Retaining Digital Marketing Clients (like a pro) | Digital Distillery

Retaining Digital Marketing Clients (like a pro)

Author: Catherine Howell July 6 | Blog

Retaining Digital Marketing Clients (like a pro)

Author: Catherine Howell July 6 | Blog

A detailed guide to retaining digital marketing clients (like a pro)!

The Most Important Function In Your Business 

When I was getting started out as a freelancer and building my agency, Eight Loop I was naturally wearing all the hats in my agency, which meant that account management fell squarely on my shoulders. 

I felt trapped and tied to my emails and phone, receiving late-night client calls and having to hop on “quick chats” over the weekend (which always seemed to turn into two-hour discussions that led nowhere). 

I was a perfectionist and wanted to make sure I was delivering the best customer service, but responding to clients seemed to suck up all the hours in my day and I would find myself burning the stick at both ends trying to finish campaigns or deliverables.

Not to mention, I would take criticism or feedback extremely personally, and sometimes a snarky client email would put me in a sour mood for the rest of the week. 

I understood deep down that retaining my clients was crucial – after all, I had spent so much time and money trying to acquire each one –  but the truth was I was beginning to resent my business because of having to deal with my accounts. 

When compiling this blog, I spoke to Academy graduate and Founder of DOT & Co., Taylor McMaster, whose agency specializes in providing digital marketing agencies with full-service account management services, about what it takes to actually solidify client relationships in a way that will also allow you to retain your own sanity in the process. 

BONUS – Taylor shares email templates from her own daily pulses as well as a process for onboarding clients like a pro! 

retaining digital marketing clients
Taylor McMaster, Founder at DOT & Co.

The Number One Reason Clients Jump Ship 

Before getting started, it’s important to note that every agency (no matter the size), will experience churn and that every client will eventually one day churn.

It’s a reality of the industry and the first step is to make sure you are not taking things too personally when clients jump ship.

But, if we can try to extend that relationship by even just a little bit longer we’re winning in strides.  

And retention, believe it or not, has very little to do with your ability to actually deliver results. 

In all my years in the industry, I have seen clients dish over huge retainer sums for years to agencies delivering shocking or subpar work. 

Why? Because the relationship is solid. 

People do business with people. 

And people are irrational in many ways.

When they feel like they are not being communicated to or like they are out of the loop they will likely cancel your services. 

“The number one reason clients leave is for the simple reason that they feel forgotten about”, Taylor explains.  

This – more often than not – is down to a breakdown in communication.  

You could be doing overtime behind the scenes and getting great results, but if there is no consistent communication with the client, they will begin to think that you’re just cruising drinking margaritas, and not really looking after them.  

“If clients are paying the prices they’re paying for your services, they deserve a white glove server that will ultimately help you retain them for far longer,” Taylor adds. 

The solution: Communication processes should be put in place to slow down client churn.  

Below, Taylor shares three tips to help you create strong communication processes inside your business. 

Three Ways to Improve Client Communications

#1: Daily Pulses 

One process that Taylor’s team uses is what she calls “daily pulses”.  

Daily pulses are essentially prompts/tasks inside of your project management tool that remind you to touch base with your client every second day (daily if results are tanking).  

The goal of the daily pulse: Keep clients in the loop with how long things will take. 

Sometimes, clients have been a little impatient as they’ve been waiting for scripts or updates.

“Even if it’s just a ‘hey, we’re still working on that issue and have nothing new to report right now but will keep you posted’ this will go a long way towards showing your client that you’ve got your finger on the pulse and are doing everything you can,” Taylor says, helping to establish trust with your client. 

You might be cringing thinking this is going to add to your workload, but the key is to create templates of all your daily pulse emails so that these take no time at all. 

Taylor shares some examples of some daily pulse email templates below for you to reference: 

Examples of Daily Pulse Emails:


Hey team, 
 
Happy Monday! And good news! 
 
As mentioned, we're live with the new Linkedin Ads and we've had our first lead — an owner [INSERT DETAILS]. Please ensure to touch base with them asap (info below!). 
 
Thanks,
 
[client account manager]

Hi [name]! 
 
Just popping into your inbox to let you know that the team’s still working through your [ads/scripts/strategy]. I’m keeping a pulse on everything, and I’ll update you soon to let you know when you can expect to see these. 
 
