By Aida Saharoui
I have been active in the GCC digital agency ecosystem for the past eight years, and seem to still witness a lot of questionable practices when it comes to agencies’ practices in the region and worldwide. With the support of Communicate, we have listed the top 5 things that any business should know and request from its digital marketing agency.
- Expertise & methodology
The first concern a client should have before starting any business relationship with an agency, should not be its portfolio or its number of employees, but rather if this agency has the right kind of knowledge and methodology to do the job.
Digital marketing is not only about promoting or publishing posts; it starts much before that, with a proper media mix strategy, a comprehensive media planning frame (phased by time/seasonality, campaign type, channels as well as languages and markets). It then crosschecks the measurement to make sure that all the activations are being tracked properly.
At the time of the launch, operating digital campaigns requires expertise and a granular methodological work which each business needs to ensure the agency masters.
At the post-launch level, reporting is the next important step. Without a proper and accurate reporting structure that mirrors the client’s KPIs, optimizations will be hard to maintain. In fact, optimizations require a strict process of their own, that will have a direct impact on the final fallout.
All these efforts require time and proficiency. Many agencies today pretend to be able to do the job at very low costs, which results in clients’ disappointment and a misconception around digital agencies themselves.
At Wone, we allocate a minimum of 40 hours per month to each client, regardless of their media spend, their targets or any other specific requirement. Based on our internal data, we came to the conclusion that anything below this volume of time, will affect the quality of work and therefore the outcome of the campaigns.
It is very unfortunate to still witness agencies operating in highly grey areas in very questionable, non-ethical ways:
- Using their own ad accounts rather than their clients’ accounts in order to keep the client ‘locked.’ This practice is very common and leads to a tricky situation where clients do not know what is being done for/with their campaigns, they have no clue about the spend or the results.
- As a consequence of using their own ad accounts, hiding the actual amounts spent in order to charge more than what has actually been paid on the media.
- Lacking transparency when it comes to methodology and work ethics (White vs. Black Hat in SEO, for instance)
- Not, or only partially sharing a proper reporting structure. Because in-depth reporting equals transparency, many clients often get a very top-level report on Excel or PDF formats, with no details.
At Wone, we provide our clients with real-time dashboards that guarantee a real-time view of their spend and all key metrics. We also share a weekly report and meet them very often. Daily communications are also organized to make sure that we move fast if any approval or troubleshooting is needed.
- Communication & knowledge-sharing
Since communication also equals transparency, many avoid it. Any business that has an active relationship with its agency should request daily communications, weekly catch-ups and regular meetings in order discuss past/upcoming actions, results and action plans to be implemented to improve the numbers.
Many agencies are also dishonest about where their resources are geographically located. Agencies should communicate the proper information and have the client’s agreement when accounts managers are off-shored resources,
In our field, communication also mean informing our clients about the latest betas and product launches relevant to their industries. The platforms change very regularly, with constant algorithmic updates and new features. It is the agency’s mission to communicate tips and tricks, as well as industry benchmarks with its clients.
“Promises only bind those who believe in them.” That is a very pertinent French quote. Any agency that promises the moon – whether it relates to building a brand, achieving a very specific level of ranking on SEO, or meeting specific targets on paid advertising – without a proper in-depth analysis, is probably not being very realistic.
Blindly believing that what has been promised will be achieved without requesting the minimum details is a mistake. Clients need to be highly cautious when it comes to forecasted numbers. As much as over-promising can sound exciting to communicate to your top management, it is often deceptive and distorted. You want to trust the agency’s word, believing they have the expertise; however, best to see the actual plan they have worked on to meet your targets.
In a world that seeks efficiency, these tips will help not only clients but also agencies to work in a more transparent and result-driven environment that should, on the long run, drive everyone in the right direction.
Aida Saharoui is the founder and CEO of digital consultancy firm Wone.