How to Dodge Slippery Digital AgenciesWe’ve all gotten a call about our Google business listing from a spammy recorded message, but some slippery marketers are a little harder to pin down. Here’s a list of tell tail signs to help you to eliminate a marketing agency that’s not worth your time.

They Have No Long Term Client References

Knowing there are other people in your industry that trust this company, and have seen proven results LONG TERM through their efforts is important. Many companies will promise immediate results with poor practices that will end up hurting your search ranking and reputation as a business in the long run. Ask for references that can attest to their sustainable performance over multiple years.

The Contract is Vague

Requesting the specific services they offer you within your contract is important. Know how many meetings you will have each month or quarter to ensure they are keeping you up to date on the actions they are implementing for your company. You should also make sure that the contract allows you to own your business information such as your Google Analytics, social media channels, Adwords, etc. They should have admin access to these accounts, but should not own them under their account.

This can create issues in the future if you choose to go with a different partner. Sometimes you have to start completely over with your accounts because the agency has created them under their company instead of your own. This means you end up losing your data and even your Adwords quality score as a business. Some companies will let you purchase the rights to the things they own on your behalf, but those fees can be incredibly high sometimes. This is a cheap trick some groups use to make you stay with them even if you don’t want to.

Promise Results Without Presenting a Strategy

How are they planning for your long term growth and being consistent in measuring your performance over time? Ensuring that they have a solid long term growth plan for your company will do far better than getting a load of leads that slow to a trickle later in your contract life. Many agencies boast that you’ll get X number of leads right away. One thing to remember, however, is that leads are not the same as actual sales. Lead QUALITY is much more important than quantity.

They Can Do It All

If you’re working with a company that promises to do everything you request without clarifying the cost, you might end up with a massive bill and perhaps, not a lot to show for it. Make sure they have experience doing the projects you request or that they are partnering with those who have done it before. Always ask for examples!

When an agency specializes in a specific industry or specific product offerings, it means that your development costs will be lower. If they haven’t done it before, they’ll be spending a lot of your money on initial research to be sure they are doing it correctly.

You’ve Never Heard of Them

Working with digital marketing agencies that know your industry well is important, but are other people in your industry making recommendations about them? Asking your vendors, and other non-competitors that you trust if they have heard of the agency can help you get a better understanding of which agencies can hold their own.

They Outsource to Who Knows Where

If their marketing team is as deep as the people you’ve conversed with, they’re probably outsourcing. Outsourcing is a cost effective way to get a job done. However, you start sacrificing the quality of the work in the process. Many businesses have gotten burned when they have tried to do updates on their site after it has been launched.

Different developers across the world also have different methods of coding a website into functionality. Your marketing agency is there to compliment your company’s efforts. If you can’t understand how to make the smallest change on your site, it will cost you more in the long run because your agency will have to do it for you. (I once had to try to watch tutorial videos in Ukrainian because no U.S. based coders were implementing the same techniques that this client’s previous marketing team was using.)


Looking for a digital marketing agency is the same as selecting a business partner; you should choose to work with one because you can trust them and you find value in their work, not because they are a quick fix to get leads.

Looking for a digital agency that provides value to your business? Talk with Art Unlimited today about your needs to discover solutions for your business.