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How to Keep Clients from Leaving Your Digital Agency


Growing up, Risk was one of my favorite board games. My brother and I could kill an entire afternoon fighting for world domination.

Risk is about two things: Retention and expansion.

The goal of the game is to strengthen your hold on key territories and expand into new ones.

With that basic concept in mind, Risk is similar to agency life. You may not be vying for world domination, but the struggle for retention and expansion is the same.

Unfortunately, retention is the biggest problem agencies are facing today.

Brad Jakeman

In a recent talk at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference, Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group, said that “clients are being way more promiscuous with their agencies than they ever have.”

Brands are testing out different agencies on a more regular basis, trying new tactics and straying from their agency of record.

As a digital agency that develops social media strategies, creative campaigns, and manages production for your clients, you need to make sure they recognize the value of your work. It’s cheaper to keep a client than it is to find a new one, and it looks better to have a major brand on your roster than it is to have a headline splashed across the trade pubs that says they left for another agency.

So how can you keep your clients from bouncing to a competitor? It’s all in the details.

Show Value

Your clients are the experts on their product, but you’re the expert when it comes to what you can do for that product. Make sure you’re showing your clients why they should be with you.

Clarifying the Role of Social Media

Assuming you have access to social media data (which you do: either you have a comprehensive solution like Simply Measured, or you have access to native analytics in Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you’re already able to do this.


It’s easy to forget that we live in a marketing and advertising echo chamber, but chances are that your clients don’t know as much about their audience, competitive tactics, and what people are talking about in regards to their industry or product. By digging into social data, you are able to provide a level of expertise that your competitors aren’t.

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By sharing insight around the client’s audience, competitors, and social conversations about their industry, you can establish expertise they probably don’t have access to in-house.

Baselines and Best Practices

How many times have you met with a client who wants a campaign to “go viral” — but when you ask them what that means in their industry, they have no idea? In many cases, your clients don’t have a baseline for success, or a good idea of how to improve performance through solid creative work. That’s where you come in.

As an agency, you should be leveraging social data on a regular basis, and if you have a software subscription (I hear Simply Measured is rad), you can take a look back at your clients’ past campaigns. This will allow you to set baselines for campaigns you’ll manage for your clients, and forge a relationship in which you’re the experts and can show accountability.


At the end of the day, your clients want to know one thing: Did it work?

They just spent a lot of money on your services; why should they do it again? Your post-campaign report is a critical lynchpin for an ongoing relationship with that client. Make sure you’re demonstrating value, but not wasting their time with metrics they don’t care about.

Do you know how social media fits into your broader marketing strategy?
Do you know how social media fits into your broader marketing strategy?

Tie your activities to real business value. What did you do for their bottom line? This can manifest itself in many different ways, but it’s important that you’re clear about what you did.

Think Like Your Clients

Your job is to bring something to the table that they don’t already have. In order to do that, you need to put yourself in their shoes. What do they need? What do they struggle with? What’s important to them?

Your clients are looking to increase sales, drive brand awareness, and be seen as industry leaders. How can you help them do that, and just as importantly: How can you show them that you’ll keep doing it?

Get everything you need to analyze the metrics that matter

Social Media Campaign Checklist


Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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