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What a great word. I experienced such a moment a while ago, watching a speaker at a conference. The ‘non-tech founder’ of a tech start-up (who shall remain nameless) was up on stage sharing his story. It was an unremarkable speech, until the topic turned to the Sydney online marketing agency his business had engaged.

Suddenly, his passion ignited! But it wasn’t a rhapsody for his product or the people who’d helped him build it that I was watching – it was a complaint.

A long, loud rebuke for his agency (who shall also remain nameless) that soon morphed into the worst digital marketing agency review, ever. I think “no ethics” and “the government should regulate” were mentioned.

He’d obviously had a terrible experience with that company. I felt bad for him.

But it got me thinking: how widespread was this problem? And what did it mean for good agencies and the industry as a whole? So I went digging to see what business owners are actually saying, online, about their digital marketing agencies.

It’s wasn’t pretty.

I found a sh*tload of bad digital agency reviews out there. I mean a LOT. Now it’s well known that online reviews skew negative, regardless of the industry – unhappy customers are more motivated to vent than happy ones – but still, it was obvious something’s going on.

Was it unrealistic expectations, on the part of clients? Or, that many agencies just aren’t that good?

Big Expectations

Decades ago, marketing was a simpler game. Australians listened to the radio, watched the TV, and read the newspapers. That was it. The pace was way slower, and it’s fair to say the expectations of advertisers were low, as per this famous aphorism: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

But then the internet happened, and now everything is measurable. Australia is one of the top 10 countries for active internet users in the world. Millions of consumers are now connected online. It’s a massive, massive opportunity.

I know this from personal experience. Last decade I used SEO to make my first business a leading mortgage broker website. And in recent years with my co-founder Ben, I’ve used digital strategies to grow Webbuzz to be a top digital agency in Australia.

I’ve built two successful companies online, and helped grow dozens of client ventures too. So I get it when business owners have high expectations for digital.

But here’s the thing: it’s also complex, time-consuming and – depending on what you need –  it can be expensive. Sometimes you need patience before results happen, and occasionally it just won’t work as well as you’d like. This is the reality I suspect a lot of digital marketing companies don’t share with their clients.

The Most Common Problems with Digital Agencies

And then of course, like in any other industry, there’s a spectrum of ability. A few digital marketing agencies are truly outstanding, most are OK, and some are terrible. Specialisation can be important. There are various internet marketing services that most digital agencies will offer…

  • Digital strategy
  • Conversion optimisation
  • Pay Per Click advertising
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Video Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Website Development

…but does your agency have a high degree of competency across all disciplines?

Maybe not.

Before choosing the right company to help you achieve your business goals, it’s highly recommended that you do your due diligence.

We analysed hundreds of digital marketing agency reviews.

Here are the most common client complaints we found:

1. Terms and Conditions Are Not Clear

It’s a good idea to review the fine print of the terms and conditions before you sign up to a digital marketing agency. Take time to read the whole document and be sure to ask questions on provisions that you don’t understand. Choose an agency that provides transparency right from the start.

2. Bad Reporting

The purpose of regular reports is accountability – and the ability to measure your ROI. Progress is rarely linear; some months you will go backwards and that’s OK, as long your agency is monitoring results and has a plan.

From the beginning, be sure to ask about the reports that you will receive and make sure that these reports are relevant for your business goals. You may ask them to provide you with sample reports so you can check how they are presented.

A mark of a reliable company is a formalised system of reporting – and that the reports are easy to understand. Too much data can also sometimes be a problem, especially when it comes with little explanation. It isn’t your job as a client to interpret highly specialised marketing data.

3. Lack of Communication

Bad communication is a BIG ‘red flag’ for a poor digital marketing agency. How can you achieve your goals as an entrepreneur if your agency is not responsive to chats or emails?

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about small mistakes or occasional oversights here. Shit happens, and people are human (at least until algorithms rule the world). However, it’s not acceptable if an agency is generally unresponsive or if they have poor attention to detail on a regular basis.

4. Issues Around SEO Results and AdWords Spend

SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising are perhaps the two online marketing functions most commonly outsourced by businesses to a digital marketing agency. These areas move fast so it can be a challenge to keep up with emerging trends. Also, the developments in the market environment and technology can be demanding.

Whether you want to use an agency for SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Advertising – or a combination of all – your agency should have a coherent strategy to achieve your goals.

TIP: If an agency is not curious about your target customer and how your business works, any campaign is unlikely to work well.


5. Not Achieving Goals

The point of outsourcing your digital marketing to an agency is to get better results, faster. While there is no guaranteed way to ensure that your chosen agency will deliver the results as agreed, you can review their portfolio and check if their completed projects are at par with their pitch.

TIP: look for an agency who has actual customer testimonials to back their claims. A simple internet search will also provide you with objective digital marketing agency review.


Webbuzz Digital marketing agency client advantage shieldA Solution: CLIENT ADVANTAGETM

After a lot of coffee-fueled discussion on these issues, the team and I asked ourselves the question: what would a solution look like?

We wanted to create a unique approach that was different from other online marketing agencies in Australia. Something real. Something powerful.

Although our internal systems here at Webbuzz were already pretty good, we’re the first to admit we’re not perfect either – and we’re always looking for ways to improve.

So I’m excited to finally announce CLIENT ADVANTAGETM. It’s a new 5-point system that addresses the most common problems business owners have with other digital marketing agencies. We can’t control what our competition does, but we can control how WE do business:


The first step is a digital strategy session to map out your marketing objectives. Once we truly understand your business, we can then develop a project plan with timelines & milestones.


We consult with you to set agreed, realistic Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for your campaign. This keeps us accountable, and aligns the agency to your growth marketing objectives.


We use analytics and data to provide clear, regular reports on campaign performance, and digital agency work activity.


No hidden costs. No ‘bill shock’. We quote upfront where ever possible, and our digital agency team use time-tracking software so hours are accounted for.


Want GOOD customer service from your digital marketing agency? You’ll love our open & accessible communication. All clients get access to our ‘help desk’ with a 24 hour service standard.

As much as we’re proud of CLIENT ADVANTAGETM we know it’s just the beginning. The real test continues to be in our day-to-day delivery of digital marketing services to clients.

And that’s a challenge we NEVER take for granted.

If you have any questions about how CLIENT ADVANTAGETM could work for you, feel free to get in touch!

Regards, Darren

Darren Moffatt

Darren Moffatt

Darren Moffatt is an award-winning entrepreneur & Director of Strategy & Content at growth marketing agency, Webbuzz. An experienced digital strategist, he is an in-demand public speaker on the topic of digital disruption and online marketing, and regularly features in the Australian media.


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