Customer retention is a big deal for our SEO resellers. It is a great deal of work to locate and sell to a potential client. Once you bring somebody on board the challenge then shifts to keeping them as a long-term customer. And in the SEO business this can be a big challenge. We hear all the time from our SEO resellers that their customers are being solicited every day by numerous firms who are trying to break into this space. The question is invariably the same, what more can we do to retain these customers and keep them jumping ship?
The first thing we tell an SEO reseller is that business results are always the most important thing. If you can do a good job your customers they will stay with you. This of course, assumes your pricing is reasonable. If you do a good job and you over charge for your services you will probably lose customers to a lower-cost option. So our primary focus is always on the execution of our SEO services. If our SEO can be better than anyone else's we will keep these customers, on average.
There is a bigger issue, however, having to do with customers who don't perceive the value of what you are doing for them. Even if you are offering the best search engine optimization service around, and your prices are extremely reasonable, they may still not understand what they're getting. This is a somewhat unique problem in the search engine optimization industry because the product is so new. It has not yet become commoditized to the point where people completely understand it and can find the same service in many places. As much as it may not feel that way to an SEO reseller, SEO is still a very new industry. As in any new industry, there is confusion about what you are buying and the value proposition. This makes customer retention more difficult.
The successful SEO reseller will recognize that the customer needs to be educated in addition to delivering excellent SEO services. Customers want expert advice when they outsource SEO. One of the ways we try to educate our customers is by using high levels of communication and leveraging our technology to demonstrate exactly what we are doing for them on a day-to-day basis. Recently we introduced a feature that will e-mail daily alerts showing the customer exactly how many clicks into their website via Google and other search engines. We show them the specific keywords in the number of visits for that day, or weekly if they prefer. This is an outstanding way to constantly remind them of the potential leads you are bringing to their website through SEO. And for our SEO resellers we do this under their logo and from their e-mail address.
Another intriguing feature we have implemented for our SEO reseller program recently is to summarize the amount of money the customer would have paid if they had bought all their organic traffic through PPC. This is another attempt to educate the customer and help the SEO reseller make their case for our staying on the SEO plan long-term. We have found that it is not that hard to demonstrate the value of the traffic our search engine optimization is creating when summarizing in these financial terms. This creates an outstanding business case and helps the customer understand the value of what they are paying for in very simple terms.
As any business book will tell you, the cost of retaining a customer is much lower than the cost of new customer acquisition. Particularly in the SEO reseller space, this is a big concern because there are many new competitors racing in to solicit your customers over to their search engine optimization offerings. With an uneducated buyer it is very hard for them to discern which plans have more value, which can lead to customer churn. For these reasons you need to use all the tools at your disposal and leverage your SEO technology to constantly remind the customer of the value they are receiving from your search engine optimization efforts.
Why Should SEO Client Retention Be A Priority?
On a strictly superficial level, it certainly sounds easier to keep a current client around than it does to go out and search for new clients. But there’s also ample data to back up the idea that client retention is far more cost-effective for businesses.
Statistics show that it costs 5% more to find and bring on a new customer than it does to retain a current client. It also costs 16 times more to bring a new client up to the same level as a current client -- which will waste both time and money. Other figures reveal that increasing customer retention by a mere 2% can lower your overall business costs by up to 10%.
Not only will keeping current customers around serve as a cost-saving measure, but it can actually maximize your overall profits. Some data reveals that increasing your customer retention rate by just 5% has a correlation to at least a 25% profit increase. Since the average repeat customer spends an impressive 67% more during months 31 to 36 of their business relationship than they do during the first six months of working together, it’s no surprise that client retention can mean major money. Repeat customers are actually known to spend 33% more than new customers -- so the incentive is there to focus on retaining clients.
Of course, the customer experience you provide plays a substantial role in retaining SEO clients. Bad customer experience is cited as one of the primary reasons for customer churn; even if the products or results meet the client’s expectations, they probably aren’t going to stick around if they feel ignored by their SEO provider or have had other negative interactions with them.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that poor customer service doesn’t only impact the client in question. In fact, 85% of consumers who have taken action after a bad customer experience wanted to warn others about doing business with the company. On the flip side, 86% of consumers would be willing to pay up to 25% more in order to get a better customer experience.
By providing stellar customer service from the start, you’ll give your clients every reason to stick around -- and you’ll have a chance to reap the financial rewards. But the concept of customer service doesn’t refer to just one type of behavior. In order to develop a customer service strategy that takes your client retention to a new level, you’ll need to delve deep.
How Have We Improved Our Own Client Retention?
We care immensely about our reseller relationships. Because we use a reseller model, our business is directly impacted when one of our partners loses a client. As a result, we do everything we can to provide helpful client retention resources to our resellers.
However, we also know that we need to do the work to retain our own clients (i.e., our SEO reseller partners!) in order to make these relationships mutually beneficial. Here are just a few steps we’ve taken to really amplify our client retention efforts during the past few years.
Response and Support
Support tickets: Our white label dashboard allows our customers to communicate seamlessly with our team in real time, but we also offer the option of opening a support ticket for more pressing issues. It’s our policy to respond to all support tickets, emails, and voicemails within four business hours -- but the vast majority of these requests receive responses within the hour. We want to make sure our resellers know that they’re our top priority -- and if they’re having any kind of issue, we want to know about it and resolve it in record time.
