Tradie Digital is a young digital marketing agency built on the tenets of integrity, transparency and service. After four months of talking to trades and construction business owners and hearing about digital marketing horror stories, it is time to address the issue head on.
There’s one of four scenarios that likely applies to you right now:
Scenario 1: You work with a digital marketing agency and you’re happy with the results they provide. Plus, they’re a great bunch of people to work with. If that’s you, HOORAY! I’m so stoked for you; well done for finding these superstars!
Scenario 2: You work with a digital marketing agency and you have yet to see a return on your investment (be it a new website that’s waiting for traffic or a monthly PPC or SEO retainer producing very little new business for you). If that’s you, this post is for you.
Scenario 3: You don’t work with a digital marketing agency right now because you’re bootstrapping your new trades business and are DIY’ing it until you can set aside a marketing budget. If this is you, bookmark this (and the next) post for easy reference for when you’re ready to find a digital marketing agency to support your business growth.
Scenario 4: You don’t work with a digital marketing agency because of a bad agency experience that caused you to lose trust in online marketing service providers. Warning, this post might trigger you! It can be hard to bounce back from that experience, especially if you parted with a big sum of money. If this is you, stay tuned for my posts this month where I go further into what questions to ask and what to look out for when hiring your next agency.
This post is the first in a series of updates I’ll be posting over the course of the next months, addressing the issue of “snake oil” agencies that are more interested in growing their own bottom line than helping a business to succeed.
If you have come across an agency like that and would like to share your experience with me, please contact me. This will help me create content that benefits everyone (without mentioning you personally, your business or the agency’s name).
Now let’s explore the 10 red flags to look out for…
01. Poor Communication
You get sent your monthly report but outside of that, it’s crickets. Also, if it’s all happening by email and no one answers their phone or is prepared to meet with you in person, look elsewhere.
02. Lack of Transparency
Ask for access to your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts. If the agency hasn’t set up a dedicated account for you, ask for the ownership of your data to be transferred to you. This is possible for both Google Analytics and Google Ads (see here for instructions).
Expect straight answers with data proof for your questions. Don’t allow the agency to fob you off with vanity metrics (e.g. traffic, impressions, clicks). Insist that they focus their reporting on conversions and give you a detailed overview of each type of conversion they’re tracking.
If the agency paints you a picture of all sunshine and roses, beware. Performance dips are normal! An agency worth its salt will own up to them and tell you how they will address them.
03. No Personalised Service
An agency who provides you with a proposal or a package filled with an array of services before a robust “get to know you” consultation is likely more interested in hitting their own revenue goals than helping your trades business to grow.
04. No Competitive Analysis
If the agency dives into creating marketing solutions for you without looking at your competitors’ online performance, they are wasting precious time and potentially quite a bit of money on testing what works. This kind of wasted time and budget is not necessary when you get so much valuable information from a competitive analysis done upfront.
05. Claim To Have a Secret Formula
It might sometimes seem that way, but there really isn’t a secret formula or recipe for success. It’s all hard work based on a cycle of testing, measurement, learning, and optimisation. If the agency claims to have a secret formula, ask them for proof and speak to a couple of their clients before buying their silver bullet.
06. Poor Client Retention
This is a big one, and one of the hardest things to find out. Cowboy agencies don’t build trusted relationships; they focus on selling the service and offer minimal support, so clients often get frustrated and move on. When considering an agency you’re not sure about, ask your network if they’ve worked with them before or know someone who has.
07. Can Do Everything
It’s impossible for one person to master all the different digital marketing strategies, so make sure that the agency who says it can deliver 5 different services has 3-5 carefully selected professionals (employees or contractors) with the right credentials to back up the claim.
08. Promise Specific Results
If the agency promises you the world (e.g. a top spot on Google in a competitive market like Auckland within 3 months for $200/month), kindly decline. Ask for a robust calculation of ROI and a documented strategy that will drive the delivery of realistic online marketing goals.
09. Excessive Use of Buzzwords
If the agency can’t put their work into a language you can understand, beware. That means they either don’t know what they’re talking about or don’t do what you need. You aren’t ignorant if you don’t understand. It is their job to ensure you understand the services they’re trying to sell to you. If they don’t make the effort, they are hiding something.
10. Don’t Walk Their Talk
The agency positions itself as a web design company, but has a poorly designed website? Stay away. If the agency is selling services that it doesn’t do (well) for itself, move on.
Bonus: Listen To Your Gut
If something is off but you can’t quite put your finger on it, listen to that hunch. There are so many good digital marketing agencies out there that truly want to help your trades business to succeed. Find the agency whose vibe you like and who’s honest about what they can and can’t do.
If you need help evaluating an agency report or proposal, you can contact me. I’ll take a quick look at it and answer any questions you have.