Partnering with a digital agency is more than just signing a contract and approving a budget. As an agency gains familiarity with the ins and outs of your business, the benefits of the relationship increase at an impressive rate. Both short term and long term gains are possible, but only if an agency can understand and predict your needs.
Agencies can change over time, turning what was once a fruitful partnership into a roadblock for your future success. Are you missing out on the benefits working with an experienced digital agency can provide? Check the signs below to see if it's time for you to re-assess.
Lack of Passion
A digital agency should work as an extension of your business. It's their job to take everything to the next level, and in order to do that, they need to be as knowledgeable and passionate about your company as you are. A good digital agency goes beyond the facts and figures and asks questions about the driving forces behind your business, thinking several steps ahead and giving you what you want before you know you need it.
Gaps in communication can happen during staff member change-ups or holidays, but they should never extend for weeks on end. On the same note, you shouldn't have to call or e-mail your agency multiple times before getting a response. Keeping in touch is simple and can involve anything from a quick status update to a detailed report analysis. A good digital agency makes sure you're always in the loop.
Failure to Ask Questions
Building a brand doesn't happen overnight. In order to start forming a strategy, an agency needs to learn as much they can about three Cs of your organization -- Company, Competitors, and Clients. Knowing a company's goals and being aware of potential obstacles forms the foundation of a branding strategy in both the short and long term. This level of communication should continue throughout your relationship with an agency.
How do you know you're getting what you pay for with a digital agency? The answers are in the data, which should be as open to you as if you gathered it yourself. Inexplicable increases in budget or unexpected charges can hint at an agency that's lost touch with your business.
Poor Staff Continuity
Providing consistently strong service is a hallmark of a good digital agency. Overcoming internal obstacles such as team members moving on to other opportunities shows an agency has good training and support methods in place. Even if your project manager changes, the new contact should be just as knowledgeable and passionate about your business as the previous one.
You should have a regular point of contact with your digital agency, someone who knows your business and knows you by name. Getting someone new on the phone or seeing a different name in an e-mail header each time you contact your agency means you're missing the benefits a dedicated project manager can provide.
High Fees for Small Changes
If an agency has an inflated fee structure for small changes, it could indicate a lack of flexibility on their part. Minor fixes shouldn't break your budget.
Massive List of Clients
Showing a large body of work can be beneficial for a digital agency, but if their client portfolio is filled with thousands of names and no quality case studies, there's a good chance your business will end up as just another number on a spreadsheet. An agency needs to balance its size and reach to provide companies with the appropriate level of service. Marketing strategies aren't generated at random. They need the personalized touch of a team that has the time and willingness to discuss your business goals in detail.
Short Term Strategies
Creating a successful marketing campaign is just one facet of a much larger brand strategy. If an agency focuses entirely on daily or short term tasks, they're probably not paying attention to the big picture. Unless campaigns are wrapped in a more holistic strategy, your business will experience highs and lows followed by an eventual crash. Good agencies know this and always have a sustainable long term strategy in place.
Frequently Deploys a Reactive Approach
Problems should be fixed as soon as they appear, but if this seems to always be the case, you might want to consider switching to another company. Digital agencies should be proactive and have methods in place to prevent major issues from arising. Surprises are bound to happen, but if an agency knows your market space this shouldn't be a common occurrence.
Claims Certain Requests are Impossible
Even if you make an unusual or extreme request, you should receive a detailed explanation offering budgetary and completion estimates. Hearing "it can't be done" or "that's impossible" are sure signs an agency doesn't have the right skills to deliver what you need.
Failure to Meet Goals
Once you've discussed your brand goals, an agency should be able to establish realistic deadlines and metrics for the first phases of a project. Failing to hit these goals isn't necessarily a bad sign, but if it happens repeatedly, that's a serious red flag.
Unable to Explain Performance
One-time positive results aren't enough for long term success. Strategies are driven by data, data that digital agencies should be capturing, analyzing, and discussing with your team in regular status updates. If an agency doesn't know why a goal isn't being met or can't explain positive spikes in certain areas, how can they plan the next stages of your marketing strategy?
Most organizations should re-evaluate and possibly rework their marketing strategy at least once a year. New options are constantly available to consumers, shifting loyalties and changing the marketplace at a rapid pace. To keep up with these changes, digital agencies need to work with clients to check strategies and adjust as necessary. Repeatedly suggesting a "more of the same" tactic without backing the decision with large amounts of data is a sure sign it's time for you to look for a new agency.