, you can identify and avoid the common pitfalls that businesses make when searching for a marketing partner.
Be Wary of Guarantees
If a sales agent starts making guarantees, you need to start asking for details. Watch out for phrases like: “We guarantee to get your website onto page 1 of Google” and “We will generate hundreds of likes for your Facebook page”. There is always a degree of uncertainty with online marketing and promises like these tend to come with a catch.
We will get your website onto the first page of Google until your ad gets clicked on ten times and your budget runs out.
Your Facebook page will be swamped with new likes from bots and random people who will never, ever buy anything from you.
If what you’re being told sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Plenty of terrible marketing companies have amazing salespeople who will use every trick at their disposal to hit their monthly targets. If you’re being offered guarantees, always get them in writing and do some independent research into the company that’s offering them.
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Never Make Assumptions
I have spoken to dozens of businesses who fell out of love with their digital marketing company because they made assumptions in good faith before signing up. If you’re having a website built for you, it might seem like common sense that you would own the site upon completion but this isn’t always the case. Some agencies will take your website down completely if you fall behind on hosting payments and others will legally own your whole site even after you’ve fully paid for it.
If you ever want to move away from these agencies, you will be back at square one. If you are paying a company to run online ads for you, what do you think is a reasonable cut of the budget for the agency to take as payment? And how much are they actually taking? If you don’t ask these questions, you won’t be given the answer.
Do Your Own Research
There is a wealth of information available online about every aspect of digital marketing. With YouTube tutorials, free online courses, and public guidelines from big players like Google, you can get a good grasp of the basics very quickly if you have time. If you don’t want to trawl through blog posts frantically taking notes, you can always invite a friend who knows their stuff to join you on calls with potential marketing partners. Anyone with hands-on experience with online marketing will be able to see through a shallow proposal with ease.
Remember That Impressions Are Not The Same Thing As Sales
Just because your website is generating more traffic, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily bring in new business. Even a bad marketing agency can generate a noticeable increase in traffic to your website, but that traffic alone is not enough to guarantee a return on your investment. Consider the following before you sign up for a solution that drives extra traffic to your website:
Am I Targeting The Right Demographics?
How many new customers do I need to bring on to cover my marketing costs?
And most importantly: Is my website strong enough to convert impressions into sales?
You need to be brutally honest with yourself. Is your current website up to scratch? In my experience, bad websites are the most common pitfall for companies who are new to online marketing. You have fractions of a second to earn a potential customer’s trust and if your website loads too slowly, looks dated, or doesn’t grab the end-user’s attention, they will simply click away.
Before you spend any money on Google AdWords, social media campaigns, or any other traffic generators, you need to make sure you are not going to be wasting your time. A marketing company looking for a quick win won’t be concerned with your conversions, they just want your business. Look for an agency that will take the time to make sure you’re ready for an increase in traffic before they commit to generating it.
Never approach digital marketing expecting immediate results. Realistically, new ad campaigns need to be tested and adjusted as more data is gathered. A good marketing agency will keep you updated on the work they’re doing and explain what steps are being taken to optimise your campaigns. Less reputable agencies, on the other hand, will rely on automated processes and provide minimal hands-on adjustments. Make sure you know what you’re paying for before you start paying for it.
In the golden age of online marketing, before every company understood the power of the internet, it was possible to generate a staggering amount of work for a comparatively small investment. This is no longer the case. Your competitors are now working just as hard as you are to stay on top of their online presence so it’s essential that you are realistic about your own budget. If a company is offering you results for £90 a month, you need to question how far £3 per day is really going to go.
Approaching a third party to take responsibility for your online marketing can be a daunting task. The best thing you can do to ensure that you get the results you’re paying for is to do your due diligence and research any potential marketing partners. Ask about contract lengths, check independent review sites, and never sign up for a service on the first call. There’s a wealth of information out there and it’s well worth taking the time to pin down the agency that’s right for you. Once you find a good one, the results will speak for themselves.