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15 Signs That Your Digital Marketing Agency Deserves a Red Card

July 2, 2018 | Timothy Haines

Note: A version of this post was originally published on 10/24/2016. Digital changes daily, so we updated this post for 2019.

Flimsy digital marketing agencies aren’t always easy to recognize. They come decorated with empty buzzwords, unbacked methods, or senseless deliverables. Yes, you want followers. But you need customers. Yes, you hire agencies for their expertise. But they should be able to communicate why Best Practices are just that.

We present to you this handy list of warning signs to help identify weak or phony “expertise.” If two or three of these sound familiar with your hired agency, reexamine your relationship with them.

Your digital marketing agency deserves a red card if…

  1. You don’t have ownership of your web domain and hosting. (I mean, they’re yours, right?)
  2. You’re missing a username or password to ANYTHING. (If it’s yours, you should have access.)
  3. You’re unable to measure your ROI using the ad campaign’s data. (The data should hold the answers to your questions, be they “How many phone calls did we receive?” or “How many users took action?”)
  4. Someone created a Facebook page for you then pretended you didn’t need an advertising budget. (You have a car, great. But you need gas to drive it.)
  5. You’ve never actually seen your Google Analytics and you don’t know how to log into it. (Again – if it’s yours, you should have access. You should be also educated on why it’s important.)
  6. You’re preached to exclusively about vanity metrics such as Facebook page likes. (Likes are nice, but do they translate to sales/leads?)
  7. You’re told what’s good or bad for SEO by someone who isn’t an SEO expert. (Hint: Designers and developers are rarely SEO experts.)
  8. You can’t easily edit your webpage content yourself without advanced training, or worse – you have to pay your developer for every update. (Check your contract. You probably shouldn’t have to beg or pay extra for necessary maintenance.)
  9. Your email newsletter and website are not mobile friendly. (Mobile first. Mobile first. Mobile first.)
  10. You’re told that “Display and Search are enough. You don’t need a Remarketing campaign. (Someone visits your website but doesn’t take the action you want? Get them back with Remarketing.)
  11. You hear something resembling, “We’re a news media company but we’ve also mastered the Internet.” (They haven’t. Work with the specialists.)
  12. Someone just offered to rent you an unvetted email list. (There are a number of reason this is a bad idea, including being harmful to your IP reputation or email deliverability.)
  13. The followers you’re attracting don’t look like potential customers, donors, stakeholders, or supporters. (See an expert immediately to fix your audiences before you spend more money on reaching the wrong people.)
  14. You don’t have a Facebook pixel or Google Adwords remarketing script on your site. (This applies regardless of whether you’re currently running ads, as this is a critical step to take for any future ads to succeed.)
  15. You’ve never discussed the importance of a CRM (customer relationship management) software. (For many organizations, its CRM is its brain. Kind of crucial.)

    Bonus Warning Signs…

  16. Your digital creative is being made with InDesign or some other program that’s designed for print instead of digital. (ProTip: We recommend using Sketch!)
  17. You’re not using Google Tag Manager or Google Data Studio. (Google Tag Manager allows you to track countless events and actions. Google Data Studio is the customizable, easy-to-use way to manage your analytic reports. Also, they’re both free.)
  18. You see the WordPress plugin “The Divi Builder” being used. (This means the code sucks. Unless you were charged less than $2,000 for your website, you were probably ripped off.)