Enjoy the rest of your day! 
 
-[Name]

Hi [name], 
 
I don’t have your [ads/scripts/strategy] back from our team just yet, but I’m keeping my eye on everything and we’re working hard to get these packaged up and over your way. I’ll have an update for you soon! 
 
You can also reach me on Skype, too. Username: 
 
Chat soon, 
 
-[Name]

Hi [Name],
 
I hope you’re having a great week so far! 
 
I wanted to let you know that your [ads/scripts/strategy] is under final development with our amazing creative team. I hope to have a firm expectation date over your way tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day. 
 
-[Name]

#2: Inbox zero 

There’s nothing worse than having to wait for days on end for an agency to respond to your messages or requests, especially when you’re paying good money for it.  

“And there’s no excuse for this behavior anymore,” Taylor adds. 

Taylor explains how her account managers must hold up to an “inbox zero” ethos whereby all inboxes are cleared to zero messages before signing off for the day. 

This ensures that clients are responded to promptly. 

#3: Client Onboarding Process 

Once a client has paid the invoice and agreed to come on board, the real work of building the relationship begins. 

Taylor believes that the kick-off call (the first call you have with your client) is one of the most important and will set the precedent in their mind of what’s to come.  

“You need to lead with your best foot forward, if you mess up the kick-off call it will be very hard to win back their goodwill and trust – you’ll have to work extra hard,” explains Taylor. 

Some tips Taylor has for improving the client onboarding process include: 

  • Have your briefing documents ready before the kick-off call
  • Have your SOPS (standard operating procedures) ready and explain the steps to the client
  • Set the right expectations in terms of delivery dates  

Taylor shares an onboarding checklist below for your reference. 

Example Facebook Ad Client Onboarding Checklist:

Section/ColumnNameNotesRole
Stage 0: Pre-WorkSales Call CompleteSales Team
Stage 0: Pre-WorkAssign media buyerWhat: Assign what media buyer (name) will be working on this account
Why: The CAM will assign to do’s to the media buyer and ensure they have access to what they need
How: Comment below in the comments the media buyer’s name and tag your CAM
Associated Materials: n/a
When To Mark Complete: When you have commented below in the comments the media buyer’s name and tagged your CAM
Operations
Stage 0: Pre-WorkProvide sale information to Operations Manager and Client Account ManagerNotes: Important items to note after your sales call

Tell us about this client: who are they, what do they do, what we need to know?

Tell us about the scope of this project, including prices – what are you doing for this client? example: Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, Social Media? Building landing pages? Copy? Every detail is important.

Has your client worked with a digital marketing agency before? If yes, why did they move on?

At what level does this client understand digital marketing?
0 = clueless 
5 = has run ads themselves and made a profit

How did you recruit this client?

We want to make passing over this new client easy. Do you know anything special that would benefit relationship building? Example: pets? hobbies? business structure?

Have we covered everything? If not, tell us what else we should know.




Sales Team
Stage 0: Pre-WorkAdd this client’s project to the portfolioHOW TO (you must have Asana business):

Go to portfolios at the top-left of Asana
Choose the Onboarding Process
Add project (this new client’s project)
Client Account Manager
Stage 0: Pre-Work. Assign media buyer tasksWhat: Your CAM (or you, if you don’t have a Client Account Manager) will task out all tasks for the media buyer
How: Using this project
Associated Materials: **Have your CAM prepare a Loom video and save it here.
When To Mark Complete: The CAM will mark this complete once the project is fully scoped for the media buyer
Client Account Manager
Stage 1: Contracts & InvoicePrepare Agreement for clientWhat: You will prepare the agreement for the client, including all details around the scope of this project, payment details, etc.
How: We recommend HelloSign
Associated Materials: **Add instructions here for your team on how you’d like the contracts to be prepared. A loom video is helpful!
When To Mark Complete: Once the contract has been prepared
Operations
Stage 1: Contracts & InvoiceSend Agreement to clientWhat: Here is where you’ll send your agreement to your client
How: We recommend HelloSign
Associated Materials: **Add instructions here for your team on how you’d like the contracts to be prepared. A loom video is helpful!
When To Mark Complete: Once the contract has been sent to the client
Operations
Stage 1: Contracts & Invoice



