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Agency reporting: How proof of performance impacts client retention

There’s a reason client retention is a big deal. After all, returning customers spend 67 percent more than new customers (Business.com). More than that, returning customers usually buy more often. Best of all, it costs your agency less to keep your existing clients happy than to win over new ones. Yet, client retention remains a key challenge for most agencies. You can try adding new services, but there’s a simpler way to boost client retention: agency reporting.

Download “Why reputation management matters: A churn study” for data-based strategies on retaining clients longer using online reputation management.

How can agency reporting get your clients to stick with you? It helps you prove performance.

Why do clients want proof of performance?

Today’s customers are more cynical than ever. They like to do research themselves, so they’re almost never going to “take your word for it.” They want to see tangible proof that what your agency does is actually working for them.

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) hire agencies to help them with tasks like marketing, which they may not have the time to handle. They may also not have the know-how, so they call in the experts—your agency.

Local SEO reporting is a good example here. Business leaders know local SEO is important, but very few of them know how to do it well. Even fewer have time for the ongoing effort it takes. Many business leaders don’t have a solid understanding of how SEO works, which makes it harder for them to see whether it’s working.

That doesn’t change when they hire your agency to do SEO for them. They expect to see changes, but they don’t know what improvement looks like. That, in turn, can lead them to believe your SEO services aren’t working—and that they’re not worth paying for.

Solving an age-old marketing problem

Marketing has long had an issue with providing proof. Until the digital era, it was very difficult to prove that a marketing campaign was working. You could give results, such as how many ads you printed in a magazine, but that didn’t mean people were looking at the ad. Even today, it’s still difficult to prove the effectiveness of TV spots, radio ads, and more (Kellogg Insights).

The advent of digital marketing has changed that. Now, with analytics on your side, it’s easier than ever to prove that a campaign is working. Agency reporting can help you provide that proof to your clients. In turn, even the most skeptical business leader can be won over, keeping them happy with your services and stopping them from churning.

How agency reporting delivers instant proof

When you use a data-driven online client portal, you can deliver insights to your clients in real time. In turn, they can always see exactly how your services are measuring up to their expectations. That makes it easy to see when improvements happen.

The best platforms let you connect third-party data sources, like social media, as well. Some even support custom integrations via API. That means your agency reporting app becomes a one-stop shop for all the client’s reporting needs. If they want to check on their business’s online presence, they can pop into the report and see how they’re measuring up.

That also makes it easier to track changes. If the client has a B- for reputation on Day 1, the report makes it easy to compare that to where they are on Day 30.

Since data collection is automatic, you don’t need to lift a finger to help them see the results. Better yet, you can start reporting on Day 1, which delivers value to your clients right from the get-go. The more data sources you connect, the more holistic and complete the report is.

Customizing reporting

Ideally, you’ll want to use a platform that offers customized agency reporting for each client. That lets them keep tabs on the metrics that actually matter to their business. If they’re not concerned with traffic growth, then they don’t need to see those numbers. Instead, you can help them zero in on conversion rates or other KPIs that have real impact on their businesses.

The report breaks down into multiple sections, walking the client through each part of their larger strategy.

Automated reminders can also help clients by alerting them to when they have a new report to review. You can customize how often to send reports, as well as what tasks to report on.

Discovering weak points and offering solutions

Agency reporting is great for showing clients where you’re “winning.” It can also help you spot weaknesses in their marketing efforts. In turn, the report can use data analysis to recommend new products or services for that client.

A client who has great traffic to their online store may wonder why they’re struggling to sell. One recommendation for this client might be workflow ecommerce email automation, so they can send out cart reminders. You might even suggest adopting a review strategy, so more customers post reviews.

The right client portal with reporting should make it easy for your clients to learn more about the solutions you offer. That way, when they decide to take action about their weak points, they can do it instantly. Guides can help clients learn to use features they already have access to. Recommendations can give them actionable insights and help them find a solution.

Engaging clients and showcasing expertise

White-label agency reporting does more than show the client proof of performance. It also engages them in a deeper conversation with your agency team.

This gives your team members ample opportunity to showcase their expertise. Instead of asking clients if they’d like to buy more from you, your team can work with the client to address issues and meet pressing needs.

The automated nature of the reporting makes it easy for your team to share insights. They can then spend more time engaged in productive conversation with the client. In turn, they can help solve more of the client’s problems.

Building trust in a world of skeptics with agency reporting

What does all this mean for client retention? Agency leaders who offer data-backed insights via reporting see retention rates soar over 50 percent over 24 months.

Why does offering data-backed proof of performance have such a big effect? It comes down to building trust with your clients.

Clients are more skeptical than ever before (AdAge), which means they’re tough to convince. Agency reporting gives you a leg up by offering them the proof they want. Your clients don’t want you to tell them that your marketing campaign is doing great. They want to see the results—and agency reporting lets them do just that.

If you don’t offer your clients proof that what you’re doing is working, then they have to take you at your word. In today’s cynical business environment, that usually means the client isn’t going to trust you.

Agency reporting lets you be transparent with them. Providing information about what's working and what still needs work lays the foundation for trust. When the client can see the proof themselves, at any time, they don't have to take your word that something is working.

Using those same insights to point to problem areas and offer solutions further builds the client’s faith in your agency. Since you’ve already solved one problem for them, they’re going to be more willing to let you try to solve another.

Trust helps build fanatics

When you can solve more of a client’s problems, they are much more likely to become fans of your agency. In turn, they’ll recommend you to their colleagues. If someone leaves a business, they might recommend you to their new employer. If someone starts their own business, they’re more likely to come to you.

Why? They trust that your agency can do the job. And they can even show others why because they have the data to back up their opinions. By demonstrating your expertise and helping them solve more problems, you build a better relationship with the client.

That initial trust can be built by sharing insights in agency reports. Transparency goes a long way in earning trust—and proving that you’re up to the task doesn’t hurt either.

Making your clients fans is a good strategy. Not only can it help you keep your clients but it can also help you receive more referrals. Referrals have a higher value and convert more often than other prospects.

Make reporting easier with the right platform

The right white-label software can make agency reporting a breeze. With the right platform, you can connect your clients to their marketing stats, reputation management, and much more via a client portal—all while providing them with sharper insights into their performance.

If you’ve wanted to boost client retention for your agency, then getting the right reporting tool on your side is a great step to reaching this goal—and keeping your clients happy.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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