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Dealbreakers When Working with an SaaS Marketing Agency

A good marketing agency can accelerate a company’s success, but bad ones cost time, money, and the success of your campaigns. This article will highlight some of the main red flags to watch out for and how to successfully navigate the marketplace.

More than 78,883 digital marketing agencies were registered in 2020. As you might imagine, comparing, interviewing, and evaluating your options to find a perfect match is anything but easy.

Choosing the right SaaS marketing agency is like picking a romantic partner. You’ll want to be on the same page about your goals, work together to actualize them, and actually enjoy spending time together. If you aren’t feeling that magic’ spark,’ or if your goals don’t seem to be making any traction, there might be a reason why.

Not all marketing agencies are created equal. It’s a good idea to understand the dealbreakers that exist both for your company and the SaaS industry. By identifying red flags early on, you can prevent severe disasters from impacting your bottom line and make more informed decisions between the types of digital marketing agencies within your niche.

This article will explore the ins and outs of SaaS agency dealbreakers and explore some ways to interview agencies correctly. We’re going to keep it simple, covering all three of the bases:

  • The benefits of hiring an agency
  • Red flags to look for when hiring a marketing agency
  • How to interview your agency before signing up

The Benefits Of Hiring An Agency

SaaS enterprises looking to scale their marketing efforts often discover that agencies offer excellent solutions for growing businesses. Not only can they provide expert-level inbound marketing strategies across multiple channels, but they can meaningfully scale alongside your business.

If your company has enough marketing spending to account for higher volume content production, agencies are the way to go.

  • Agencies may have ample experience in your niche that allow for a more comprehensive campaign
  • Many marketing agencies dedicate a team of seasoned professionals to your strategy rather than one or two experts.
  • Campaigns can be started right away, with little to no downtime.

It’s important to note that not all agencies are created equal. While some agencies could be a perfect fit for your niche, others may not have the level of professionalism or experience necessary to make your campaign a success. That’s why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the biggest dealbreakers of SaaS marketing agencies.

Red Flags To Look For When Hiring A Marketing Agency

Before you sign on the dotted line, keep an eye out for these marketing agency red flags well in advance.

Bad Communication

A marketing agency that doesn’t respond quickly or respect your time is a red flag from the very beginning. Beyond its implications to professionalism, any agency that shows difficulty communicating with your team could (and should) be a huge dealbreaker.

Bad communication can manifest in many forms. There could be slowness in email replies. Maybe it’s ignoring your questions. Perhaps it’s ignoring your calls and messages entirely.

Poor communication can also exist from a planning standpoint. If your agency isn’t asking you any questions or requesting direct feedback, that could be a good indication of how they approach campaigns. SaaS marketing agencies need to understand your business, product, and goals exceptionally well. If they aren’t putting forth the effort to stay in touch, they probably aren’t worth your time.

They Ask For Your Direct Login Details

Professional SaaS agencies should never ask for your direct login details. Although it may be necessary from time to time, this direct access could put your team in a weaker position.

Great marketing agencies should have additional user access logins that allow them to make an assist without holding all the cards. Passwords and other details could give ill-intentioned agencies plenty of leverage when you want to part ways and make it extremely difficult to move on when you’re ready.

Promise Things They Can’t Control

If a SaaS marketing agency promises something too good to be true, it probably is. Although some of these organizations can make a significant impact on rankings, organic traffic, and clickthrough rates, you should be cautious if they promise outrageous results that aren’t under their control.

Agencies that promise to rank you in Google’s first position are one example of an overpromising and underdeliver scenario. There’s no guarantee that keywords alone will get you to the top – not to mention constant SEO updates and other internal processes that change your ranking over time.

Know this: it’s much easier to create keywords that won’t drive you any new business than to rank for keywords you want to push. If a SaaS agency isn’t interested in listening to your requests and claims to provide #1 ranking results for every client, they might not be 100% honest.

They Don’t Understand Your Business Or Product

You can’t properly market what you don’t know. If your agency doesn’t understand what you do or what you sell, they won’t be able to reach your audience or your messaging correctly.

Keep tabs on how interested your agency is at the start of the relationship. Are they asking questions and getting to know what you do? Do they already have some level of expertise in the industry?

Generalized marketing agencies produce good work, but excellence is rarely achieved without experience. Look for a marketing agency in your niche, and pay attention to how they treat you and your industry.

No Client Testimonials

Reviews are a quick and effective way to see the results an agency has achieved for previous clients. In our current era of internet prevalence, you can find reviews just about anywhere: Yelp, Google My Business, and various ranking platforms. Additionally, you could find an actual client willing to provide a testimonial in writing or over the phone.

Although it’s common for younger agencies to have fewer reviews, not having any could be a red flag. Do some additional research about the agency in question, looking for any dealbreakers that could exist.

Remember: trust your gut. If something seems off, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, proceed with caution.

They Have A Different Idea Of What Success Looks Like

Agencies and their clients need to be aligned on a common goal. If the agency focuses on increasing social media followers, but you want email subscribers or leads, there will be some significant performance disagreements.

Success should be defined within the first few agency visits and written down in the project proposal or contract. The agency shouldn’t try to convince you to take a different path or accept other types of metrics. If they don’t respect your campaigns or decision-making capabilities, they probably won’t take your marketing seriously.

Keep an eye out for any variation in reporting or metrics cropping up that you didn’t ask for. Repeated offenses should be cause to reconsider your agency options.

They Focus On “Brand Awareness”

Brand awareness isn’t always bad, especially from a B2B standpoint. However, it shouldn’t be the primary focus of your marketing agency.

Unfortunately, it’s relatively easy for agencies to attribute spending money to brand awareness and achieve little or no results. It’s challenging to attribute ROI to brand awareness and even more difficult to measure it appropriately.

Have a transparent meeting with your agency, and talk about the metrics and KPIs you want to see in your campaign. If they aren’t willing to listen, or if they won’t budge from their brand awareness tactics, you may want to go somewhere else.

How To Interview Your Agency Before Signing Up

The importance of due diligence in picking the right marketing agency cannot be underestimated. Although you can’t know everything about a company unless you experience it yourself, it’s up to you to spot the warning signs before committing to something challenging to escape. Take the time to interview your agency like you would a job candidate and thoroughly inspect their background for red flags that give you pause.

  • Ask peers for testimonials, especially about their overall experience with the agency.
  • Go the distance with case studies and online reviews. Look for patterns or trends in the facts that are reported.
  • Even better, ask the professionals in your space about potential agencies they’ve used in the past.

If you’re willing to treat your agency hunt as a partnership rather than a one-and-done process, you’re bound to be successful in finding the perfect fit.

If you’re looking for a technical marketing content agency with experience in SaaS, Draft.dev is a great place to start. Book a call to chat about blog posts, tutorials, and other content we build for software devs.

Meagan Shelley

By Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing, research, and SEO. If she's not helping people craft their own stories, she's working on some of her own. When she takes time to step away from the laptop, she enjoys hiking, farmer's markets, and occasional thru-hikes.