3 months after launching their digital marketing agency, two best friends were burning cash and struggling to build a portfolio of clients. Turning to Reddit to both get some advice, and to give something back to a community that had supported them, they got more than they bargained for when we stumbled on their post and gave them a solid teardown!
Hi everyone, 3 months ago I started a digital agency with my best friend. We both have years of experience in the digital marketing and web-design industry and decided that after finishing university we would try to make it on our own. After lurking for years on r/entrepreneur, I have gained a lot of value from this sub and want to give something back.
Things have been going OK but not great and we’re currently burning through cash. We’re looking for clients to build up our portfolio as we believe it’s the number one reason we’re struggling to get new work. If you’re looking for a new website, logo or marketing service we would love it if you could get in touch with us!
We specialize in the property and technology sectors but are happy to work on any project! Here is the link to our website. If you’re interested in working with us, send us a PM or use the forms on our website!
Thanks a bunch guys!
(ps. We would love any criticism of our website so we can improve our conversion rates, so please don’t hold back)
When a Digital Marketing Agency Needs Help With Its Marketing…
One thing I love to give people flack for is when they ask in public forums for advice on how to get more customers for their marketing agency. I mean, isn’t that what you do for a job? Usually I just tell them to treat themselves like their own customer, but this day I was feeling generous and so decided to give the lads over at DAC Digital a bit of help.
- Your site is so incredibly slow to load. I met a girl, got married, had a kid and sent him to college in the time it took to load your site. First of all, move to a specialised WordPress host, then install a wordpress caching plugin, then route your site through Cloudflare, then turn off that awful loading animation in your theme settings (the dots moving across the screen while I stare at a black page).
- Turn off all the transition/load/scroll animations. I don’t want things whizzing around while I try and read what you’re about
- Ditch the top bar and integrate the social/contact info into the site better. Reality is nobody’s gonna click your social icons, so throw them at the bottom in your footer. Phone number and e-mail are already in the bit under your hero banner.
- Too much white on the site. Consider having a coloured background every 1-2 sections.
- Not a big fan of the way you mix full-width rows with half-fill rows. Would probably be one place where I’d add a coloured background to the full-width row with the laptop
- If you’re targeting global customers, use a .com. If targeting britts, use .co.uk
- Where are the case studies, stories of customers you’ve helped who are now crushing it? Detail what you did to some extent (people are always afraid to give away their strategy, but the reality is it will draw in more customers if you demonstrate you know what you’re talking about.
- Turn off the animation and pick one compelling message that you want to be the key take-away for anyone that visits the site. Is it increasing your social media reach? Creating a powerful digital presence? A visually stunning website? Increasing conversion? Sure, these are all things that you do… but what’s the core brand message? Is it growing your business? Spending your marketing bucks more wisely? Sell the story of who you are.
- The hero messages I prefer now are a strong shock statement header, then a sub-header in a slightly smaller font that explains it. eg header: “WE PUT YOU ON THE MAP”, sub-header: “We build powerful digital strategies that help you get found and sell more”
- Make your call to action button a bit more call-to-actiony. Make the font bigger, the button bigger, make it a trigger colour (red, green, blue or amazon orange – don’t be afraid to clash with your theme, you want it to stand out).
Rest of site
- Sub-Hero section is good. I’d probably put the services in one row on the top, and then your contact info on the bottom row. Ditch the “find out what we can do…”. The contact form is fine, but if you’re putting it there, don’t put another one in the next section immediately after.
- Menu – no need to have services as its own tab. Just put each of those sub-headings into the menu.
- Ditch the stock images. What is the student in the library working on their homework building, exactly? Find a graphic designer who can develop some iconography for you that aligns with your brand strategy.
- Ditch the single testimonial, make it a case study… a whole article on where they were before you came to them, where they are now, and what results they’re seeing. “click here to read the story”
- Ditch the thing about discounts, but amp up your Nottinghamness.. if that’s a thing you want to do. If you want to target local businesses, brand the site that way. If you want more of a global focus, brand that way instead. (Also, how can you be based in Nottingham and NOT have Robin Hood built into your branding?)
- Footer: Why do you have the WordPress logo there? Do you really think having the Bing Ads logo is going to make me trust you more, as a customer?
- Footer: Why does “Press and Media” link to your contact page? And have you clicked the Google Plus link on that page? Wtf dude.
- Footer: Why does “About Us” link to a portfolio page? Seems redundant
- Footer: Careers………? Seriously. If it’s not needed, amputate.
- Contact page: lots of white. Needs some boundary boxes to keep it all in check
- Our Work: “Coming soon” is not impressive. If you don’t have a portfolio you can draw on right now, take that section off altogether.
- Our Work: Crypseed. Is there meant to be an image on the right? Turn this into a case study of what you did to help them grow… it reads like a brief right now. Ditch the social share icons, nobody cares.
