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Digital Marketing Agency Red Flags
Businesses Should Know


What Digital Marketing Agencies Tells You They do (And They Don’t)

Outsourcing some of your tasks to a digital marketing agency can be absolutely beneficial for your business. This is particularly true if you have a limited number of employees, as it can be hard to establish a strong marketing team. So, what does a marketing agency do for you? They not only can provide you with various resources and expertise that your company may not have, but they can also help you develop effective strategies and improve the efficiency of your business online. We all know that finding the right digital marketing agency can be challenging. You have to find one that fits your business style and personality, and you also have to consider factors such as affordability and industry relevance — and make sure that they deliver transparency and results based on your business needs and goals. This article will discuss the different factors you should consider when choosing a digital marketing partner to work with — and identify possible red flags that your current digital marketing agency might have.


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1. Six Red Flags That a Digital Marketing Agency Might Have

If you’re wondering things like: What are some common red flags? What are the red flags of social media marketing? What are Facebook red flags? What is an example of a red flag attitude? — don’t worry, we have all the answers you need to know. And the good news is that YES, there are great white hat digital marketing agencies out there! Let’s now dive into what are the most common 8 red flags that your current or next digital marketing agency might have:


2. Too Good to be True 

Steers clear of a Digital Marketing Agency selling you dreams of quick results at bargain-bin prices. It’s the marketing equivalent of a $2 steak dinner. Sure, it sounds great, but you might end up with something that leaves you feeling queasy. These too-good-to-be-true deals often mean questionable tactics like buying lead lists or creating shoddy backlinks. It’s a fast track to sabotaging your performance, or worse, leaving you to foot a hefty bill to undo the damage. Also, remember, anyone who promises guaranteed results in marketing is like a weatherman promising sunshine. With complex strategies like SEO, it can take months to see significant results. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And if an agency is quick to pitch a proposal without learning about your unique business needs, it’s like being handed a pair of size 9 running shoes at a shoe store before you even get to say you’re a size 12 and need a dress boot. When it comes to marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. So, ensure your Marketing team wants to know your business inside out. Because in marketing, as in shoe shopping, the right fit makes all the difference!


3. Research? Data? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That! 

Imagine heading out on a road trip without a map or GPS. Now, that’s what it’s like for a Digital Marketing Agency operating without thorough research. It’s like trying to hit a target while wearing a blindfold – you might get lucky, but it’s not the best strategy. Every business is as unique as a fingerprint, which makes research the lifeblood of successful marketing. It’s the key to unlocking your business’s distinctive character, paving the way for a bespoke marketing plan in sync with your aspirations. Without an in-depth analysis and data-driven strategy, it’s like tossing darts and hoping to hit a bullseye. Sure, you might get a hit, but is it repeatable? With proper data analysis, you’ll know exactly what’s working, and you can duplicate that success, over and over. Like the car’s dashboard that tells you if you’re low on gas or if your engine’s overheating, marketing data gives you essential insights. It guides your decisions, helping you ramp up efficiency and monitor lead and conversion generation. If a Digital Marketing Agency doesn’t put a high value on research, analysis, and data, it’s like a chef ignoring the recipe. And if an agency suggests a marketing plan based on gut feelings rather than concrete data during your initial chats, it’s time to hit the eject button. Remember, in marketing, the proof is always in the data pudding!


4. No to Transparency. Yes to Secrecy

In the world of marketing, there’s no hush-hush formula or clandestine code. A professional Marketing Agency stands tall on the pillars of transparency and honesty. They won’t shy away from saying, “We need to figure this out,” and they definitely won’t throw around buzzwords to fluff things up or sell you unnecessary services. They’ll be as open as a book about their strategies and the outcomes, readily providing details on how your investment is being put to work, even without you asking for it. Expect the unvarnished truth. Your Digital Marketing Agency won’t always be the bearers of great news, but they should be resilient enough to deal with less-than-ideal results and make informed decisions for improvement. If they only present a picture-perfect scenario, it’s probably time for a reality check. Why this openness, you ask? Because they aspire to work not above you, but alongside you. They comprehend that they’re a part of your team and they’re in it for the long haul, hand in hand with you on your journey to business triumph.


