Why businesses fire their digital agencies

Seven Reason Why Businesses Fire Digital Marketing Agencies

Any of the below seven reasons can get a digital marketing agency fired. Here is what to avoid in the agency-client relationship. If you’re a client, we also have 6 steps for your to fire your agency smoothly. Scroll down to see more.

This is not a story about how to fire your digital marketing agency, but rather a list of errors that digital agencies make that gets them fired. If you are a business owner working with an agency, see if your agency is worth their fee. If you are a digital agency, take these seven reasons as an action plan to troubleshoot your relationships with clients.

I have been on both sides: working for an agency and doing digital marketing in-house. And I experienced both: my agency lost a couple of clients during my time, and I had to fire a couple of digital agencies during my in-house tenure. The context was always unique, but the patterns were similar. Let’s summarize them in these seven points.

Unrealistic Promises

Unrealistic promises from digital agency

When a business is hiring a digital marketing agency, the agency may overpromise here and there. The motivation is clear. The agency’s sales team wants to close the deal and move the new client over to the account management team.

As a business owner you’d want to meet the account manager and talk to the people who will be working on your account.

Agencies that don’t involve account folks in the pitch process may face a sad truth after. There may be a disconnect between the promises and the execution. This disconnect can become a serious divide that may ruin the new relationship.

Lack of Industry Knowledge

Lack of Industry Knowledge

Agencies that specialize in a specific industry have better chances to get clients from that industry. I saw it first-hand how industry knowledge and specialization served as competitive advantages in bids against other agencies. And here it’s not about the industry knowledge sitting in one employee, but rather in how the agency positions itself and what clients it has.

I worked for an agency that specializes in CPG (consumer packaged goods). We were able to get new clients active in the CPG markets with a snap of our fingers. But we had a hard time dealing with technology companies, for instance.

An agency or a team can get industry knowledge, but the learning curve takes time. Working with several clients leaves that team less time to get to know the industry better.

Limited industry knowledge puts the agency’s contract at risk. The agency will not be an equal partner with their client. Accelerated knowledge acquisition may be a good solution to the problem.

Too Much Self-Focus

Too Much Self-Focus

Let’s be honest – agencies are not in the business of growing businesses. They are in the business of billable hours and secured retainers. It’s the service sector, after all.

But an agency can be only successful when they put their financial interests in the background. Their usefulness to the client should be their main focus.

Some agencies grow their client base fast and start forgetting about the goal of helping clients grow their businesses. In my past I had to fire an SEO agency because of their complete disregard of my business objectives. If reminders don’t help, you part ways with such a partner.

Poor Communication

Poor Communication

Communicate, but don’t over-communicate or under-communicate. A responsive digital agency knows what’s needed. They carry out projects and provide enough information and details to the client. And this information is timely and relevant.

The moment the agency becomes too invisible because updates, calls, reports are irregular, that’s where it will end. My tactic has always been to create healthy expectations: send status updates at regular intervals, set up regular face time with clients, deliver on time or communicate delays in advance.

No Perks, No Freebies

No Perks, No Freebies

Some agencies may be stingy with their time, expertise, and resources. They will deploy the least effort needed to complete the task or project. Well, minimalistic may be a popular design trend, but it’s not what a respected digital agency does for clients.

Giving some resources away to clients is a perk the client gets by working with the agency on a long-term basis.

If the agency does not share their expertise on purpose or unintentionally, business owners may start asking themselves if the agency is worth the money paid. This sense of dissatisfaction may get into the way and cause the termination of the contract.

Lack of Technical Skills

Lack of Technical Skills

Technical competence goes hand in hand with experience. Agencies tend to hire fresh graduates, whose expertise is not always enough to perform complex technical tasks. And, yes, digital marketing is very technical. Tools from CMS to advertising platforms require a decent amount of technical skills.

Gaps in such competences may create situations when the agency loses a client. I saw a situation when my past agency had got a client with a bunch of Drupal sites and we had no people to support such sites. We struggled with the project as we were not able to hire Drupal developers fast enough. In the end, the client left.

My example was a little extreme. But I worked with digital agencies whose account managers were not able to use Google Docs. And I did not have time to teach them.

Go-go Mentality

Go-go Mentality

The go-go mentality is the consequence of the fast-paced environment that digital agencies live in. Multiple clients, chronic multitasking, no joy in task completion… These are not too helpful when you need to build solid strategies and tactical plans, and execute on them.

The go-go mentality puts trees in front of the forest. As a result, clients keep saying they don’t see strategies. Agencies stay confused as they feel they do so much work and are not being recognized for it.

Stopping to breathe is what some agencies need before the crazy-pace sprint turns into a disaster. In the end, starting to run slowly, building running strategies and applying right tactics helps one to finish a marathon.

Agencies live in a world where acquiring new clients is more exciting than retaining the current ones. But client retention is cheaper and more profitable. Sometimes, it takes only a couple of minor course corrections to keep clients happy.

6 Steps to Fire Your Digital Agency

If you reached the point that it’s time to terminate your relationship with your digital agency, follow these 6 steps to ensure a smooth transition.

Step 1: Review Your Contract

Start by reviewing the terms of your contract with the agency. Understand the conditions for termination, including the notice period, and adhere to them.

Step 2: Make the Announcement

Ensure that the decision to terminate the agency is communicated by the decision-makers in your company. Be concise and clear about the reasons for termination without burning bridges.

Step 3: Plan the End of Current Projects

If there are ongoing projects with the agency, request a timeline for their completion before the termination date. This will ensure you’re not left with any unfinished work.

Step 4: Retrieve All Files and Processes

Ask the agency to compile and send over all the files, processes, and marketing collateral used during your partnership. Ensure you have access to all the necessary files before ending any projects.

Step 5: Gain Access to All Company Accounts

Ensure that the agency grants you access and ownership of all relevant accounts to maintain them after the partnership ends. These might include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business, social media accounts, and other third-party accounts used for your business.

Step 6: Remove Agency Access

After the termination date, remove all agency users from your company accounts and change all passwords to prevent unauthorized access.

Post-Termination Actions

After parting ways with your digital agency, the next step is to determine the future of your digital marketing efforts. Before hiring another digital agency, consider what you want to achieve. For core functions like content creation and data analysis, it might be beneficial to bring these in-house. On the other hand, you could outsource specialized, one-off projects to freelancers or agencies. See an example here: PPC Agency, PPC Consultant, In-house PPC. Which is Better?

If you fired your digital agency, talk to us. Our free site audit is just a click away.

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