| Feb 19, 2024 | | 8 min read

Master crucial client relationship building with these 10 strategies


Client relationship management is an umbrella term that refers to strategies, tasks, and technology that help you support client relationships and overall satisfaction. This work is critical to success for a digital agency in a competitive landscape, as it supports you in proactively meeting unique client needs and building strong, longstanding connections.

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In this article, we’ll go over why client relationship management is important in digital marketing, as well as some strategies for how to maintain those relationships for long-term gains.

Why is client relationship management important?

The work you do to engage and support your clients has lasting effects on your marketing agency's reputation and its bottom line, including:

  • Enhancing customer loyalty and retention. Whether you're in your digital agency startup period or have already grown your business, keeping the customers you have is typically less costly than winning new customers. Strong client relationship management ensures existing clients remain loyal, which also boosts customer lifetime values.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction and referrals. Clients who have good relationships with you are more likely to talk about your services positively and refer others to you. This can be a huge driver for success when you launch a new service line, as your existing clients may help you get the initial word out.
  • Driving business growth and profitability. Clients who are engaged with your business positively are more likely to stick with you as they grow and need more marketing help, which can drive agency revenue for your business.

Challenges in client relationship management

Creating strong processes and hiring the right people go a long way in supporting strong client relationship management, but any agency can deal with struggles such as:

  • Communication barriers and misunderstandings. Managing client relationships requires excellent communication skills and processes. You also need to figure out what type of communication works for each client and execute on those differences well.
  • Managing diverse client expectations. Communication isn't the only thing that may be different with each client. Every client has a unique brand and expectations about marketing; your agency team must be agile to meet these diverse needs.
  • Handling difficult clients and resolving conflicts. Hopefully, most of your clients are easy to work with and love your work. However, every agency runs into conflict at some point, and strong client relationship management requires negotiation and conflict resolution skills.

10 strategies to build and maintain valuable relationships with clients

You can build client relationships by implementing tried-and-true strategies, including those below.

1. Establishing clear communication channels

Develop several communication channels you know you can support fully, and create clear onboarding processes to help clients choose the channels that work for them. For example, you might support clients via email, chat, and a project management solution.

It's tempting to tell clients you'll support any solution they want, but can you accurately and efficiently manage clients on dozens of platforms? Probably not, though you can use APIs and other technology to integrate your platform with separate solutions to go that extra mile in some cases.

2. Understanding and meeting client needs

Take time to learn about your client's business. This demonstrates that you actively care about client outcomes and helps you recommend a tailored marketing approach for each client.

Avoid getting trapped with in-the-box thinking. For example, if you use a website builder to develop sites for clients, ensure you maximize the features and creative options with that tool so that every client's site is unique and reflects their brand.

3. Providing exceptional customer service

Around 97% of people say customer service is a major factor in whether they will stick with a business, brand, or partner (Forbes). Consider your customer service processes to support optimal client relationships. Those processes should include:

  • Friendly, efficient onboarding that brings clients immediately into a relationship mindset
  • Workflows that ensure communications don't get lost in the shuffle
  • Strong quality protocols that support the delivery of work that meets client expectations
  • Feedback loops that ensure clients feel like they are being heard
  • Strong communication and data processes, so clients never feel like they’re explaining the same thing many times

4. Regularly seeking client feedback

You likely know that a digital marketing strategy works best when you review metrics and make tweaks to improve future outcomes. Client relationship management works the same way. When you regularly review client feedback, you can make changes to improve the relationship as well as the future services you provide the client and others.

Ways you can seek client feedback include:

  • Through regular touch-base calls or web conferences
  • Via email or chat
  • With more formal processes, such as client feedback forms and surveys

5. Building trust and credibility

Your clients want to see marketing content that includes case studies, provides actionable (and current) data, solves specific needs, and includes information from experts (The Sword and the Script Media). If you want to boost digital marketing agency revenue, start working to build trust with content and other marketing efforts.

Continue to build that trust once you make the sale. Only promise clients what you can actually achieve, and follow through on those promises every time. Communicate clearly, openly, and often—if there’s a problem, get ahead of it by being honest with the client and offering proactive resolution options.

6. Going above and beyond expectations

One of the best customer service habits for a digital marketing agency is to underpromise and over-deliver. Obviously, you can't create such ridiculously low expectations that clients won't want to work with you. But you do want to hedge bets when setting budgets, deadlines, and quality expectations so you can wow clients later.

7. Personalizing client interactions

Humanize interactions with clients by treating everyone you deal with as a person, not another contract or metric. Ask about someone’s family, interests, or even the local weather where they are before jumping into business discussions. Then remember those details later.

For example, if someone mentions on a client call that they’re taking a ski trip later in the month, when you reach out to deliver work the next month, you might say, “How was the ski trip? Hope you enjoyed the slopes!”

8. Offering loyalty programs and incentives

Almost 90% of people say they aren't loyal to a brand until they've made three or more purchases with the business (Exploding Topics). Offering incentive programs can help encourage new clients to stick with you long enough to become true-blue clients.

Loyalty programs also reward longstanding clients for sticking with you, which can help them feel more appreciated The best loyalty programs turn top clients into ambassadors for your agency, potentially resulting in more referrals.

9. Maintaining a proactive approach

You can’t manage client relationships passively. Instead of waiting for clients to come to you with questions or problems, consider how you can meet needs proactively.

Knowledge bases and FAQs are great examples of proactive client relationship management—they demonstrate that a business has considered client concerns and questions and taken the time to provide resources to meet those needs. Think about how you can build that type of proactive approach into all your client processes.

10. Continuously improving client relationships

Whether you have great client relationship management or know you need to work on this, there’s always room for improvement. Review feedback continually and work with your team to tweak processes to provide better services and communication for clients. This helps your agency stay competitive in a constantly evolving market.

Things to avoid in client relationship management

When implementing client relationship management strategies, there are some things that you definitely want to avoid:

  • Lack of responsiveness and follow-up. Around 85% of customers want to see responses from businesses in around 6 hours (Online Dasher). In a business-to-business relationship, more clients are likely to see 24-hour or next-business-day responses as reasonable, but you do need a plan for following up on every communication.
  • Overpromising and underdelivering. Know what you can deliver and don't oversell just to close a deal. Consider options such as white label services to help you meet client expectations as you grow.
  • Ignoring client feedback and concerns. You may be the marketing expert, but the client knows their company best. Listen to and incorporate client feedback whenever possible.
  • Failing to adapt to changing client needs. Client businesses evolve—hopefully, they grow. Know that the services you provide will need to evolve with them.
  • Being too transactional and not building relationships. Ensure you have clear contracts, invoicing processes, and other agreements. But don't make every interaction about business only—do regular work to get to know your client and their business and build relationships.

Invest in client relationships today

Positive client relationships are essential to the success of any digital marketing agency. Yet, when much of the communication and work is handled via digital means such as email or project management software, relationships often take a backseat to productivity.

Implementing the right client relationship management strategies can help you avoid such challenges and build customer loyalty and trust. If you haven't already prioritized these approaches, now is a great time to invest in client relationships to support long-term success.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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