Business Marketing

Eight Red Flags E-Commerce Businesses Should Look For When Partnering With A Marketing Firm


E-commerce businesses team up with marketing firms based on experience and marketing strategy. There are, however, times when the business and firm have strategic differences such as ignoring your customer base or making promises on key performance indicators (KPIs). This can raise some red flags for businesses that hire these firms for their brand and market, specifically.

The differences may not be clear enough to identify at first glance. Below, eight Forbes Communications Council members share the red flags to look for when collaborating with a marketing firm for your brand.

1. Their Marketing Strategy Isn’t Specific

Make sure that a marketing firm has brands on their client roster that’s similar to yours. They must have experience in your specific market. Marketing efforts across industries will vary, and you need to ensure that your marketing strategy will be specific to your brand and market. – Preity Upala, The Omnia Institute

2. They Promise Earned Media

Do your research on the front end. Make sure you’re not getting a sales pitch where they are overselling and eventually will under-deliver. If they promise earned media, run the other way. Ask for testimonials from past clients about the results they got. However, the relationship between the business and marketing firm has to be two-way. So be prepared to contribute to the conversation. – Chris Cline, State of Missouri Information Technology Services Division

3. Some Strategies Aren’t Being Discussed

The firm thinks they are the magic bullet. If a marketing firm has all the “secret sauce” and they won’t share things like strategies and even tactics with you, they aren’t the right fit. A great marketing firm should be educating you alongside strategizing and running your campaigns. – Christina Hager, Ovations Digital

4. There’s Little To No Experience

Has the firm worked with companies that are similar to your e-commerce business? Have they worked with firms of similar size or resources? Do they have case studies, examples and success stories to share? It’s always nice to have a promise and confidence, but experience and success are even more important. – Tom Treanor, Snipp Interactive

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

5. They Worry Only About Content

E-commerce has a very complex tech stack to run the business, and it is very important to pick a firm that knows the stack in and out. Don’t pick a marketing firm that does just content or just content management implementation. Pick a firm that knows end to end so that when an issue arises, you have a one-stop shop to go after. – Raja Rentala, Techwave

6. They Ignore Your Customer Base

A serious red flag is when a marketing firm’s strategies either ignore or marginalize an e-commerce company’s existing customer base. Growing your business online is crucial, but doing it at the expense of existing clients is unwise. Even if the business isn’t going well, customers that have stayed loyal are valuable and need to be looked after. – Asad Kausar, Dabaran

7. They Don’t Accept Variable Pay

When partnering with a marketing firm; it is always allowed to work with somebody that accepts variable compensation based on conversion. This way you are securing commitment and delivery. If your marketing partner does not accept variable compensation, that is definitely a red flag as they will be most likely measuring performance indicators that are not directly related to the business. – Pablo Turletti, ROI Marketing Institute

8. They Make Promises On KPIs

Marketing firms that promise certain KPIs should be looked upon with caution. Every business, market and product performs differently, and no marketing firm has a crystal ball. They can aim for targets based on your industry, competitors or existing data, but nothing is guaranteed online. If they promise this, I would be wary. – Roshni Wijayasinha, Prosh Marketing

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