Digital Marketing for E-Commerce Startup
- Digital Strategy Other Digital Marketing Social Media Marketing
- $50,000 to $199,999
- Nov. 2020 - Apr. 2021
- Willing to Refer
"One of their employees, who we made this arrangement with, had local market knowledge that was very useful."
- Consumer Products
- United Arab Emirates
- 1-10 Employees
- Phone Interview
In order to capitalize on the launch of their new company, an e-commerce site engaged with Evolve Digitas for their digital marketing services to extend their reach and improve their sales.
While the company was able to find some success with their campaigns, the internal stakeholders were ultimately disappointed in the outcome of the partnership. The client recommended that the team should be more client-focused and explore innovative approaches outside of their comfort zone.
A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I’m the CEO of an e-commerce site.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with Evolve Digitas?
We had just launched our company and we were looking for a digital marketing partner to help us grow our customer base and achieve sales.
What was the scope of their involvement?
In the agreement, we had a certain return on media spend. We agreed on a certain budget for the media buy and from that media buy, they’d be able to achieve a certain amount of reach. From within that reach, there’d be a certain percentage of downloads and conversions, and enrollments, and from those numbers, there’d be a certain percentage of sales.
They did app store optimization and some social media management. They created some content for us and managed our ads on several platforms including Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
What is the team composition?
I dealt with four people from their team, but there wasn’t a clear project manager. The CEO met with us at the beginning but then disappeared during the course of the engagement. There was no real sense of who was accountable as they assembled the team on their own.
How did you come to work with Evolve Digitas?
One of my employees had built a relationship with one of their employees and recommended them. We went through a tendering process and my board and I evaluated several different agencies. They said they had experience in this market and they gave us certain metrics that they said they’d be able to achieve. We went into this expecting them to achieve the sales targets, conversions, enrollments, and downloads and thought they’d be able to do a better job than some of the bigger names.
How much have you invested with them?
We invested over $50,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working together in November 2020-April 2021. It ended on unamicable terms.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
As a new company, this was not a good start for us in terms of interacting with digital marketing agencies. I’m very dissatisfied with the outcome. Things started going downhill pretty much from the start, and we gave them a three-month timeline to prove that they can get the job done. From the first month, there were some challenges because my team hadn’t prepared to have the integrations for the mobile app development. There were a couple of issues we needed to fix so we could do the proper integrations for the app and the mobile ads.
Needless to say, the first month didn’t go well at all. However, we absorbed it and gave them another month because we recognized that from the app perspective, things needed to be developed. Before we invested in a social media influencer, we weren’t seeing any progress on Evolve Digitas’ side. When we got the social media influencer, things changed and we started to see a lot of improvements in sales and it became a good month for us.
They provided a lot of analysis and data to show us that it wasn’t from the influencer that was making improvements, but that it was from them — so we did another month of investment with them. They kept throwing up these numbers and showing us data and we couldn’t see the sales. They always had excuses and they blamed the app, saying it had a lot of issues. For a while, we gave them some room, and we fixed some issues with the app.
We have this big buying season and they put a strategy together. They ran tests, and promised us we’d achieve a certain number of sales in the month running up to the buying season. Then, they asked us for more media buy which we provided. Halfway through the period, we realized they were not going to achieve their targets at all. We had to go invest more money because we couldn’t let this season pass since it was a high peak demand. We went and spent more money on social influencers, after which we saw a big spike and started seeing the numbers coming. I’d warned them if they couldn’t achieve these targets, which they had guaranteed me, then we were ending the engagement.
After I told them we’re ending the relationship, I asked them to hand over all of our ad accounts, which were completely empty when they gave them to me. I didn’t have any of the data that I’ve been paying them six months for so I couldn’t do the analytics. The six months of media spend was gone, and If I wanted to bring in another digital marketing person, they’re starting from ground zero with me.
This was the worst outcome. We spent a lot of money on them and we didn’t get the results we wanted and now, we have nothing to show for it. They wasted our time, energy, and money. They didn’t know what they were doing and screwed us at the end by taking whatever little data we had. When you take people at their word and do something like that, it’s still a sore spot. I should’ve canceled the agreement in the first month.
How did Evolve Digitas perform from a project management standpoint?
I had to organize them to make sure we had a weekly meeting with them. We’d go through the scope and it was clear that some of the scopes were being handled by two people at once. I had to make sure they delivered reports and took notes in meetings because they didn’t do so in the beginning. We’d talk about something one week and the next week it wasn’t done. The minutes they took were very poor and they weren’t very organized.
There should’ve been an accountable person in charge of things and someone who had a birds-eye view of what’s going on. They should’ve been more focused and documented the entire project instead of jumping around.
They wasted a whole bunch of our media spend doing the completely wrong AB campaign. From that AB campaign, we got data that wasn’t very useful because it was done incorrectly. The material we do is in Arabic and they didn’t have anyone on their team that understood the things we were talking about.
We had some really tight timelines, but as long as we could see progress was being made, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. Now reflecting on how things evolved, this is a learning experience for me and I’ll never do that again.
What did you find most impressive about them?
One of their employees, who we made this arrangement with, had local market knowledge that was very useful and helpful to us.
Are there any areas they could improve?
They still owe us money. They didn’t even refund us the money left over from the last media buy campaign because they didn’t achieve the sales.
They were good at telling us how many crashes were on the app, and how many people downloaded and registered the app. What they can’t do is strategize and run a campaign successfully. They had a bunch of tools that they kept using over and over again, but they couldn’t even get the results that they promised. No matter how much we tried to get them to think outside the box to make it work for our situation, they were against it.
They weren’t creative and they didn’t solve our problems. Every time they said they fixed something, we never saw the results. They’d claim they misunderstood and needed to do it another way but we never got the results. They need to be more customer-centric if they want to work in the UAE and small startups. We even gave them the information on how to find our customers because they didn’t even know how to find them. They demonstrated repeatedly that they weren’t up to the task.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
Don’t tolerate excuses. If they can’t do what they promised, it’s better to quit and find somebody new. They were dishonest at the start and after six months, I got nothing. I wouldn’t start working with them at all. Go with reputable, bigger names that have a track record of working with other successful companies. Commit to them whatever the price is and don’t try cutting corners.
Service & Deliverables
On time / deadlines
"They failed to send me an invoice on time."
Value / within estimates
"They aren't any more cost-efficient than the other big companies we checked. We thought they knew our market better."
Willing to Refern/a
"They failed to deliver the thing I paid for.