If you want to build a healthy SEO agency, you need recurring revenue. Repeat income offers unparalleled stability, and allows you to invest back into your business, safe in the knowledge that you’ll still have money coming in next month. Thankfully, securing recurring revenue is also pretty easy – as long as you strive to secure long-term clients.
To help you build a stable SEO agency, I’ve put together a handful of crucial tips to help secure long-term clients. From fundamental changes to your business model, to rewarding your loyal customers, these changes will significantly improve the long-term prospects of your agency!
5. Offer services, not products
For many businesses, packaging up their business model into a concise set of products is a fantastic idea. Doing so makes it easy to market and advertise your offerings, and creates a scalable business model for selling to businesses in a standardized way.
Unfortunately, products tend to be viewed as a one-off expense. Once a client has purchased a product, and received the benefit from it, they’re done – and it’s an uphill struggle to sell further products to them. I see it all the time with search agencies offering to secure a #1 ranking for a client. It’s a single end-goal, and once it’s achieved, there’s nowhere else to go.
By offering services, you ensure that your business is viewed as an ongoing solution to a business’ problem. You’re emphasizing the fact that effective search optimization is a continued process – and to get the best results from their investment, your client needs to continually work with your agency.
4. Set realistic goals
It’s pretty common practice for SEO agencies to pitch sky-high targets in their proposal meetings, in an attempt to wow potential clients and secure a contract there-and-then. Whilst this might be a great way to earn new business, it’s a terrible way to secure long-term clients.
If you set the bar too high, you’ll never achieve your targets. A few months in, your traffic and organic search stats will be a fraction of what you promised, and your client will end-up feeling disappointed, and even conned. At this point, they’ll only stay with your agency because they’re contractually obligated to. This isn’t conducive to a long-term relationship, and soon as your contract expires, they’ll hit the road running.
There’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious targets – but only choose figures that you can explain, justify and have a damn good go at achieving.
3. Reward your loyal customers
Repeat custom is at the heart of a healthy SEO agency. In order to incentivize your existing customers to continue buying your products and services, it’s a great idea to offer bonuses and rewards. There are dozens of ways to achieve this:
- Free eBooks, guides and consultations
- Early access to (and early-bird prices for) new offers and products
- Access to ‘Premium’ resources and content
- Discount codes for your products and services
With that said, it’s important to be cautious with discount codes – as they can quickly devalue your services. Reduced-rate promotions set a pricing precedent, and once your client has used a discount, they’ll be unhappy to return to the original price. If you issue a discount code to repeat customers, make sure that you’re able to honor the lower price for every subsequent purchase.
2. Honesty is always the best policy
The business world is fraught with all manner of issues and problems. On a day-to-day basis, people everywhere have to deal with the fallout from late payments, missed deadlines and unresponsive service providers. These problems will, at some point, beset your customer relationship. Whilst the problems are often unavoidable, your response to each issue can be carefully measured – and will help create a happy and healthy relationship with your client.
People don’t like being lied to, and your best bet is usually to tackle the problem with complete honesty. If you’ve missed a deadline because of an AWOL team member, or you’re likely to miss this month’s targets because of a new algorithm update, talk to your client about it. You should also expect honesty from your client – and if they miss a payment, bring it up with them in a frank and polite discussion. Help them to understand why you need the money, and how it will affect your ability to provide a top-tier SEO service.
1. Strive to be a business partner
The best customer-relationships happen when both parties genuinely care about the success of the other. If your client views you as a simple service provider, you’ll never fully earn their loyalty and trust. If, however, you can prove a genuine interest in their business– they’ll view you as a partner to their success.
Whenever possible, strive to go above-and-beyond the call of duty. Be at the end of the phone whenever your client needs a helping hand, or some guidance. Take the time to respond to emails quickly and helpfully, and be proactive in your advice. Whether you’re pointing out a typo on their website, or putting them in touch with a killer web designer, these little actions will work wonders for your long-term professional relationship.