Customer Retention: 20 Tips to Keep Your Content Clients Coming Back

customer retention

Everything MediaBerry knows about keeping content clients long-term

Where would your business be without clients? If you suddenly lost all your clients in the woods, would your business still exist without them? 

You don't need me to tell you that customer retention (and keeping them happy) is important. This is first day of business school stuff. So I won't bore you with more musings about clients and forests.   

What I will do, however, is teach you everything MediaBerry knows about keeping content clients coming back long-term. 

MediaBerry has grown quickly over the past few years. We started as a small handful of people and are now a much larger (and wiser) handful. In 2022, we are fortunate to help global brands make a splash online. Our journey has definitely had hiccups, and we've learned a lot along the way.

So, join me as we explore what it really means to keep content clients happy. 

Let's jump into it!

What is customer retention?

The ideal first place to start is with a clear definition of “customer retention.” When you retain customers, you convince someone who made a once-off purchase to continue making more regular purchases. 

Every business has its own definition of a retained customer. Some marketing firms define it as anyone who returns (even years later). Others say “those who come back monthly” or “those who re-purchase our content writing services.” Part of developing a customer retention strategy is deciding when your clients become “regulars.” 

Why is customer retention important to your business?

Retaining customers is a fantastic thing. It will:

  • Build your brand awareness, as happy clients may give word-of-mouth recommendations to other potential clients
  • Help you expand your goods and services, as happy clients are more willing to try an experimental new product
  • Give you a stable revenue stream
  • Improve your offerings, as clients will give you valuable feedback
  • Boost your profits 

Even retaining a few clients makes a difference. 

According to Bain and Company, increasing your retention rate by just 5% can increase profits by 25% or more. In the paper this famous figure comes from (“Prescription for Cutting Costs”), the authors point out that when John Bogle took over as CEO of Vanguard in 1996, he committed to customer retention. As a result, the cost of Vanguard's flagship S&P 500 Index Funds improved 10%, from 0.20% of assets to 0.18% of assets. 

If you take a customer-centric approach and really focus on retention, your content business could see a similar profit improvement. 

How to calculate your customer retention rate?

Now, if you don't track how many customers you are retaining, it's impossible to know whether your business is faring well or not. That's where your customer retention rate comes in. 

Your retention rate tells you how many customers are sticking around. Here's how to calculate it. 

You'll need to start by splitting the year into equal periods (quarters or months work well!). Then, count how many clients you had at the start of the current period. Throughout the period, track your total clients and how many new clients you acquired. Then, apply this formula:

customer retention rate

For example, say you started with fifteen clients, acquired three clients, and finished with sixteen clients. Your equation would look like this: ((16 — 3) / 15) X 100 = 86.6% of customers retained. 

Now, it's normal for your retention rate to fluctuate. Content clients tend to commission less work during busy times of the year like December, Easter, and summer (when many employees schedule holidays). Some niches and industries also have busy seasons, so you'll write more for a client during those times. 

Tips to keep your content clients coming back

You now know a little more about content client retention, but how do you actually retain clients? Here are thirteen actionable tips and tricks MediaBerry has learned through mistakes, whoopsies, and tears.  

Boost your reputation

This first trick is to use the power of branding to get your clients excited to work with you. Content clients are very deliberate with who they work with. They know your work will represent their voice, so there's a lot at stake if they choose an agency that's sub-par (and, let's, face it, there's a lot of sub-par content online). 

Flashy graphics and ads with grand promises aren't going to give you that golden reputation. Instead, you need a strong portfolio of good work you've done for real clients. Your website is the perfect place for this content. Create a case study with an existing client's permission and use it to show off. Here's one of MediaBerry's case studies, for example. 

MediaBerry customer case study

As you might imagine, glowing reviews from happy clients will also strengthen your reputation — so invest time into securing testimonials for your site. Here are a few we're particularly proud of:

Testimonial

And consider asking your happy clients to refer you to anyone they know who needs good content. Research shows that 91% of B2B brands are influenced by word-of-mouth marketing. 

Note: If you'd like to learn more about building brand authority, check out “6 Content Marketing Strategies For Increasing Brand Authority.” 

Know why they came in the first place

My second tip is to ask your clients why they chose you. Maybe they will say, “because I saw that you produce images in-house,” or “because X told me that you offer a free SEO analysis to new clients.” Whatever they say, you'll learn what motivated them to choose you. 

With this information in hand, you can focus your efforts where the client values them. You can spend more time on the images for the client that likes that you have an in-house designer; and more time on the SEO report for the client that wants your SEO insights. 

In other words: once you find out the success metrics clients use to assess your work, it's easier (and more efficient) to hit them. 

