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How to Reduce Churn with Automated Client Reporting

Peter Foy
Peter Foy
Written by
Peter Foy
Marketing at AgencyAnalytics
Apr 08
Apr 8, 2021

When it comes to scaling an agency, one of the more under-discussed strategies for growth is reducing customer churn.

While tactics like outbound marketing or sales funnel optimization often take the spotlight when discussing scaling strategies, churn can actually play a much bigger role than you may think. 

As HubSpot research points out, increasing customer retention by just 5% can lead to increases in profits ranging from 25% to 95%. With that in mind, tracking and optimizing an agency's churn rate can be one of the most impactful things you can do to scale an agency. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss several strategies you can use to track and reduce churn at your agency, including:

  • How to Track Agency Churn

  • Strategies to Reduce Client Churn

  • How to Use Client Reporting to Reduce Churn

Let's get started. 

How to Track Agency Churn

First off, let’s look at a few ways that agencies can track their churn rate. Also referred to as customer retention rate, the formula for calculating churn works as follows:

Client Churn Rate = (# of Clients at the Beginning of the Period - # of Clients at the End of the Period) / # Clients at the Beginning of the Period x 100

Aside from the client churn rate, you can also calculate the agency’s revenue churn rate as shown below:

Revenue Churn Rate = (Starting MRR or ARR - Ending ARR or MRR) / # Clients at the Beginning of the Period x 100

One of the easiest ways to track churn is simply with a spreadsheet that’s filled in on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. With our Google Sheets integration, for example, you can then use this spreadsheet to chart your client and revenue churn over time to visualize trends in the data.

One useful resource for tracking client and revenue churn is HubSpot’s Customer Service Metrics Calculator, which has the calculations for each churn metric as well as other metrics that will help reduce churn such as your average ticket time, Net Promoter Score, and so on:

Strategies to Reduce Client Churn

Now that we know how to track churn, let’s discuss several strategies that agencies can implement to improve it over time.

Start with Your Client Onboarding Process

First impressions matter, and a repeatable client onboarding process is essential to avoid issues with clients down the line. As discussed in our guide to improving your onboarding process:

Client onboarding is a process of providing the necessary resources for clients to work with your agency, and in turn, increases the likelihood of clients being satisfied and long-term customers.

One useful resource you can use to create a repeatable and scalable onboarding process is with the software process.st. For example, their client onboarding checklist for marketing agencies can help guide your team through the process and ensure no important information gets missed.

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Focus on the First 90 Days

As the often-cited author and marketing consultant John Jantsch says:

If you hold a customer’s hand for 90 days, they’ll be loyal for life.

Even after a smooth onboarding process, the first 90 days are key to long-term customer retention and reducing churn. In addition to establishing your framework for reporting, communication, and so on, you should look for as many “quick wins” that you can get for the client in the first 90 days.

For example, if you're managing SEO for clients, one of the best ways to get initial results is to use a site audit in order to identify and fix onsite issues that may prevent their site from ranking in search engines. A site audit also allows you to automatically detect technical SEO issues and prioritize them in order of severity.

With our SEO report template, for example, you can quickly run a site audit in the first week alongside a keyword ranking analysis to identify the client’s ‘low hanging fruit’ in search engines:

Use NPS Surveys

Another strategy to reduce churn is by periodically sending NPS, or Net Promoter Score, surveys. Net Promoter Score is a scale between 1 and 10 that measures how likely a customer is to recommend your agency's products or services to others. Essentially, this metric provides an overall gauge of the client’s level of satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.

Using our integration with GatherUp, for example, you can easily track NPS responses in an internal dashboard alongside other churn metrics:

Create a Framework for Regular Communication

Finally, one of the most important parts of retaining clients over the long run is maintaining regular communication with them. As ManyChat discusses in their guide to reducing churn, the two ways to build better communication with clients include:

  • Periodic check-ins: This may be weekly or bi-weekly, but getting regular feedback from clients can help resolve any snags they may be experiencing in their business or with your services.

  • Suggest ways to improve their business: Regardless if it is related to your core offering, if you find clients are struggling in their business, offering strategies to streamline their processes can go a long way in terms of customer retention. 

When you take the time to communicate with clients about their business, they're much more likely to view you as a partner instead of simply a monthly expense. That said, one of the best ways to improve your client communication is through automated reporting.

How to Use Client Reporting to Reduce Churn

Reporting is an essential part of running an agency, although it shouldn’t be viewed as a means to simply send technical metrics to clients. Below are a few ways that you can go beyond simply sending marketing metrics and use reporting to reduce churn.

Include a personalized summary with each report or dashboard

Although the goal is to automate your reporting as much as possible, one aspect that should always be done manually is including a personalized summary of the reporting period. Since many clients may not understand more technical marketing metrics, a personalized summary is your chance to explain the results in plain English as well as outline your plans going forward. 

Below is an example of a report summary from our digital marketing report template:

Use data storytelling inside your dashboard and reports

In addition to a summary of the reporting period, for more technical marketing metrics it’s also best practice to add context to the data, which is known as data storytelling. Forbes refers to the skill of data storytelling as an “essential data science skill everyone needs”, and states that it can range from data visualization, data presentation, written context to the data, and so on. As the Forbes author writes:

Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative.

Below is a simple example of how you can use annotations and goals, in this case, a target CPA and new campaign launches, to add more context to the data:

Use reporting to upsell clients, if it makes sense

In line with using reporting to reduce churn, it can also be used to increase revenue through upselling. Of course, you shouldn’t try to upsell the client in every report, although if it makes sense your personalized summary can include an analysis of new opportunities for the client. 

As Zach Boyette of Galactic Fed writes in our guide to upselling best practices:

Clients are ready to hire you for more services once you've proven that you can deliver results. If you're looking for a good time to recommend something new, it's best to do it when you have meaningful data in hand.

That said, there’s no better place to include an upsell when you have meaningful data inside the report to back up the opportunity.

Summary: Reducing Churn with Client Reporting

In summary, while client reporting is an essential agency task and should be automated as much as possible, it can also be viewed as an opportunity to maintain a healthy client relationship through regular communication. 

While certain aspects of reporting such as data collection and data visualization should be automated with software, others should still be done manually such as writing a personalized summary and using data storytelling throughout the report. In doing so, reporting can lead to increased profitability through both offering upselling opportunities and reducing client churn.

Peter Foy
Peter Foy
Written by
Peter Foy
Marketing at AgencyAnalytics
Peter Foy is a content marketer with a focus on SaaS companies. Based in Toronto, when he’s not writing he’s usually studying data science and machine learning.

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