Finding good clients is hard. But once you find great clients, keeping them should be easy… right? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Even if you’re providing great services, some clients will want to part ways.
Sometimes these splits are inevitable — even the best agencies have some churn. Other times, though, these splits can be avoided. Your agency can retain many of the clients likely to churn through good communication and relationship management.
Here are eight of the most common client problems facing agencies today, plus suggestions for how you can prevent these scenarios from happening to your agency.
1) Not tracking results and measuring ROI? Improve your analytics
If you want to lose a client in record time, don’t track their data or the results you get for them. Failing to keep good records is a fatal error for two reasons:
- Clients need to know where their money is going and whether their investment is paying off. You need clear and detailed analytics to show them. If you aren’t tracking their results, they won’t be able to attribute new leads or sales to your campaign.
- It’s impossible for an agency to keep getting results for a client without studying the data from their past efforts. You need to be tracking each campaign accurately if you want to continue to deliver great results.
The fix: If your agency’s analytics aren’t currently up to scratch, improve them ASAP.
Start tracking leads and new sales. Software like CallRail can help you get into the nitty-gritty details of data like call and form tracking, so you can capture every type of lead. Make sure your clients have ready access to all of the information you gather. When clients see the results you’re delivering, they are much more likely to remain a client for the long-haul.
2) If you’re not sending regular reporting updates, make communication a priority
Your agency can track all the data in the world, but if you don’t communicate frequently and clearly with your clients, they’ll still lose trust in you.
And broken trust is a big problem — as many as 56 percent of marketers think that agencies are more interested in selling their services than actually solving their clients’ problems. This outlook doesn’t make for a good working relationship. If you don’t want clients to view your agency’s motives with suspicion, then staying accountable is essential.
But being accountable and delivering reports doesn’t mean just giving your client a ‘data dump.’ Make sure your reporting is clear and easy-to-understand. If you simply throw out numbers without any context, they still aren’t going to trust you. Communicate great results clearly to a client, and they will stick around.
The fix: Establish clear KPIs with your clients from the get-go. Clear goals will help guide what you should include in your reports, and will make the reports easy for your client to understand.
Then, establish a regular reporting schedule that keeps clients in the loop. Tools like AgencyAnalytics’ reporting software pull all the client’s data together into a report automatically for you, saving you a lot of time on reporting.
You can schedule reports to send daily, weekly, or monthly so your clients are always updated on performance. Plus, integrating with CallRail lets you easily include your call tracking data in client reports.
Don’t leave it at the reports alone. In addition to sending reports, make time to discuss your progress with clients. Encourage them to ask questions about anything they’d like to know more about:
What to Include in an SEO Report (Source)
3) Not setting clear expectations? Be realistic about the client’s prospects
Some clients expect the moon from their agency. This is usually because they don’t understand what the agency can realistically achieve.
Client-side marketers and agency professionals also tend to disagree on what constitutes a ‘clear’ briefing. This communication and expectation gap can lead to strained relationships later on if it’s not recognized and addressed. In fact, 58 percent of client-side marketers think they provide clear briefings, while only 27 percent of agency professionals agree.
The fix: Establish realistic goals and timelines with clients as early in the game as possible.
Once again, make sure goals are clearly defined and you’ve implemented a way to track them. Goals should be specific — for example, a goal should be “50k organic web sessions per month” not a general goal like “increase traffic.”
You need to have some background and experience to know what is achievable. If your client is asking for a service or goal you’re unfamiliar with, make sure you do your research before making promises you can’t keep.
Keep clients informed about how campaigns are progressing, and don’t be afraid to revise your goals if things aren’t going according to plan. Educating your clients on how your agency gets results can help them maintain a realistic perspective on what to expect from you.
4) Changes in management mean you’ll need to refine your pitch
If management changes at a company your agency works with, the new managers may be eager to switch things up according to their own vision. This could involve firing your agency and hiring a new one.
The fix: In the event of a shake-up like this, you might have to sell your agency to the same client all over again.
Be prepared to explain why your particular services are still a great fit for this client, even under new management. Bring up your history of getting good results for the client, and emphasize how important long-term client-agency relationships are for ongoing success. Flexibility is key — you might have to adjust your strategy to fit the new management’s goals as you move forward.
5) If the client hires an in-house team, show how you can fill in the gaps
It’s becoming increasingly common for clients to hire their own in-house marketing team. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t need your agency’s help anymore.
While about two out of every three companies have their own in-house agency, these teams tend to focus on a few areas of marketing — not every single aspect of marketing. Having a less-common specialization will help your agency stay relevant to these clients.
67 percent of companies have an in-house agency. (Source)
The fix: Emphasize your agency’s unique strengths to clients, especially in areas where their in-house team isn’t as strong.
Be prepared to pull out your old data to show clients exactly what kind of value you’ve provided, and they’ll be less likely to axe your agency. In addition, pitch ideas for how your team can continue to work productively with the client’s team. Most businesses work with more than one agency at a time, so it probably won’t be difficult to convince a client who’s already happy with your work to keep you on.
More than half of businesses work with more than one agency at a time. (Source)
6) Financial constraints don’t mean the end of the relationship — work within their budget
Your client just told you that something in their budget has changed and they can no longer afford your services. Uh-oh. Is there a way to salvage the situation and keep the client without drastically reducing your fees?
The fix: If you have a good history with this client, look for ways to work with them until their budget is more comfortable again.
One option is to offer them a scaled-back services package, with the option to add back more features when their budget allows for it. You might also consider creating a payment plan that’s easier for the client to keep up with. Another approach is to emphasize the quality of your work and the one-of-a-kind service your agency provides.
If you can directly tie revenue to your services, now is the time to show your client. (That is, if you haven’t already been regularly reporting this to them.) When clients understand the ROI of their marketing campaigns, they are easily able to justify the expense.
7) Lack of initiative on your part? Long-term planning is the cure
Does your agency tend to work hard for a new client at first, but then burn out or lose direction? That’s a problem, both for you and your clients. According to a recent survey, 46 percent of clients who fire an agency do so because the agency fails to achieve good results for them. And without initiative, your agency will probably fall into the not-performing-well camp.
The fix: Figure out why your agency loses steam after the honeymoon phase with a new client.
For instance, maybe your team is good at implementing short-term fixes, but less confident when it comes to building long-term strategies. Once you’ve identified the issue, outline a plan that will keep your team on track for the long haul. Pace your team so you can continue getting results for clients, month after month. Also, avoid taking on too many projects, since this can lead to rushed and poor-quality work for all your clients.
8) If the client seems to be losing interest, make the effort to spice things up
Sometimes a client just isn’t feeling it anymore — this isn’t always their agency’s fault. The client may be bored with the status quo, disillusioned with how slowly they’re making progress, or just on the lookout for newer, shinier claims and promises from different agencies.
The fix: Save your agency’s relationship with this client by looking for ways to shake things up. One way to keep clients engaged is to encourage them to put a sliver of their marketing budget towards trying new things every month. You should also check in frequently with clients, either through email or something like a NPS survey, to gauge how they’re feeling about working with you.
Clients fire agencies for lots of different reasons, from personal ones to performance-based ones. You can bring your agency’s client retention rate closer to 100 percent by communicating clearly and often, working well with other teams, and keeping your agency’s performance high over time. Tools like CallRail and AgencyAnalytics can help you meet goals while keeping clients informed — a win for everyone involved.