Beware False Red Flags
And why monthly digital marketing packages should be more than a tick list.
Not all spam is spam – but probably it is
If you have a website there’s every likelihood that you’ve received emails promising to dramatically improve everything about it. If you’ve opened one of these it’s alarming how much they seem to know about your specific website. And they’ll offer to fix everything, for ever, for a very modest monthly fee.
Their promises can seem alluring. They’ll already have ‘identified’ weaknesses and be ready to take you to the next level. This could be design and user friendliness, or it could be promising to totally fix all the SEO problems, especially the ones you didn’t know you had.
These emails (many of which won’t even provide their business name) may insist they can increase visitors to your site and, even multiply your conversion rate. Almost certainly they will promise to deliver performance which is far better than that provided by your current digital and social media marketing agency or web developer. And switching is just a click or a call away…
Service levels do matter
One of the reasons this kind of email cold calling is so widespread is that some digital marketing agencies (and website developers) do, sadly, provide fixed services lacking in originality. Add to that the fact that websites and digital marketing both need adjusting or updating on a regular basis, then it is easy to be tempted into trying out someone new. When a new agency pops up, the grass on the other side really does seem greener.
The industry does itself no favours in this context. For example, do you hear from your web developer only when you need a new security certificate and to renew your domain and hosting package? Too often this is the case. And with digital marketing, it’s quite easy for the agency to tick off the elements of their care package without reviewing its efficacy.
And there’s a neat irony here: if the ‘predator’ agency has found your website, then other people have too, so things can’t be quite as bad as they claim.
What happens when you change your digital marketing agency?
First, let’s be honest. Sometimes a change will work out well, both for you and for your previous agency, who may feel they have done as much as they can within the agreed budget. So, if you genuinely feel you need to take your business elsewhere, then do so – but, I’d suggest, not before talking to your current agency first.
The alternative can be frustrating and destructive and it can take a long time to get back on track afterwards.
Typically, moving to another agency (the one who solicited your business, rather than the one you approached after your own research) comes with significant unintended consequences.
The overall consequence of these outcomes is wasted time, and money spent without a genuine return on investment. This is not to say that a change won’t work. It might and quite often it does. Occasionally a client leaves my own agency and goes elsewhere; my new clients are often businesses leaving one of my competitors.
The key point, however, is that making such a move is better when carefully considered, with the pros and cons weighed in detail. Speaking to your current agency and being honest about thoughts and strategies is very likely to lead to a positive outcome.
And if it doesn’t, you’ve already done most of the thinking required to help you identify a replacement. Either way, talking always helps.
Staying digitally healthy requires effort
Just like staying physically healthy takes effort, so does delivering an effective care package for a website or organising digital and social media marketing activities.
Typically, these support services can be bought for a set monthly fee. That is where the jeopardy lies. A good agency will not only be carrying out the agreed tasks and assessing the results, it will also be evaluating the suitability of the tasks themselves. Other agencies may know they should be doing that, but will often be tempted to do the same things every month without further review.
Evaluation as well as measurement is essential. This is because Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and what works in social media marketing is constantly at the mercy of changing algorithms on search engines and social media platforms.
For example, the ease, difficulty or cost with which particular audiences can be targeted on Facebook can change significantly in a short time; Google algorithms can alter what’s optimal for website content almost overnight.
As these and other giants change their approach so must the digital marketing industry adapt to what is effective. Some of these changes are small and can be accommodated with relative ease. Others require a root and branch evaluation with an action plan to follow.
Moving forward with eyes open
Sometimes the digital world seems like a sea of shifting sands. But underneath the movement lie sound foundations – the ability to stay up to date, the willingness to change, the ability to be clear and honest about what works (and what doesn’t) and the ability and willingness to innovate without throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Perhaps most of all, everyone involved with digital marketing (clients as well as suppliers) must make the effort to listen; and to listen with a level of openness that does away with risk. In a challenging marketplace, honesty, transparency and shared goals are powerful tools.
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