10 Warning Signs Your Marketing Company Is Wasting Your Money
Before we get started and too far down the rabbit hole here, I want to be upfront that some tools may require accounts with 3rd-party services. Some are paid, while others are free.
As a Sr. Technical SEO Specialist and savant of all things local business marketing, I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to regularly perform a marketing audit to ensure that your marketing company delivers the results you expect. As a professional specializing in auditing websites and marketing campaigns, I identify areas that perform well and work closely with business owners to develop effective solutions when things aren’t going as planned.
In this article, I will discuss my top 10 warning signs that your marketing company may be wasting your money and how to perform a thorough marketing audit to address these issues.
1. Low website traffic despite increased spending
In my experience, performing a website audit is crucial if you’re investing more in marketing but have yet to witness a significant increase in website traffic. A comprehensive website audit helps identify areas for improvement, ensuring that your marketing efforts align with your goals. If you need help understanding your traffic, ensure your marketing company has set up proper tracking mechanisms. Some of our favorite ways to get a view into website traffic and what it does or does not do for a campaign:
- Google Analytics: A powerful, free tool that tracks website traffic, user behavior, and other essential metrics to help you understand your audience and optimize your site.
- Heatmaps: Visual representations of user interactions on your website allow you to see what areas receive the most attention and engagement and identify areas for improvement.
- UTM Parameters: Custom tags are added to your URLs to track the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns and traffic sources, providing valuable insights into which channels drive the most traffic.
- Conversion Tracking: Monitoring specific actions users take on your websites, such as form submissions or purchases, to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and optimize your conversion funnel.
- Click Tracking: Analyzing which links and buttons users click on your website, providing insights into user behavior and preferences, and identifying potential areas for optimization.
Of the options mentioned, Google Analytics, UTM Parameters, and Conversion Tracking are free and painless. Conversion Tracking can be found inside external ad marketing services like Facebook and Google Ads, so expect to pay for those. However, tracking conversions via your website by setting Goals in Analytics is free. The other two options could require paid plans through services like, but not limited to HotJar, CrazyEgg, or MonsterInsights.
2. Lack of competitor analysis
Competitor analysis is essential for understanding your market and identifying growth opportunities. If your marketing company isn’t conducting these audits at least every quarter, it could be a sign that they may not be fully invested in your success.
I can’t stress the importance of thorough competitor analysis. It helps you identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and enables you to uncover opportunities for improvement. To rectify the new competitor analysis, you should request a comprehensive report covering their keyword strategies, backlink profiles, content marketing efforts, and social media presence.
By analyzing your competitors’ keyword strategies, you can discover high-potential keywords and phrases they target and adjust your strategy accordingly. This allows you to compete effectively in search engines to attract more organic traffic to your website.
Examining your competitors’ backlink profiles can reveal their link-building strategies and help you identify high-quality websites to target for your own backlink acquisition. By acquiring valuable backlinks, you can boost your site’s domain authority, improve search rankings, and increase your online visibility.
Finally, by assessing your competitors’ content marketing, whether on-site or through social media marketing efforts, you gain insights into the types of content that resonate with your target audience. By understanding what works for them, you can create engaging content that attracts and retains visitors, ultimately converting them into customers or clients.
To do all of the above, except for social media analysis, we prefer to use SEMRush, which requires a paid subscription to get in-depth analysis. It is well worth the money and can be used to confirm data you may pull from other tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. I especially love seeing what words competitors rank for and discovering potential backlinks opportunities. There are various tools for tracking social media profiles, but we prefer to use elbow grease.
3. Poor keyword analysis and implementation
Keyword analysis is critical to any successful marketing strategy. Suppose your marketing company still needs to provide a detailed initial keyword analysis or an evolving strategy throughout your campaign. In that case, you may miss valuable opportunities to reach your target audience.
I strongly recommend conducting a thorough keyword analysis to identify high-traffic, low-competition keywords that can help you rank higher in search results. Tools like SEMrush can provide valuable insights into the exact keywords your target audience is searching for and help you discover untapped opportunities.
Once you’ve identified the right keywords, it’s crucial to implement them effectively throughout your website and marketing materials. This includes optimizing essential elements such as title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and content with relevant keywords. Also, it’s essential to create keyword-rich anchor text for your internal linking strategies based on your keyword analysis, ensuring a coherent and effective site structure that would enhance your website’s search engine performance. By doing what was just mentioned, you signal to search engine crawlers that your website is a valuable resource for users searching for those specific terms, which can lead to higher rankings and increased traffic.
