One of the most common stories I hear from agency owners is about the challenges associated with getting clients results, getting them results fast enough and getting them enough results to keep the client on the program and paying their retainers. Sound familiar?
This is a major aspect of growth. If you can’t keep your current clients, then you’ll only be treading water. Signing one new client a month and losing one current client a month is NOT growth. The best way to grow is to keep your current clients happy and getting them results is usually the one and only way to do that.
So, what’s the answer?
It would be great if this was an easy answer, but it’s a multifaceted challenge. First, most agencies don’t do a deep enough strategy dive before they start working on tactics.
Then they don’t have a big enough budget to do all the tactics necessary to move the needle.
They don’t track the right metrics and their teams don’t have the experience to find insights in the metrics. This leads to poor optimization and a lack of recommendations based on the numbers.
The result (and this should sound familiar) is the client starts telling you what to do and or your team starts doing “random acts of marketing” that appear to the client to be random. When the results don’t come, you get fired. Don’t feel bad, it happened to all of us at one point.
Let’s take a closer look behind the scenes and come up with some solutions.
Strategy Is A Non-Negotiable Even If Your Clients Don’t Ask For It
The data is undeniable. We look at three or four prospect programs being run by other agencies every week and the number one reason why those programs are NOT working is because there never was any strategy. The clients are becoming more tuned into this and they are mentioning this to us. It feels like their agency is just doing “anything” without any reasoning or thinking behind it. Their words, not mine.
If you want to get better results for your clients, you must have a process and methodology to help your clients create the revenue strategy they need to hit their revenue goals. This strategy work must include persona development (almost everyone knows this), messaging and story creation, differentiation and the analytics necessary to understand your client’s current state and their desired state.
At Square 2, we run workshops for each of these four elements of strategy and don’t progress to tactics until it’s all locked down and approved by our clients.
While the personas, messaging and differentiation are straightforward, perhaps the analytics are not.
In order to have a positive, productive and profitable engagement with a client, we have to know the quantitative data associated with the current performance of their revenue cycle. This is everything from website visitor data to number of new customers, monthly revenue, average revenue per new customer, retention rate, cross sell rates and everything in between.
This helps us align revenue performance (sales, marketing and customer service) to their current revenue performance and then we can build a new model that shows us what the revenue cycle is supposed to look like if they hope to hit their revenue goals. This gives us the delta between current state and desired state.
With all this strategy work, you align your team with the client team, set expectations, create an appropriate budget, build a set of tactics based on performance data and prioritize execution around what will have the biggest impact for the least amount of effort. Now you’re ready to execute.
Experience And Experimentation
The strategy can be designed with an internal process, training and playbooks. But when it comes to execution, getting clients results requires the people running the program to have enough experience to lead the engagement in the right direction, to make the right decisions and to have confidence that their past experiences are driving those decisions.
At Square 2, we realized that this usually takes about 10 years of active program management experience before you know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
But there are some ways to accelerate this at your agency.
One of the best, and almost always underutilized ideas is to use your agency as a lab and run a ton of experiments every month. By using your agency as a lab, you can run experiments on how to rank in Google, you can test different paid ads, you can test different content types, CTA designs, and even test new offerings on your agency first.
As an example, our very first ABM campaign was not for a client, but for us and we learned so much that we redesigned our ABM client offerings based on that insight.
Ongoing Optimization Takes Time, Points AND Budget
Next, make sure your engagements have the Optimization work budgeted for and planned out. For me there have always been three stages to any engagement. Strategy, tactics and optimization or as we like to tell clients, Plan, Build and Grow.
Make sure that everyone is clear the Grow or Optimization stage is critical to producing results. It’s the stage when you have all your assets, the strategy is executing and you’re starting to see early returns. You can see what pages on the website are getting visitors, what offers are converting, what landing pages are working and what sources are bringing in new visitors to the site.
You may have run a couple of campaigns and you have data on email, lead nurturing, CTA conversions, and on the quality of the leads your efforts are producing for the client.
Now you and your team have to dig into that data and come up with ongoing optimization ideas that are going to produce even better results. This effort takes time and if you’re using points, it takes points. You must make sure your client is prepared to allocate budget for ongoing optimization and you need to have a process in the agency to give your teams guidance around how to do this critical work.
We run an Analyze, Review, Respond and Act process that provides a clear methodology around what to look at, who to involve, how to process information, come up with insights and then most importantly, create an action plan to drive our recommendations to clients.
The more you run this cycle the better your results. If you have your team looking at data monthly and they create a monthly set of recommendations—great. But what if they could run this cycle weekly and create a weekly set of recommendations—wouldn’t that be better? What if they could do it every day? See where this is going? The more you cycle, the better the results.
Insights Are the Secret
Here’s something the marketing automation companies and the dashboard companies won’t tell you. The secret to doing this well and getting clients results is not in the data, analytics or dashboards. It’s from the insights your team gleans from that data.
You need your people to be able to look at the analytics and the data, then come up with the insights. Unfortunately, this skill set is earned. It’s very difficult to train and its literally impossible to get from outside resources.
The only way to uncover insights is by doing it. Doing it for different companies in different industries. Doing it for companies of different sizes. Doing it for companies with different marketing tactics. Doing it and then seeing what results were produced. Doing it for your agency and doing it over and over again.
Software won’t produce these insights. They only come from experience.
At least until now. Having run an agency for 16 years it became obvious that the secret to getting clients results was having a team of people who could uncover these insights and make recommendations to clients to optimize the performance of their program.
But no one can do this for five to seven clients every single day and if the data analysis, insight identification and recommendations are the key—how can we make this easier?
Meet MAXG, an artificial intelligence powered insights and recommendations engine designed for agencies and end users alike.
Now your team doesn’t need the experience, we’ve built our 16 years of experience into MAXG and giving him an AI powered brain to keep learning based on the data from your clients and all the clients he’s looking at.
Simply connect MAXG to HubSpot or Google Analytics. This takes about five seconds and MAXG provides insights and recommendations in a prioritized fashion, based on your goals.
MAXG’s latest feature give you benchmark data so you can compare your performance to other companies in your industry.
MAXG is designed for agencies and over 20 agencies are already using MAXG to gain better results for their clients. You can set up all your clients and best of all it’s free for the next 6 weeks. We’re sharing MAXG with everyone to get feedback on the product and we’ll continue to add new insights and recommendations every single week.
Interested in finally fixing that nagging issue of knowing what to do to get clients better results? Click here or click the MAXG button below to visit the website and sign up for early access before we rollout our paid version in April.
Finally, your clients will get the results they need, based on their goals and their current performance data. You’ll have happier clients who stay with you longer and are more referenceable. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Start Today Tip – You have a couple of options. Start training your people on how to uncover insights and provide better recommendations to your clients. Build a process or methodology for how you want your teams to cycle around their creation of insights and recommendations OR simply sign up for MAXG and start getting these for all your clients in an automated and prioritized manner. Later today, you could be calling your client and telling them what you found in their data, what you want to do about it and what results you expect. That’s a call I like to make every day.
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