5 Ways your Relationship with a Digital Marketing Agency Fails &How to Avoid It
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Following on from one of my previous articles entitled “10 Things You Must Ask An Online Marketing Agency”, I thought I would turn the tables a little and ask what a digital marketing agency should ask of you?
We all have to remember that we want to build a trusting and lasting relationship between you the client and the agency. A relationship takes time to form and the client must know that this is not all one sided. As a business owner or marketing manager you want to find and work with the best agency because one fifth of all companies are optimising paid digital media.
You want to get the best results for your business and although a lot of that is down to the performance of the digital marketing agency, some of the success is still down to you. So let’s talk about the main ways you can help an agency to do the best possible work for you.
Communication is imperative in any relationship whether it is business or personal. Communication in the beginning is particularly important. You need to be forth coming with the information your agency needs to create a great strategy for your business. This will involve answering some of the following questions:
- What are your business goals?
- What is your timeline for success?
- What are you currently doing to achieve your goals?
- What are the consequences if you fail to communicate appropriately?
All great digital agencies should ask you these questions and if the agency is an inbound marketing agency, they will definitely ask you these questions.
You need to be as forth coming as possible when answering these questions as the agency does not want to find out further down the line that they a) are not a good fit for you and/or b) they cannot help you.
An inbound marketing agency, as part of the sales process, will work with you to come up with achievable business goals that they will work towards. If the information you provide is inaccurate or you don’t answer the questions at all, they will find it difficult to come up with an achievable plan.
2) Give your digital marketing agency your time
You are busy, I get that, if you think you can write a cheque each month to your agency and that is where your involvement ends, then your marketing has failed before it has begun.
For your agency to be successful and reach your goals they will need you to help them. So please when they ask for information about your company or need you to sign off on something, do so in a timely manner.
It can be difficult for the agency to move forward with your campaigns if they have been waiting for three weeks for you to sign off an important piece of content. A good tip here is to plan the time in advance. I always say that our clients have to invest at least 10 hours per month working with our account managers, design and content teams.
If you don’t, your marketing can quickly fall way behind schedule and your goals targets will not be met on time.
Social media is a big part of a successful inbound marketing campaign so put time aside to work on your social media engagement.
I am personally not a big fan of allowing your agency to control and post information to your social media profiles. Sharing your great blog content is fine but when it comes to responding, listening and engaging with your prospects and customers via social that should be down to you.
A couple of good tips for this are to allow about 30 minutes each day for monitoring and managing your social media profiles. With software like HubSpot’s social inbox this is a lot easier than it sounds. You should also appoint a community manager who will deal with updating and monitoring your social media profiles. Another good idea would be to create a style guide for your work colleagues to follow.
This style guide will be full of information on which tone to use, hashtags to use and how to deal with negative comments.
3) Be willing to learn
Great agencies will make themselves available to give you training on such things like social media. This can be easily done remotely via Go To Meeting or on site. Take advantage of this training as this will really help you and your team learn new skills. This will also help build a stronger relationship between you and your agency.
These training sessions or workshops usually last about an hour or so and will be tailored to your business and your knowledge of the subject. These sessions can be a real benefit to you as in the long term this can save you money and make you more self-efficient when it comes to your marketing.
4) Always pay on time
This is a sensitive one and I was unsure whether to mention it in this post. I decided it should be included because I feel it is important and if not handled correctly can turn a good relationship bad, quickly. There is nothing worse than money to cause a rift in a relationship.
A good agency will go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to make your marketing campaigns successful as your digital marketing agency should be passionate about getting you success.
This may involve doing extra work that is outside your budget to get the job done. So what I would say to you is make sure you pay on time. I understand that cash flow can be a problem especially for smaller businesses but talk to your agency if you are having issues. I’m sure you can come to some kind of agreement about payment.
The problem is, like I am sure you know yourself, chasing clients for payment does take time and money and it can be hard for your agency to get you timely results because your project is on hold because you haven’t paid your latest invoice.
Like I have said, you are trying to build a trusting relationship between you and your agency and if you are always a late payer then this will give your agency the impression that perhaps you do not value their service.
An important thing to do is sit down with your agency and come up with a contract and a payment plan that works for everyone. So everyone knows before you start what the payment terms are and what happens when either party is in preach of the contract.
5) Work together to create S.M.A.R.T goals
Another major reason that a relationship may go south is misalignment of expectations and unrealistic goals. Far too often what you the client thinks is achievable is different from the agency.
This is where S.M.A.R.T goals come in and this stands for:
Specific- For example a goal to increase traffic or sales in not very specific and if you say this to a good inbound or digital marketing agency they will probe deeper. They will want to know how much traffic and how many more sales.
Measurable- There is no point in creating a goal if there is no way to measure it. Tools like HubSpot can really help you measure your marketing goals.
Attainable: If your agency feels like the goals you are asking are just not possible then ask then to explain why. They should be able to give you further information on why they think it is not possible. It is often the time frames that can be a sticking point.
Relevant: The goal must be relevant and matter to your business. A goal of creating 10 infographics and getting to number one for a token keyphrase on Google would be examples of a goal that is not that relevant. You and your agency wan’t to create goals that will drive success for your business.
Time-bound: I think most marketing goals can be achieved but just not always in the time frame you think. We all want results fast and yes there are usually some quick wins that can be implemented. However real marketing success takes time so avoid companies that tell you it can be done quickly. Building marketing people love and a brand people respect takes time and effort.
So again speak to your agency and work out goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T way. This will ensure everyone is working toward the same goals.
Like all relationships they need to be worked at and it is never plain sailing. You, the business owner or marketing manager, want this to succeed so working together with your digital marketing agency towards the same goals will make sure your digital marketing campaigns are successful.
Give the agency your time when needed and dedicate set hours each month to work with your agency. Take them up on the offer of training as this will reap rewards later on. Be good at communicating and always make sure you pay on time. Create S.M.A.R.T goals and you should have a long and happy relationship with your digital marketing agency.
Now it’s your turn
What is your experience with working with a digital marketing agency? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.