In my experience, SEMRush is the most widely used tool for this analysis. Still, I would also like to mention Screaming Frog’s software as a helpful tool for tackling heavy lifting. We use it mainly for internal link analysis to determine structure and anchor text usage. Screaming Frog allows for an efficient way of crawling and auditing websites for various SEO elements, such as keyword usage, broken links, duplicate content, and more. Using tools like Screaming Frog, you can optimize your website for the most relevant keywords, ensuring that your online presence is competitive and effective in reaching your target audience. The great news as well is it’s free to use for sites under 500 pages that don’t require automated or stored scans. You can learn more about the tools and differences here: Screaming Frog – Free vs. Paid
4. No clear return on investment (ROI)
When investing in digital marketing, measuring the ROI is paramount to understanding if things are paying off. If your marketing company isn’t providing you with some ROI metrics, it’s a red flag that they may not deliver results.
In this case, I suggest requesting regular performance reports that outline your marketing spend, conversions, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. One way to track your marketing performance is by using UTM parameters. UTM tracking allows you to add unique identifiers to your URLs, enabling you to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and attribute traffic to specific sources, such as social media, email, or paid ads. If you’re investing in a directory such as Expertise, UTM tracking can help determine whether it’s paying off. Using UTM parameters, you can distinguish between the traffic that goes to your website organically through Google search results and the traffic from your Google Business Profile. You can also differentiate between the traffic that comes to your GBP listing and the traffic that comes from the links in your profile updates. The opportunities are endless. Simply put, adding UTM parameters to your external backlinks helps you gain a better understanding in analytics of where your traffic is coming from.
Another aspect of evaluating marketing ROI is setting up Goal Tracking in Google Analytics. Goal Tracking lets you track user interactions on your website, such as form submissions, newsletter sign-ups, or product purchases. By monitoring these conversions, you can gain valuable insights into how well your marketing efforts drive desired actions from your target audience.
By combining UTM tracking, Goal Tracking in Google Analytics, and other KPIs, you can effectively measure your marketing ROI and make data-driven decisions to optimize your strategy. Ensuring that your marketing company provides comprehensive performance reports and transparent ROI metrics is vital for evaluating their effectiveness and maximizing your marketing investments.
5. Inability to adapt to changing trends and algorithms
A large part of being in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry is staying up to speed with the ever-changing industry and algorithms. I can attest that staying informed and educated on trends and algorithm updates is both crucial and time-consuming. However, it is also what often wins the race against the competition. Your online presence could suffer if your marketing company isn’t adapting to changes. We like to educate our clients on what we see working and the buzz in the SEO world.
Ensure that your marketing company is informed about the latest trends and updates, and ask for a detailed plan outlining how they intend to adapt your strategy accordingly.
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6. Poor communication and lack of transparency
Effective communication and transparency are vital aspects of a successful partnership with a marketing company. Suppose your marketing agency does not regularly update you on their progress, share performance metrics, or address your concerns. In that case, it can significantly hinder your collaboration and the overall success of your marketing efforts.
Poor communication may lead to misunderstandings about your goals, expectations, and scope of work. This can result in misaligned marketing strategies, wasted resources, and missed opportunities for growth. On the other hand, the lack of transparency can lead to mistrust, as you may question the marketing company’s competence, integrity, and commitment to your success.
To ensure a healthy working relationship, it’s important to establish precise communication channels and set expectations from the outset. If you need regular meetings or check-ins, speak up. This lets both parties be informed and aligned on project goals and progress. Make sure to ask your marketing company for detailed reports on your campaigns, including performance data, insights, and recommendations for improvement. This will enable you to track their work, evaluate their effectiveness, and hold them accountable for delivering results.
It is important to understand that sometimes delivering unsuccessful results can be good. Often times marketing can be a shot in the dark at a moving target. Some campaigns may need to adjust over and over until something works. Not all failed efforts are bad, only the ones you don’t find and change up.
Fostering a culture of open dialogue and feedback is crucial to success. Encourage your marketing company to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns, and be open to their suggestions for optimizing your marketing strategy. By building a strong foundation on trust, communication, and transparency, you can better collaborate with your marketing agency to achieve your desired outcomes and maximize your return on investment.
7. One-size-fits-all marketing strategies
Every business is unique, and a one-size-fits-all marketing approach rarely delivers optimal results. If your marketing company applies generic strategies to your business without considering your specific needs, goals, and target audience, it may indicate that they are not genuinely invested in your success.
A cookie-cutter marketing strategy can not effectively address your unique challenges or leverage your strengths. This will end up resulting in subpar performance and wasted resources. Instead, your marketing company should work closely alongside you to design tailored strategies that align with your business objectives, resonate with your target audience, and set you apart from your competitors.
