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How to Lose Clients and Alienate People?


This article is brought to you by Adverity, the integrated data platform.

5 Top Tips for Losing Clients to More Data-driven Agencies

I know, the “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” shtick has been done to death. But hey, if it sparks a bit of righteous indignation at yet another Toby Young knock-off pretending to offer groundbreaking advice, at least you’re sticking around for the intro.

Besides, the points below are so painfully obvious that they rival the litany of character flaws Young parades in his memoir. The truth is, in today’s data-saturated world, if your agency ignores or disrespects its clients’ data, you may as well don a tuxedo, gatecrash a Vanity Fair party, and drunkenly dive into the pool.

So, without further ado, here are my top 5 tips on how to lose clients (and revenue) with poor data management. If you’re eager to drive your clients straight into the arms of more data-savvy competitors, you’re in the right place. Enjoy!

1. Manually integrate your clients’ data in spreadsheets

You know that Excel was first released in 1985, right? That was almost 40 years ago. If you are still using spreadsheets to manage your clients’ data, you may as well just give them a link to your competitor’s website. Or maybe fax it to them. 

Ok, that’s a bit harsh. Excel is still a great tool, and even the most data-driven company is going to be using it (or an equivalent) at some point. But the truth is that a depressingly large number of agencies still use spreadsheets to manually integrate their clients’ data – that is, they spend hours upon hours each week copying and pasting numbers into spreadsheets before manually adjusting everything to be consistent with each other. In fact, some 41% of marketers say that manually integrating their data in spreadsheets is their biggest struggle.

And yet, it needn’t be. There are plenty of automated data integration platforms, like Adverity, that can do this for you faster, better, and with much more accuracy. We live in a world with self-driving cars and artificial intelligence – so why are so many businesses addicted to using outdated tools?

2. Base all your decisions on dodgy data

Who really needs accurate data? Why spend time verifying it when you can make bold decisions based on guesswork and crossed fingers? Data entry mistakes, inconsistent formats, and outdated information can all add a fun layer of unpredictability to your campaigns. Plus, the thrill of realizing you’ve misallocated your client’s budget due to flawed data is simply unmatched. 

It should go without saying that you need accurate data to get proper insights. And yet, remarkably, 41% of analysts don’t trust the data that drives marketing decisions. A major culprit here is, again, manual data integration, which is not only an enormous time sink—time better spent actually delivering value to your clients—but also runs the risk of introducing inaccurate data via human error. 

Data entry mistakes, inconsistent formats, or outdated information all contribute to flawed datasets. Merging campaign performance data from multiple sources without proper cleansing or standardization will result in misleading insights, skewed analysis, and ultimately ineffective strategies that severely undermine the value you bring to clients.

3. Bombard Clients with Useless Data

Quantity over quality! Flood your clients with mountains of meaningless data. Who cares if it’s irrelevant? The more spreadsheets, the merrier. Overwhelm them until they can’t tell what’s important anymore. If you want to lose clients quickly, bombarding them with irrelevant information is a surefire way to do it. In fact, some 67% of CMOs say they are overwhelmed with data.

That said, you do need to do more than just show them Google Ad spend. The most data-driven agencies today are the ones that build a complete view of their clients’ cross-platform campaign performance. And then, they integrate this with other, relevant, datasets —from website analytics, sales figures, social media metrics, inventory data, and even weather data – that generate genuinely game-changing insights for their clients.

Here’s a stellar example from a recent roundtable discussion. By leveraging Google search term data alongside public transportation figures, one agency advised their pharmaceutical client on the optimal times to allocate their marketing spend.

“We saw bus ridership and metro ridership go down several days before the flu symptoms started to be Googled. And all of a sudden that gave a very interesting combination of tools that we could use to predictively prescribe marketing money based on markets that we’re starting to see dips in public transportation ridership. That gave this company incredibly cool tools to work with to completely crush the competition, who weren’t thinking of anything like this.”

So, if you want to lose clients to more data-driven competitors, definitely don’t follow this approach. 

4. Rely on spreadsheets and PowerPoint for reporting

What’s worse than using spreadsheets to manage data? Using them to build client reports, of course! Shockingly, more than half (58%) of marketers and analysts still rely on spreadsheets for routine marketing reports, and an astonishing 61% manually transpose these reports into PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Why cling to such outdated practices when modern marketing dashboards provide fully automated, real-time data? If you’re still wasting hours manually compiling monthly reports, you’re practically inviting clients to jump ship to competitors who leverage the latest technology. There’s an abundance of dashboarding software available, from Tableau to PowerBI or even Google’s Looker Studio – which is free! So, really, there’s no excuse.

Moreover, the time spent on manual reporting is not just inefficient—it’s detrimental. By only reviewing client data once or twice a month, you miss countless opportunities to optimize your clients’ budgets. Agencies that fail to quickly analyze real-time data and adjust ad spend accordingly are leaving money on the table. This inability to integrate data in real-time means missing critical adjustments to campaigns, leading to reduced effectiveness and ROI. Embrace the technology that allows you to deliver timely, accurate insights, and stop sabotaging your client relationships with outdated methods.

5. Make sure your client data is as insecure as possible

Why bother with GDPR or CCPA? Sure, ignoring data protection regulations might lead to hefty fines and a tarnished reputation, but think of the excitement! Nothing says “reliable agency” like a juicy legal scandal and a few headline-grabbing penalties.

But seriously, as a data-driven marketing agency, it’s absolutely essential to comply with data protection regulations. Yet, some agencies still overlook this critical aspect. Non-compliance with GDPR or CCPA isn’t just a minor oversight; it’s a glaring failure that can lead to severe penalties and clients fleeing due to legal risks. How can you expect to maintain client trust if you’re careless with their marketing data?

And let’s talk about data privacy breaches. Failing to protect client data can lead to devastating legal consequences and irreparable damage to your reputation. A single data breach exposing sensitive client information can result in lawsuits, hefty fines, and a mass exodus of clients. Imagine explaining to a client that their marketing data was compromised because you couldn’t be bothered to implement robust security measures. It’s not just embarrassing—it’s business suicide.

You need to understand that adhering to data protection regulations and safeguarding client data isn’t optional. It’s a fundamental requirement. If you’re not taking these issues seriously, you’re setting yourself up to lose clients to competitors who do.

Perfecting the Art of Losing Clients

Congratulations! If you’ve successfully followed these tips, you’re now a master at losing clients. In today’s data-driven world, your blatant disregard for data sets you and your agency apart.

Honestly, though, mismanaging or being lax with your clients’ data isn’t just a faux pas; it’s a guaranteed way to destroy your agency’s reputation and bottom line. So, if your goal is to clear out your client roster and make room for some much-needed alone time, you’ve nailed it.

Now, all you need to do is get that tuxedo on and go swimming.

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