The 5 Key Aspects of an Ethical Marketing Agency

Choosing an ethical marketing agency is so much more than just selecting one that fits your budget. It’s also about finding one that has the ability to understand your business and how it operates, and be able to adapt their services accordingly.

Too many times, we’ve onboarded new clients who tell us horror stories about their past experience with marketing agencies; such as refusing to give them access to their own Facebook Business Manager that had the client’s name and likeness (yes, this really happened).

Below, we outline the top five tenets of an ethical marketing agency and how partnering with one can benefit your business in ways you never imagined possible. 

1. Transparency

Transparency is a key component of an ethical marketing agency. The best way to find out if your prospective agency is transparent is to ask them questions about it, such as:

Will All Of Your Social Media, Email Marketing, And Website Accounts Be Set Up In Your Name, Or Do They Set Up Clients Under Their Accounts? 

You should be able to login into Google Analytics or Ads to see the numbers for yourself. An ethical marketing agency can, and will, set up accounts using your name and not theirs. 

You want transparency, so that you can see exactly where every penny goes and make sure that nothing gets wasted or pocketed by someone else at the agency. 

What Kind Of Access Will I Have When My Campaign Launches (Email Lists/Website Stats)? 

Do they guarantee full disclosure at all times during the life cycle of your relationship together? Will they provide you with monthly reports showing performance metrics, such as impressions delivered, engagement and conversion rates? 

Every time we onboard a client, we provide a full access doc with login/access information to every platform and tool we use, including Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Facebook Business Manager.

This way, if a client for some reason decides to pause or end their contract with us, the client has the login information to change any passwords or usernames as they wish. We also add our clients as users to platforms that have the functionality, so they can change anyone’s admin level.

2. Budget

While you should always discuss the budget with your potential agency, do not solely pick an agency because of their price point. If one agency has a significantly lower budget than the others, eliminate them from consideration. Remember; if it seems too good to be true, then it is! 

Good marketing takes time and effort—there's no shortcut to great results!

Ask for a detailed breakdown of costs, so that you can see exactly what you're paying for at each step along the way (and how much). Look for an agency that is transparent with their pricing structure and deliverables with the option you choose. 

Additionally, you want to ask what are the costs/mark-ups for extra services not included in the project price/scope, such as photography or videography. While it’s normal for agencies to have a labor cost, there is a reasonable amount to charge depending on your agreement.

3. Reputation

A good way to evaluate an agency's reputation is to look at their Google reviews and any recent awards/recognitions they have. But moreso, an ethical agency will showcase their best work and tell the company’s story in a meaningful and compelling way on their website. 

Do they have case studies, and testimonials from their current customers? If so, this is usually a good marker for a trusted, reputable agency. 

Many agencies have sales people handle the initial prospecting process. This is fine, but many unethical agencies will do just about anything to close a sale. This includes overpromising and under delivering on services or projects that don't meet your needs or budget requirements (or worse yet—not delivering at all). 

So if possible, try to find out who will actually be doing your work by asking specific questions about the team members involved in your project(s) throughout this process. While you should have one point of contact, such as your account manager, it’s good to learn the faces and personalities behind your marketing, such as the marketing specialist, graphic designer, web developer, and more!

4. Tactics

While this may require some marketing expertise to figure out, an ethical agency is going to build value into the work they do for you. On the other hand, we've seen too many clients come from past marketing agencies who used "black hat" SEO tactics to get results quickly and easily.

This type of work can easily harm your reputation, and even put your website at risk of getting penalized by Google. Simply put, all marketing tactics should be in line with your company's vision and values. 

If it doesn't fit with what your business stands for, or if it's not aligned with where you want it to go in the future, then it’s not the marketing message you should be sending. 

Check out their other clients' websites and read through the content of their web pages and blogs; is there a lot of unnatural keyword stuffing? Does it read like a human, or a computer? 

At the end of the day, your brand voice should permeate through any marketing tactic; regardless if it’s SEO, email marketing, or even social media. 

5. Agency Culture

You know this with your own business; happy, satisfied employees who are passionate about their job produce the best work. This, in turn, reduces employee turnover tenfold. 

On the other hand, high employee turnover in agencies can negatively impact their marketing efforts for your business, which allows for room for mistakes and missteps with a constant revolving door.

So, how can you find an agency that shares your values? When looking at prospective marketing agencies to partner with, ask questions like: 

  • Do they have policies around work/life balance? 
  • What percentage of their employees have been with them more than 2, 5, or 10 years? 
  • How much do they invest in professional development for their team?
  • Are there opportunities to go onsite at their office, so that you can see what it's like working there firsthand before committing yourself to working with them long-term?

The bottom line? A marketing agency that doesn’t treat their employees well, will not treat you well. 

Looking for an Ethical Marketing Agency to Partner With?

There are a lot of marketing agencies out there, but not all of them are ethical. 

It's important that you choose an agency that aligns with your values and can help you achieve your goals. Remember, before hiring a new agency to take over your marketing strategy and deployment, do your research and trust your gut.

At RED66, one of our core values is to create authentic relationships for life. We do this by providing full transparency in our work, and never locking our clients into a contract. Learn more about what makes RED66 different here, or contact us today to ask us any of the questions above!

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