The Good, the Bad, or the Ugly: Which Type of Digital Marketing Company is Pitching You?

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July 9, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A decade ago, most businesses didn’t realize the importance of digital marketing, and the lack of knowledge made it nearly impossible for digital marketing companies to sell their services to small businesses. Now, theeducation of consumers has led digital marketing to take on a much more significant role. While traditional marketing tactics still deliver in some circumstances, they’re being used increasingly to supplement digital products. But how can you tell if you’re being pitched by the best or worst digital marketing companies out there?

The Good

Good and great digital marketing companies can take your business to the next level. The established contacts of these companies alone can help your marketing efforts almost immediately. A good company will tell you that digital marketing is a process rather than a one-time investment and that generating great results can take months. But with a good company, you should see early signs that traffic and search engine rankings are increasing.

Testimonials on the website from top companies in an industry are important indicators of a good digital marketing company because third-party validators won’t risk their reputation over the endorsement of a subpar company. Another way to spot a good digital marketing company is that they view their partnership with you as mutually beneficial and are confident enough in their abilities to consider modifications to your contract with them, particularly if they aren’t delivering an immediate ROI. They will be completely transparent about the strategy and tactics they’re using, recognizing that some digital marketing approaches can do more harm than good in certain business environments.

Related: The 5 Best Digital Marketing Strategies to Empower Your Business

The Bad

The sad truth is that some companies have good intentions but lack the knowledge to implement an efficient marketing campaign. These companies might be using tactics from years ago which have since been deemed harmful or ineffective. While some of their strategies may work, they might not generate consistent results. Here are some ways to spot this kind of digital marketing agency.

An indication that a digital marketing firm is not up to par is that they will present results or case studies for clients they served before the most recent Google algorithm updates. Updates to search engine algorithms can destroy the rankings achieved by companies prior to the implementation of those updates.

In addition, with lesser-quality companies, there may be a chance that the work they’re claiming to do is actually being sourced out to those utilizing blackhat marketing tactics. Make sure to ask for specific details about their processes and partnerships.

Unfortunately, most bad or below-average marketing companies are stuck in the past and haven’t updated their client offerings for contemporary market demands. Asking specific questions to assess their knowledge of the current trends in marketing is critical.

Related: Eight Black Hat SEO Techniques That Are Killing Your Rankings

The Ugly

Digital marketing companies differ widely in the results they provide for their clients. The “ugliest” of them rely on their clients’ lack of knowledge to keep their contracts alive. Educating yourself on the meaningful metrics of successful digital advertising is vitally important. The most important results to focus on are improvement in search engine rankings, organic traffic, leads/sales, and brand awareness.

Avoid companies that are unwilling to show previous results or case studies. The chances are that they’ve gotten their clients Google penalties or generated little to nothing in terms of results. Constant rebranding is a warning sign that the company may have been penalized by Google or outed for unethical tactics on behalf of a previous client. Online digital marketing forums are a good resource to find updated lists of companies to avoid.

Never work with a company that isn’t willing to do a short test order of a few months or companies trying to get you to sign a multi-year deal without showing what they can do for you. Upfront payment with a company with very few reviews or connections on LinkedIn or other online platforms is a perfect recipe for losing your money.

Digital marketing companies differ immensely in size, location, and offerings. Some simply offer copywriting services, while others are essentially full-service branding and marketing operations. Make sure to do your due diligence to make sure you’re getting the best option for your business.

Related: The Growing Risks of Digital Advertising, and How Brands are Fighting Back


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