There is a fact that all PPC marketers must come to terms with. Eventually, all clients leave. This is a fact. Sometimes their departure is a surprise brought on by business closings, budget cuts or clients deciding to totally get out of PPC. Other times, you are just not sure what is going on. Things may seem to be going well, but you are noticing some quirks, or you can feel the tension and you don’t know what to do. The important part is to be able to recognize the signs of a client departure early on. Below are some signs that your client may be quitting and what you can do to try to save them.
1) They Have Invited Someone Into Their AdWords Account
Whether the email address they invited looks like another agency or not, it is probably a sign that something is going on. Instead of stewing on it, ask them about it. I have personally asked about this on more than one occasion. I have found that approximately 95% of the time I have been told the truth. Sometimes it’s simply that they’re having another PPC agency take a look at the account or it is an SEO company seeking to provide services that are out of our realm. Whatever the case, there really isn’t a reason to not be able to have an adult conversation about this even if they are having someone take a look. More often than not, it won’t be a surprise, but even if it is, ask questions. You probably know the answer: problems in performance, lack of strategy, or new key players hired on that have previous relationships with other agencies, just to name a few.
After the dust settles, I have had the client tell me that the other agency didn’t find anything glaring and I even had someone go so far as to share their findings. It was interesting to see what the opposition pointed out, but most of the items were conscious decisions that we made based on factors they probably couldn’t see just by looking at the account. It really opened up a frank discussion with the client and reiterated how much we want to be a partner with them. Work with the client to be successful and in the end it will strengthen your relationship.
2) They Go Radio Silent
OK, this one seems pretty simple. You are talking to the client and emailing frequently, then suddenly they stop responding. You know they aren’t on vacation. At first, it is a little odd, but then it becomes obvious. Other than continually reaching out, (in a non-judgmental way) there isn’t much you can do here if they aren’t responding. If you are lucky, they just love your work so much, that they feel they can take a step back a bit (this does occur here at Hanapin on occasion). There also can be other circumstances that don’t spell out bailing, so take a deep breath. If you aren’t lucky, you will know soon enough when they drop the axe. Even after they give notice, you can reach out and ask questions. Is there anything you can do to get them to stay? How could things have gone differently? Chances are, with this sort of client, you won’t get much feedback, but there is really no downside to reaching out to them.
3) The Client Acts Like They Don’t Trust What You Are Doing
If there never seems to be any buy-in from the client or if they discuss all of your ideas ad nauseam, this could mean they aren’t happy and are ready to jump ship. There could be a misunderstanding in what goals are important to the client or perhaps the goals shifted and you just weren’t aware. You also may not be “hearing” what they are saying. Your contact may be under some pressure from their boss and is letting it roll downhill. Regardless, ask questions. Tell them that you feel like they aren’t bought in to the plan you are presenting and ask if they have any questions or comments they would like to discuss. You can also have a goal review to see if their goals have changed or if they want to look at things differently. Another discussion that is good to have, before things get to this point, is about whom they report PPC results to, how often and how you can help them. You want to make them look good to their boss and have their back with details when results are less than desired. All of this goes a long way in solidifying your partnership and reducing the chance the client will leave.
4) They Hire An Internal PPC Manager
Again, this one isn’t so cut and dry. If they hired the person to manage the agency, that is a win-win. Same goes if the current contact is asking to learn more about the ins and outs of PPC, not just about their account. Sometimes this is just a way for the whole thing to go better, but be careful. It could mean they are getting to replace you with an internal candidate.
The bottom line with all these red flags is to ask questions. Communication eliminates surprises. You can’t always save clients and you probably shouldn’t. Sometimes clients aren’t a fit, they have goals that aren’t reasonable or they have been with you forever and want fresh eyes. Regardless of how it ends, stay professional. Wish the client well and offer to do what they need to ensure a smooth transition to the new team. Analyze what you might do differently based on the experience you have had with the churned client and apply it to future clients. Just remember, no client is the last client and use what you learned to be better moving forward.