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How to Extend The Life of Your Agency’s Contracts

extend client contracts

Ryan Stewart

I build, grow and sell digital agencies. Most recently, WEBRIS, a 7 figure SEO agency.

As agencies, we’re often too focused on new business.

When in reality, it’s way harder to get new clients than to keep the ones that you have.

By “keep”, I mean re-sign them to a new contract after their current one lapses.

This video contains 4 solid tips to help you extend the contract value of your current clients.

Get ahead of a bad campaign

This isn’t something we want to leave for the last minute. We need to be proactively thinking about an extension a few months before the contract ends.

As an SEO agency, we work on 12 month contracts so we begin this process in month 9.

It begins by evaluating the client’s overall satisfaction:

  • Are they happy?
  • Are they satisfied?
  • Are you meeting their expectations?
  • Are their traffic and conversions going up?

We want to think about this early because if you’re not meeting expectations, you can dedicate attention to do so.

Go out of your way to create value for the client.

  • Create additional pieces of content
  • Build more links
  • Offer your time for consulting

If a campaign is going poorly the last thing a client wants is another audit or report. The key is to focus on items with a tangible outcome, like links or content.

If you wait until the contract is over, anything you say will sound like false promises.

When the contract is up, report on progress

There needs to be a report that wraps up the work you did for your client. That report becomes a valuable sales tool when renegotiating a new contract.

  • Highlight the work you completed
  • Show the impact of your services (traffic increases, sales, etc)
  • Give you strategy for how to carry the campaign forward (aka the pitch)

If the campaign didn’t go well (i.e. they lost traffic / sales while working with you),Β  you can massage the report to highlight areas where you had a positive impact.

We built a custom report in Google Data Studio that does all of this (and more).

 

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Page 1 – Traffic progression over time

This page shows your client how organic traffic has progressed over the life of the campaign.

If the traffic trend is upwards, no need to do much here.

If a client’s traffic is going down, here’s your opportunity to address that. The text on this page is editable for you to write in explanations of roadblocks and things that contributed to the lack of traffic.

You have to address and acknowledge losses head on. Not addressing them and pretending like everything is fine is irresponsible, the client won’t re-sign.

 

Page 2 – Revenue breakdown (eCommerce sites)

This page shows an increase / decrease in revenue over the life of the campaign.

revenue reporting

It also pulls through the pages that are responsible for driving the most revenue. If you created these pages (or optimized them), this is a good time to talk about that.

If the site you’re working with is NOT ecommerce, just delete the page.

 

Page 3 – Goals breakdown (lead gen sites)

All the goal completions during your time working together. You can customize this page by adding custom text to highlight the things that went right or wrong in your campaign.

lead generation report

 

Page 4 – Commercial keyword movements

This page reflects the change in non-branded keyword rankings for the website.

keyword improvement

This page pulls data from the Google Search Console and then a negative filter is applied to remove all the branded keywords from the data. You should do that to show them commercial keyword traffic increase or decrease over time.

Generally speaking, clients will hire you to increase traffic through commercial keywords or non-branded keywords.

 

Page 5 – Keyword visibility

This page shows the keyword progression over time and the before and after picture of the increase or decrease in keyword rankings.

organic keyword rankings report

You can pull this data from Ahrefs, SEMRush or GSC.

 

Page 6 – Links and content created

This page gives an overview of the links built, pages published and tasks completed.

links and content created

This page syncs with our custom Project Management Suite, so much of this will populate automatically.

 

Re-pitching your services

We like to run the campaign wrap up report 2 weeks before the end of the contract. This gives us enough time to come up with a strategy to pitch them when we deliver the report.

The sequence looks like this:

  • Complete wrap up report
  • Send to client via email with a note to schedule a call to review
  • On the call, we review the report and present “next steps” for the campaign

In a perfect world, you close them on the call.

But I got ahead of myself – we still haven’t talked about what to pitch to your client in order to extend the contract.

Here’s 4 strategies we deploy at our agency.

 

1. The campaign restart

If the campaign went well (i.e. traffic went up) then you can pitch the same campaign from the year before.

You don’t have to change your pricing strategy too much, you just need to sell your client on the idea that SEO needs to be refreshed every year.

agency pricing example

A screenshot of our agency pricing tool (included in our sales module).

 

2. The “cool down” Approach

This approach reduces the amount of work you do, but not ditching the campaign completely.

If you’re working with smaller clients (i.e. local) or small WordPress websites, you don’t need to do much technical work (assuming you fixed any issues in year 1 of your campaign).

Instead of re-pitching a ton of audits or technical work, just focus on items like content creation and link acquisition.

If you’re using The Blueprint Training we stack most of the technical SEO in the first 3 months. After that is completed, it’s mainly content and link acquisition for the remainder of the campaign.

This approach works well for clients that:

  • Did not get the best results from your campaign
  • Are budget friendly
  • Don’t want to “keep spending” on SEO

This is an easy way to save the client money and maintain a financial relationship.

 

3. The pivot / services stack

If the SEO campaign did not go well, you may want to consider pitching other services (UX, design, development, and PPC).

If you put in a solid 6 to 12 months of SEO work into the website, sometimes we just need more time for Google to rank the site. Focusing on other services takes the focus off of SEO while giving the website the necessary time for organic growth.

If the SEO campaign performed well, it’s easy to pitch a new SEO campaign and stack services on top of it (UX, PPC, etc).

 

4. The walk away

Not every client is worth the money.

If your client caused a lot of problems with your staff, pays late and is just a general pain, sometimes it is best to walk away.

Take it from me, the money isn’t worth pissing off your team and causing problems internally. Take the loss of revenue and move on.

 

Get everything mentioned here

I covered a lot of tools and templates that are available here on the website (some free, some paid).

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