Marketing Strategy

The 8 Signs of a Crooked Digital Marketing Agency for Small Businesses

Watch out for these red flags when hiring a digital marketing agency.


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Finding a reliable, results-oriented digital marketing agency with integrity, for your small business can be a tedious task.

For a few weeks or months, you spend a tremendous amount of time online, researching companies until you think you've finally struck gold with a firm that you believe will take your business to the next level.

In the beginning, they tell you everything you want to hear just to get your name on the dotted line. These firms will guarantee you more customers, millions in revenue, and a number one Google ranking all in a short period.

Once you sign on the dotted line, over the course of time, they eventually take your money while doing absolutely nothing to enhance your online presence to position your business for long-term growth.

With some basic knowledge, you can learn how to recognize the warning signs of an internet marketing agency that will do more harm than good to your business.

Watch out! Eight Warning Signs of a Bad Digital Marketing Agency

Before you put your online presence in the hands of an internet marketing firm make sure they aren't guilty of the following:

1. Make too Good to Be True Promises (e.g. #1 SEO Ranking)

When a company throws the distracting glitter of high promises in your eyes, wait for the dust to clear before you make any choices. You’ll discover more by researching than you will in listening to the clanging gongs of dishonest agencies.

2. No References or Customer Testimonials

Nonexistent customer reviews can imply one of two things:

  • The service was so unsatisfactory that the clients didn’t want to bother leaving testimonials, even a bad one
  • The business failed to serve any customers because it's a scam.

Pro Tip: Look out for “verifiable” testimonials. Anyone can make up a testimony or review, so make sure you can verify the reviews already present. If you have to, take the time reach out to current customers for additional insight on their experience with the firm.

3. Bad Reviews Across the Board

If no customer has anything good to say about the company, don’t think they’re all just college kids throwing tantrums.

Frequent customer complaints are cause for serious pause.

4. Free email address vs. “”

The lack of a domain name can be a sign of an amateurish company, lack of professionalism, and an online presence. If someone claims to be working for a particular company, their email address should reflect an appropriate professional domain.

Pro Tip: Don't put too much trust in a firm that fails to use a professional domain for email communications.

5. Too Many Clients to Handle

Some agencies take on so many clients that they struggle to give them adequate attention. In turn, this can affect their work quality along with customer relationships.

Pro Tip: If faced with a firm that appears to be overwhelmed by their workload, you’re better off choosing an internet marketing company that focuses on fewer clients, within your industry. This way, you can have more confidence that you'll receive the attention as a customer and business.

6. Owners Know Business but Have Little Knowledge of Digital Marketing

Would you let an orthodontic surgeon perform open heart surgery on you or a loved one? Of course not. So why would you put your online marketing in the hands of a firm whose owner(s) know absolutely nothing about the internet, despite being astute business people?

We have witnessed several cases of companies ending up in shambles due to a lack of knowledge shared among top management or employees.

Pro Tip: Employees of the firm that you're considering work should know the ins-and-outs of the services they’re advertising. Otherwise, they are hardly going to help you achieve your goals. Make sure their credentials match their claims.

7. Little to No Social Media Presence

Social media is a huge indicator of a company’s level of customer engagement, and it’s a tool you should learn to master as well. You want to find an agency experienced within this realm so they can help you improve your marketing, especially if this is a service that they're offering.

8. Incredibly Low Prices Compared to Competitors and Market Standards

The saying, “You get what you pay for” has some truth to it. Don’t be hoodwinked by promises of absurdly low rates, because chances are they’re low for a reason.

Pro Tip: Vet the companies whose prices make sense for the services offered.

What Happens When You Ignore These Tell-tale Signs?

When disregarded, the eight signs above can negatively impact your business in the following ways:

  • You may suffer financially.
  • You may have a hard time recovering smooth operation within your business.
  • You waste time that could’ve been spent on achieving profitable goals.

What Constitutes a Reputable Internet Marketing Firm?

It's simple. A superior digital marketing agency for small businesses offers verifiable customer support tools, innovative ideas on increasing web traffic, and realistic prices that save your company money.

As you seek out an internet marketing company that's going to take your business to the next level, be sure to keep these eight warning signs in the back of your mind.

To discover how Yokel Local Internet Marketing, an inbound marketing agency in Las Vegas, has helped various local businesses grow and succeed online, take a look at our client success stories.New Look Collision Case Study

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