Keeping your clients sweet

Let’s face it. You are not the only digital marketing agency in the world. Whatever your specialism or area of expertise, there will be somebody else doing something similar, probably not a million miles away from where you are. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Why should a client come to you and not them next door: and why should they stay with you?

Customer retention is an increasing challenge for many businesses, and digital marketing agencies are no exception. But how can you keep your customers sweet? What can you do to make sure that once they are with you, they stay with you and are happy to do so?

The key to client retention is adding value. There is a lot of buzz in the marketing world at the moment about the concept of value so let’s take a look at what it means and how it applies to a digital marketing agency – or indeed any other marketing role.

Value can be defined as what matters to the client. But by this we don’t mean the usual kind of measures that you may have been brought in to improve. The key performance indicators, such as increasing traffic, conversions and brand awareness.

Being realistic, you are one of many people that could help them do that. No matter how good you are at what you do, if that is all you do then frankly you are easily replaceable, and next time round your client may as well go for a cheaper option.

So to make sure a client chooses you – AND stays with you – we need to consider what really matters to the client. You need to find out exactly where they want their business to go, and how will they know when they get there ie what will success look like?

If this runs the risk of sounding a little airy-fairy, you then need to add meat to the bones by building up an in-depth understanding of the issues and challenges they are facing, especially in terms of the hurdles they need to overcome to being to move the their desired destination.

To help to break this down into easily memorable steps we have put together a little mnemonic base on the word VALUE

V – Visit them in person as often as you can in the early days. There is a growing trend to conduct business entirely by email, videoconferencing, group hangouts, skype and so forth: and once business is established then this can often be the most practical and efficient way to do things. But to get your relationship on a solid foundation, personal contact in the early stages is invaluable.
A – Ask the right questions. As we said above, to be truly effective to the client you need to find out a lot of in-depth information over and above the surface requirements. You are not going to be able to find this out instantly but will need to work hard to build trust and rapport. You will then have earned the right to ask pertinent questions that will reveal their most important motivations, desires and concerns.
L – Love their business. Even if you do spend time with them and ask all the right questions, it is still far too easy to adopt an overly clinical approach, to see them as just a client who needs a solution. This will come across to the client. What they need is for you to become a truly effective strategic partner who develops a passion for their business and wants it to succeed just as much as they do.
U – Understand their mindset. If you do all the above you will already be halfway there on this one. You will know what really matters to the client and will be keeping this at the centre of your planning process. But to really add value, you need to develop an intuitive understanding of what the client will or won’t like: and what will or won’t work for them. You will know their answer will be yes even before you ask them the question.
E – Evaluate how things are going. As well as using analytics on the solutions and strategies, you need to keep your relationship under careful review as well. As a digital marketing agency grows, it is so easy to become absorbed in new clients and begin to neglect the older ones. To the point where you may suddenly get a wake up call one day when that client decides to leave you. Yes it can feel like spinning plates sometimes but – to stick with that analogy – if you neglect those plates round the edges they will fall to the ground and smash.

If you can follow the above steps consistently then you should be able to add real value to your clients and they will hopefully stay with you. This has a number of mutual benefits. As you help them to achieve their goals and to grow, this will reflect well on you. Their success will look good on you both!

At Xcite Digital we are so pleased to have retained some of our earliest clients even though we’ve grown dramatically over the past few years. They are as much a part of our success as we are of theirs.

This can be your story too. If you put in the time, effort and energy to adding true value to your clients then you will reap rewards for your own business too.