Even though more and more businesses are joining forces with agencies in order to elevate their online marketing game to the next level, many of these partnerships often record short life spans. This is mostly because agencies fail to establish a certain level of trust and transparency while working with their clients.
Many advertisers are no longer interested in spending money where they don’t see any significant return on their investments. In order to keep their clients happy, agencies are obliged to do a better job of making their worth and results transparent to those who pay for their services.
According to a recent study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers, data is the glue that holds client-agency relationships together. Around 80 percent of marketers rely on data to help them handle and prolong partnerships with their clients.
Instead of making false and unrealistic promises, a lot of respectful marketers are now nurturing the honest approach. They feel that this particular way of doing business will help them strengthen their brand reputation and build meaningful and trustworthy relationships with their clientele.
And they’re right.
Research has shown that a whopping 94% of consumers stay loyal to a brand that’s open and transparent about their business.
However, maintaining a transparent relationship with your clients requires a bit of effort on your part. It doesn’t come all that easy. When you commit to transparency, you open your agency up to more criticism and questioning any mistakes. And that tends to hurt.
But when you do the right things, regardless of how hard they may be at certain times, you can expect to get something from your efforts – in this case, higher client retention rates.
Here are a couple of great practical ways how you can establish transparency and strengthen your client/agency relationships:
1. Let People Know Why Things Cost Money and Where Their Money Goes
Clients’ biggest concerns always include the budget. If you don’t do a good enough job of explaining to your clients why things cost money and what it actually takes to effectively perform the desired service, you’re probably going to experience problems with those same clients in the near future.
Establishing your values upfront should be your top priority. Explain clearly how you will work for specific clients and what kind of tactics you will deploy to help them reach their goal.
Clients rarely understand what it takes to successfully run specific campaigns for them. This is why it’s important to invest your resources in educating them. Be transparent and let your clients know what it takes to achieve the agreed goal. Make sure that everything is known and understood upfront before you choose to work with someone on one or more projects.
2. Work On Your Reporting Game
Most agency-client relationships end in disaster because a lot of agencies still do a sloppy job with their reporting. They struggle with putting together timely, informative, and visually acceptable reports that make sense of all the data for the clients.
Quality reporting requires time, dedication, and genuine effort. Most agencies aren’t really interested in allocating their valuable time and resources to crafting meaningful reports, and so problems start to emerge. They either try to completely leave out reporting from the process or just send data-stuffed documents to their clients on an irregular basis.
This, of course, creates a lot of friction between them and their clients. The consequences? The worst-case scenario is also the one that’s most frequent: contract termination.
The lack of meaning and transparency that occurs between clients and their marketing partners has reached a tipping point in this department. If you want to successfully service your clients, it’s imperative that you keep them in the loop.
3. Switch From a Monthly to a Weekly Reporting Structure
Agencies that understand the importance of quality SEO consulting and reporting with data transparency are the ones that are currently leading the field. They have moved on from Excel and PPT, and started using proper reporting tools that help them effectively communicate their performance.
Apart from investing in the right software, reporting in shorter intervals is the best solution for agencies and marketing professionals that keep their clients up to date with everything concerning their business. Even though most marketers still feel that monthly reporting is a great model for them because it requires a lot less work on their part than reporting on a weekly basis – they are wrong! Proper tools make reporting a painless process in an instant. You can finish your weekly and monthly reporting per client in 5 minutes instead of 5 hours.
Monthly reporting is an outdated system that butchers client-agency communication. It creates a gap between updates and pressures account managers to prioritize and compress their progress while crafting reports. Recently, I have switched from a monthly to a weekly reporting method for a couple of my clients and immediately started seeing better results.
4. Make Your Success and Failure Transparent – Show Your Client How You’ve Grown from Your Best and Worst Campaigns
We’re living in an era of hyperconnectivity, instant sophisticated messaging systems, and social networks. Your clients are aware of that. They utilize every single one of these channels and collect valuable insights, which enables them to make well-educated business decisions in the future.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you cannot really hide who you are and what kind of service you offer. The Internet is like an all-seeing eye. If people had a negative or positive experience of working with your agency, they’re probably going to share it online. Mind you, research has shown that 84% of people trust user-generated comments and reviews to help them develop their opinions about certain brands and services.
Smart agencies use this to their advantage. They do everything in their power to implement social proof in their strategy. They own their success and mistakes, and try to make what they’ve learned from their experiences transparent to their future clients.
Apart from encouraging their clients to share their positive experiences with the Web, a lot of agencies now produce various success stories and case studies that help them somewhat influence the buzz around their brand and services.
By making their data transparent and turning it into stories that directly speak to their potential clientele, agencies are demonstrating their worth and competence.
This helps you position yourself as a trustworthy source online. Your potential clientele (i.e. decision makers and relevant prospect that are their target audience you want to reach) can see that you’re truly an expert agency they can trust. This will encourage them to contact you and eventually – hire you for your services.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article from the beginning to the end. I hope it helped you understand how transparency can improve your agency-client relationships and what you need to do in order to promote your brand as credible and trustworthy.