When to Say Goodbye to a SEO Client

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No Internet Marketing company likes losing clients. Most people think that by losing clients, I mean that the client wants to walk away from the agreement because your services are under-performing or they are not seeing the value. But I am actually talking about the other side of things. When the agency or marketing company should say goodbye to one of their existing clients. So how do you know when it makes more sense for the agency to drop the client?

Let’s take a look at a number of scenarios:

Is the Client Serious About their Success Online?

Many times when a client meets with an Internet Marketing agency to finalized the proposal, they are all excited about getting things going, because they think its going to be the silver bullet to their company’s success. Once they get into it though, many of the clients lose interest or don’t have the motivation to contribute to the strategy once they see how much time and effort is truly involved.

Even if expectations are delivered properly to the client in the beginning, there are many times when the client is not as serious about the success of the strategy as in the beginning.

  • You ask for their participation, you don’t get it…
  • You ask for their feedback or to answer a question you have, they don’t get back to you until a week later…
  • You suggest the client does certain things to help with the overall strategy, they ignore it or feel its not necessary…

At some point, if you feel the client is not 100% on board with what you are doing or requesting the client to contribute, is it time to part ways? That can be a hard question to answer.

Do They Even Want to Understand What You Are Doing?

I am not saying the client needs to understand the ins and outs of Internet Marketing…that’s why they hired an agency. But they should want to learn the basic fundamentals of what it is you are doing and how it will impact the business. The more a client understands what it is you are doing, they will want to participate more and invest more dollars into the strategy.

I have found it particular difficult when a client wants nothing to do with understand the process or basic fundamentals of what it is we are doing. 9 times out of 10, 3 months down the road, they will want to cancel their services because they just felt it was “too technical” to understand or that they don’t see any noticeable results.

So the question becomes, if the agency is willing to train the client to have them better understand what it is you will be doing and the client wants no part of it…do you let the client go?

Is the Client Only Available When Something is Wrong?

For the agencies out there, I’m sure there have been a number of times that you have been continuously reaching out to clients to give them updates or asking for their feedback…never getting any type of response. However when they finally get around to thinking about their marketing or if something goes wrong, that’s when they call you up wondering what’s going on!?

Sometimes problems could have been avoided if their was better communication or if both the agency and client were updating each other on a regular basis.

So at what point when the agency has made every attempt to connect with the client about their strategy, only to get hear nothing back, do you say it is time to part ways? That can be a hard question to answer.

Are They Not Willing to Take Your Advice?

Internet Marketing moves very fast. Every day there is a new technique or opportunity in the industry to drive traffic or make more money. So if agencies are doing a good job, they will provide ongoing advice and recommendations of how they can either improve what they are currently doing or provide a new idea for accomplishing the clients goals.

For example, say a client is spending $2,000/month in Google Adwords. This is something they have been very comfortable with because they have been doing it for a while now and they also manage the campaign in-house. However when you looked at the campaigns you noticed a ton of wasted ad spend and realized they were spending a significant amount of money to generate a lead/sale. It would be the agencies job to provide the client with ideas of how to optimize or fix the problem. You propose that they try Facebook Ads to see if they can generate the same amount of qualified traffic but for half of the cost. You also recommend they delete certain keywords that you feel are under-performing and are a waste of the clients ad spend.

However after you went through the trouble of analyzing their PPC strategy, researched other ways they could be more effective with their marketing budget and reach out to them with a proposal…only to hear nothing back.

At what point if they are not going to at least entertain your suggestions (since you are the experts) is it time to part ways? Another tough question to answer.

Do They Expect the World?

Sometimes no matter what you say to a client, they still expect what you are doing for them to make them rich over night. Even if you told them that the strategy they choose to go with was all about building a brand and traffic over the long-term. So when they get upset about not seeing the results they want in the 2nd month, and you mentioned the discussion you guys had about it being a 6-12 month process, who is at fault? Of course in business, the client is always right.

So if the client is not willing to listen to your expectations, does this mean its time to say goodbye to that client? A question not easy to answer.

Is Your Time Being Under Valued?

Do you have a client who is paying you less than 95% of your other clients, but you find yourself spending more personalized attention to that client? Not saying this is always the case, but for many of the smaller business owners they expect a lot more for less. This is understandable because for many of the small business owners, that monthly management fee is coming directly out of their pocket and they are the ones impacted.

From the agencies perspective and like anything you buy…you get what you pay for. If you are only paying $99/month for a marketing campaign, don’t expect to see ground braking results that will catapult your business to being a leader in the industry. Also don’t expect the agency to be spending hours and hours a month updating you on the progress.

As long as those reasonable expectations are met, there should be no problems. But lets face it, time is money and if you are spending a great deal of your time just trying to make a client happy who is paying practically nothing….it may be time to say goodbye. For an agency, it may make more financial sense to spend their time focused on the clients who are willing to pay you for what you feel your time is worth.

Are They Trying to Nickel and Dime You?

Do you feel that anytime you offer additional suggestions that are outside of the scope of the project, that they try to nickle and dime you? Are they expecting that it should be part of the project scope or that they feel it should be 50% less than what you quoted? Sometimes this can be a hard situation to deal with, especially if your client has been loyal and has been a reasonably good client for you.

Final Thoughts

All of these questions and situations are extremely hard to deal with and do not always have a clear answer. My suggestions are to take everything into consideration as a business owner. Even though I am one of the first people to want to go the extra mile and make clients happy, at some point you need to let a client go. If you feel that they are being unreasonable, not willing to devote time to you and the strategy, and overall don’t respect your time/efforts, it may be time to say goodbye to certain clients.

From dealing with SEO clients for 5 years now, I can say that it makes the job A LOT easier and more profitable when you can find the right client base to work with. Of course that is easier said than done; but if you make an effort to find clients who are passionate about what they are doing, what to contribute, and respect your time (and vice versa) you will have much more success in the future.

I would love to hear from other marketing agencies about some of the reasons you have dropped clients in the past. Any additional reasons besides what I have listed above? Please respond in the comments below.

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson is the creator of StayOnSearch, a blog dedicated to Marketing Professionals, SEO's, and Business Owners. He also is the President of Search Creatively,... Read Full Bio
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