To ensure your marketing efforts are customized to your needs, request a thorough assessment of your business, including a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). This will help identify areas of improvement and growth potential, guiding the development of a targeted marketing plan. Additionally, ask your marketing company to conduct regular reviews and updates to your strategy to adapt to changing market conditions, customer preferences, and business goals.
By prioritizing a personalized approach to marketing, you can create more effective campaigns that generate higher engagement, conversions, and customer loyalty. Ensure your marketing company understands your unique business needs and is committed to delivering tailored solutions that drive measurable results and long-term success.
8. Ignoring your input and goals
A successful marketing partnership relies on mutual understanding, collaboration, and respect. If your marketing company is ignoring your input, disregarding your goals, or failing to involve you in key decision-making processes, it can undermine your working relationship and hinder your marketing success.
As the business owner, you have valuable insights into your industry, target audience, and company vision. Your marketing company should actively seek your input and incorporate your ideas and feedback into its strategies. Moreover, they should ensure that their marketing efforts align with your specific goals, including increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or expanding into new markets.
To address this issue, schedule regular meetings or check-ins with your marketing company to discuss your goals, progress, and any concerns you may have. Encourage open communication and insist on being involved in the strategic planning process. Make sure your marketing company understands your expectations and is committed to working collaboratively to achieve your objectives.
By fostering a partnership built on trust, communication, and mutual respect, you can ensure that your marketing company is genuinely invested in your success and dedicated to delivering results that align with your unique goals and vision.
9. Overemphasis on vanity metrics
Vanity metrics, such as likes, followers, or page views, can be deceptive indicators of marketing success. A marketing company may tell you that you are more visible but, at the same time, fail to mention the click-through rate plummets, bounce rates increase, or ultimately conversion rates are down from a change. While large numbers may look fantastic on a report, they don’t necessarily translate to meaningful business results, such as increased revenue or customer retention. If your marketing company focuses primarily on vanity metrics without considering more critical performance indicators, it could signal that they are not genuinely committed to your long-term success.
A truly effective marketing strategy should prioritize actionable metrics directly impacting your business objectives. These can include conversion rates, customer lifetime value, or cost per acquisition, which provide a clearer picture of how your marketing efforts drive tangible results and return on investment.
To ensure your marketing company focuses on the right metrics, request performance reports that include high-level and granular data on your marketing campaigns. This should encompass not only vanity metrics but also more meaningful KPIs that demonstrate the true impact of marketing efforts on your business. Additionally, ask your marketing company to provide insights and recommendations based on these metrics to help you optimize your strategy and achieve your desired outcomes.
By prioritizing actionable metrics and data-driven decision-making, you can ensure your marketing company is genuinely interested in your long-term success and committed to delivering results that drive real business growth.
In conclusion, performing a marketing audit is essential to ensure your marketing company delivers results and not wastes your hard-earned money. By being on the lookout for these warning signs and requesting regular reports, you can stay on top of your marketing efforts and make informed decisions to improve your online presence and grow your business.
As an experienced SEO Expert and owner of GoQuickly, I understand the importance of personalized and results-driven marketing strategies. Feel free to reach out if you need assistance performing a comprehensive marketing audit and optimizing your marketing efforts to achieve your goals.
10. Outdated or black-hat SEO practices
In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, marketing companies must stay up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices and adhere to ethical, white-hat techniques. If your marketing company is using outdated or black-hat SEO practices, it could harm your search rankings and damage your online reputation and trustworthiness.
Outdated SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing, low-quality content, and spammy link building, can lead to penalties from search engines like Google, resulting in lower rankings and decreased visibility. On the other hand, black-hat SEO techniques, like cloaking, hidden text, and doorway pages, are deliberately deceptive and can lead to severe penalties or even removal from search engine indexes.
To ensure your marketing company uses ethical, up-to-date SEO practices, request a comprehensive overview of their SEO strategy, including on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and technical SEO. Ensure they adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and prioritize creating high-quality, valuable content that appeals to users and search engines.
By partnering with a marketing company that embraces white-hat SEO practices and stays current with industry trends, you can safeguard your online presence, improve your search visibility, and build a strong foundation for long-term success.
In conclusion, recognizing the warning signs that your marketing company may be wasting your money is crucial for the success of your business. By staying vigilant and addressing issues such as poor communication, lack of transparency, and outdated SEO practices, you can ensure your marketing efforts effectively drive business growth and generate a solid return on investment.
When partnering with a marketing company, prioritize those that embrace ethical practices, data-driven decision-making, and stay up-to-date with industry trends. Doing so will create a strong foundation for long-term success while maintaining your online reputation and trustworthiness. Remember, the right marketing company should be a valuable asset that contributes to achieving your business goals and objectives.