Is it time to leave your digital marketing agency?
The relationship you have with your digital marketing agency is absolutely critical to your success. But how do you know if it’s time to move on to a new agency partner to achieve your goals?
Let's dig in deeper with this complex question
Client-agency relationships are ending faster than ever before. According to FileStage, the average agency-client tenure is less than three years. In 1997, this number was 5.3 years. Thirteen years earlier it was 7.2 years.
As time goes on, these numbers are only going to get lower and lower.
Since you're here reading this article, I’ll bet you’ve been thinking about your own agency relationship.
Why aren’t we moving the ball forward with our content? Why aren’t we seeing a greater number of leads? Why aren’t we the content rockstars that the agency promised we would be?!
No matter what type of agency you're working with, being on the same page about what your relationship entails is a must. Both parties need to be clear on the goal or outcome that they're all working toward, feel free to contribute their ideas, and not be going off on their own without letting the other know what’s going on.
Poor collaboration is like two people in the same boat rowing in opposite directions. Each person thinks they’re doing something but in reality they are going absolutely nowhere. The same is true for your relationship with your agency. You are in the same boat and must make sure that you are rowing in the same direction, headed towards the same goal.
Here are a few signs signaling that you and your agency might have poor collaboration:
Unclear responsibilities: Who’s doing what is not clear across the board
Misalignment around goals and what needs to be achieved: Your goals should be documented and discussed regularly.
You struggle to connect with your agency on a professional level let alone any sort of personal one.
The rest of this article will further dive into some of these red flags so that you can get a better understanding of why it might be time for you to switch marketing agencies.
2. The agency is unreliable
When working with any agency, you need to know you can depend on them to do what they say they’re going to do.
You need to know that when they make a promise, they’ll fulfill it. When they say they’ll get back to you about that question you had, they will do so promptly.
A huge sign of unreliability is missed deadlines and this has a chain effect. When you start missing deadlines that means that your audience, your prospects, and your customers might begin to see you and your business as inconsistent or unreliable.
Yes, you and I both know that it’s the agency’s fault for not putting out your content when you thought they would but your prospects and customers don’t know that. In fact, they wouldn’t even care. At the end of the day, they’re dealing with you, not your agency.
So your agency being unreliable can in turn make you seem unreliable in the eyes of your target market.
Missed deadlines can also lead to prolonged timelines. Let’s say you needed your website launched by February 15. If your agency misses several deadlines leading up to this, that timeline may become more and more unrealistic.
An unreliable agency can also look like:
Inconsistent work quality. Sometimes it’s good, other times it’s average, and more often than not you feel like it doesn’t represent your organization and brand
Difficulty contacting the team
3. The agency is close-minded
In order to achieve the highest level of collaboration, it’s imperative that both sides are open to receiving the other’s ideas. Both you and the agency need to feel comfortable sharing your ideas without feeling worried the other party will belittle or ignore them.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your agency, then you run the risk of passing on great ideas. You run the risk of thoughts going ignored and not being given the chance to turn into your next profit-generating blog topic or your next high converting landing page lead magnet.
One of the most common signs of a closed-minded agency is not being open or responsive to feedback.
Let’s say you have an idea to tweak something on your blog or in your website strategy and your agency rejects it without explaining why. Not only are you discouraged from sharing ideas in the future, but you also never know if your idea would have made a difference.
Marketing is all about experimentation. A great agency will be willing to have discussions about your ideas, weigh the pros and cons, and test some out. If the agency you’re working with doesn’t, it may be time to look elsewhere.
This further highlights the need for and importance of open communication and trust. We don’t want good ideas that can turn into great ones to die before they ever get the chance to see the light of day.
4. Poor communication
Has this ever happened to you? You come home from work and you enter the house shocked to see your spouse there who is equally shocked to see you because you both thought the other was supposed to be picking up Johnny from baseball practice.
Or maybe you just printed off 500 pages of the latest report for the client meeting only to find out at the last minute that it’s a Zoom meeting and they’ll be using PDFs instead?
No matter what kind of relationship you’re in — husband/wife, teacher/student, boss/employee — communication is the cause of the most problematic issues.
The same is true for the client-agency relationship.
Without open communication in the client-agency relationship, nothing gets done.
Let’s say, for example, you’re under the impression that your blog article will be going live on Monday, but your agency, which is responsible for publishing the blog for you, doesn’t tell you it’s been moved to Thursday. You could be left scheduling out dead links on social media or telling people to keep an eye out for an article that isn’t available yet.
Or say you reached out to your agency with an important question about the latest Google algorithm changes and how it will affect your marketing efforts and all you’ve heard from them is crickets. You could end up making changes that will hurt your search ranks dramatically without knowing.
When clear communication is not established in your agency relationship, you run the risk of making a lot of unintentional or harmful mistakes.
All of these instances slow down the progress of your marketing efforts.
Here are some signs that you might have communication issues with your agency:
Unproductive phone calls
The agency has trouble providing timely answers ( i.e. delayed response to your emails, calls, etc.)
No single point of contact
5. Not producing or publishing content regular basis
Content is king they say. (Whoever they are). And you’re certainly paying your agency a royal amount for that content. Yet if they’re not able to produce it at the cadence you agreed to, you’re unlikely to see the results you need.
When it comes to the content marketing game, consistency is the key. It’s how you win trust from your prospects and customers, build authority in search engines, and if you've been following They Ask, You Answer for any length of time, you know that trust is what leads to sales.
If you are not consistently producing content that answers your customer’s questions, then you’re giving your competitors the opportunity to do so and win their business.
One of the biggest reasons why your agency may not be able to produce the volume of content you need on a consistent basis is a lack of industry knowledge and expertise.
Think about it for a second. They’re not in the business of IT software management, you are. They’re not in the business of in-home patient care, you are. They're not in the business of neurology.
Your agency doesn’t know the industry language, the pain points of your customers, or the difference between saccades and nystagmus. If you just read saccades and nystagmus and said “what the heck is that?” imagine how writers at your agency must be thinking when looking into and trying to decipher terms specific to your own industry.
While I realize that this is a bit of an extreme example from the neurology industry, it still serves to highlight my point perfectly. No one outside agency will ever have the industry knowledge and expertise like you and you team.
If this sounds like your current agency then this is another jumbotron sign that it’s time to switch marketing agencies.
6. Not seeing the results you were promised
At the end of the day, you’re paying for results. You gave your agency money as an investment with the hope of great returns, a.k.a. achieving your goals. If you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for and were promised, then this is a major red flag.
You knew going into this relationship that your agency wasn’t going to be able to give you the moon and that was fine, but if you’re not seeing the results you set out for when you signed on the dotted line, it may be time to call it quits.
Unfortunately, this is the sad tale of many client-agency relationships.
In the beginning, it’s all sunshine and rainbows. The agency knows exactly what to say to make you fall madly in love and to get you to sign. Then, after a few months, maybe even a few weeks, the sweet promises that they whispered to you are nowhere to be seen.
Like a lot of relationships in our lives, we are often tempted to stay even though we know things aren’t working out. Sometimes we stay because it’s easier and we’re comfortable. Most people don’t like change. Sometimes we stay because we don’t like conflict.
Whatever the reasoning, staying with an agency that is not delivering on the results they promised you is hurting you in a multitude of ways. If you are at all questioning the results of your marketing agency, it’s time to start thinking about making a switch.
Every day that you’re not producing content, your competitor is. Your competitor is out there right now answering your prospect’s questions and winning their trust, the ultimate prize, while you play phone tag with your agency.