What Does Every SEO Agency Need To Prioritize? R-Cubed: Relationships, Results And Retention5 min read
Founder/CEO of Rankings.io, an SEO agency that helps elite personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings.
Think back to when you were in school. Maybe you had an important test, and you put all your time and energy into studying for it. You took the test and got the grade you wanted, then sat back and took it easy for the rest of the class. You didn’t keep up the hard work.
A similar phenomenon can happen with SEO agencies and their clients. Some SEO agencies put a lot of effort into making an excellent impression to secure business from clients, but don’t put in the same level of effort after those working relationships formally begin. The clients might not get the results they paid for, so their relationships with the agencies suffer. The agencies lose those clients, and the pattern repeats. Ultimately, SEO agencies with low client retention rates don’t have a great chance of long-term survival.
Now, there are different ways agency-client relationships can pan out. Authors Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske dive into the following concepts and how they apply to organizations in their book, The HUMAN Brand. Essentially, think about an SEO agency that might not generate the results one of its clients wants. However, if the client has a good relationship with that team, trusts them and knows that they have a plan to change that around, the client might stay. On the other hand, the client might not have a good relationship with an SEO agency but sticks around because the SEO team knows their stuff (similar to how Dr. House wasn’t a warm person but knew his way around the medical field).
Ideally, though, you want to be in situations where you have good relationships with clients and generate great results for them, leading to high client retention. Here’s the playbook for how to do that.
Trust is crucial to strong business relationships. If your clients don’t trust you, they won’t have a good relationship with you.
Building trust isn’t something you can instantly accomplish. It takes time, but you can start developing trust with your clients by being:
• Attentive: Pay close attention to what your clients tell you to accurately determine their SEO pain points.
• Empathetic: Empathize with your clients’ challenges and worries; after all, they’re coming to you and your team because they need SEO guidance.
• Transparent: Be honest about what you can and can’t do for clients before they sign on, and if they do, be open about your process along the way.
• Communicative: Update your clients on a routine basis about your team’s work.
• Proactive: Bring plenty of innovative ideas to the table and spot potential challenges as soon as possible so you can plan together.
• Eager: Show that you’re excited to work with your clients and play a role in moving their organizations forward.
Trust is vital to great client relationships, but trust alone isn’t enough. SEO agencies that stand out from the pack do something else alongside building trust—they give more value to the client than the client is paying for. I don’t mean that you and your team should avoid setting expectations with your clients, because you should absolutely set and maintain them. Instead, I’m saying that while the notion of “value” is subjective depending on each client’s unique situation, on a broad level, people like to pay for products and services when they think they’ll get more than they’ll give.
So, maybe you can provide 10 ideas even if the client asks for five. Don’t overextend yourself to the point where you’re harming your margins or overwhelming them with options, but go above and beyond while staying within your boundaries, and your clients will be impressed.
At a minimum, you should be giving each client what they’re paying for. If they want to hit the first page of Google search for five target keywords, you need to accomplish that for them.
To my earlier point, though, you should strive to generate better results than they asked for. So, maybe you get them on the first page of Google search for seven target keywords instead of five, or successfully get them the number one search result for each keyword.
Results matter, but the anticipation of an even brighter future also matters. You can’t depend on your historical results for retention. From my experience, I’ve seen that clients don’t tend to have good memories of where they were when we first began working together. When paying for a service over time, most people want more benefits out of it. That means that you and your team have to also paint a picture of a brighter future. For example, if you went above and beyond for a client by generating double the number of first-page rankings than they initially asked for, tell them how you’ll generate triple that number of first-page rankings the next quarter—and keep your word.
You can’t build great relationships, generate great results and then sit back and expect clients to keep working with you.
Yes, great relationships and great results are instrumental for client retention, but you need to be proactive about it. You need processes that help you keep a pulse on how clients are feeling about working with you. Sometimes, throughout a professional relationship, seemingly small problems that pop up turn out to be why that client leaves.
Some steps you can take to maximize the chances of your clients staying with you include establishing a regular communication cadence so clients feel like they are kept in the loop, sending out surveys throughout each project to see what clients are genuinely thinking and taking immediate action when you sense or see that there’s an issue.
When you get r-cubed (relationships, results and retention) right, you and your team will be well on the path to working with clients long-term on fulfilling projects that put your SEO agency at the top of its game.
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