About Me

A move from scientific sales to digital marketing and web development.

Before I audited a marketing agency in a full time digital marketing manager role, I honestly believed everyone else shared my personal values. Doing the right thing. But I was unfortunately wrong.

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It's been a long ride.

Starting in the world of SEO.

In 2011 I moved from Australia and decided to live overseas for a few years. I couldn’t take my sales job with me (that I had at the time) and so by necessity needed to find something else to work on. A friend of mine at the time, owned an IT consulting company and continuously had clients ask for help with both their website and SEO/Google Adwords (what it used to be called). He wanted to offer it, but needed someone to do it. And thus began my digital marketing journey.
 
I worked on a few small clients continuously through his company for a few years, building and managing their WordPress websites and doing enough technical and onsite SEO that resulted in these clients ranking in the top 3 for their allied health search terms (which bought them a significant amount of business in conjuction with their Google ads campaigns).
 
At this time, SEO was a gamy different beast. It was all about link building and tricky to rank ‘grey-hat’ techniques (although in our case we never resorted to those levels). I began disliking the constant challenge of providing analytical and measurable results for clients marketing efforts, because while you could do all the right things you were in the end, at the whim of the Google algorithms. So I decided to expand my digital repertoire into other digital marketing avenues and increase my coding/programming knowledge.
 
And thus my journey continued through other multi year long clients into full email marketing automation campaigns, paid acquisition (Google and Social), analytics and further web dev all encompassed by a resounding desire to provide as much value to my clients as possible. Even when it was ‘outside our initial scope’. Because it wasn’t about selling marketing, it was about trying to work out what was best for my clients, which forever changes as marketing adapts and you get that all important data back.
 
I’d read something new and go to a client ‘we need to try this, let’s do it’, rather than just thinking ‘that’s out of scope of their contract’. It’s likely why my longest running digital marketing client was over 3 years long (the case study you can see here).
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Marketing isn't rocket science, but there can be a bit of...bs.

I thought everyone did the 'right thing'.

When clients ask ‘what do I do for them ongoing’ before we start monthly marketing, it can be tricky to quantify. A typical agency (I now know) will provide a scope of ‘Managed Facebook Ads’, or ‘Monthly SEO with X blog posts and Y backlinks’. But after years of working long term with clients I found that doesn’t always work, especially for smaller business that need flexibility in what they do. 
 
Because committing to something for 12 months and finding out that it doesn’t work that well but something else might, is an inefficient use of marketing time and money. 
 Because my marketing consulting was more akin to a ‘digital marketing manager’ than an agency with scope, it was easy to say ‘let’s pause the Facebook ads and ramp up Google ads, or shift to optimizing landing pages, or our email automation campaign’. 
 
The thing is, up until a year
ago I had never actually engaged with an agency as a client, nor had I worked in an agency. So I honestly thought that everyone, agencies included, did exactly the same. Ie they wanted to be sure that they were pivoting and doing whatever was best right at this time, sort of thing. 
 
But I was wrong. 
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8 years later

My 'aha' moment.

I worked as a Digital Marketing Manager for a short time in a large eCommerce company and one of the first things I did was audit the existing marketing agency. 
 
And, my mind was blown at just what wasn’t being done and how it was justified. I can’t go into specifics for confidentiality, but I couldn’t believe that an agency that was supposed to be doing the right thing, well was doing it…barely. 
 
And I realised this was because there was no one able to keep the agency in check. No one that could look at the data, check it themselves (had the time or background too) and go..wait I know this is not right. What. The…. 
 
[ You can read more about an example of what I mean by reading my article on — Why everyone needs to know about attribution (and what the hell is attribution anyway) ] 
 
The new agency we found ended up being better, although I also did constantly push them with new ideas up until I left. 
 

I went back to working with my own clients this year and something clicked. 

If a company that large can have those issues working with a marketing agency, where the agency has the resources to invest doing everything the right way, what are agencies doing with smaller businesses, that spend only up to few thousand dollars a month?

The same businesses, like yours likely if you’re reading this, that don’t have a full time marketing manager or someone that can check the agency or help decide if you need more than what they are offering. Because it’s unlikely, although not entirely implausible, that an agency will cut off a revenue source because your campaigns aren’t that great performing. A Facebook agency won’t tell you that you should be doing Google ads, for example. 

Marketing doesn’t have to be super complicated. At least not at the scale of spending a few thousand a month or when you’re not running extremely large campaigns. 
 
But this does mean you need to be using your marketing spend efficiently. And this also means that like I learnt, you need to be auditing any outsourced marketing, because even if the data appears good what’s being shown may be painting a picture without the right context. 
 
Do you know how your 3-5x ROAS is calculated from Social ads, and how Facebook for example, attributes sales by default to a Facebook ad campaign? Has this even been explained to you so that you have a clear and transparent understanding?
 
Most people I talk to have no idea and are surprised when they’ve never had these types of discussions with their agency (and if they have told you, then you’ve found a good one). 
 
I’m not trying to paint a bad picture of all marketing agencies or even discredit their results. Like everything, there are good ones and bad ones. Even an agency that is potentially over-representing their data could still be performing well enough that you’re running profitable campaigns. 
 
But without being able to keep them in check or look at the bigger picture, you’re potentially putting all your eggs in one basket. One that might just not be working as well as you think, want or even need it to. 
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