5. Black Hat Practices

If you have never heard about what black hat practices are, well, it’s time because they are out there — and they can lead to massive disasters. But first: what is white hat and black hat practices? In SEO, the term “white hat” refers to certain Marketing practices that are good for search engines, while those that are bad and harmful practices are referred to as “black hat”. Black hat marketing tactics are the unruly mavericks of the digital world. They’re unethical and often deceptive strategies, designed to drive traffic to websites or skew search engine algorithms. Much like the villains in Western films donning black hats, these practices might offer a quick thrill but can lead to severe repercussions when caught. Here’s a rundown of the most infamous black hat tactics:
Keyword Stuffing: Cramming a webpage with keywords in an unnatural and forced way to manipulate its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) is about as elegant as stuffing a turkey with Christmas ornaments.
Cloaking: Here’s a chameleon act you don’t want to applaud. Cloaking presents different content or URLs to search engines and users, tricking search engines into ranking the content for relevance, despite it being as irrelevant as a swimsuit in the Arctic. 
Private Blog Networks (PBNs): These are like cliques in high school, groups of websites used only to build links to one website to manipulate search engine rankings. Much like cliques, Google isn’t a fan of them either. 
Link Farms:
Imagine a bunch of websites all linking to each other like an overgrown web of conspiracy theories. That’s a link farm. And like most conspiracy theories, Google finds them objectionable. 
Duplicate Content: This involves replicating large blocks of content across domains, making them identical or eerily similar. Remember the horror when you wore the same outfit as someone else to a party? This is worse. 
Hidden Text: This crafty move hides keywords on a webpage by matching the text color with the background, setting the font size to zero, or hiding it behind an image. It’s like a poorly played game of hide-and-seek.
Spam Comments: Ever seen irrelevant comments on blogs, forums, and news sites, with a random link attached? That’s the work of black hat marketers, as welcome as a mosquito at a barbecue. 
The consequences of black hat marketing can be severe, with websites facing penalties or outright bans from search engines. Not only can this cripple a brand’s online presence, but it can also seriously tarnish its credibility. Let’s not go down the path of the black hat. Instead, let’s play by the rules and enjoy sustainable success, keeping our digital reputation spick and span. Being aware of these tactics is the first step in keeping your marketing strategy clean, respectable, and successful. It’s like knowing the rules of the road before you start driving. 
• No matter how tempting it might seem, resist the urge to stuff keywords like packing peanuts into a box. Search engines are smarter than that, and your audience deserves content that reads smoothly and naturally.
• Cloaking may sound like a cool magic trick, but in the SEO world, it’s a cheap parlor illusion. Stick to transparency, and let your content be seen for what it truly is.
• Private Blog Networks? More like Private Blunder Networks. They’re a shortcut that can quickly lead you off a cliff. Remember, quality trumps quantity when it comes to backlinks.
• Link farms are a knot of trouble, and untangling from them can be a nightmare. Instead, build a network of meaningful, relevant links. 
• Duplicate content is like a parrot repeating the same phrase. It’s cute at first, but it quickly becomes tiresome. Make sure your content is unique and offers real value.
• Hidden text might be out of sight, but it’s definitely not out of mind for search engines. Play fair and keep your content visible.
• And finally, spam comments are the digital equivalent of a telemarketer at dinner time. Instead of intrusive spamming, engage genuinely with your audience and build meaningful connections.
Avoid these black hat practices like your reputation depends on it — because it does! A successful, long-term digital strategy is built on quality content, ethical practices, and mutual trust between your brand and your audience. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, digital success isn’t achieved overnight. Trust in the process, keep your hat clean, and prepare for a steady climb to the top.


6. Spam… Ghostly Contacts and Followers

In the shadowy corners of digital marketing, there lurk phantom followers, ghostly comments, and spectral email subscribers. They may appear solid and engaged, but alas, they offer no real substance. The realm of digital marketing is fraught with challenges, the biggest specter being spam. It can take many guises – a follower, a commenter, a subscriber, you name it. However, a skilled marketer knows how to exorcise these phantoms. Alarm bells should start ringing when a marketing agency promises a spirit-raising séance, assuring you an influx of followers or leads that align perfectly with your business target audience. Yet, all you end up with are hollow shells, doppelgängers – profiles that are empty, often completely fabricated, and of zero quality. Sure, you might notice your ‘people’ count rising, but these apparitions aren’t real, and they certainly aren’t beneficial. They either stand eerily still, never interacting with your business, or if they do, their actions are out of tune. They could even be living souls who never consented to be haunted by your emails. The worst specters of all are the non-existent profiles, mere echoes in the digital ether. If a so-called marketing agency hands you a crystal ball showing the exact number of ‘results’ – followers, comments, leads, etc., they can drum up each month, step back. That’s a glaring spectral warning. The only way to promise such precise numbers is by buying souls to fill those profiles or conjuring comments, shares, or sending phantom emails using an unauthorized Ouija board. Such dark arts are not just unethical; they can summon a curse on your business’s reputation.


7. I, Robot

AI is here, and it won’t leave. So, is it safe to use artificial intelligence? Yes, AI tools are beneficial if you know how to use them in your favor without compromising the quality or breaking any existing rule. Even though there is no specific percentage of AI-generated content that is allowed on Google, Google’s guidelines for content are highly focused on ensuring that content is high-quality, relevant, original, and valuable to users. To some extent, AI tools can help with many tasks, such as providing original content, but it doesn’t offer relevant and quality content to your target audience. Some Digital Marketers and started using AI tools in a way that is not appropriate. Instead of using them as part of their creative process and research to create original quality content or a marketing plan, they rely entirely on them to create or do everything for them without editing or supervision — leading to poorly non-accurate (and sometimes extremely wrong) results.


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Are Marketing Agencies Worth it?

Absolutely YES. One of the most important factors that you should consider when it comes to growing your business is having the right Digital Marketing Agency on your side. These agencies are able to provide a wide range of services to their customers, such as digital marketing, graphic designing, advertising, content creation solutions (and more), by using the latest technology and techniques to meet their customers’ business needs. Our team at Estes Media do exactly that. We’re a commercially and data driven, growth-focused Digital Content Marketing Agency. We use in-depth research expertise to develop bespoke marketing strategies for our clients, helping them to grow smarter and get a return on their investment. Get in touch with us today for an honest chat about your organization’s marketing.


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