Agreement Completed
What: The client has signed the agreement – woohoo!
How: Save the agreement to their client folder in Google Drive
Associated Materials: Add instructions and a link to the Google Drive folder where client folders are saved.
When To Mark Complete: Once the contract has been saved to their folder in g-drive
Operations
Stage 1: Contracts & InvoiceCreate invoiceWhat: Time to create invoice
How: Using your invoice software
Associated Materials: Add instructions here
When To Mark Complete: Once the invoice has been created
Operations
Stage 1: Contracts & InvoiceSend invoiceWhat: Send invoice to client
How: Using your invoice software
Associated Materials: Add instructions here
When To Mark Complete: Once the invoice has been sent to the client
Operations
Stage 1: Contracts & InvoicePayment CollectedWhat: Collecting payment
How: Using your invoice software
Associated Materials: Add instructions here
When To Mark Complete: Once the invoice has been paid
Operations
Stage 2: Client OnboardingClient briefing documentWhat: Time to scope the project
How: Using your briefing documents
Associated Materials: Add instructions here
When To Mark Complete: Once the briefing docs have been created
Operations
Stage 2: Client OnboardingSend an introduction email to the client and CAMWhat: The salesperson sends an intro email to the client and the CAM
How: Using your email template
Associated Materials: Add instructions here
When To Mark Complete: Once the email has been sent
Operations
Stage 2: Client OnboardingPrepare and send a welcome handwritten card the for clientNotes: As a CAM, your job is to keep clients happy. Who doesn’t love a hand-written card!

[TEMPLATE]
Welcome to [agency name]!
We’re looking forward to working together
– [client account manager name]
Client Account Manager
Stage 2: Client OnboardingSet-up Client Folder in Google DriveNotes: This is a folder within Google Drive that’s shared with your team AND the client.

CAM TO-DO LIST:

– Create a folder titled “Client Name x agency name” in the folder: insert link
– Create a blank folder titled “Client Name – Creative Assets” ~ this is where you’ll have the client save images, videos, etc.
– Create a copy of the Briefing Document template and customize it for the client

Materials: Add the link to the folder.




Client Account Manager
Stage 2: Client OnboardingAdd media buyer to Google Drive folder (with edit access)What: The media buyer will need access to the client folder
Associated Materials: Add instructions here and link to client folders
When To Mark Complete: Once the media buyer has been granted access
Client Account Manager




Stage 2: Client Onboarding




Brief internal team/contractor on the project
What: The CAM will meet with the media buyer, or send over details without a meeting
How: Using the briefing document
Associated Materials: Briefing doc
When To Mark Complete: Once the project has been briefed to the media buyer
Client Account Manager
Stage 2: Client OnboardingConfirm briefing form has been filled inGoogle Drive document: Add link HEREClient Account Manager
Example Facebook Ad Client Onboarding Checklist provided by Taylor

Hiring Account Managers 

If all of the above is making you break out in sweats thinking of all the added workload and extra emails you need to send, then this is your invitation to start thinking about removing yourself from this side of your business. 

The truth of the matter is that to be successful with client retention, you must be super proactive with your communication; something that ultimately requires time and patience. 

What you don’t want to find yourself in is the position of having to reply ten times to a client in one day, feeling burnt out and frustrated. 

Getting account management off your plate will free you up to focus on other aspects of your business. 

When hiring an account manager, look for someone who demonstrates: 

  • Bubbly and charismatic personality 
  • High organizational skills 
  • Great verbal and written communication skills (can they record loom videos, write emails proficiently, etc?)

If you don’t have the funds to hire internally, outsourcing this side of your business can help to free up time to allow you to grow quicker.  

This is exactly what Taylor’s agency DOT & Co. does, click here to get in touch with them.  

Final Thoughts on Retaining Digital Marketing Clients

There is no doubt that the only way to grow and scale your agency long-term is through the retention of your client base (which is the account management side of your business).  

This side of your business may seem like a time suck that you’d rather not do (and instead just dig your head in the technical) but it is arguably more valuable than any other part of your business.

Prioritizing creating processes around client communication and onboarding will not only enable you to step away from this time-consuming task, but also ensure happy clients that stick around for longer (and hopefully refer you to others). 

If you’ve been struggling to build these processes or scale, find out more about the very same agency growth program (The Academy) Taylor went through today.

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