Give free advice

Your clients chose you because they respect your expertise and judgment regarding content production and SEO. No one would commission work from an agency they didn't trust (what a waste of money!). 

So, leverage your experience and provide free advice to clients who need or ask for it. You don't need to give them an entire eBook's worth of information or an annotated 100-slide PowerPoint. Many agencies find success in simply offering a free consultation.  

In this consultation, you can conduct an SEO analysis of their website, review their current content, and make 3 – 10 suggestions based on what you see. This won't cost you much (just 2 – 3 hours), but you'll provide clients with advice that could very well transform their digital branding. Offering free advice has the bonus of letting you show off your expertise — so it paints your brand in a positive light as well. 

Always be open and transparent

Have you ever purchased goods and services and been slapped with an expected bill for charges you didn't know you were incurring? Unfortunately, it's extremely common… 

… and terrible for an agency's branding! Few content clients will stick around if you burn them with hidden fees. Would you? Didn't think so. 

Every agency bills in its own way. Some agencies charge per word for content and include a flat administration fee. Some charge extra for SEO optimization or images. Others factor overhead costs into their per-word fees. To ensure your clients don't get confused, give them a quote detailing what they'll pay for what they want. 

You might also want to give them an itemized list of the services you offer and what they cost so they know what to ask for. Not everyone knows the ins and outs of the content marketing industry. 

This transparency will sometimes cost you prospects who see the total price tag and get scared, but don't be discouraged. Transparency will help you keep more clients (and make more money!) long-term.

Show them examples

Have you ever worked really hard on a piece of work for a client and submitted your work to them only to learn that they expected something completely different? 

Showing clients examples is a fantastic way around this problem. 

Before the client greenlights the project, show them an outline that includes all the H2s and H3s the article will cover, the keywords you are targeting, and 2 – 3 competing articles that cover similar content. If the client realizes, “wait… that's not what I wanted!” you can change things without having to start again. 

You can also use your own examples during the project pitching process. If you are writing a piece that includes reviews, for example, you can show the client an article with reviews you wrote for someone else to give them an idea of what the final product will look like. Then, clients know what they are saying “yes” to (and thus, they'll be happier with the results). 

Respect your deadlines

Clients are generally understanding, so small mistakes are no big deal. What is a big deal is missing deadlines. When you miss a deadline, you break a promise. That trust is hard to earn back. 

Generally, the best way to deliver work on time is to plan to be early. When assigning work to writers and editors, add a buffer of a few hours to a few days. People calling off sick, holidays, meetings, and last-minute work tasks often clutter people's schedules. Plan for it and be realistic about how long things will take. 

We recommend having each piece of work finalized at least 24 hours before it's due to be delivered. 

Additionally, MediaBerry has learned that adding checks and balances to your content production process can improve your work's quality (thus, decreasing re-writes). Give writers and editors a checklist to work with — like this one we use:

Mediaberry's Airtable content quality and structure tracker

Listen

If you read reviews and testimonials for popular and loved agencies, you'll often see feedback like “they produced exactly what we want” or “they always know what we need.” Agencies earn these kinds of testimonials by mastering active listening (or, in the case of some agencies, active email-reading)

Active listening is when you pay attention to everyone someone says, reflect on it, respond to it, and retain that information for later. Good active listening makes clients feel heard and understood. It also helps you learn exactly what they want so you can make it happen. 

6 key active listening skills

Source: Center for Creative Leadership

MediaBerry is not an expert in active listening, but we have picked up a few tricks and tips. Including

  • Ask questions, especially when you aren't sure exactly what a client is getting at. 
  • Try to speak less than clients during meetings. 
  • Don't cut clients off. If you do accidentally cut someone off, let them speak first. 
  • Send clients follow-up emails after every meeting summarizing what you covered. This keeps everyone on the same page. 
  • Allow lots of buffer time between meetings. That way, you can focus on the client, not the clock. 
  • Take notes. 

Always deliver high-quality content

You might have guessed that this tip would be on this list. It's arguably the most important, and I only didn't rank it higher because we all know quality matters. 

When we talk about high-quality content, we mean work that is:

  • Free from spelling and grammar errors
  • Optimized for search engines
  • Thorough 
  • Concise
  • Full of examples, insights from experts, and statistics that back up the article's main points 

Now, to a certain extent, quality is subjective. Some clients will prefer image-heavy articles, and others won't. A good tip to ensure you deliver work clients love is asking them, “in an ideal world, what would this piece look like?” Ask them to get specific and cover these key things:

  • Keywords — including primary, secondary, and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) ones
  • Images — how many, what type (illustrations, photos, comics, screenshots, graphs, charts, etc.), and how frequently (every 300/400/500 words)
  • Tone should it be conversational, formal, friendly, bubbly, fun, playful, professional, etc.?
  • Table of Contents do they want one? 
  • Paragraphs how long should they be?
  • Formatting do they prefer en dashes or em dashes? Do they use brackets, and how do they want to emphasize text?
  • Punctuation do they use the oxford comma? Do they want to use US grammar conventions, etc.?
  • Introduction and conclusion should they be long, do they need a thesis statement, should they include a Call-To-Action (CTA), etc. 

