It’s not easy to find a marketing partner that works seamlessly with your business. Worse, there are marketing companies that engage in less-than-ethical practices. Some that should be avoided at all costs, and some that just leave a bad taste in your mouth. We always provide transparent, ethical marketing services to our clients. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it just makes good business sense—every business wants to be trusted, no matter your industry.
We truly view our clients as partners, and not a paycheck. We’re intentionally on the smaller side of agencies nationwide because we prefer to be hands-on and involved with each client. We truly strive to always do the right thing, and our promise to our clients is to always provide ethical marketing services with the client’s best interest at heart.
Unfortunately, there are a few bad apples in the digital marketing world that perform what we consider unethical marketing practices because it locks clients in, essentially trapping them—forcing a relationship between a business and their marketing provider.
Here are a few unethical marketing practices we’ve encountered—and why you should avoid companies that operate in these ways.
Your business’s digital assets can include content, photos and videos, spreadsheets, and more. While it’s easy to assume any assets made for your business are yours to keep, the sad reality is that some marketing firms don’t agree. If you don’t own your digital assets, you may wind up having to keep your website and everything on it in the event that you decide to part ways with your current digital marketing partner. So before agreeing to a contract with a marketing agency, make sure they can confirm that you will own any and all digital assets created for you.
In addition, make sure to confirm that you will own key accounts associated with your business as well. This includes accounts such as:
Without these accounts, your next marketing partner (or your own marketing team) will be left completely in the dark as to how previous marketing campaigns performed for your business.
An ethical marketing partner should give you a clear understanding of your metrics and what they mean for your bottom line. An agency who is unwilling or unable to provide detailed, transparent reporting is doing you a disservice. Ask for examples of the type of reporting they will provide and be sure you feel that they are providing adequate information. Not sure what that would include? Check out our blog series on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) by digital service offerings. If they are unable to guarantee you transparency on all of the KPI’s we’ve outlined, you should reconsider.
It’s also important to note that if you have access to Google Analytics, as we recommended above, you will have access to many of these KPI’s on your own. Still, while it’s great to have access to that information, it should not fall on you as the customer to sift through the data to find and analyze these essential metrics yourself.
Some agencies use a phone number they own for call tracking purposes. Often, this is sold as a way for you to monitor their performance. However, as with your digital assets, what they don’t tell you is once you leave that agency, they take their phone number(s) with them. This leaves your online profile tarnished, and it generally takes at least 6 months to correct the internet and have all online instances pointing to the correct phone number—one that you own.
If your marketing partner is performing SEO services for you, they shouldn’t be performing that service for anyone else in the same market, in the same industry. For example, if an agency had two roofing companies in Denver, and both were competing for ‘denver roofers’ they would be cannibalizing the search results, and not performing for at least one of those two clients. It’s a major conflict of interest. If they do take on multiple companies in the same market, they are most likely a set-it-and-forget-it type of agency.
Nobody likes hidden fees. It’s worse when you’ve already invested in a major marketing campaign and it turns out certain aspects will only be included at an additional cost. An ethical marketing partner will be completely transparent on what is covered, and what is not covered in a monthly contract. Too often, companies are blindsided by hidden fees or additional costs not openly discussed when an agreement is first engaged.
A major test of ethics for a marketing agency boils down to a simple question of responsibility. If there has been an error, or something overlooked—how does your agency handle it? Do they accept blame and responsibility, falling on the proverbial sword? Or do they make excuses, or even blame you? Do they fully explain the problem, including how it happened and how it will be avoided in the future? Or is there always a cover-up? How an agency handles mistakes speaks very much about who they are as a firm.
At Elevation Marketing, we want to be a true partner to you and your business in everything we do. That means operating with complete transparency by making sure to provide clear reporting, explaining all costs upfront, and taking responsibility for our mistakes. When you partner with Elevation Marketing, you will own all assets, accounts, and phone numbers we use to execute our digital strategy for your business. To learn more about our agency and find out if we’re the right marketing partner for you, contact us today for a consultation!