Disputes between Kiwi clients and their digital marketing agencies will only continue to increase because the obsession with online data is creating unrealistic client expectations for services that are over-priced and devoid of basic marketing fundamentals.

This year’s winner of the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2022 (South & East) Excellence in Marketing, CEO and founder of the Auckland marketing agency Marketing Minds, Anne Casey, warned today that digital marketing and associate costs is an important issue for the New Zealand business community to confront because it is hurting mom and pop SMEs and damaging the reputation of the marketing industry. 

Casey, who is a judge at the TVNZ Marketing Awards and works with government organisations as a Digital Boost Trainer and as a service provider to the MBIE Regional Business Partner Network, said the situation is stirring up a lot of emotion and ill feeling.

“So many SMEs are getting indifferent results and it is making them disillusioned and angry and so it should, because they trust their agencies and they’re getting let down. At the same time, digital agencies are proliferating and they’re all putting their trust in the data, which is also a bad idea.

“Part of the problem is that anybody can become a digital marketer with minimal training. AdWords, SEO and social media campaigns are easy money for some who take the money and run. There is a science and methodology to digital, but strategy has gone out the window and many so-called digital marketers apply a one shoe fits all approach to every campaign,” Casey said.

“Clients don’t know marketing and they can’t read data, so they put their money in the hands of people who may be well meaning but underqualified and who treat marketing like it’s a game of statistics—art and strategy have become overrun by data, and it shows in the poor results.”

Casey said it is not unusual to see reports from these digital agencies that hide the truth of underperformance. i.e., they are reporting ‘what looks good’ rather than what really matters.

She said, for example, that being ranked number one in Google search engine rankings for a particular keyword is a useless waste of money if there are ten searches or less a month (which is almost no search at all) for that word, yet the practice continues.

“Online competition is fierce and you need deep pockets if you want to go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights out there. However, a strategy, some creativity and nuance may make all the difference. Every stage of the marketing journey must work ‒ there is no magic wand.”

Casey offers the following advice to SME owners disillusioned with their outcomes from digital campaigns:

1. Doubt the data

“Don’t just accept the data because the story it tells is never obvious. You may be getting a hundred clicks, but no sales. The agency will say that is your fault for not closing the sale, but what if your target market is women over 50 but it’s men in their twenties who are clicking?

“Get your data independently reviewed. If you don’t ask hard questions early on, you may well end up with poor outcomes and a big bill later on.”

Case said traffic alone is not enough.

“Even if it is the right traffic, there is still the conversion path created through the order of content, how it is worded and imagery to get right, for good results.”

2. Research your competitors

Casey encouraged SMEs to research what works for similar companies, particularly in those countries which are similar to New Zealand, or which have similar environments.

“Rather than trying to understand all of marketing or learning as much as you can from scratch, check out what similar companies are doing around the world and imitate the things they are doing well.”

A good digital agency knows how to use data available worldwide to look for insights that can assist you to leapfrog ahead of your competitors

3. Don’t buy the hype

“Everybody wants to do social media, but the reality is that it’s great for brand awareness but often falls short in conversion. It’s fun making videos and doing selfies, but the viewers are often not looking for your product or are not ready to buy.

“Different channels may work better for different businesses. Often, it is a combination of channels at various touchpoints that works the best.

“You may create awareness through your social media, but you will have far better results if you then follow through by picking up the phone and calling.

“Networking, Search Engine Optimisation, and public relations are just some of the channels that deserve to be explored.”

Casey said that it is important to approach all marketing from a strategic perspective.

“I still get people approaching our agency because they want to sell honey to China. That boat has sailed already. Good business is about riding the trends, clear and articulate messaging, and a solid brand. Only then you might have a use for Google AdWords and social media.”


For more information: https://www.marketingminds.co.nz/