Whether you’re looking to hire a digital marketing agency for the first time, or you’ve just had too many terrible experiences in the past, this article will help you make the right decision moving forward.
Below are the top 5 mistakes or ‘red flags’ that business owners and marketing managers should watch out for before signing a contract:
1. No Ads Manager Access
In order to run Facebook or Instagram ads, you need a Facebook Business Manager account and an Ads Manager account within Business Manager. This is where all ads will run from, and where all the data about them will be stored.
However, what many agencies do is suggest running ads through their own Ads Manager account, instead of your business Ads Manager account.
Guess what happens when you stop working with that agency in the future?
You have no access to your past ads data on what performed well or what didn’t when it comes to targeting, images, videos, ad copy, landing page versions, promotional offers etc. Your in-house team or the new marketing agency will have to start from scratch and spend more on testing.
So how and why does this happen?
Firstly, many business owners are simply not educated about the distinction. And secondly, because of that knowledge gap, agencies can take advantage, restrict your access to the data and keep their trade secrets with them in case you decide to end the relationship.
TL;DR: Run ads through your own Business Manager account.
2. Rigid Contract Terms
Recently, I heard about the most absurd contract terms from a digital marketing agency – 12 postdated cheques! An agency is just running your ads, not renting you an apartment.
Rigid contract terms are put in place to hang onto a client for longer, but my question is – if the digital marketing agency is doing a good job and providing value to the client, why would the client want to leave in the first place? Just like an overly possessive boyfriend or girlfriend, trying to force someone to stay with you isn’t the sign of a healthy relationship.
For example at Digitalina, we request 30 days notice if you’d like to stop working together. And then that’s it, poof. You’re on your way. If you’re not happy, you’re not happy. End of story!
TL;DR: You should be allowed to end a contract with 30 days notice. Cancellation should be simple.
3. Ego and Attitude
This one is a bit trickier to figure out in the beginning, but I’d say it’s the most important. Why? Because it make the relationship a living hell or form the foundation for a solid, long-term relationship.
An agency with a big ego will:
- Never admit fault
- Point fingers instead of trying to find solutions together
- Have an ‘us vs. them’ mentality instead of a collaborative one
- Always try to get more money out of the client, even if it’s not in the client’s best interest
Typically, you start to see the red flags once the it’s been a few months. But, here are some tips to start spotting them before you enter into a relationship:
- Look at their reviews from other clients, and ask to speak to them
- Speak to the owner if possible, the employees are often a reflection of that person
- Listen to your intuition – does something seem off about the team?
- Ask them about points #1 and #2 above, do they appear hesitant or say ‘yep, no problem!’
TL;DR: No matter how skilled or impressive an agency is, if they seem like a***holes, don’t work with them.
4. Case Studies Without Metrics
Most agencies will list their clients and case studies on their website which is great, but as a potential client you also need to pay attention to the numbers. First, decide what your objective is for hiring an agency: if it’s to build brand awareness and grow a following on social media, look for metrics that correspond to your objective such as ‘follower growth’ or ‘website traffic’.
However, if your objective is to grow your bottom line and get more customers, see if their case studies actually list metrics such as:
- # of qualified leads generated
- # of conversions or new customers acquired
- Revenue earned
- Return on ad spend or investment
I see far too many people get impressed by agencies that list statistics like ‘1 million impressions’, ‘10,000 video views’ or ‘200% growth in followers’.
If that doesn’t equate to more customers, dirhams or dollars earned, who cares?
TL;DR: agency case studies should list metrics directly tied to revenue growth, if that’s your goal
5. “Guarantees” and Big Promises
If an agency guarantees you a certain # of leads or customers – run.
Allow me to explain why it’s impossible to guarantee a certain number of leads with an example. Let’s say there are two gyms, Gym A and Gym B, that run the exact same Facebook ad, with the exact same budget, and the same promotional offer (one month free membership) in the same city e.g. Dubai.
Gym A receives 100 leads at AED 10 per lead.
Gym B receives 20 leads at AED 50 per lead.
Why are the results so different? Here are some facts about Gym A:
- Gym A has more brand awareness and trust (e.g. Gold’s Gym, Fitness First)
- Gym A is located in a more densely populated area
- Gym A is more mainstream and has an affordable membership plan
- Gym A has no competitors located nearby
- Gym A has better content available e.g. a slick brand video, testimonial videos
On the other hand:
- Gym B is new to the market with little brand awareness or trust
- Gym B is in a small residential area
- Gym B is a boutique, luxury gym with high prices
- Gym B is close to a much bigger, established chain
- Gym B had no testimonials or videos, just a few photos shot on an iPhone of the gym
Every single business is unique, and the factors listed affect the # of clicks, leads and engagement the business will receive:brand awareness and trust, competition, location, pricing, customer base, content and more.
Now when it comes to conversions, this is even more difficult to predict. For example, Gym A could have 100 leads but a terrible sales team and a smelly gym venue, and receive no conversions. And Gym B could have only 20 leads but a beautiful gym and attentive, friendly staff that convert 50% of all leads.
While an agency can help guide a business on how to get more conversions, it cannot predict or guarantee those numbers.
TLDR: clicks, leads and conversions are impossible to guarantee, you can only get a gauge after running ads for a few months. Any agency that promises you certain numbers is telling you what you want to hear and not going to be a good partner in the long run.
We’d love your input
Did you have an ‘aha’ moment? Is there anything else you would add to the list? Do you have any more questions? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to post in the comments below.
Shameless plug: if you’d like to explore working with a team that puts you first and wants what’s best for you in the long-run, send us an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org