Is your online marketing agency a dud?

No-one needs to find out that their online marketing campaign is a flop. FRED SCHEBESTA lists five signs that show when it is time to change your online marketing agency.

By Fred Schebesta

You need a better online agency

No-one needs to find out that their online marketing campaign is a flop. Here are five signs that show when it is time to change your online marketing agency.

With the economy slowing and work drying up, you need to be sure that your online marketing strategy is spot on, and your marketing agency is working as hard as it can for you.

But how do you tell if your agency isn’t up to scratch? Here are five signs that it might be time to switch.

1. Your agency is slow to get your campaigns out the door for you

Have you noticed that your campaigns take forever to get out the door? Does it take too long to get things from your agency? I will let you in on a secret, although you may have an inkling already – you are either a small client with a big agency, or a big client in a small agency.

When you are a small fish in a big pond, it means you are not very profitable to the agency – the amount of work it takes to service your account is too high. If this is the case, you might want to look for a smaller agency.

If you are a big fish in a small pond, you will get good people working on your account but then you will eventually find that these will be replaced by others that aren’t as good. The good people who used to work on your account are now hunting for another client. My advice here is to look for a bigger agency.

2. Your ads aren’t converting, but your agency is still winning creative awards

Awards are great; but sales are better. If your agency isn’t really a direct marketing agency and they keep talking about creative rather than conversions, you might want to switch agencies to a more direct response focused one.

3. Your agency doesn’t understand direct response

Just like with your creative looking all pretty but not selling, if your agency isn’t advising you on ways to increase qualified response you might want to consider switching.

It’s easier to create sales-generating campaigns when your agency talks the same language as you, and you don’t have to keep coaching them on basic sales tactics. It’s time to stop being frustrated by your agency pushing back on you by telling you that the creative would be better with a smaller call to action and a more creative headline. You know what works, and it’s time to work with an agency that focuses for your targets, not on creative awards.

4. When a campaign fails and your agency doesn’t care

This is a clear sign that your current agency is just treating you like a number, and doesn’t care about what you are trying to achieve. Agencies should know your targets and feel the pain as much as you do when a campaign doesn’t work. They should proactively make suggestions on ways to improve the campaign, as opposed to waiting for you to make a decision on how to fix the problem.

5. The costs don’t justify the value

Champagne “long lunch” agencies are fine if they deliver high quality work along with their high price tags. If you are looking for direct response, hard hitting creative that converts and wins ADMA effectiveness awards, I would suggest getting a few other agencies to quote on a project and see what rates come back. You should be able to save some money with a better value agency this way.

The money you save will allow you to create more variations of your campaign for testing or increase your media budget.

How to make the swap

So how do you go about looking for a new online marketing agency? I’ve written a full guide to this process, but there are a few initial steps that you need to take.

First, you need to make sure that your full-service online marketing agency can actually provide a full service.

A full service agency should provide the following services inhouse:

  • Online marketing strategy: There are many digital agencies out there that don’t have the online marketing smarts. If you’re a marketer, work with an online marketing agency, not just a digital agency – you will get better strategy and ideas and you won’t find yourself briefing them on simple marketing concepts.
  • Search engine marketing: Both search engine optimisation and pay-per-click search marketing are key tools in your online marketing exploits and you need your agency to provide this.
  • Online copywriting: An online copywriter is different to a print copywriter, and you are going to need the online type here.
  • Website design and development: An inhouse production team of designers and developers. Video production is also key for producing webcasts, although does not need to be inhouse.
  • Email marketing: Email is the underpinning on any good online marketing campaign, and your agency needs to be proficient in creating, sending and reporting on email campaigns.
  • Flash production: Macromedia Flash is the key to making your websites look funky. Agencies usually have very good Flash developers, but just check that they do.
  • Banner advertising: If you want to raise your brand awareness, banner ads are a good way to go. You are definitely going to need an agency to build these for you.
  • Content management system: Every agency has a way to manage a websites content, but make sure that their CMS is decent.
  • Usability and website auditing: You’re going to need to review your website every now and again, and your agency needs to give your website a good audit to do that.

The above services are all key from a full service online marketing agency. As a corporate business it is essential to have an agency that can provide all of these services.

These are fundamental elements to your online marketing, and it is imperative at the selection process to ensure you have these requirements met.


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