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Watch For These 7 Warning Signs When Shopping For A Digital Marketing Agency

Imagine the following scenario. You need to market your new product and want to do so digitally so your firm can achieve timely, tangible results. As the marketing manager, you must find the best digital marketing agency to meet your company’s needs.

Your good friend and former colleague has started her own digital marketing firm and, after you mention your search, presses you to hire her. You know she is smart, technologically savvy, and has a vast background in marketing. After mentioning your friend’s firm to your supervisor, you are given the go-ahead to hire her.

And the results are disastrous. Your friend may have been a dynamo as a marketing executive, but her new firm is understaffed, inexperienced, and, as you quickly discover, ineffective. Your supervisor is unhappy, you are charged with the unpleasant task of firing a friend, and you are back to square one in trying to find a new, more qualified digital marketing agency.

Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon scenario. People who’ve dabbled in digital marketing believe they can start a firm and use small to medium businesses as learning opportunities, but it’s those SM businesses that can get hurt. In fact, a digital agency may seem extremely effective in one industry, but if that’s the only industry they know, their marketing tactics will hit a brick wall – soon.

How to Find the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Business

Digital marketing isn’t something agencies should be learning on the fly. Businesses looking for experience and results may have to do some research.


Here are the warning signs of an ineffectual agency so you can avoid future pitfalls and waste no time in finding the perfect organization to market your company’s services, products, or special events.

The Warning Signs of an Ineffective Digital Marketing Agency

Finding an effective ad agency may seem like a piece of cake, but, when you are in the trenches of a new campaign, easy may not be as easy as it looks.

There are several warning signs to watch for when vetting a marketing agency. Here, we will focus on seven important tips and red flags:

1. Poor Communication

This may seem like a given, but it is not wise to deal with a digital marketing agency once they drop the ball in providing clear and open communication. The first time this happens should be a huge warning sign that it will happen again.

Agencies should be ready to please all clients, including new ones, by keeping them abreast of any changes including new marketing initiatives or modifications in services.

2. Lack of Transparency

Data is key to understanding which digital marketing techniques work and which ones do not. All data should be shared from the very start of a professional relationship with a new digital marketing agency.

If it is not, or if you do not have immediate access to this data, then it is time to wonder what else your digital marketing agency is hiding. It may also be time to look for an organization that gives you access to all necessary information.

3. Slow Response Time

If emails are not returned in a timely manner or phone calls are left unanswered, your digital marketing agency could be suffering from a lack of organization. It could also be understaffed.

While not every team member will know the ins and outs of your business, there should be enough communication among the people in the agency to find you help in a timely manner.

If you find slow response time is due to poor organization, it’s time to move on. A lack of organization means the current problems you are suffering will only get worse down the road.

4. They Claim to Have a Secret Formula for High Rankings

Digital marketing is a specialized practice, and those who know how to make good use of the tools at their disposal may seem like magicians who answer your marketing problems with a snap of their fingers. Of these red flags, this one is the biggest.

If a marketing agency cannot provide direct evidence or past success stories that demonstrate their unique strategies designed to best serve your company, you may want to reconsider hiring that digital agency. What makes this claim so dangerous is that it suggests underhanded strategies.

Agencies who use these black hat tactics can do more than just neglect getting your name out there – they can hurt your business. Your company will pay the price with lower rankings and even penalties from Google and other search engines.

5. Poor Client Retention

Ideally, a thriving agency should retain its clients and have a track record of success. If an agency routinely loses clients, there is likely a reason behind the max exodus. Make sure your company is not the latest casualty of an ineffective agency by doing some research.

They won’t be advertising their losses, so it may take some digging before you realize their clients are dropping like flies. You can head this one off by asking for client referrals. If these are tough to find or they take too long in offering them, you may need to keep looking.

6. They Say They Can Do Everything

Small agencies often claim they can do everything for their clients. While this may be true in some, very limited cases, it’s unlikely one agency is doing it all. They may be hiring out some aspects of your marketing, which ups your price.

Why take the risk that one of these subcontractors cannot deliver on this promise? If one employee handles a particular task, their departure can cause issues further down the line as others in the agency scramble to pick up the slack. Make sure they have enough staff to manage if they suddenly find themselves down an employee or two.

7. They Focus Only on Traffic

Traffic building is crucial to a strong digital marketing strategy, but it’s not the only aspect that is crucial. Traffic is a piece of a puzzle – and your digital marketing team should be considering it – but not as the sole answer to your strategy. It may be going up, but are you seeing conversions? Do you have more qualified leads? Part of a strong marketing strategy is finding the right leads – the ones who convert once they find your website.

Questions to Ask When Searching for a Digital Marketing Agency

Asking thoughtful and reflective questions may very well help your company find a creative and dynamic digital marketing agency. Here are some insightful questions anyone can adopt during the digital marketing firm selection process:

• Who are their previous clients? Will they give the firm a positive rating?
• How do they measure success?
• How much of the work will be outsourced?
• Who will you work with on a regular basis? Will s/he be accessible when you need?
• What project management tools do they use?
• Do they specialize in custom or template websites?

Though these aren’t the only questions you should consider. These, along with industry-specific queries, can guide you when you begin your search for a digital marketing agency.

If you’re in the market for a new digital marketing agency or think the one you have isn’t serving your business’s best interests, talk to an award-winning team who can leverage innovative technology with creative ideas to offer your SM business marketing strategies that work.

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