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TPE #60: how I retain clients for years

Sep 18, 2023

Ciao, Miles here writing to you once again from Italy! 🀌🏾

Working in PPC has lots of benefits, and one of them is that clients tend to stay with you relatively long.

That’s because of the nature of Google Ads: it’s an always-on layer in almost every marketing strategy. In most cases, brands don’t work in projects but on an ongoing basis.

I’m with my longest-standing client for more than 3 years (since the beginning of my freelance career).

Just imagine the LTV (an ongoing source of revenue for my business)!

Everybody is focused on getting clients, but nobody is talking about how to retain them.

Acquiring new clients is crucial for growth, retaining them is essential for stability.

In today’s newsletter, I’ll share my 3 core pillars to ensure clients stay with me for years on end.

Let’s dive in!

 

3 core pillars to retain clients for years

I’m in it for the long run with my clients. My aim is to work with them for years on end. Agencies and freelancers often overcomplicate it, but it’s all about building good relationships.

I do that through 3 core pillars:

  1. Build trust and rapport on the personal level
  2. Set goals and evaluate them
  3. Do frequent proactive check ins

Let’s look at each pillar.

 

Pillar 1: Build trust and rapport on the personal level

Success in business comes down to one thing: trust.

Your clients need to trust you to get the job done (aka to get the results they're after).

That’s trust on the business side of things.

But then there’s also the personal side of things, which is arguably just as important.

My goal is to get to know my client on a personal level to build rapport (definition: ”a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well”).

I want to find out:

  • What they’re interested in
  • What their passions are outside of work
  • What they (dis)like when working together

 

If you build trust and rapport, it’s more fun to work together, accounts cost less energy to manage, and you build a good relationship overall.

Trust and rapport cannot be faked. It takes a genuine interest in your client as a person, which is why I always stress that you shouldn’t work with toxic clients.

My longest-standing client relationship is 3 years, and I recently went out for lunch with him. We barely spoke about business, which makes our work super enjoyable.

You don’t necessarily have to take your clients out on lunches, but these little moments away from the office are generally where you build the best connections.

If you get to know your client better, and you find out he/she is a douchebag or if it’s not a fit on the personal level… Well maybe then you should stop working with them.

But that’s another discussion for another day…

Ultimately, it all comes down to trust: your client wants to be confident that you know how to get the job done, and that you’re the best person to manage their money.

When your client fully trusts you, your work becomes easy and a lot of fun. All my clients give me a carte blanche to manage their accounts, so I have full control over what I test and when.

 

Pillar 2: Set goals and evaluate them

Building trust doesn’t stop at the personal level. You want to set goals and evaluate them in fixed intervals. Here’s what I do with my clients:

Whenever I onboard a new client, we set goals together so we can keep each other accountable. For example: grow revenue year-over-year by 30% while maintaining efficiency (ROAS/MER).

I frequently report to my clients and always refer back to the progress we’re making on the goals that we set (whether it’s a quarterly business review, monthly report, weekly call, or quick Loom explanation video).

Goals don’t have to be set in stone, and it’s ok if they frequently change. I just want to make sure my clients and I are on the same page at all times and working towards the same outcome.

It’s crucial to …

 

Pillar 3: Do frequent proactive check ins

The last pillar to ensure clients stay with me for years on end: do frequent proactive check ins.

The goal is to once again build trust by communicating clearly and checking in frequently to:

  • Celebrate wins
  • Report on performance
  • Honestly discuss progress

 

The interval in which I check in proactively differs per client but at minimum, I try to send at least one update per week. For bigger clients, this can be multiple updates throughout the week on Slack. For smaller clients, this is sometimes limited to once per month.

I always communicate openly and honestly about what’s going well and where we can improve. If something goes wrong, I signal it to my client immediately. The worst thing you can do is trying to hide bad performance or misplays on your end.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

In 2021, I worked with a client and one of our campaigns accidentally overspent by 3X the daily budget. Since I’m managing the account, it’s my responsibility. I could’ve kept it silent and blamed it on Google, but instead I called up my client and told him I made a mistake that lead to a 3X overspend of the campaign. I instantly stressed out and offered to refund the overspend.

I’m not happy it happened, but I am proud of how I dealt with the situation. And my honesty was rewarded: my client told me the refund wasn’t necessary and that he appreciated the openness, honesty, proactive signaling, and refund offer.

 

Client retention is all about trust

Everybody loves acquiring new clients, but I urge you to focus more time and effort on retaining your existing clients for the stability of your business.

To recap, I do that through 3 core pillars:

  1. Build trust and rapport on the personal level
  2. Set goals and evaluate them
  3. Do frequent proactive check ins

 

In the end, client retention and business success is all about trust. Do everything you can do make your client feel confident that you’re the right person to get the job done.

And as result, your clients are happy, your business grows, and work becomes more enjoyable.

That’s all for today — see you next week!

p.s. In Episode 05 of The PPC Mastery Podcast (“How to retain your clients”), Bob and I go deep on client retention strategies, with more examples and story from our combined 10+ years of freelancing.

Bob’s longest-standing client is with him for more than 7 years — wild!

Check it out on our YouTube channel or listen on Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Apple Podcast. Just search for The PPC Mastery Podcast “E05 - How to retain clients”

 

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