What Your Digital Marketing Agency Didn't Tell You

Not getting the results you expected from your digital marketing agency or have a nagging feeling something is off? These alone aren’t signs that your agency is intentionally or maliciously misleading you, but it’s wise to pay attention because they signal a lack of trust, often brought about by a lack of transparency.

As a digital marketing consultant with decades of experience, I often meet with business owners who share similar sentiments. And while it may be true that some agencies are truly good at what they do, when key stakeholder reaches out to me with concerns, I’m usually able to trace it back to one of the following “secrets” digital marketing agencies don’t tell their clients.

They Don’t Do It All, Let Alone Understand It All

There are presently more than 6,000 digital advertising agencies in the U.S. alone, according to IbisWorld. The figure represents 12 percent year-on-year growth or the addition of more than 600 agencies in the past year and more than 1,000 in the past two years. So, where do they come from?

Agency owners are usually marketing professionals who previously worked in a specific subset of digital marketing and branched out independently. While that means they have some marketing experience and can speak the language, they don’t necessarily understand all aspects of digital marketing or how to ensure you’re getting the most from tasks outside their area of expertise.

For example, let’s say your agency’s owner has a background in social media marketing. What happens when that person is also tasked with your pay-per-click (PPC) ads or search engine optimization (SEO)? You won’t necessarily get the results you need in those areas, and your agency may not even realize your campaigns are underperforming, let alone why or how to correct them.

There Are Layers Between You and the People Performing Your Marketing Tasks

When working with a small agency, you may interface with the agency owner. As agencies grow, they bring on account managers to interact with their customers. In either case, you’re generally removed from the person completing your digital marketing tasks.

That means when you provide feedback, it’s passing through several people before the person completing the work hears it. It’s like a game of telephone, with no telling what message that person hears. The reverse is also true. It’s difficult for professionals to find out details they need, such as information about your branding, customers, and how you operate.

Without direct two-way communication between the company and the digital marketing professional completing the work, brands often come across as less authentic, and businesses get less return on investment.

Some of Your Work is Going to Subcontractors

If internal layers inside a digital marketing agency aren’t difficult enough to contend with, agencies often outsource work further to subcontractors, and, no, they won’t always tell you they’re doing this. That makes it even more challenging to communicate with prospective customers authentically and also means your company’s proprietary information is likely being shared with third parties you know nothing about.

There Aren’t Any Guarantees

If your digital marketing agency promised they’d get you in the first position on Google, assured you that you’d get a specific number of leads, or vowed to increase your revenue by a certain percentage, you have cause to be wary. There are too many variables to give these kinds of guarantees.

For example, Google changes its algorithm hundreds of times per year. Even if your digital marketing agency is well versed in SEO, you’ll occasionally see some shifts as the algorithm changes. The activities of your competitors will impact your marketing results too. This is often seen with pay-per-click ads when competing companies start running ads with keywords already in use by a brand. Sometimes top ranking is taken through bigger budgets or better-quality content.

They’re Either Constantly Pivoting or Should Be

Because results can’t be guaranteed, and what gets results will change over time, seasoned digital marketing professionals are diligent and ready to pivot. They’re watching performance metrics, running tests to see if results can be improved, and adapting the strategy over time.

If you’re not hearing what’s changing in your strategy regularly, one of two things is happening. Either they’re not changing anything, which means you’re not going to improve your results, or they’re simply not telling you what they’re doing. The latter may be because they’re afraid you’ll see their pivots as a failure when really, they’re an integral part of digital marketing, or it might be because they don’t see themselves as your partner.

You Should Be Looped In

As a business owner or stakeholder, you should be looped in on what’s happening with your digital marketing. That includes things like the pivots mentioned above and key metrics. It also means you should have access to your properties, such as your website, analytics, and social media profiles.

Some digital marketing agencies worry their clients will make changes that will negatively affect campaigns, but if your agency refuses to let you see what’s happening in the background and won’t grant access to view your channels or their data, something is amiss.

Digital Marketing is a Group Effort

Your business, finance, sales, marketing, and often product development teams need to be connected, and everyone must work together to create transformative results. For example:

  • Business leaders should be setting the overall company goals and vision, while marketing efforts should be in support of the objectives set.
  • The marketing department requires a budget but won’t likely have adequate funding if the finance department doesn’t understand what they’re doing or how the marketing investment benefits the brand.
  • Product developers understand the key points and benefits, and can also convey them to marketing, but marketing will have insights into what customers are looking for and whether product development is meeting their needs.
  • The marketing team can do much to automate and send better leads to the sales team over time, but hearing feedback from sales on how processes are performing and what leads are saying in one-on-one discussions is invaluable.

The list goes on. This is arguably one of the biggest reasons digital marketing agencies fall short. They work in silos and are removed from your company, making it impossible to create real synergy and get results that impact the company as a whole.

Get More Transparency in Your Digital Marketing

I’m a digital marketing consultant with a background in business. I don’t run a digital marketing agency. Instead, I work as a partner from within the companies I serve to bring alignment to teams and produce transformative results.

Whether you’ve experienced a trigger event that caused you to question the behavior of your agency, simply have a nagging feeling something is off, or are starting fresh and want to set off on the right foot, I can help. Contact me for a complimentary consultation.

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Husam Jandal

Husam Jandal is an internationally renowned business and marketing consultant and public speaker with a background that includes training Google Partners, teaching e-business at a master's level, receiving multiple Web Marketing Association Awards, and earning a plethora of rave reviews from businesses of all sizes.

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