Marketing Red Flags: What to look out for when outsourcing marketing.

What to look out for when outsourcing digital marketing.

Marketing – it’s not exactly rocket science is it? A tweet here, an Instagram post there. Hey, you might knock up a flyer using a template design online. And if you’re really smart, you may have clicked your way through the setup guide for your Google AdWords express account.

So… has your business made its first million yet? And if so, can you be 100% sure that it was that tweet and that post and that flyer and that Google Ad that contributed to the success of your multi-million pound business?

Marketing isn’t easy. There’s no silver bullet. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. There are no over-night successes. And guess what? Not everyone can do it. But with the rise of online assistants, coupled with ‘marketing’ still having a stigma attached to it that ‘anyone can do it’, ‘anyone’ is now doing it. So before you invest your hard earned cash on a marketer (notice how I said ‘invest’ and not ‘spend?’) here are a few marketing red flags to watch out for when choosing to outsource to a freelancer, agency, or marketing assistant.

  1. Promising Results.

See above – there are no silver bullets in marketing. If you are promised that your website will rank number one on Google for your chosen keyword, promised that you will have a particular number of high quality leads coming through from day one, or promised that your social media followers will sky rocket, just as soon as you sign on the dotted line and make the first payment, then my advice would be to run the other way. As the saying goes, the only thing we can be sure of is death and taxes. Not number one results.

Instead, I like to promise that we will thoroughly research your business, come up with the correct strategy, suggest the correct media, and implement the plan. I promise we’ll keep on top of things for you and feedback the results. I promise that we’ll regularly adjust what we are doing based on the results we are getting, so we can strive for improvement. But I’ll never promise something I have no control over.

  1. Asking for passwords.

This is something I’m really passionate about. You wouldn’t hand your only front door key over to someone you’ve just met so why would you hand your online passwords over? Did you know your Google password is the same for all areas of the account? So giving the password to your new AdWords agency means they can access your Gmail, Search Console, Google My Business, etc.

Instead, your agency/freelancer should have a managers account and should be able to request access to your account, or you should be able to add them as admin. This way, they can only access the parts you want them to see and if anything goes wrong, you can instantly revoke access. This goes for Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc too.

  1. Confusing Stats.

Measurement is important. But in the magical world of digital marketing, you can measure and track literally anything you want to. There are stats we need to know, but you probably don’t. Being sent a comprehensive report at the end of the month can come across impressive. You’ve had a tonne of clicks, your CTR has increased, your impressions have gone through the roof, and your DA is up. And that’s just the first paragraph of the report.

But do you care? As an eCommerce business owner and a service business owner, I care about what I spent and what I got. I’ve seen it too many times – being dazzled by loads of fancy numbers and jargon to hide the fact that not much has actually been achieved. Discuss beforehand what you would actually like to know each month and ask if your reporting can highlight those figures.

  1. Not being able to explain why they are doing something.

I’m going to be a bit hypocritical now, because I always get annoyed when people ask me to explain every little bit of the job before, during and after doing it, but if someone can’t explain why they are doing something, I’d be worried. For me, it’s not enough for someone to know what they are doing – they should know why. Following the latest trends or doing something they’ve read online isn’t enough.

Why? Because if something goes wrong, I’d like them to actually understand what’s happening to be able to solve the problem. It’s just like when you ring a call centre and they are clearly following a script. Yes – they know what to do because they have a flow chart in front of them, so when you reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ they know what to do next, but I’m pretty sure they don’t know why.

  1. Not delivering ROI.

Remember earlier when I said that marketing was an investment, not a cost, and maybe the reason for fancy reporting is to hide the fact that no real value has been delivered? Well if you’re not getting anything back, what’s the point paying out?

The thing is, return on investment isn’t immediate. Financial return is the obvious end goal and your marketer should be able to prove that, or at least work with you to prove it. With SEO, realistically you’re talking 6 months to a year to see decent results. With paid online advertising it can take up to 6 months to achieve optimum results. And with organic social media marketing, you’re going to be waiting a while before the sales flood through from a post. But you should be getting something. And if you’re not, it’s probably time to call it a day.

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