9 Ways to Tell if You’re Getting Screwed by Your Online Marketers

If you’re reading this article right now, chances are you feel you’re not getting the results you expect from your online marketers and if you “feel” that way, you’re probably right.

NOTE: The content of this blog is also available in a webinar hosted by our CEO, Stuart Wilhoite. View the webinar for more details or keep reading for the text version.

The online marketing industry is unfortunately rampant with mediocrity. In our experience, maybe one in 40 online marketers operates at a level that you’d really want handling such an important part of your business.

But how can you know for sure and what can you do about it?

The following is a list of nine of the most common indicators that your online marketers are not performing at an acceptable level. If you’re seeing one or more of these issues, it may be time to take corrective action before you write another check to your online marketing agency or provider.

1. You’re not getting monthly reporting you can easily understand.

An exceptional online marketer is excited to show you their success and your monthly reports are how they communicate those metrics to you. Highly detailed reporting is a good thing, but many marketers will deliver reports filled with hard to understand metrics, confusing graphs or data that don’t seem to coincide with the key goals that you set for them. Some marketers hope that by throwing enough information at you, they can avoid the tough questions about whether or not their campaigns are actually increasing engagement, driving leads and earning you sales.

You deserve measurable results that you can understand and those results should align with your most important online marketing goals. If you’re left scratching your head after your online marketer has presented your reporting, chances are you are getting screwed.

2. Your provider is not meeting with you regularly to discuss progress.

If you’re not meeting at least once a month with your online marketers either in person or in an online meeting or teleconference, it could be an indicator that they’re not actively involved in your campaign on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis and that is a very bad thing. Reputable online marketers WANT to show you the effort they’re putting into your account and the results they’re generating for you. Your agency should WANT to get your feedback and talk about next steps. If they’re not meeting with you regularly, it could be that they’re not putting the level of effort into your account that you pay for and deserve.

3. You don’t know exactly how many conversions, leads or sales you’re getting from each online marketing channel.

Tracking programs like Google Analytics as well as the reporting in Adwords and Facebook Business Manager will provide valuable data regarding visits, goals, conversions, leads and calls. There is no reason that your online marketers shouldn’t be able to provide you with regular reporting on the metrics that are most important to your business and tell you exactly which of their efforts are producing those results. If they’re not, it’s likely you’re getting screwed.

4. You don’t know how much a lead or a new customer costs you.

The level of tracking that’s available in online marketing stands head and shoulders above traditional and offline advertising formats. You should never be left wondering how much you’re paying per lead (or, more importantly, per new customer).

With paid campaigns, you should be receiving clear reporting that gives you an exact CPL (cost per lead) and CPA (cost per acquisition) both before and after your paid ad management fee is factored in. With SEO, social organic and email campaigns you should be able to easily measure your results against your monthly retainer to get a clear picture of just how much it costs to acquire a new lead or customer via each online marketing channel.

If you can’t draw a straight line from a dollar spent on online marketing to new opportunities walking in the door, there is definitely something wrong.

5. You don’t know how many hours per month your provider is spending on your account.

Even if your online marketers don’t deliver hourly reporting to you, you should at least have a clear understanding of what you are paying for, whether it’s a specified number of hours each month or a specific result or goal that your marketing team is accountable for hitting.

Don’t be afraid to hold your agency or provider accountable. Ask them for a general accounting of their efforts each month. If they give you the runaround, chances are you’re getting screwed.

6. You see your social media followers and/or website visits increasing but your engagement and leads do not.

All too often, mediocre online marketers who can’t point to success in generating revenue, focus on vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are numbers that can be easily influenced (either through poorly targeted marketing tactics or by paying for likes/subscribers/visits) but do not actually impact the success of your business. In SEO, this can mean an increase in overall site visits without an improvement in rankings for your top sales pages. In social media, this can mean more followers, likes, pins or tweets, but no uptick in visits, leads or sales.

Beware of online marketers who highlight these types of vanity metrics but are unwilling to discuss whether or how those metrics are actually impacting your bottom line.

7. You see your website visitors increase but your time on site decreases and your bounce rate increases.

High quality, well-targeted visitors to your site are less likely to leave after only a few seconds and more likely to browse around for a while to learn more about your products and services. They spend more time because you are relevant to them. The more time they spend on your site, the more likely they are to to engage with you.

If your online marketers are supplying plenty of visits, but not decreasing your bounce rate or increasing your time on site and/or pages per visit, it’s probably time to have a serious conversation about who exactly they are targeting.

8. Your online marketer is not returning your phone calls or responding to your emails.

If your online marketing provider has a tendency to go dark for days (or weeks) at a time and doesn’t appear to make responding to you a priority, you’ve got a major problem on your hands. It’s likely that they’re hiding something. A great marketer, on the other hand, will get back to you promptly every time, as they should be happy to convey their strong results to you at any time.

9. Nothing has changed on your website in more than 3 weeks.

Online marketing is about creating, editing, optimizing and testing. It requires constant attention and frequent updates. You should see active changes being made to your website, ad campaigns, social accounts, etc. If you’re not, that’s a big problem.

If any of the points above apply to your relationship with your current online marketers, you should be seriously concerned.

But how can you REALLY know if you’re getting screwed?

Auditing by an independent third party auditing team will confirm whether or not your online marketers are using best practices. Auditing can also uncover problems that may be costing you thousands or worse, your company’s online success.

When you audit your SEO, PPC or social media, avoid any conflict of interest by using an independent third party auditing company like OnMark Advisors. Avoid “Free Audits” from other agencies as they are typically looking to only point out the bad so that they can gain your business. Only an independent third party audit will tell you the good and the bad and help you to understand how your agency stacks up compared to industry standards.

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