Your Digital Agency Just Might Suck If...

Carrie Morgan Digital PR Consultant, Rock The Status Quo

Posted on August 23rd 2013

Your Digital Agency Just Might Suck If...


ImageI won two new accounts this month that came from two digital agency leaders in Phoenix. After I was done with my insanely ridiculous happy dance, I was really depressed. Then pissed off.

Why? I shouldn’t have won them for the reasons that I did.

“I don’t know what they are doing, but I pay a LOT of money without getting any real leads.”

“They keep asking me for keywords. How the hell should I know what to use. Isn’t that their job?”

“Our Facebook page seems to have really low engagement and growth, compared to our competitors.”

Their (past) clients said these things! It’s just wrong on so many levels. These two agencies should hire me to evaluate and train their staff. That would be smart. #bigfatgrin

Here are 10 red flags that might signal you need an agency review, or to just fire them outright. PLEASE, don’t be shy about changing agencies to get the results you deserve.

Your Digital Agency Probably Sucks…

… at organic SEO, if:

  1. They ask YOU for keywords, instead of doing the research themselves and recommending the right ones (and being able to tell you why). SCREAMING red flag!!!
  2. Your account executive always refers your questions to a programmer, instead of having answers.
  3. The list of keywords doesn’t show you their search volume, so you can weed out the ones that sound good but won’t drive traffic.
  4. Your blog doesn’t have an SEO plug-in that is filled out on every. single. post.
  5. The images on your website don’t have ALT tags.
  6. The agency doesn’t give you a list of localized keywords to integrate into your marketing efforts.
  7. Google Analytics is set up with a redirect URL instead of the actual source URL (seriously!)
  8. They aren’t coming to you regularly with suggestions for improvement.
  9. They don’t regularly check for broken links and code problems.
  10. They aren’t aggressively endorsing a blog, content marketing or social media methods that boost organic SEO (social signals).

… at Facebook, if:

  1. Your Facebook page isn’t sharing original images, infographics or content.
  2. Your community manager isn’t commenting on other walls and liking/sharing/commenting on items from the wall.
  3. Facebook insights shows viral activity, but no new unique visitors.
  4. Facebook complaints aren’t responded to consistently and promptly.
  5. The agency isn’t pushing you to create a brand advocacy program.
  6. The cover image is rarely changed.
  7. The “about” info page isn’t optimized for search.
  8. Tabs aren’t used well and regularly evaluated for performance, or changed based on current goals, objectives, events and campaigns.
  9. Email captures aren’t a tab on the page.
  10. They aren’t helping you bring down organizational silos to make your brand more social, and addressing customer service and social CRM issues.

… at Content Marketing, if:

  1. There is no company blog, or it doesn’t have new posts at least once a week.
  2. Your content isn’t being re-purposed into other pieces of content to maximize reach and resources.
  3. Your content isn’t optimized for search and including a healthy mix of keyword- or key phrase-based headlines.
  4. Fresh content isn’t promoted on Facebook, your LinkedIn Company Page and other social media assets.
  5. Commenting on other blog posts isn’t just as important as your own content.
  6. Content doesn’t include pieces on current trends
  7. More than one-third of original content is promotional in nature.
  8. The focus is on getting, instead of giving.
  9. Each content piece doesn’t close with some sort of call-to-action.
  10. Content doesn’t support the brand voice consistently and fit with overall marketing goals and target audiences.

… at Public Relations, if:

  1. Media relations are their only focus.
  2. They aren’t spending at least half of their time writing.
  3. Pitching isn’t producing results.
  4. They insist on doing at least two press releases a month.
  5. Wire service is always recommended, even though you aren’t a public company.
  6. They aren’t advising you on what is and is not newsworthy.
  7. Submitting guest blog posts is not a tactic on their radar.
  8. Twitter lists are not actively used for screening editorial opportunities.
  9. Metrics aren’t connected to strategy and specific outcomes.
  10. Online visibility isn’t just as much of a priority as off-line.

There are many agencies out there. All are not created equal – yet very few companies put the same effort into agency selection as they do their annual budget.  Many also aren’t regularly evaluating results often enough.

Granted I may have high expectations, but so should you! Without them, you won’t get fantastic results.

And if you are with an agency and don’t know the Top 1 red flags relevant to what you do? Learn them. Please. You aren’t doing clients any favors if you don’t… and I say that with love.


Carrie Morgan

Digital PR Consultant, Rock The Status Quo

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Carrie Morgan (@morgancarrie) specializes in digital PR - combining traditional public relations with content marketing, social media and SEO. Morgan is a contributing author for some of the largest publications in the industry, including Convince & Convert, Social Media Today, MarketingProfs and PR Daily. She is moderator of #PRprochat on first Thursdays (3pm EST) and a co-moderator of the 750+ member closed Facebook Group for Arizona-based PR professionals, @PhoenixPRPros.

She is currently working on her first book.

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Posted on August 23rd 2013 at 12:00PM

Really great article. I run into a similar situation often when I'm pitching prospects. Another big signal that its time to change is that you don't regularly get analytics reports from your agency. Often, prospects aren't getting ANY reports or the reports contain metrics that don't matter much, such as # of Facebook Fans.

And, the agency shouldn't just give you number, there should be some overview as to what the numbers mean and some recommendations for tweaking the program based on the analysis. That's what distinguishes social media intelligence from simple analytics, in my book (literally, LOL).

Posts like yours help. In many SMEs, folks don't really know what they SHOULD be getting from their digital agency. They don't know what questions to ask or how to evaluate different proposals. And, this can cost them millions. I recently pitched a prospect who estimated his prior agency cost him $1.5 million in lost revenue when their advice pissed off customers.



Hausman and Associates, LLC

Posted on August 23rd 2013 at 4:32PM

Thanks for taking time to comment, Angela!

I also see many companies that don't know how to hire - they don't know what red flags to look for, what questions to ask, and how to get past the fancy words and hype to whether or not the agency can truly deliver. Hiring the right agency from the beginning makes the world of difference.

Regarding your report comment - getting analytics reports are very helpfu, but better yet are the agencies that takes time to review them with their client, translate them into something meaningful, then tie the numbers to specific metrics you can actually use. Some reporting is better than none, but the customized ones tailored to your needs are a FANTASTIC sign that your agency is their weight in gold!