Digital Agencies: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Digital Agencies: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly post images

Written By : Liam Webster

Posted 20/05/2020

We get it. Putting trust in a digital agency can be daunting. It can be a Forrest-Gump-box-of-chocolates situation.

Sometimes it’ll feel like stepping into the ring and finding Ivan Drago waiting for you. Other times, you’ll feel like you do on Tinder – completely ghosted and wondering where you went wrong. We’ve heard many horror stories from clients who have had bad experiences in the past (with other agencies. Not us – we’re angels).

When choosing a digital agency, we want you to be prepared. There’s nothing worse than putting your trust in someone, only to have it not pay off. So, what makes a good agency, and what makes a bad one? And, if you’ve ended up with a bad agency, what can you do to salvage it?

What makes agencies good or bad?

All marketing agencies embody some sort of combination of the Seven Dwarves. Stick with me here. It’ll all make sense… I promise. Sorry, Snow White’s housemates, but some of you are legends and some are really big jerks.

Bad agencies


A Grumpy can be characterised by the following:

  • Silent or minimal contact (we’re not talking physical – calm down)
  • Acts like everything the client does is a huge burden
  • Doesn’t like fun
  • Cooks fish in the office microwave

We’ve heard of people who’ve asked for an update on a piece of work. Or, even worse, needing an explanation as to why their traffic has fallen off the face of the earth. And what are you met with? Radio silence. Sometimes, a Grumpy might respond to your question, but in a horrible, condescending way.

If you’re faced with a Grumpy, there are a couple of solutions. One: don’t feed a Grumpy after midnight. Two: arrange face-to-face meetings as often as possible. You might hate being in the same room as them, but making a face-to-face connection could establish a better working relationship, and maybe even melt Grumpy’s icy heart. Just make sure it’s not on a day when they’ve microwaved that fish.

Dopey & Sleepy

  • Your site remains unchanged/untouched for months
  • They sell you a new system/project but they don’t know what they’re doing with it
  • Always ‘forgets’ when it’s their turn to do the tea round
  • Exaggerates their level on COD

Dopey and Sleepy are all foam and no beer. They’ve probably sold you on a slick pitch but that’s as far as it goes. They’re building you a fancy new system but they’re hoping that you won’t notice them winging it. They’re also pretty good at taking your money each month but leaving your site untouched and un-looked at.

To arm yourself against a potential Dopey/Sleepy, make sure to ask as many questions as you can. Make sure that you understand what’s expected of both them and you, and that you understand whatever new system or strategy they’re selling you. There’s no need to go full-on WAGatha Christie with your investigative skills, but don’t be afraid to ask questions and request regular updates to check that everything’s running smoothly.


  • Trigger-happy – puts things live without waiting for approval
  • Rushes ideas through without thinking of future use or compatibility with your site
  • Always wandering off and getting lost
  • Puts empty milk carton back in the office fridge

Sneezy is in their own world 99% of the time, and it’s a hot mess. It’s littered with half-completed websites, half-drunk cups of tea, and bits of paper screwed up everywhere. They’ve always got about 60 tabs open on their fifth computer screen.

To deal with a Sneezy, you’ll want to go more Minority Report than Back to the Future, minus the baldness and murder. Make sure all future uses and consequences have been discussed thoroughly before the project starts, to prevent any horror scenes down the line. You’ll also want to get a plan – including timescales – set in stone, so that Sneezy has no opportunity to go off on one.

One last tip – grab a coffee before you get to the meeting, so you don’t have to suffer the consequences of Sneezy’s milk habits.

So, now you know what makes an agency one to avoid. But, what about the rest of the Seven Dwarves? Just like Bisto, we’ve saved the best ‘til last.

Good agencies


  • Approachable and friendly
  • Responsive to all of your questions/issues
  • Bakes great cakes
  • Always buys the first round

A good agency will always love talking to you. The Paul Rudd of the digital agency world, a Happy will manage everything – from getting you an answer to any of your questions, to making sure you’re happy at the end of each month. You’ll always feel reassured and up-to-date with what’s happening with your site.


  • Doesn’t oversell a system or project
  • Doesn’t show off about previous work – they let it speak for itself
  • The go-to for office DIY
  • Will quietly destroy the competition in any game/sport

Bashful, aka Ronseal. They’re not here to oversell their work. It’s so good, it speaks for itself. We’re not going to lie, a Bashful can be a bit creepy (in a good way). They are immediately on your wavelength, and know exactly what your site needs and how to make it happen. The best thing about a Bashful is you won’t find yourself facing Jordan Belfort – you can trust that they’re not going to sell you any fancy systems or pointless extras that aren’t beneficial to you.


  • Spots issues and fixes them quickly
  • Knows the industry inside-out
  • Office agony aunt
  • Number one choice for the pub quiz team

You’re in safe hands if the agency you’re working with has a Doc. They’re always there behind the scenes, squirreling away to make everything the best it can be. Doc will regularly monitor your site, spot errors and fix things before anyone’s noticed there’s a problem.

Oh, and make sure you befriend Doc. You’ll need them on your team for that upcoming pub quiz.

So, what makes a good and a bad agency?

A good agency will be responsive, fix issues efficiently, and only work on projects that will add value to your business. Bad agencies, on the other hand, will neglect you and your site, create more issues than you had in the first place, and then completely ghost you.

When checking out different agencies, we hope you find that magic blend of Happy, Bashful and Doc. We don’t want to boast, but here at Identify, we think we’ve got that.

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