Note: For more content marketing tips, check out “Advanced Tips For Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy.”

Clarify things right away when needed

At some point, every client will tell you something that won't quite make sense. Having been in this situation, it's normal for your first thought to be, “oh, I bet they meant x. I don't want to bother them by asking.” Don't do this. 

Instead, seek clarification straight away. If you proceed and your assumption is wrong, fixing your mistake could take hours and hours. What's worse is that the client may see the mistake as a sign of poor listening and promptly leave for greener pastures. 

Asking for clarification isn't clingy; it's a smart business move in the content industry. 

Become an ambassador for their brands

In our experience, clients tend to be passionate about their brands and mission (especially if you are working with a family or small business!). Naturally, they love it when you embrace their brands and help them with your platform. 

Being an ambassador doesn't mean becoming a customer yourself. Instead, look for ways to help clients grow. This could include:

  • Referring people to clients' businesses when appropriate 
  • Sharing articles about large developments in clients' businesses on social media 
  • Tagging clients in social media posts
  • Displaying client work on your website (with permission, of course)
  • Leaving reviews for any products and services you do try
  • Sharing articles you wrote for clients on social media (we shared this free guest post that Beatrice – our Head of Operation wrote for Zapier, for example:)
MediaBerry shares client content on social media

Now, be careful how you do this. Your clients can detect fake enthusiasm immediately, so only promote services you genuinely endorse and give compliments you mean. 

Be active on social media

In 2022, over 4.65 billion people will be active on social media, with the average internet user spending 147 minutes a day plugged into platforms of choice. 

Global digital population as of April 2022

Source: Statista

Being active on social media allows your agency to keep a watchful eye on your clients (all of whom you should follow, by the way). You'll see updates about their businesses, how the brands interact with their customers, and what their marketing looks like “in the wild.” These valuable insights will help you produce better work. 

You can also use social media to connect with brands. As I mentioned in “Become an ambassador for their brands,” supporting your clients by liking and sharing their posts will strengthen your relationship. 

Of course, social media can also help with our very first tip (“Boost your reputation”). Building a following on a platform like LinkedIn will give your brand social proof — as well as a large pool of potential clients. 

Be flexible 

Anyone who works with content clients knows that some clients are totally uninterested in the process and just want X content by Y date, while others want to oversee and review your work with a fine-toothed comb.

Though some content marketers grumble about nit-picky clients, clients have every right to review content carefully. After all, they're paying for it!

Our advice is to always be flexible with how your clients want to work. If they want to wash their hands of managing projects, do it for them. If they want to be involved, encourage it. 

It helps to have honest conversations with clients at the start of the working relationship. Ask what they want to be involved with and put a system (like a Slack channel or a Trello board) in place to facilitate that. 

Be prepared for clients to change their minds about what they want. Over time, as trust develops, they may want a more hands-off approach. Above all else, you want to be flexible and accommodating. Your clients will be happier when they control their content production process. And happy clients stick around. 

No resting on any laurels

It's easy to stop pushing for more once your agency produces content like a well-oiled machine. No matter how good your work is, I'm here to tell you that you should never stop striving for more. 

Clients like predictability and reliability, but they also get bored if you don't make an effort to switch things up. Eventually, they will see an ad for an agency that offers something you don't, and that curiosity will fester. 

A great way to keep things fresh is to keep expanding your services. Once you've mastered producing really good content, here are some supplementary services you can offer:

  • Website building 
  • Landing page development
  • Social media copywriting 
  • Graphic design
  • Animation
  • Video production 
  • Video and audio editing
  • Link-building (to learn more about starting a link-building project, please read “Link-Building Outreach: How To Negotiate Effectively”)
  • Marketing planning 
  • Social media management 

I also recommend continuously honing your content production process. Clients will notice improvements in your output and appreciate it. 

What MediaBerry does to retain content clients

In the previous section, I shared 13 tips and tricks MediaBerry has learned from working with content clients. The purpose of this section is similar (to help you retain customers), but I'm going to share the strategies we use for client retention. 

Perfect our current client workflow

This first strategy is great for improving the content development experience for both you and your clients. We've scrutinized our content development process carefully and reduced all pain points substantially. Now, there are no bottlenecks that threaten to make us late on deadlines. 

