Let’s stay together: What client retention means to us

Man in home office using a laptop to videoconference with a client.

Let’s stay together: What client retention means to us





Let’s stay together: What client retention means to us


Fiona Skilton

Fiona has close to two decades' experience in client services, in account management at B2C and B2B marketing agencies. She loves problem solving, looks at things holistically and makes sure our clients have the best experience possible, particularly focusing on what keeps them up at night.

Bringing in new business is a key challenge for any agency, and we’re no different. But we value working with existing clients more than we do prospecting for new ones. That’s why we invest so much time in making sure that our clients are happy with the content we create, what we charge and the way we work with them.

The stats bear this out. Acquiring a new customer can be six to seven times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

I wanted to share a couple of thoughts about what we think makes a difference to our retained clients and how we try to build those relationships. There’s perhaps nothing revolutionary about our approach, but it matters to us – and in some ways forms the DNA of our agency.

Building trust through transparency

Building trust through transparency is one of our values. Clearly, that can apply to any agency – so what does it mean for us?

On a limited level, it’s about being clear and consistent with what we charge and how long it will take us to deliver your content. More importantly, it extends to how we’ll work with you. If we assemble a team for you and someone is a freelancer, we’ll let you know. Some agencies won’t necessarily do that.

We have a great team of writers with decades of experience covering business and technology, but sometimes we need help. Maybe we didn’t have a certain skill – such as working with certain types of animation, video production or storyboarding. Or perhaps we didn’t have knowledge about a specific technology or sector that your asset needs to put the spotlight on. There’s a reason we’ve brought a freelancer in. And we’ll always let you know.

We do a similar thing when we assemble new teams for clients. We’ll give you named writers and project leads and tell you their stories and background. We also explain why they were chosen, usually because of experience in similar fields of subject matter expertise.

Similarly, if someone doesn’t need to be there, they won’t be. You’re billed only for the support you actually need.

As the writers we assemble for you work consistently on your content, they’ll build their knowledge of your subject matter domain and your products. This leads us to the next point.

Long-term relationships lead to better results

When you work in a service business with clients, you have multiple touchpoints on a regular basis. Naturally, this varies from client to client – but it’s not as if an asset is commissioned and then delivered a day later without any interaction. In our field, there’s a lot of engagement with commissioning contacts, marketing leads, subject matter experts, internal content teams and brand guardians.

We’re lucky that we work in a field where having a long-term relationship with a client leads to better results for everyone. Over time, we clearly get to know you better. We understand your voice and your brand, but also the things that matter in your sector and specifically to your organisation. We learn about the things you like to talk about and the things that you don’t.

Clients get better results using an agency that understands their world. It’s a virtuous circle. In some cases, the agency becomes the content, brand or subject matter expert after a long engagement – especially if the client experiences staff churn.

Content is a game where it’s ‘always on’. There’s no end date, and the more your agency knows you and your world, the better the results you’ll get.

Retention is about playing a long game. Companies that focus on targets such as doubling growth each year are forced to prioritise constant acquisition cycles over nurturing what they already have. This often has an impact on an agency’s own staff churn, as the focus is constantly on growth rather than on developing quality.

One of our founding philosophies is that growing a business steadily is better than chasing aggressive targets. Small, constant improvements compound over time. And we’ve found that one of the benefits of that is retention of clients and of staff. We think this approach lets staff focus on developing better content and relationships over time.

This focus on building and enhancing existing client relationships was one of the things that drew me to Collective Content in the first place.  We still pitch for new work like any agency, but so much worthwhile energy and commitment goes into growing the client relationships we already have rather than into chasing arbitrary targets.

While that doesn’t make us unique, it is what makes us tick.