In the world of digital marketing, client retention seems to be a really big deal, and why wouldn’t it be? When I started this digital marketing agency in Orlando, one of the first things we thought about was how to obtain clients and keep them so we could gain a recurring income.
After thinking about this question for some time, we decided that providing value above and beyond the purchased service would be the way we were going to operate. This has really helped to build a strong client base and wonderful word of mouth referrals from previous clients and their friends as well! It seems people really like to talk about you when you have wowed them.
Unfortunately, not all web marketing agencies operate in this fashion. Some try to make it really difficult to drop their services. They do not want you to be able to implement these strategies yourself or find an agency that fits better with you and your business. Over the years I have seen a few tactics that some of these crack dealing agencies try to pull off in order to keep a higher rate of customer retention.
Does your web marketing agency have you on lock?
For some businesses, this could be a great thing. You don’t have to worry about much, the agency takes care of everything, you send an email and the work gets done to your satisfaction. Great, right?
Is it? Really? Well, what happens when you make your requests and the agency does not make a move, doesn’t even email you to let you know that they have it scheduled in? What happens when this becomes a regular practice?
This is the point when you are generally going to start looking for an agency that will be able to meet your needs, maybe even at a lower price than your previous agency since you are just getting one to maintain the web efforts your current agency has set up.
What if you cannot just drop your agency?
Other than a contract, what is going to keep you bound to their services? You can just take your business wherever you want, right?
Sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes the agency you are working with is looking for ways to make it difficult to just drop their services, just like a crack dealer.
I have seen marketing agencies that have their own Content Management System (CMS) for websites, which they have developed for their clients. I’m all for innovation and making things easier on both the developer and client, but this CMS did not make things easier for anybody. Perhaps it is really easy for the agency to implement, but the admin area is not at all user friendly.
The company that bought the website from this agency is now in a position where they feel that they need the agency to update their website with content the client supplied at maybe $60-$100 dollars an hour, rather than getting a contractor or an intern who could do it.
I have also witnessed a situation where an agency used WordPress for the client website, except there was almost no custom code to the site at all. They built the site using a cheap template and about 28 or 30 plugins. This is bad for so many reasons:
$ - The code behind the separate plugins may conflict, causing unforeseen problems in the future when the code updates
$ – The website becomes difficult to understand, especially determining what plugin changes what features
$ – The website may become slow to load, requiring unnecessary and possibly redundant optimization.
How to avoid being sold crack by your marketing agency
Before signing any contract or statement of work, you should make sure to ask about project handoff. No matter if you are having a website built, working on content marketing, having site SEO performed, or going through a rebranding, make sure that any “ongoing” work can easily be handed off to your internal staff even if you never intend for that to happen. If the agency seems reluctant to agree to this, I recommend that you look for other options.
For example, if I were running a Facebook ads campaign for your company, and you have really liked the results but wanted to have more control over the ads yourself, I would set up a way to hand off the project without any loss to you. If at all possible, I would have suggested monthly consultation sessions where I would teach you how to properly set up different ad types, how to write your marketing message and what images are going to work best for different kind of ad campaigns. Once you felt comfortable taking over the project, it would be in your full control. I would make sure that you knew we are available for further consultation if you were to need us.
It seems that most agencies view the above situation as the death of a client. I do not happen to share this view. The client, now pleased that they no longer have to pay to get similar results, has told their friends about their Facebook success, and how I taught them how to use ads. Some of their friends could care less, some have time to learn it on their own, and the few that are interested but who will require our services now know we exist.
Not only has this past client become an advocate, but they may require further services in the future. Now because they handled Facebook ads so well their business is booming. They know they should be on Google Plus, but have not found the time to venture onto the platform. And my phone starts ringing right on cue…