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What to look out for when working with an agency

When partnering with an agency, you come to the table expecting honesty, transparency, and above all, that they’ll have your best interests at heart. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. 

From questionable practices to guaranteeing the unforeseeable, there are a few common red flags to look out for when deciding on (and working with) an agency. We’ve laid them out below to help you make the most informed decision about whether or not to continue with an agency.

Exclusive partnerships 

We’ve heard some pretty wild stories about agencies telling prospective clients what they want to hear, and this one definitely takes the cake. If an agency tells you that they have exclusive partnerships with platforms like Facebook and Google, allowing them to get ahead of any changes before anyone else, this simply isn’t true. While most agencies have certifications with these platforms, this doesn’t give them access to any information that isn’t already available to everyone else.


‘Guaranteed’ results

If you’re considering an agency and they guarantee a certain number of leads or specific return on investment, you should take this with a grain of salt. While we can definitely learn from previous experience and aim to replicate the success of previous campaigns, there is no way to guarantee that the outcome will be the same. If there were, everyone would be doing it.  

Each account is different, with different audiences, creative, messaging and the list goes on. Digital marketing is an ongoing evolution in which we’re constantly learning and optimising – but there’s no magic formula that can guarantee results.


Social ads set up under agency Business Manager, not your own

As a Facebook advertiser, it is your right to own and retain all data collected through advertising on the platform. However, this can only be achieved if you’re advertising through your own Business Manager. If you find that your agency is advertising for you through their account, this means that they essentially own your data – so if you decide to leave them, you’ll also be leaving behind every insight your advertising efforts have brought along the way.


Paying advertising costs to the agency, not the platform

If your agency requests that you pay your advertising budget to them, and not directly to the platform you’re advertising with, consider this a red flag. As an agency, it makes no difference to the process or performance if a client pays their ad spend directly to the channel. So if you’re being asked to direct funds to the agency, they’re likely taking a cut for themselves rather than utilising the full budget for your advertising costs.


Availability of specialists

Is it difficult for you to get in touch with the individual specialists working behind the scenes on your account? If this is the case, there’s a good chance your agency is actually outsourcing parts of your account to either domestic or offshore contractors. As a client, you should expect complete clarity over who is working for you and have the opportunity to connect with each of them (not just your Account Manager) if and when you want to learn more about how things are going.


Not considering brand as part of your digital approach

How much does your agency really know about your brand and how you’re different from everyone else out there? Even if you’re working with a ‘digital only’ agency, taking the time to really understand your brand is the key to ensuring a cohesive digital experience that builds on your brand equity and optimises your chance of success. If you approach an agency and they’re ready to ‘hit go’ without digging into who you are and what you do, consider whether they really have the tools needed to maximise results for your business.