- Overall, I feel like the rest of the site is kinda generic – like there’s no real flow to it that hooks me in. Just lots of words and headings that are super boring. I’d say in your case that less is more. Have a hero, then core message, then services, then portfolio, then contact info. You’re a marketing company, so don’t be afraid to use lots of bold colours.
This is just an embarassment.
- Why the heck do you have a link to dribbble.com? I was impressed at first, because it looked like you had an amazing portfolio, then I realised it was the main site. Seriously. Wtf?
- Ditto vimeo. Wtf?
- Would you trust a marketing company that links to their twitter page and has never tweeted?
- Ditto Facebook
Seriously, a few weeks after I wrote this Teardown, I was telling a friend about the idea for Brutal Teardowns, to give brutally honest feedback on website and social media strategy. When she asked what sort of feedback I’d give, I gave “people forgetting to link their social profiles to the icons on their website” as one example.
She literally said, “There is no way anybody does that, ever.” – I assured her, it was not only something people do, it’s something I’ve seen digital marketing agencies do. Her response: “It hurts my brain”. Mine too, Lisa, mine too.
Social Media – what you should do instead
- Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
- Instagram: Spend an hour and create about 20 images… you want 4-5 stock images with words on them, 4-5 images relevant to “living the life of a digital media person” (coffee, office shenanigans, event attending, etc.), 4-5 images of the local community and 4-5 “impact” images (see this one). Upload 9 of those images to Instagram, then upload two a day (one morning, one evening) with a witty long-form description (tell a story) and using 9-14 hashtags, with a focus on local hashtags (assuming you target the local community, if not then use tags your audience would use)
- Instagram: Again, assuming you’re targeting local businesses go and follow 5-10 key influencer accounts in your area (For me, it’s accounts like PerthIsOk). Like a few photos, comment on a few posts. Then look for businesses that follow that account, like their posts, write engaging, relevant comments on their most recent most (use “nice sailboat! How often do you take that baby out!?” instead of “nice photo!”)
- Instagram: Once you’ve done those two things, your account becomes a honeypot for businesses in your local area. They’ll start following you, liking your posts, etc. This creates an opportunity for you to contact them in a “luke warm” fashion.
- LinkedIn: Your focus here should be creating posts that entice people to engage with your content. Eg, “sign up on our website and comment ‘ME!’ below if you want a free analysis of your website”. The reason for this is that LinkedIn amplifies content that anyone engages with. If a local business owner comments on your post, every single one of their contacts will end up seeing your post. You can spread like wildfire. Plus you capture their e-mail when they sign up on your website.
- LinkedIn: Mix between 1) semi-controversial stance posts that create discussion; 2) Link-outs to content covering any buzz-wordy topics that people love (growth hacking, conversion rate optimisation, etc.); 3) Comment-bait like I described in the last post
- LinkedIn: Connect with everyone you know. Comment on all their posts.
- Facebook: Ads are really the main thing you should be doing here. Retargeting people that visit your site, or who submit their e-mail address through the form on your website. You should have some basic content on your page, but don’t expect people to be going mental following and liking your posts. They’re on FB to check out their exes and to make plans with their friends.
- Twitter: You target tech companies and you have no tweets? Similar to instagram, be a part of every conversation that you can. Tweet something original once a day. Link out to your site every 2-3 days with an article. Don’t be afraid to link out to the same article twice, but don’t do it all the time. As a side note, for a fun time check out BrutalTeardowns on Twitter – we have a good time trolling tech companies and startup personalities.
In addition to what I’ve posted above about social, there’s a ton that you, as a marketing company, should be doing, and can be doing, to get customers, instead of just begging here on Reddit.
- My plugins don’t detect any retargeting pixels on your site. You’re a marketing company aren’t you? I should be getting blasted with ads on Facebook/LI/Twitter after visiting your site.
- You’re a marketing company. You should have a blog. Things like “5 things you can do to increase your conversion”. Push those out through your own social pages (Twitter, FB, LI, etc.), but also look at services like Quuu where you can promote your content fairly cheaply
- If you’re targeting local businesses, join the local business groups on Facebook and engage with posts people are putting up there. The goal is to always be helpful and offer advice without actually ever trying to sell anything. People will see in your profile that you work at a digital marketing company and will seek you out. Ensure your messenger settings notify you when people try to contact you.
Anyway, hope that was brutally honest enough, and useful, for you 🙂
Wow thank you so much for all the effort you put into this, we will take on board everything you have said and put together a plan of action for going forward.
I feel I have to defend myself slightly though, I’m really not begging for clients. As work is slow we thought building up our portfolio would be a good use of spare time in the office.
As a new agency it is true that we are missing a lot of the bread and butter with our digital strategy and that will be our priority going forward.
Thanks again for the effort you put into this reply it’s been incredibly valuable!
It’s been a few weeks since we originally wrote this teardown, and it’s sad to see that many of the same problems we highlighted in the above teardown are still prevalent on the site. I mean, how can you have social icons and then not have them point to your social profile? That blows my mind. Regardless, we’re glad the founders got something out of it and we really hope they implement some of the actions that we recommended.