We already know that people who work for agencies are going to click this article to see if we are going to unveil some secrets. Well, we are. Businesses in general are able to make money based on what you know to be true, supply and demand. Sometimes what they supply might just be expertise. Maybe they just supply a service. The more complex the service, the less the consumer will tend to understand. Based on this, the customer must rely on the business to be truthful and transparent. You want to know what you are spending and what you are getting for that amount. In local markets where competition might be low for some industries, there’s less of a way for those looking to utilize services to compare. This means that greed can begin to show up, and your business gets caught in the crossfire. Here’s some of the most common ways we see marketing agencies scamming businesses:
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
There’s no disputing that you need to be marketing through search engines. Look at this live count of daily Google searches; That’s about 66,000 searches a second. Everyone uses search engines for everything. This isn’t surprising, you use them daily yourself. What most people don’t do, is learn how search engines work on the back end. When you search using Google, you are actually searching a database of websites that have been crawled and documented by Google itself. This is why Google is able to predict searches, deliver you appropriate results and sell listings. Just like any other company, Google is there to make money. It is really easy to setup an AdWords account and start SEM. The problem is, if you don’t know what you are doing, you’ll create a series of keywords and phrases that are WAY TOO BROAD. Imagine that you are a restaurant who specializes in Mexican food. Without specifying (known as optimization), one of your keywords becomes “food”. Imagine all the ways people might search for “food” unrelated to your restaurant. All these clicks on your ad would eat your budget with little to no benefit to you. Then you become disillusioned and think SEM doesn’t really work. In addition to losing money to not having an optimized campaign, many marketing agencies will hide what their actual spend is. Relatively speaking, it becomes difficult for any non expert to recognize the difference between $1000 of traffic vs $1400 worth without something to judge it against. Ask your marketing agency before you get started with them how they charge for SEM. Is it a flat fee or a percentage of the spend? If anything seems vague, it’s worth questioning.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is a tricky one because there’s so much to it. SEO is a big buzzword and many businesses will recognize that they have seen it, that it’s probably important but that they have literally no idea about how it works. Sometimes it gets defined as “that’s back-links right?”. Our answer is always,”yes”, followed by a short conversation of other factors. Creating inbound and outbound links to your website isn’t rocket science. It’s literally just hyperlinks like ad-ios.com. Now here’s the trickier part; where should the links be placed and in reference to what. This is where you need to be careful. Creating a bunch of spammy looking links on websites that Google deems as untrustworthy or toxic eventually will cause penalties on your site. When that happens, you’re in a mess; your web traffic will decrease, your ads will be served less often and you’ll show up less in searches. Getting rid of these links (called disavowing) can be time consuming and take weeks to get Google to complete for you. This is the opposite of when an agency uses “white hat” SEO techniques or that the process the agency is following is safe for your business (domain). If a marketing agency can’t explain their SEO process specifically, stay very far away. One of the most important aspects of SEO is the the content that is being used to anchor it. The best SEOs will be able to create engaging content with; correct keywords, original text, good size/structure and understanding of all Google algorithms.
3. Blogging or Content Creation
This one is a little easier. You’ve watched a movie before with a ton of plot holes, bad characters or bad acting. It’s easy to know the difference between a movie that is engaging and one that isn’t. Of course everyone’s taste will be different but there’s always generally a consensus but generally it comes down to the content of the film and how it’s conveyed. This happens with blogs and content created for businesses too. It’s easy for an agency to promise blogging, emails, original posts and good content; but who is creating it and what’s the process? We have taken over old blogs and content campaigns only to be bored to tears by what was being placed for potential customers to read. If you are seeing what is being produced for your business and it doesn’t even intrigue you, how will it attract others? Great content isn’t cheap and cheap content isn’t great. Always aim for quality over quantity.
Overall it comes down to your relationship with your Marketing Agency. If they truly want you to succeed and are in it with you for the long haul, they won’t just do things to create additional profit for themselves. Instead they will help guide you down a path where you are getting the most ROI for your marketing dollars. There have been many times where we told potential clients that they can do just as well without us or instructed them how to market themselves with very little until growth happened. Follow your instincts, ask questions. If you feel like something fishy is going on with your marketing and business give us a call, we can help.