Client retention: how to be the agency they never want to leave

As an agency marketer, you’ll be familiar with the ongoing challenge of client retention.

Yes, that small matter of keeping your clients so deliriously happy with your services that they couldn’t possibly contemplate leaving you. “Other agencies? We’re not interested. We have total trust in this one, and we want to be with them forever and ever,” is what you’d hope they’d say if they were ever asked.

Too gushy? Maybe. But in all seriousness, the more your clients trust you and rely on you, the stronger those bonds become. To the point where you are so embedded in their organisation, you’re basically an extension of their team.

The Curve of Client Retention

Imagine an exponentially climbing curve – let’s call it the Curve of Retention, if you like. It starts off short and shallow, but as you build trust with your client, the curve gets steeper and higher. And when you’re fully embedded into their organisation, coming back down from the dizzy heights becomes a challenge – a serious inconvenience, even – for your client.

Building client trust may seem like a simple task on paper:

  • Have great campaign ideas
  • Deliver them efficiently with minimum hassle for the client
  • Demonstrate world-beating results, launching your client into superstardom
  • Rinse and repeat, consistently, over and over (getting better and better at it every time)

For an agency, this should be bread and butter stuff. Most agencies can do this with their eyes closed. But where things often fall down – many times without you even realising – is when it comes to tracking performance and proving the value of your efforts.

Yes, it’s time to talk return on investment.

Do you really need to track everything?

For client trust to grow, you have to be able to show that your campaigns are moving the ROI needle. Simple and obvious, you might think. Just A/B test your campaigns to know what works best, track your form fills and other lead generation, attribute your leads to their source and Bob’s your uncle – it’s easy.

If you track everything, you can’t go far wrong, right?

I know an agency that lives by the motto “Analyse everything that moves”.

And therein lies the problem.

Tracking everything isn’t necessarily appropriate nor the best use of your time and resources. It’s tempting to proudly show off the fact that you’ve boosted organic traffic by 150% this quarter. But vanity metrics like this don’t tell clients how their campaigns are really performing.

Being open and educating your clients on the right metrics to use to truly understand ROI is key. And by doing this, you’ll build trust even further.

So, are you really analysing and reporting on the right things for your clients? Are you 100% sure those monthly reports give your clients an unfaltering picture of their return on investment?

Or are you missing leads and sales from your reports because you’ve inadvertently overlooked some or misattributed others?

Greater ROI, greater trust

Proving the ROI of your efforts and knowing what works and what doesn’t in the digital age involves making use of various tools and techniques.

Things like:

  • Google Analytics – an obvious first port of call, if you want to know how your campaigns are impacting on website traffic and lead generation
  • Webpage heat mapping – helps you know how people interact with your web pages and online content
  • Google Search Console – shows you insights about your organic search traffic
  • Customer relationship management software – connects lead generation with real-world sales
  • Email marketing tools – show how well your communications efforts are resonating with the masses

Use all of these effectively to create a joined-up picture of ROI, and you’re laughing all the way to the client retention bank.

But wait. That’s only part of the picture. Does your client receive enquiries by phone too? I’m guessing they do. If you aren’t tracking that side of lead generation, that ROI picture isn’t as complete as it could (should) be.

It means the Curve of Retention won’t be going up as steeply as it could be, either.

Are you missing opportunities to improve ROI?

When you track and monitor phone enquiries as well as your digital marketing efforts, you’ll pick up on a host of missed ROI.

For example, people who:

  • See your social media ads and visit the client’s website, but then pick up the phone and call them instead of filling in a web form
  • Read ads in print media and phone your client to make an enquiry
  • Visit a website but write the phone number down to call later
  • Are given a brochure, or receive direct mail, and call after reading
  • Find your client in a directory listing or on a review website

Imagine the boost to your campaign ROI when you add these forgotten or missed leads into your reports. And when it comes to growing client trust, it could be a boost that turns a short-term client into a long-term income stream for your agency.

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics, content management and eCommerce.

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