Loyal advertisers do not grow on trees…
We spend much of our time speaking about driving sales, prospecting for new business and in general, making more money! Often these conversations revolve around how to bring new people in and how quickly we can grow their accounts. How often do we speak about client retention?
Marketing all over the globe is aimed at customer acquisition. Drawing people in with clever sales messaging that with instantly engage someone with your brand for a short period while you make your money. It’s a tried and trusted method of many of the worlds biggest names so why should anyone focus on another way?
The term customer service means the same thing whether you are speaking about B2C or B2B. As an affiliate network or agency, you identify your customers as your advertisers. Or you should be anyway! These are the guys that pay your wages, the ones that drive your brand. These are the people you rely on.
Client retention – There are only so many…
Pressure gets to us all. Whether you are a small business trying to make ends meet or a huge corporate with the weight of the world on your shoulders, pressure can dictate your direction. I have fallen victim to the quick win mentality many a time in my career, even when I knew I would pay for it long term.
Time feels like it is moving at double the speed and that time you allocated at the start of the week for ‘future planning’ is bumped down the list in favour of fire fighting. The client that needs to discuss quality, the publisher that needs payment or a higher rate and so on. You have 100 different skype conversations going on and your colleagues can actually see the steam coming from your ears. Sound familiar?
We will get on to managing your time in another post. For now I want to focus on the importance of changing the above mentality for the good of your business. Quick wins have a place in anyÂ organisation so please don’t mistake this postÂ for something it’s not. It’s about finding a better balance.
Effective retention will save you Â£Â£Â£’s…
Think about your current processes around client retention. Look at your team and try to list the key things you do that support old fashioned customer service. Where does the bulk of your wage bill lie? Do you have enough people in support roles? Are your sales teams managed on repeat business as well as client acquisition?
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not matching support roles to sales roles. Very often we are so top heavy on the ‘revenue driving’ side of our departments that we tend to forget the ‘revenue saving’ part. As boring as it sounds, this is every bit as important, especially if you want to retain great clients.
Think for a second about the resource and effort it takes to prospect for new business. A process that is becoming harder and harder to perfect in a world where the decision makers are more guarded than ever. email after email, call after call in pursuit of that one lead that may change your business for the better. It is a pure numbers game that takes time and effort, often with little reward.
Now think about the importance we place on keeping our current crop of customers happy. Do we have a whole strategy planned around retention? Are we allocating time and resource to really understanding the people that work with us? Do we need to tweak our current mindset?
Customer service mindset supports the brand…
We all have those demanding clients that want the earth while giving you tiny budgets. It’s easy to think of these people as time wasting, getting in the way of where the real money is. The reality of these clients however is very different.
Imagine you are a successful advertiser looking to expand your reach. Have you got to the ‘successful’ stage by trusting everyone and being loose with the cash? Absolutely not! You have reached the top by having a plan, spending wisely and most importantly…Looking after people.
These are the people demanding the world and starting small. They want you to prove you can be sensible with their investment before they trust you with more. They want to drip feed you so you can jump through hoops to earn their trust. Frustrating? Yes. Necessary? Definitely.
Imagine how much positive PR these companies can drive for you once you break through the annoying ‘testing’ stage. They already have a loyal following that hang off their every word so imagine if they were speaking about you in a positive light. Trusted word of mouth is by far the most powerful form of marketing.
Retention best practice…
First thing you have to accept is that you will never retain everyone. Sometimes no matter what we do for someone, they will always jump from network to network in pursuit of saving a few pence. Take the emotion out of what you do as this is not personal, it’s business.
When it comes to retention, attention to detail is so important. Amazingly, it is not all about making them the most money. An advertiser wants to know you have their best interests at heart. They want to trust that you will deliver on what you say you can. They are not interested in false promises or inflated figures, just honestly.
Understanding their goals and why they are important to the growth of their business is essential for your relationship to flourish. You must get into the detail of theirÂ campaigns and offer very honest and constructive feedback on whyÂ it will or won’t work.
Sustained growth trumps seasonal spikes any day. We can all deliver a big uplift in traffic over a few weeks or a couple of months. What your client is really looking for however is consistent growth over a sustained period, regardless of the curve gradient. If they know they will consistently make money with you, they will leave you alone to do your thing.
Remember…Retention is king!