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Getting ripped off by your marketing agency? 6 ways to find out…

It’s an all too familiar story –  overhyped promises to flood your inbox with qualified leads, rank your site on the first page within a ridiculously short time period, guarantees to boost sales ten-fold using a little known advertising hack… and so on.

Most of the companies we work with have been burnt badly and approach us with ‘reservations’ (scepticism, frustration and their bullsh*t detection ramped up to the max). And who can blame them? 

Clear-cut cases – when agencies simply fail to deliver, are difficult or impossible to contact, or fudge reports (drown clients in unnecessary detail or present overly vague findings) while continuing to bill very specific amounts – are not the real issue as clients simply become fed up and walk away. 

 It is the more seemingly innocuous yet shady tactics that fail to ring alarm bells… often until clients are over-committed, locked-in or out of pocket. 

Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for: 

  1. Lack of website access – agencies withhold access details so clients are unable to edit or update the site unless they continue to pay for services. 
  2. Lack of access to ad accounts – highly suspicious if you cannot see the actual work being done, the targeting keywords used or page ads are directing to (should not only be the homepage) . An underhand tactic is to charge low retainers then bill for a fabricated cost-per-click 
  3. Lack of defined strategy – vague, open-ended plans to boost traffic, clicks, sales that fail to specify a clear gameplan, the keywords, channels etc., is an indication of copy-and-paste marketing aka throw enough at the wall and hope the sh*t sticks (yes, the probably expect and account for high-churn from clients). 
  4. Lack of A/B testing, active account management – campaign management is not a passive activity: constant testing, tweaking and fine-tuning is required as is reacting to market changes. 
  5. Lack of leads – if your agency shares huge amount of data – vanity metrics, statistics, impressions etc., but no information on how many clicks translated to customers/  leads or specifically which ads or keywords performed well then the purpose of heaping incomprehensible data on you is probably to befuddle, confuse or silence you and/or justify their fees. Campaign activity should be linked to tangible, revenue producing results. 
  6. Lack of originality – if the ad campaign is copy-and-paste, there is a good chance that content is being recycled too. While there is no need to reinvent the wheel for each client and rehashing, rewriting and repurposing content is fine it should not be a carbon copy of content they used on other clients’ campaigns  – this is going to impact on your rankings and reputation. 


So, if you found this useful, consider following us or subscribing as future posts will cover how to pick an agency, why most agency services are becoming obsolete, and why you should never pay agencies huge retainers. 



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