As an online marketing agency, you have two main fronts that dictate your success: customer acquisition and customer retention, and the latter is far more important. It costs far less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one, and as your working relationship grows, it becomes easier and more efficient to mutually benefit each other.
But in order to maximize your customer retention, you have to be an extraordinary marketing agency.
How can you do this?
Obviously, you’re doing what you can to get your clients good results, but you can always do a little more—and you can adapt with the times to give your clients even better offerings. In a recent survey I conducted of 357 online marketers, “What Works in Online Marketing,” I asked marketers about their current opinions of the online marketing industry, including their strategic preferences, where they think the industry is heading, and of course—how they feel toward marketing agencies in general.
I’ve used these insights to come up with a handful of tactics you can use to become a better marketing agency in 2016.
1. Stop Using Reports as a Crutch
First, understand that reporting is a tool for you to demonstrate your value; don’t use it to bear the full weight of your responsibilities as a marketing agency. I’ve seen too many agencies who simply send out a report every month, and let the data do the talking, so to speak. Yes, data is important, especially when it comes to showing increasing trends like inbound traffic or search rankings. However, there’s more to an agency-client relationship than numbers.
Talk about what you’re doing. Talk about what you’re changing, or thinking about changing. Ask your client what they think about the data, and ask them what they think about your strategic approaches. Data doesn’t lend itself to a dialogue, and you need a dialogue to succeed.
2. Help Your Clients Understand Link Building
The survey indicated that marketers rank link building among the most difficult online marketing strategies to execute or for which to find a competent vendor, and a startling proportion of users (38%) aren’t engaging in a link building strategy at all, despite claiming to make consistent SEO efforts (not to mention the well-understood, overwhelming importance of link building for successful SEO).
What I can gather here is that users don’t fully understand or value link building as a strategy, and as a marketing agency, you need to step up to fill that gap. Tell your clients what link building is, how it works, what it costs, and how it benefits SEO programs. Otherwise, your efforts may go unnoticed, unappreciated, or your clients may request you don’t pursue the strategy at all.
3. Leverage Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is another interesting strategy, being the only strategy ranked as more difficult to execute than link building.
Over the past few years, a couple powerful trends have developed to make influencer marketing even more powerful. First, users are trusting corporate brands less and less in favor of social evidence; this makes the persuasive power of influencers even more appealing. Second, the online marketing space is getting more crowded, leaving less room for differentiation; influencers can be the tiebreakers here. Help your clients more by incorporating more influencer marketing into your strategies.
4. Step Up Your Social Media Game
Social media marketing is here to stay, with most survey participants listing it as the strategy that consumes the most time and resources, while 52% of respondents said they are currently seeing positive ROI from it (more than any other tactic in the survey) and 65% of respondents (again, more than any other tactic) saying they believe it will become even more important over the course of the next five years.
What’s more, new social media contenders are starting to shape the way users engage in social experiences, and they’re starting to attract a ton of attention.If you want to be a better marketing agency, it’s on you to ride this wave of interest, adding new platforms to your lineup of services and generally doing more to boost your clients’ social campaigns.
5. Improve and Incorporate New Tactics
The survey also asked participants how they worked with marketing agencies, and what their thoughts were on agency performance. Many participants have never worked with an agency (presumably, because they work for agencies themselves), but 19% cited “tactics and strategies” as the biggest factor necessary for improvement in their current agency relationships.
This is the largest segmented response, even outranking the general “overall performance,” so consider your strategies carefully. This is where dialogue is crucial again; tell your client exactly what tactics you’re using, and why you’re using them—as well as asking if they have any other ideas to pursue.
6. Improve Your Communication
No matter what the climate of the marketing industry is, what technologies are on the horizon, or how your customers are changing, you can always benefit by improving your ability to communicate with them. Some of this may come down to hiring the right people, or making sure you have enough designated contacts for each client.
Some of this may come down to being more transparent or more proactive when it comes to addressing issues and revealing new strategies. Some of this may simply involve building more personal relationships with your customers. However you choose to do it, your customers need to end up more enlightened and more satisfied with your working relationship.
To be a better agency, you don’t have to come up with the biggest, baddest technology, and you don’t have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructural developments. Instead, all you really have to do is listen to your customers.
They know what they want, and they’re willing to tell you. Make changes to the strategies you offer, how you approach various situations, and always strive to improve your efficiency. As long as you follow these general concepts and keep your customers as a top priority, you should have no problem maximizing your client retention.