Digital marketing can be daunting for many. The concept of having to consistently stay up with new algorithms, changes to ad networks, and automatization can be very confusing and challenging for many. In the digital world, things can change swiftly, such as experiencing keywords that drop in impressions, social media algorithm changes, and conversion tracking on websites. None of these, however, are worse than dealing with a bad client.

I have experienced bad clients as a business owner and have been a poor client personally as a full-time employee. Trust me, as a marketing professional, being a poor client can be draining and is detrimental to your strategy. If you care anything about your marketing strategy and achieving results, then you need to ensure you are not stressing out your agency or marketers.

When I was a full-time corporate employee, I knew we were a poor client for our agency. Ultimately, it weighed heavy on my conscious knowing that we were causing their team so much stress. Each day I would watch our senior leadership change direction, and continuously flood their team with emails and calls daily. We set off every red flag imaginable.

As a business owner, I now face the hardships of dealing with bad clients; it has forced me to create a checklist to ensure I do not take on such accounts. I look for the following key factors when evaluating an account:

  1. Trust – When you hire an agency you are hiring a professional or team of professionals, not a full-time employee. They have studied everything about digital marketing and are capable of creating a strategy that will get you the best results possible. The more you fight them, the more difficult it will be for them to do their job. Digital marketing is more centered around data and less about opinion.
  2. Assets – After signing an agency, the first step in the process is to make sure you provide them with the necessary access to run your digital campaigns or social media. This may include, login passwords, access to your Google Analytics, pictures, and videos. The objective of a digital marketing campaign, mostly, is to drive users to your website. All goals flood through your website. If you do not have some form of data reporting on your website, your marketer cannot track what is or is not working with your campaigns. For social media clients, if you do not emphasize content development your strategy will fail.
  3. Boundaries – Hiring an agency means that you understand they serve more than just your company. There may be times when they are unavailable, or their company has decided to provide their employees with certain benefits. Contacting them on nights, weekends, and holidays is a clear sign of overstepping boundaries. Many agencies have elected to provide their employees with summer Fridays off and a week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This does not necessarily mean you shouldn’t expect contact from them, but there should be expectations that response times may increase.
  4. Expectations – Setting clear and realistic expectations are necessary to establish the relationship. Digital marketing is not a magic wand and will not immediately double your revenue or appointments. Campaigns typically take up to six months or more to begin working, especially when it is an organic social media strategy approach. Honestly speaking, if you are dependent solely on organic social media your marketing will struggle. If you do not have specific goals laid out, with a clear vision on how to achieve them, you will face consistent miscommunication with your agency.
    • Specific – Are your goals well defined?
    • Measurable – Do you have a system in which you can track your conversions?
    • Attainable – Are your goals realistic? Are you expecting major shifts in business without making internal changes? Can your staff handle the increase in business?
    • Relevant – Is your business model reflective of the market and what consumers are seeking? Are you developing social media content that users want to engage with?
    • Timely – What are the timelines for your goals? What are you looking to accomplish in the next six months? The next year?
  5. Payment – Lastly, if you are not paying your invoices on time it creates a strain on the relationship. Your agency is working hard to ensure you get the best results possible from your campaigns. Paying them consistently late will almost always decrease their attention to your account. When they have multiple clients on their portfolio they will naturally give preferential treatment to clients who pay on time.

Digital marketing is not a hands-off industry where you place all responsibility and blame on your agency or freelancer. Your success, or lack thereof, is a reflection of what you put into it. If you ignore the weekly or monthly reports, difficult to contact or challenge your agency every chance you get the success of your campaigns will ultimately suffer.