For some businesses, a digital marketing agency can be essential to success, especially growing businesses who may lack a dedicated resource to manage marketing campaigns or have the budget to recruit, train and manage a full, in-house marketing team.
It’s easy to see why so many businesses choose to outsource their digital marketing to an agency in an effort to accomplish and surpass their marketing and sales goals, while keeping their own time free to focus on the core services of their business.
Given complexity of the digital landscape, hiring the right agency that is a perfect fit for your needs is essential, do your duediligence and fully define what you are looking for. Below are the top 5 concerns we regularly hear when speaking with clients about their past experience with digital marketing agencies.
So be wary...
1.) Buying fans and followers
To many, the aim of a Social Media campaign is to increase followers and grow community size exponentially. As a result, some businesses and agencies decide to buy followers and fans for their social media pages. While it is indeed important that your community size grows over time, it’s more important that these communities are active, organic, and telling of your target customer, and current customer base.
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, and compare your community sizes across social platforms to your competitors, but follower count isn’t the most important social media metric. There are far more important metrics you should be measuring such as:
- How much traffic Social Media drives to your website
- How many those users convert to leads, contacts and customers from Social Media
- The amount of engagement your Social Media activity creates
Don’t forget that you could have bought a community size on Instagram of 500,000, but if none of these followers are engaging, clicking your website link, or becoming leads and contacts, that 500,000 could be considered worthless!
Buying followers can even harm your business. People are becoming much more tech saavy and are a lot more equipped to notice if a business has bought their followers.
Imagine you find a business on Twitter. They have only tweeted 200 times, and joined Twitter just six months ago but they already have 250,000 followers. All of their tweets are not being engaged with or retweeted either. When you click on their list of followers you might see tens of thousands of these accounts:
While everyone may pick up a few fake accounts by accident along the way - if all these warning signs are there, it’s likely these followers may have been bought. It can put people off interacting with that business because they seem disingenuous and less trustworthy. It’s easy to get found out too. For twitter in particular, the Fake Followers Check calculates how many of an account's followers are fake!
2.) Not communicating with your sales team
For any business, particularly B2B, alignment of the sales and marketing teams are key. However, it could be argued that these departments are the two most likely to be at odds with each other if the projected number of sales are not being achieved. Sales may argue marketing aren’t bringing in the right leads, whereas marketing will be accusing sales of not closing any customers.
The best way to ensure alignment in sales and marketing, particularly when your marketing team is outsourced, is to encourage open communication between the two. Regular feedback will allow the marketing team to understand how to produce better and better leads for sales, and to understand the barriers to purchase a lead might have.
If a digital marketing agency isn’t correctly communicating with your sales team, they may well be producing thousands of leads, but if these leads aren’t representative of your business's target market, the sales team will be fighting an uphill battle trying to close them.
Your digital marketing agency should be combating this issue by using integrated software, like Hubspot. Hubspot offers closed loop reporting that allows both the sales and marketing team to share information on leads and their buyer journey. It will allow each team to see the entire lifecycle of visitor as then turn into a lead and then convert to a customer.
The marketing team will be able to see where leads are being generated, and what produces the best, high quality leads. The sales team will be able to track their users and leads behavior online ad will better understand how to approach that lead and how best to nurture them.
In addition, an integrated software will offer hard data and numbers. Hubspot describes this as the ‘truth glue’ that holds the sales and marketing team accountable. It’s clear to see, to both teams, how many leads are being generated of what quality and what percentage of those leads are converting.
The majority of automated messages on Social media are insincere and frustrating, but despite this, automation on social media is more common than you think - particularly on Twitter.
This type of automation is commonplace on Twitter. Messages that are automatically triggered by a mention, the use of a keyword or hashtag or a new follow. These can often be disjointed, not seem relevant to the conversation and are very obviously automated. The tweet below from American Air is a perfect example of this. The automated tweets were responding to scathing reviews of the airlines with a ‘thanks for your support’!
Image from Business Insider
Generally, it’s a best practice to avoid this type of automation altogether - it’s rarely successful.
Now, we’re not talking here about carefully scheduling platform specific, content sharing posts ahead of time using a tool like Hootsuite or Sproutsocial. Properly executed scheduling is an important time saver to distribute content and as long as schedule posts aren’t time specific, it’s no problem.
The issue arises however, when time specific messages are scheduled to go out automatically or when events like elections and world disasters occur. An infamous example of this is the event promoter Live Nation. News broke that a Radiohead concert in Ontario was cancelled when the CBS news alerts tweeted telling the public there had been a fatal accident as the roof of the stage had collapsed.
LiveNation, the event promoter also tweeted about the cancelling of the gig. Some 30 minutes later they tweeted again asking the public to ‘Share your Instagram photos from the show tonight’. A huge scheduling error.
It’s not just the danger of disaster or changes to an event, but people can usually tell when your live tweets are scheduled. Perhaps it’s the Strictly Come Dancing final, and a business wants to tweet about it to capitalise on its audience being active, and to join the conversation. If you schedule ahead of time it’s not going to be relevant to what’s happening. How will you know if that Hollyoaks actor nailed the tango before the big night even happened?!
If your agency is using scheduling - it needs to be overseeing those scheduled messages, keeping its ear to the ground and never scheduling time-specific messages that should go out live. If there are any changes in situation that may result in a scheduled messages becoming irrelevant, insensitive or otherwise - an agency needs to be there to cancel or change them accordingly.
4.) Not proving ROI
Chances are, you’re going to be very aware of the cost of outsourcing your digital marketing. After all, it’s probably one of your bigger monthly outgoings. More important, however, than the cost of your agency is the return you receive for your investment - the ROI.
They might be able to tell you how many facebook fans they’ve bagged you, or how many blog posts they’ve written but if your agency isn’t thoroughly tracking or proving ROI on their digital marketing efforts, it’s going to be pretty difficult for them to quantify how much money they’ve made you, and how many customers you have as a result of their work. That’s why it’s so important to track where your visitors, customers and leads come from. Your agency should be able to tell you exactly what you’re getting for your money. Without proving ROI, it leaves both you and your agency disappointed at the results of your campaigns, and questioning the effectiveness of your agency, or questioning digital marketing as a whole if you can’t quantify what results it drives.
5.) Unrealistic goals
Some digital marketing agencies promise you the world, but setting unrealistic goals will do more harm than good. This is why we marketers create SMART goals.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Relevant
T - Timely
That ‘A’ stands for achievable! Any agency can promise you 1000 leads within a month to get your business but, of course, it’s whether they deliver on that promise that matters. Setting an unrealistic goal will leave you frustrated and them with no option but to fail. You need to know that your marketing agency can achieve it’s goals and fulfill those promises so you can look after your budgeting and cashflow.
Outsourcing your digital marketing to an agency is a great move for so many businesses. If you take these concerns into account when searching for one, it will help you to figure out which agency will be the best fit for you and your business.