To improve your own client workflow, start by looking at the systems and tools you use. Do they clearly show everyone who needs to work on what? Are they expansive enough for your needs? If not, consider upgrading to a tool like ClickUp (our current platform of choice). 

Then, look for the causes of late or delayed work. Maybe someone's workload is too high, or maybe you aren't allowing enough time for certain stages of the process. These issues are easily fixed. 

Finally, work a buffer into your process. This buffer will save you when something inevitably goes wrong. 

Communicate via the client's preferable channels

Do you struggle to get clients' attention when you need to? We did, too, until we set up a unique communication channel with each client. 

If you expect someone who doesn't like the formality of emails to stay on top of emails, they will likely let you down. If you insist on instant messaging someone who prefers Zoom calls, don't be surprised if you never get pinged. 

That's why we asked our clients what they wanted to use. Some chose Slack, and others chose email. But everyone is happy because the clients got to tailor their MediaBerry experience to them. 

I recommend you try this strategy in your business — it's fast, and it sets you up for a stronger working relationship. 

Follow up with past clients to see if they need any help

Client turnover is a natural part of running a content business. Inevitably, clients will switch how they market their goods, the busy season will end, and content marketing campaigns will come to a natural end. Many of these clients will leave your business not because they are dissatisfied but because they don't need your services anymore.

MediaBerry keeps careful tabs on those clients, and we check in with them occasionally to see if they need our services again. It often pays off — making it a super easy and profitable client retention strategy. 

Listen, respect, and account for any specific content requirements (even the smallest!)

We've noticed that many clients have strong ideas about what content should include. Sometimes, this idea is a specific example that demonstrates a concept well. Other times, they prefer using an industry-specific term the wider public wouldn't be aware of. 

Always, and I mean always, honor these requests. They may seem small and insignificant to you, but they show clients that you are on their team and working with (not against) them. 

Additionally, these requests often come from a place of expertise. MediaBerry once worked with a client that preferred the term “product” to “system.” In this specific situation, “system” was considered an outdated term, while “product” was the more hip version. Had we used “system,” the brand's audience might have responded negatively to the content we wrote, so it's a good thing the client corrected us. 

Be open to feedback and complaints

Your agency will never be perfect, no matter how much effort you put into it! Sometimes, you will make mistakes. 

Mistakes don't have to cost you clients. Own your errors and make a point of welcoming feedback — good or bad — from clients. Your clients will see that you're working to make them happy and appreciate it. 

I recommend actively asking for feedback. Some clients won't think to give feedback unless prompted, so asking is a good way to ensure you get something to work with. 

questions to ask for customer feedback

Source: Kayako

Don't ever repeat the same mistakes

This strategy is similar to the last one, but I gave it its own section because it's key for MediaBerry. 

When you make a mistake, make a point of owning it, and then take note and put the steps in place to never do it again. That might mean adding a note to your writer or editor checklists (we covered these in “Respect your deadlines”) or sharing the mistake with the whole team so everyone knows about it. 

If you do repeat a mistake, expect twice the consequences. It's a breach of trust to repeat a mistake because it shows you didn't take the time to prevent it even after the client warned you about it. Not all clients are forgiving (and nor should they be — they pay good money for your services). 

Always try for the best

Finally, whatever you are writing about, make it the best damn article on the topic. Your work should ALWAYS have something that competing articles don't. If your work doesn't make clients say, “we chose the right agency,” it needs more work. 

Here are some ways to differentiate your articles from the competition:

  • Cover nuances of a topic other articles miss
  • Produce specialized images 
  • Explain things really clearly and in layman's terms
  • Use expert quotes and statistics to back up your arguments 
  • Target keywords other articles don't
  • Use great examples 

And that's it! Those are all our tips and tricks for the retention of customers. 

Follow our tricks and retain customers long-term

Retaining customers long-term is always worth it — research shows that increasing your client retention by just 5% can increase your profits by over 25%!

No one secret will make all clients happy. Every content client has diverse needs and expectations. You just need to work out how to meet (and exceed!) those expectations. 

If you're looking to retain more clients, we recommend trying these tips:

  • Hone your reputation 
  • Give free advice
  • Practice transparency 
  • Take deadlines seriously (like, really seriously)
  • Practice active listening
  • Be adaptable

MediaBerry has also had success with setting up channels for instant communication (thank-you, Slack), treating content requirements like law, and being welcoming to feedback. 

So, what are you waiting for? Try our customer retention strategies in your business!

Drop us a message if you're interested in what MediaBerry can do for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Karie is the Assistant Content Manager at MediaBerry. She loves diving into small business management, digital marketing, social media, data analytics, and all things tech.

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