Phone calls: There was once a time where we weren’t too concerned with phone calls. While it might seem odd, we were focusing more on electronic communications from leads and prospects -- and we paid the price for it. We likely missed out on a lot of potential clients (and perhaps neglected to address the needs of current customers!) because we didn’t have staff on phone duty. We’ve changed things drastically and now have ample phone coverage at all times to ensure leads and current customers know they can contact us in this way. We’ve even instilled a rule to not let the phones ring for longer than 30 seconds -- that’s how serious we are about making ourselves accessible.
RASA: In client meetings, phone calls, and even office get-togethers, we’ve learned to really listen. Julian Treasure’s work pertaining to active listening has been a game-changer for us. We even hold communication training sessions with our employees as part of our leadership development to help them provide support to others and ensure every voice is heard. The concept of R.A.S.A. (which stands for receive, appreciate, summarize, and ask) is one we use in all kinds of client interactions to make sure we’re listening to, acknowledging, and understanding what our customers are telling us and communicate that we’re taking their feedback to heart.
Getting the Customer in the Room
We thoroughly believe in the idea of “getting the customer in the room.” It’s easy for any business to fixate on what they feel their strengths and weaknesses are -- but if you have no idea what your clients think, you could easily end up fixating on the wrong ideas. Instead of wasting time or trying to guess what clients want, we actively seek out what our resellers think and make sure to record hard data to guide us.
We do this in a variety of ways. We offer monthly calls with our resellers and their account manager (and sometimes other team members -- including our CEO!) to report on campaign progress, solicit feedback, and identify challenges and goals for the future. We also gather Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to gauge customer loyalty and overall satisfaction with our services. We even make sure to get our customers involved in our product innovation processes; after all, there’s no sense in developing a service that our clients don’t actually want.
In virtually every aspect of our business, we aim to get the customer in the room. Our company branding even expresses this idea: we want to grow together so that we can all rise to greater heights. Since we’ve built our brand on these customer relationships, it makes sense that this would be a major goal for our operations.
Since we’re invested in the growth of our resellers, providing ongoing education to them is an important aspect of client retention. As part of those efforts, we’ve compiled SEO case studies, held roundtable discussions (including one on the reseller impact of COVID-19), created detailed decks, and published content to help resellers improve their skills. We regularly schedule calls and meetings with our resellers to improve their understanding -- and we often offer our SEO services to resellers themselves. Whether they’re seeking some expert advice or want to focus on their own client retention, we’re here to help. And that brings us to our next point...
How Can Resellers Boost Their SEO Client Retention in 2020?
We understand the importance of retaining SEO clients first-hand. While our services may not be the root cause of an end client departure, we’re still extremely invested in helping our resellers keep their clients around for the long haul. We believe that growing together allows us the freedom to be more, do more, and have more -- so we’re just as motivated to ensure our resellers continue to reach new heights.
But if you’re losing clients, you’re not going to be able to achieve those aims. That’s particularly true if you don’t take the time to learn why you’re losing clients or take a closer look at the ways you might be able to turn things around. Instead of growing your client base, you’ll always feel like you’re playing catch-up. So before you think about expanding your business, you’ll need to assess the client retention areas that need fixing first. Here are a few areas you may want to focus on to start retaining SEO clients more consistently.
Communication and Connection
Eliminate jargon: You might have ample experience with search engine optimization, but it’s entirely possible that your own clients don’t. In order to communicate effectively, you need to recognize their level of understanding and adapt to it. Don’t expect your clients to know the ins and outs of SEO. If you’re using metrics in reporting that clients don’t understand, take the time to break it down for them or refrain from using certain terms altogether. If you confuse them with SEO jargon, it won’t matter what the results are; they’ll just end up feeling overwhelmed and alienated.
Identify customer priorities: You need to zero in on what your customers really care about and communicate those values in your calls and reports. There’s no point in focusing on data that’s virtually meaningless to the client. If you do, they’ll just feel like you’re wasting their time. Really get to know what each client values and connect data to those priorities. Once they see how those details provide value and correlate to their goals, they might become a lot more interested in them.
Consistency and Transparency
Be honest about campaign status: If retaining SEO clients is your goal, you need to be honest with them. Of course, you’ll want to highlight the positives of any campaign. But you also need to be accountable and be forthcoming about areas that can be improved. As long as you have a plan in place and can communicate those next steps to the client, they’ll appreciate your transparency and admire your ability to problem-solve.
Be available as needed: Dodging or canceling calls with clients isn’t the way to go here. Whether a campaign isn’t going as well as you’d hoped or you’re overwhelmed with work, you need to make customer service a priority. That may mean strategizing with your SEO partners to take some work off your own plate or working on a plan to get things back on track. But whatever you do, don’t decrease your interactions with clients during a difficult time.
Demystify SEO: Search engine optimization is incredibly complicated -- and as such, there’s a lot your clients probably don’t understand about it. Do your part by providing a basic SEO foundation for your clients. While they might not know the finer details, you’ll at least be able to communicate with them more clearly and effectively about keyword selection, back-end optimizations, link-building, and more.
Get ahead of misunderstandings: You can increase the likelihood of retaining SEO clients by setting clear expectations upfront. In many cases, that comes down to talking to your clients about what they can expect from a successful SEO campaign. Otherwise, they might be inclined to think that you aren’t doing your job if they aren’t seeing results in a few weeks. By providing clients with the right information at the start, you’ll be able to avoid misunderstandings (and potential fallout) later on.
Understandably, SEO client retention is an issue of great importance for your business. We want to be there to support the success of your clients while providing an overwhelmingly positive experience in all of your interactions. For more information on becoming an SEO reseller, please get in touch with our team today.