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Fighting Agency Stagnation: Is It Time for a Change?

Fighting Agency Stagnation: Is It Time for a Change?

This is the third part in our ongoing series, A Better Agency, which looks at many of the difficulties that can arise when working with an agency, and what Forthea is doing to overcome it.

In the first entry in this series, we covered the importance of transparency between an agency and their clients. We followed that with an in-depth look at how to understand if your PPC account is being given enough attention. We covered these because they’re among the most common reasons our new client prospects site when changing agencies.

Today, I want to cover another aspect of the ongoing relationship between agency and client: stagnation. Fortunately, this problem only comes after an extended period where both parties have developed a trust and rapport.

Now say that you’ve been with your digital agency for a while and you’ve seen some impressive gains in that time. The agency has proven themselves to be a worthy partner and you’ve even recommended them to a few of your associates. However, over the past few months, you’ve seen a transformation in both campaign results and the agency relationship. What has been consistent progress has stalled in most campaigns. Emails that were returned almost immediately now lag a day or two before you see a response. You rarely meet in person and when you do, most of the strategic initiatives come from you.

You are the very definition of stagnation…and you’re probably starting to ask yourself if another agency might be the answer.­­­­

You might even be considering Forthea.

I’m Stagnant. Now What?

Now that a problem has been identified, it’s time to dissect the problem and take an honest look at situation. Where did it go wrong? When did it go wrong? An agency-client relationship is like any other, once you stop working on it, it will cease to thrive. However, there’s a decent chance it’s not (entirely) the agency’s fault. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you an active participant? Do you provide your agency with all pertinent information, access, and resources they require? Do you provide them with the goals and what KPIs are meaningful to you? Do you communicate changes in internal strategy? Do you make time for monthly report and strategy meetings?
  2. Are you an honest participant? Do you provide your agency with honest feedback about campaign performance and overall experience?

If the answer is yes to both of these, congratulations, you’ve done your job as a client. If no, your agency may still be the problem, but you’re not upholding your half the relationship, either.

Assuming you answered “yes,” to both questions, you definitely deserve an agency that will serve as an equal partner with you, the next step is to discuss why changing it up to a new agency might be the exact thing to take your campaign to new heights. What could a new agency offer that your current agency relationship does not?

What Can A New Digital Advertising Agency Offer?

A More Evolved Service – Few people buy their dream house on their first purchase.

Large goals usually requires a linear step-by-step process that, in this metaphor, begins with purchasing a more modest “starter” home and evolves through a series of purchases into the dream model. The same can be said of a digital agency.

Most who begin a digital agency relationship get their feet wet with a “McSearch” company that offers decent value but very little strategy or customization past what their “proprietary algorithm” deems to be the right move. Simply put, you can order what’s on the menu, but it’s the same thing the other 1 billion were served.

A true digital marketing partner, such as Forthea, offers the strategic thinking to tailor a campaign to your specific needs, the experience to know what should work, and the ability to combine the two to create a campaign that is truly yours, not just “Package B for X Industry.”

A Fresh Eye – Over time, especially at an agency with significant employee turn-over, all search campaigns start to look like Frankenstein’s monster.

Sloppily pieced together a part at a time, with no real consideration of how the final product will work. There’s a reason many agencies don’t want you to see your campaign, and it’s not because of any “secret sauce” they claim to employ.

When a campaign has too many cooks, inconsistencies, mistakes, and downright incompetence can leak into the process. Specialists can get too far into the details of changes that it’s easy to miss the forest.

At Forthea, we begin every new client relationship with a detailed discovery and audit of your campaign based on a comprehensive checklist of the things that really matter. Oftentimes, this exercise and subsequent campaign tune-up lead to dramatic gains in both volume and efficiency within the first few weeks.

A Top-Shelf Technology – A number of agencies flaunt their giant black box filled with “proprietary algorithms” that churn out campaigns and campaign optimizations like Lucy and Ethel churned out chocolates. Often it has the same result.

In my opinion, software – no matter how advanced – cannot replace the efforts of a truly skilled search engine marketer (SEM). That said, having the best available technology to augment an SEM professional’s efforts is a necessity.

Forthea uses industry best software platforms for pay per click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO) and for our CRM –the backbone of our company. In fact, we were even featured by Netsuite as a customer story showing how personalized implementation of the platform can benefit both client & agency.

We don’t use the technology to replace the skill and experience our staff possess, but use it to leverage that skill and make everyone more efficient. These gained efficiencies benefit the client because more time can be spent on strategy and new initiatives rather than menial tasks like pulling data or auditing a site for broken links.

Should I Fire My Ad Agency?

If you’re concerned that your current agency relationship has plateaued, and you are intrigued by what Forthea can offer, let’s talk. A quick conversation to discuss your needs and efforts should be enough to establish whether we are a good partner whom can provide additional value. In the end, we want to be sure you are moving to something better instead of running from something whose value you question.

This is the third part in our new series, A Better Agency, which looks at many of the difficulties that can arise when working with an agency, and what Forthea is doing to overcome it.

Jon Bowers
Jon has seen it all. He is a digital team lead at Forthea and has been part of the online marketing community since its emergence in the 1990s, but don’t worry, he’s vowed to never use phrases like think outside the box, ninja, rock star, or visionary entrepreneur.


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