Recently I read an article by Search Engine Land titled 6 Reasons Your SEO Agency Is Losing Clients & What To Do About It.
An interesting article on the pitfalls of SEO agencies and strategies on how they can try retaining their customers. However, there is one important aspect that I want to add, which is the rapid preference of choosing freelancers over agencies altogether
If you’re an agency owner, this article may be insightful to you, and If you’re a client looking to hire an SEO agency, here is the gospel truth, the trend is changing!
Freelancers are now putting agencies out of business, why? There are several reasons but here are 3 simple ones: Cheaper, Easier, Transparent
It is a win-win for the client and the freelancer. Here are a few important reasons why clients are now moving to hire experienced freelancers and ditching their agency partners altogether
SEO Agencies Are Just Too Expensive
One of the biggest reasons why clients don’t want to associate with agencies is because of their high fees.
An agency set-up comes with elaborate pitches (which are usually templates with minor customizations), promises of working with a team of 6-7 people on your brand, technical jargon that may seem like a great deal at first, but the reality is, there might be just one person who is actually working on your account and so on.
As digital awareness is increasing, the average customer is now steadily becoming aware of such agency practices.
The guise of a large experienced team working on your business usually comes with an even bigger agency fee, and honestly, it is not worth it.
Experienced freelancers on the other hand will give you the same (and sometimes even better) work at 1/3rd of the cost.
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In fact, even agencies hire freelancers to outsource their work and act as brokers between the client and the freelancer, obviously without the client’s knowledge.
I help small to medium-sized businesses as a digital marketing freelancer and have been contacted on several occasions by marketing agencies to handle projects on behalf of their clients.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this way of working, but it is unfair for the client, who will be in reality shelling a bomb for such services.
The average company owner is now getting smarter and knows better. Cutting out the middle-man is profitable for both parties.
When you’re dealing with an SEO agency, you’re usually given a dedicated account manager whose job is to coordinate between the agency and yourself.
This creates a problem because the account manager is not the one who is actually implementing the tasks on your project.
Many-a-time the account manager is coordinating with the SEO department, with the branding department, with the content department, billing team, or some other department, and all of this creates a cesspool of concussion and frustration.
When you’re working with a freelancer, there is usually one person who takes complete ownership of your account and there is no middle man involved.
Transparency on what is actually being done
One feedback I have received from several of my clients who ditched their agencies was that they were not even aware of what work was being done on their accounts.
Agencies due to their complex structures find it difficult to communicate with the client effectively.
Everyone wants to know what work is being done to help achieve their SEO goals, what are the next steps, what’s the plan of action, and what are the measurable business outcomes to look for. These are crucial points that need to be communicated to the client.
While freelancers find it easier to communicate these plans directly, at an agency set-up, you’ll find that an account manager may not be able to translate this information effectively.
There are also instances where the client feels because the SEO work is conducted by someone else, they are not getting to speak to the respective person directly, and this can cause trust issues.
High Expectations because of High Budgets
SEO activities take time but at the same time, clients expect to see value for the money they have invested almost immediately.
Oftentimes, an agency’s sales team will set unrealistic expectations to clients and when they are not able to show any measurable data within the first few months, clients get upset and leave.
Remember, an experienced freelancer will always set the right expectation from day one, and more often than not, a business owner does not mind investing that money because he/she has probably paid 3-4 times that amount to an agency with no real results.
Good Freelancers are always Upskilling themselves
This might sound questionable to you but when you work alone, you tend to constantly upskill yourself in multiple avenues of SEO & digital marketing.
In a team culture, you are only focusing on the tasks that are assigned to you, however as a freelancer, you’re the business owner and the implementor as well.
You’re not only competing with fellow freelancers but also with big agencies. The need to constantly learn and implement new things for your clients will always be strong, without which, you will end up losing a huge source of income.
SEO Agencies Rarely Educate their Clients
Freelancers need to build long-lasting relationships with their clients and because they are subject matter experts, a part of their job is not to just send reports, but to also educate them about SEO. ]
An agency will rarely do that for you. Mostly there will be reports sent on a monthly or quarterly basis without any explanation of what it means.
Freelancers, on the other hand, tend to take time out to explain the terminology, and how certain tasks have resulted in sales for the clients’ business.
Business owners are now becoming smarter. They want more value for the money they are investing, and expect clear communication from their agency partners.
While not all agencies are bad, there is a huge chunk out there in the market that have been leveraging the fact that not many clients know how SEO works. This is changing.
Experienced freelancers are cheaper, and more transparent with their work and clients now prefer working with just one person than dealing with multiple teams.
If you’re someone who is looking for an experienced digital marketing freelancer, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help, however, if you still want to stick to your agency partner, that’s fine too, however, please ensure that they give your monies worth.
Odell Dias is the founder of RightlyDigital.com where Online Marketing concepts are made easy. He has over 6 years of experience in the Digital Marketing industry, helping brands and individuals alike to achieve their marketing goals. He is known as one of the best digital marketing freelancers for small-to-medium-sized businesses.