When something seems too good to be true, it normally is. Sadly this age-old adage applies to far too many digital communication “agencies” lurking around these days. I’m regularly faced with clients who’ve been badly burnt by their previous digital communication suppliers and have since developed negative impressions of the misunderstood medium. Unfortunately this shouldn’t be the case.
Effective digital communication can have a direct impact on a business’s bottom line, generate new revenue streams and provide a two-way channel to engage with your audience. Best of all, your digital efforts are completely traceable. This means that you can create accurate ROI figures and know exactly what is working and what is not.
At this point, many of you are thinking “here we go again”, but hear me out. In an effort to expose the fraudsters and assist you to promote your business online, I’m going to run through the telltale signs of a digital agency or consultant that is only after your wallet. When I’m done with that, I’ll give you a few pointers that can help you choose the best digital supplier possible.
The first and most obvious sign of a dodgy digital consultant is when they offer you no guidance and simply say yes to all of your requests without a single thought or question. There are many variables when it comes to fitting the digital puzzle together and some sides simply just don’t fit into one another. The role of a digital supplier is to first and foremost advise the client about what is possible, effective and viable. Sometimes this means they have to smash your dreams, but trust me, they’re doing you a favour. If the person you’ve been dealing with simply agrees with all of your requests without a second thought, it should be an immediate red flag.
If they dramatically undercut every quote you’ve received and over promise, you should be cautious. A reliable and experienced supplier doesn’t come cheap and your cheapest quote can often reflect a supplier who didn’t spec your project properly, doesn’t understand what it entails or intends to hit you with additional charges later on.
If a digital agency won’t let you manage your website’s content and can’t give you a valid reason why, you can rest assured that they are trying to take you for a ride. This is an old way of tricking clients into month to month fees for something that requires little to no skill to execute. Don’t be fooled. There is however an exception to this and is normally the case with cheaper or simpler websites, as they may not have a content management system.
Are they trying to keep you distanced from the project? This most probably means they are hiding something from you or don’t want to give you the adequate time needed for a great final product. You should always give sign off on your content or design and are entitled to at least one revert or set of changes.
Do they promise first place rankings or thousands of likes/followers? There is no surefire way to rank first for a desired keyword in search results. Google has made huge efforts to eliminate black hat or shady SEO techniques. What you want to be hearing here is sustainable SEO, long-term results and great original content. The only way to get 1000 followers or likes in a week is to buy them and I promise these “people” don’t care about your brand or actually exist for that matter, they’re fake profiles.
Do they rarely respond to mails and insist that regular status meetings are unnecessary? Communication is central to any effective client and supplier relationship, if they can’t take the time to engage with you, how can they give you what you need?
Knowing where to look will help you avoid the real fraudsters out there, but believe it or not, there are digital agencies who want to give you a great product. Now the question is which one do I choose?
Here are a few steps you should take before selecting your digital supplier.
Ask for references and examples of their work: Ask for a reference number or email address from the supplier and actually make contact. Most quality agencies have long-term clients who will more often than not share their experience with you. Make sure you get a look at what they’ve done before. It’s the best way to gauge their level of work.
Snoop around and see if you can find reviews about them online: Just like what you do for a potential employee, do for a potential supplier. The internet has a wide variety of information that can reveal a lot about a company’s past.
Get another quote: Don’t take the first offer you get. Make sure you get at least one other quote to make sure you aren’t being ripped off.
Remember, you get what you pay for: It’s pretty simple really. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Digital communication should be viewed from a holistic point of view and incorporated into your overall marketing strategy. A consolidated digital presence that works with your traditional marketing efforts is the best way to effectively promote your business to your target market.