Working with a digital marketing agency? Bad practices you should watch out for

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Working with a digital marketing agency? Bad practices you should watch out for

Author Terence Leong
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I worked in a digital marketing agency, and here’s how to spot the bad practices.

When we ask our prospective clients “what is your fear if we were to work together?”

A common response is often “I had lots of bad experiences in digital marketing and I am afraid you guys would let me down.”

Lately, we had the chance to audit more than 10 campaigns in the past months and here are some of red flags to look out for.

1. Are the processes well communicated?

You might think – all digital marketing agencies’ goal is to give you sales or leads eventually right? Why should I even care about their processes?

For example, this agency with good track record promises to drive 200-300 a month.

But what do you think is the likelihood that your campaign would be equally successful too?

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The answer is: it depends.

Just like this recent campaign we audited, it generated about 3 leads/month and got discontinued after 2 months.

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Disclaimer: I am not saying this agency is not good, in fact they have ran many impressive campaigns before.

But what I am saying is even the best sought-after agency may not perform well all the time.

The truth is: there are many other factors at play.

What’s working yesterday may not work today, and what’s working for one sector may not work for your industry.

In our opinion, processes and problem-solving skills matter.

If we don’t know our processes well, it might just be because the Facebook gods have decided to rain on us leads and sales.

But how sustainable would it be? Who knows if the next day, the Facebook algorithm might change? We don’t want to look at each other and ask: What now?

The algorithm will always change, but what is the only constant in digital marketing? (Or all kinds of marketing?)

Knowing and understanding your audience well, and giving your audience what they want.

Truth: A good marketer knows their processes well and would be able to communicate to you how they can apply them to your business.

2. No discussion on ‘offer’ creation strategy

We often hear many people in Facebook groups discussing enthusiastically on things like:

What’s the best audience targeting strategy?

What are the best ad set scaling techniques?

What’s the best ad placement?

While it’s useful to optimise the campaign, let’s stop right here and think: How many businesses are successful just because they have the best ads strategy?

The fact is: your customers don’t really care about all these, they care about what your business has to offer to them.

They care about what they have to do to get that offer.

This is an example of a bland offer where the prospects may be unclear about what they can get and what they need to do.

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This is often the number 1 reason why ads are not performing.

On the other hand, a desirable offer can succeed despite an ugly creative and weak copy – simply because it speaks to the prospects’ pressing needs and removes objections.

Don’t take our word for it. According to Sabri Suby’s ‘Sell Like Crazy’, this particular offer took ENSO Homes from $0 to $7Mil in the first 8 months:

“We'll build your new home in just 30 weeks or give you $5,000 in cash”

Truth: Good marketers don’t focus on the technical stuff; they focus on offer creation.

3. No strategy to handle customers’ objections

Many believe that finding the right customers is the priority, and showing your customer 5 times the same ad can help improve the conversion.

How true is this?

Let’s take a look at the journey this lead took when he came through our funnel after 31 days (having responded to one of our retargeting ads):

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This person initially responded to the cold campaign ads → clicked on our landing page → wandered around our page and played with a calculator on the site → checked out the services provided → didn’t do anything and exited the website.

31 days later, he saw another retargeted ad → he viewed a blog article → went to the consultation submission page, and eventually submitted his information and booked a call with our client.

If you are providing complex products and professional services, such as financial advice or real estate services, chances are your customers will not say “yes” immediately to your offer.

It takes time to remove objections and build trust and familiarity.

Truth: Good marketers build a good landing page and a series of content that helps communicate the following:

  • How you can resolve their pain
  • How you can resonate with their hopes and dreams
  • Your USP
  • Enable them to visualise their potential success if they were to work with you

4. Believing in only using templated still images

It’s true that still images is still one of the best ad formats. In fact, most of our top-performing ad sets are still images.

But it’s an undeniable truth that videos are going to play a bigger part in the future.

And having a good sales video can lift sales/lead conversion rate.

We ran a few experiments between images and videos and the results corroborate:

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Besides this, Facebook has a powerful audience tool that you can use to retarget people who have watched your video. (Psst, if someone watches more than 75% of your video, you know that this person has a higher likelihood of signing up with you.)

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Truth: Good marketers help you with video creation that can improve your conversion rate.

5. Lack of transparency

More than once, we saw people being banned by Facebook due to the previous misuse of Facebook ad accounts (sometimes it was caused by previous campaigns).

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As an agency, sometimes in order to prevent scrutiny, we might be tempted not to give our clients full access to the Facebook business managers or ad accounts.

But our opinion is this – as an agency, we should help our clients build assets and they should take control of their own assets.

Truth: Good marketers practise transparency with you and help you build long-term assets.

6. Bad reporting

Most agencies suck at reporting. We were guilty of this one too.

We used to throw a vomit of data that means very little to clients:

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We used to think that as long we are doing our best, and we keep executing and brainstorming for new ideas, even when things are not working, it would be fine.

But we soon realised that many clients get anxious quickly when things are not doing well (which is completely understandable, because after all, you are spending your money to get them to run your campaigns).

So what happens when you start having doubts? Some of you might decide to micromanage your agency… And it could go downhill from there.

Through some hard lessons, we realised the importance of good reporting, which is essentially about:

1. Information (data)

2. Insights (what we think about the data)

3. Implementation (what should we do next)

Truth: Good marketers help you interpret campaign performance and always suggest the next actionable if things are not turning out well as intended.

At the end of the day, marketers are judged by their results.

But processes matter too.

This is why it is important for business owners to understand what your business gaps are and discuss this with your agency to close the gap.

Trust us, the time spent is well worth it, instead of hopping from one agency to another when things don’t work out.

Good luck and may the odds be in favour of your campaign!

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