Any type of business relationships is a touchy matter. Every process that involves money as a foundation is quite delicate and complex, especially when it comes to giving money away and expecting something in return. A classic example is a client-SEO agency collaboration. The paying party runs the show, requiring the other party to be flexible and deliver results.

The last thing any SEO agency wants is to lose a client (unless the client is more trouble than he’s worth). With so much stiff competition in the industry, acquiring new SEO clients is getting harder every day. For the same reason, retaining existing clients is by no means easy. However, there are many other reasons why a client might leave.

Being in digital marketing and SEO for years, we have reluctantly said goodbye to some of our clients, even though working with them was a great experience. On the other hand, some clients have signed contracts with us after working with other SEO agencies that failed to meet the client’s expectations. Taking this into account, our team definitely knows a couple of common reasons for customer dissatisfaction.

#1 No Results

no results
SEO services are not cheap. To devise and implement a sound SEO strategy, businesses have to be ready to cough up quite a lot of money – up to $5,000 per month. For that kind of money, it is no wonder that clients expect to see tangible results.

  • Case 1: Sometimes a client’s expectations are unrealistic. Based on what your sales manager previously promised them, or for whatever reason, some clients want to see positive changes in rankings, traffic and conversions overnight. In such cases, your task is to guide them back to earth. You are the one who know that it is impossible to rank first overnight, but your client might not entirely understand that quality SEO requires time and, most importantly, patience. This disappointment will happen repeatedly no matter which agency the client chooses to work with, unless the agency works some magic on the client’s website. This is exactly what you need to explain.
  • Case 2: Chances are that the agency is not delivering any results for real. Moreover, the firm cannot provide any proof that any implementation had actually taken place. Well, you cannot blame the client for not wanting to pay for zero results. Obviously, something is wrong with the approach. Or with the agency itself.
  • Case 3: There is also a slight possibility that the agency simply doesn’t know how to report their results to the client. The agency may be doing quite well, but they are not able to provide tangible proof of their success. Doing business in the digital marketing industry with such a wide range of tools at your disposal, this is a shame. This has to be fixed or you will continue losing clients.

#2 SEO Is Not Effective

Let’s get back to the effectiveness of SEO and the client’s impatience for a moment. Again, you as a digital marketer know how important it is to apply an integrated approach to marketing a business in the digital space. But clients might doubt that SEO, PPC and SMM are equally important and effective for this purpose. Why? Simply because PPC and paid social advertising produce faster results.

SEO is not supposed to deliver the same quick results as PPC or paid social advertising. It takes longer to really work, but at the same time its positive effect is long-lasting compared to other marketing channels. When you make all the channels work together, you get both quick and long-term positive returns. Try to convey this message to the client before he decides to leave.

#3 Lack of Communication

Trust and connection are huge when it comes to customer retention. How can a client trust an agency if its personnel and those in charge avoid communication, never explain a thing, or the client simply fails to get through to the right person?

This may be happening because of:

  • Messy internal agency processes
  • “Hidden” strategy
  • Both of the above

Clients usually want to know the team that is going to be taking care of their website, and they want to be sure they can contact someone who is ready to solve any issue that might arise. Communication has to be close, frequent, regular and efficient.

Lack of communication from the agency’s side can also be explained by a “hidden” strategy that they do not want to reveal. Some agencies prefer not to discuss any steps they take towards achieving a client’s goals, telling stories about some “secret recipe.” Usually, this type of secrecy results in manual penalties. No wonder clients terminate contracts with service providers who don’t communicate.

#4 Financial Constraints

Case 1: A client’s ability to always pay for SEO services is never guaranteed. You never know and cannot predict whether your client’s company will face any financial difficulties in the near future. Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that the client is no longer able to afford a full package of SEO services, or has to cut marketing expenses all at once.

There is not much you can say in response, because you are not in control of someone else’s revenue. Hopefully, the situation is temporary. If you value the client, your task is to maintain this business relationship until the client’s finances recover by offering a compromise. A smaller package of SEO services for a negotiable price may be a way out.

Case 2: You are aware that you are not the only SEO agency offering top-notch SEO services in town, right? Good. Then you know that other SEO agencies may be offering similar services, but for a more attractive price.

If the client is worth fighting for, then:

  • Try to justify your prices based on your unique points and advantages
  • Proceed straight to offering a better price (a sure-fire way)

#5 “Thanks, We Are Good to Go Now”

Many SEO clients stubbornly believe that SEO is a one-time-only thing. Once the initial positive results are achieved, they stop investing in SEO and choose to leave. This is completely unwise. SEO loves consistency and is by no means a one-time-only thing.

SEO is just like physical training. Once you stop working out regularly, you start to gradually get out of shape. The same devastating changes happen to a website without a consistent SEO strategy – a drop in rankings, traffic and conversions. The worst thing is that such a drop is really hard to recover from, because competitors will never miss an opportunity to strengthen their position in search. Remind your client of this.

Bottom Line

In most cases, if a client is smart enough, it won’t be hard to persuade them to stay, unless the agency has done something outrageous and unforgivable. Normally, SEO clients don’t leave easily. And if you have managed to sign contracts with one or two, they clearly trust you to some extent. If your agency is ready to improve and willing to learn where your shortcomings lie, it won’t be hard to retain your clients.