6 Reasons Why Clients Dropped Your Digital Marketing Agency

Running a digital marketing agency can be both exciting and exasperating at the same time. Sometimes despite all your hard work to seal the deal, they suddenly pull out before your agency is able to fulfil the contract.
Why does this happen? Does your agency know why you were dropped by a client? Here are some possible reasons why clients let go of their digital marketing agency.
1. Agency fails to understand client’s marketing objectives and expectations
Even after reading the brief and talking to the client, your digital marketing agency could still get the creative concept or execution wrong.
This is important when dealing with large organisations with many business units. For example, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has units reaching out to different audiences.
NTUC has outreach efforts to all staff via unions and professional associations, even those in SMEs, freelance and self-employed, and migrant workers. At the same time, NTUC also runs social enterprises to moderate costs of living. If they’re not careful, digital marketing agencies may mix up the marketing objectives of various units.
To give your agency a higher chance of a positive evaluation:

  • understand exactly what objectives and expectations the client wants
  • the background of their organizational values
  • their customers
  • plan the creative campaigns accordingly

How you can fix this:
Just like a job interview, it pays to understand what your client does, before zooming into the specific marketing objectives.
Clients also appreciate the ability of digital marketing agencies to design a campaign for today, which can be a “sequel” for tomorrow.
Similarly, digital marketers can also subscribe to various professional organisations and associations for courses and events to upgrade their skills and network with peers to learn about the latest trends and tools.

Mr Vivek Kumar, Assistant Director-General of NTUC, shares that NTUC is working with professional guilds such as the Econsultancy and Institute of Advertising (IAS) to run various master classes and certified courses targeted at digital marketers. NTUC is also working with MRSS (Market Research Society Singapore) & DMAS (Data-driven marketing Association of Singapore) on deep-learning and future trends programs.
2. Agency has poor after-sales service
After clinching the contract, digital marketing agencies should monitor the quality of after-sales service.
Some complaints about agencies are:

  • failing to respond on time after the contract is signed
  • failing to communicate customer requests clearly to the creative team
  • expecting the client to drive the creative process and execution

Frustrated clients dealing with tardy and inefficient agencies will not hesitate to drop them mid-contract.
How you can fix this:
Plan and communicate timelines to both your client and agency staff.
If your agency representative isn’t able to handle issues or disagreements, establish beforehand how he or she can escalate such issues to other team members before the problem explodes.
Explore maximizing your team’s productivity by experimenting with automated reporting tools.
By taking away low value manual work, your staff will have more time to do higher value work that raises client satisfaction or open new revenue streams.
3. Agency doesn’t communicate expectations clearly to the client
How many times has your agency faced “unlimited” revisions based on clients’ vague feedback? Or clients expecting a 24-hour turnaround time on a digital campaign, not realizing the manpower or resource limitations of your agency?
Clients who are left disappointed may think twice about entrusting future projects to the agency, although the clients could be at fault too.
How you can fix this:
To avoid misunderstandings and “unlimited” revisions, agencies should clearly state work expectations in quotations and contracts.
For example:

  • Content comes with three revisions included (henceafter a fee will be imposed for subsequent revisions)
  • Outlines of the typical creative process and timelines
  • Payment timelines
  • Minimum marketing outcomes (if applicable) and other relevant terms.  

In addition, sales reps can highlight important client expectations. This gives the client an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback or negotiate with the agency on the agreed expectations before they sign on the dotted line.
4. The campaign is poorly executed with no fallback plan
Sometimes campaigns aren’t able to garner the expected marketing outcomes as promised, or worse, backfire badly.
Agencies could also fail to take into account cross-cultural, racial and political considerations.
For example, large multinational organizations such as H&M, Dove, Amazon and Mercedes-Benz, recently had to apologize for insensitive advertisements which were deemed racist or politically incorrect.
Failing to have a plan B can spell the demise of a potential long-term contracts and the reputation of your agency.
How you can fix this:
Running the campaign creative via several pairs of eyes from different backgrounds is one option if your contract doesn’t have a budget for focus group testing.
Holding “learning sessions” within your agency to discuss successes and failures of both your own and other agencies is important too. No failure should be too embarrassing to talk about, because every failure presents your agency with an opportunity to learn and improve.
5. Agency fails to evaluate the campaign to the client
Clients do not need agencies to tell them things they already know, such as straightforward statistics of pageviews, reach and engagement.
The value of an agency comes in when clients learn higher level insights, such as:

  • conversion rates of online followers exposed to different creatives or formats
  • measuring offline impact of online ads
  • experiments in paid targeting which had higher ROI
  • narratives of posts which resonated as more engagements were observed
  • extracting valuable insights from failures

How you can fix this:
Talk to your client about their immediate campaign expectations and also understand their business objectives. Helping clients see the measurable link between digital marketing and business objectives could give your agency a leg up when the client evaluates your performance.
6. Agency fails to “innovate”
Some clients actively look for agencies which can propose new ways to help achieve their business objectives.
Copying and pasting one campaign idea from client to client, or project to project, is easy in the short run but you may lose the long game as other agencies experiment with new technologies to enhance their digital campaigns.
Past successes is no indication of future success.
Agencies should also beware of the sunk cost fallacy, whereby they don’t let go of processes or assets which they have invested a lot in, yet will be outdated in the future.
How you can fix this:
Staying abreast of innovative digital campaigns and testing new technologies within the agency before pitching to an adventurous client is becoming a new normal.
Where your agency lacks the capabilities, consider partnering with complementary agencies to sell bundled services to clients, so they can approach you as a one-stop shop for various digital marketing capabilities.
Networking is one of the best ways to expand one’s awareness of innovation not just pertaining to the digital marketing industry, but also learn how other industries are evolving. Joining Innovation Exchanges to meet people from different backgrounds like fintech, engineering and e-sports could give you your next revolutionary idea to bring to your clients.
There are multiple reasons why clients drop their marketing agencies. What will help your agency survive is improving the effectiveness of your services to clients who increasingly want to know how digital marketing impacts their bottom line.
(This piece was written by Julia Chan, writer at julesofsingapore.com)

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