Customer Acquisition for Agencies and Freelancers: Customer Relationship Management

Marcel Kurrek Last updated 24.09.2021
14 Min.
Customer Relations Marketing
Last updated 24.09.2021

You can not only increase your sales through better custom relationship management. In the long run, both your team and your customers will be more satisfied. Our article shows you how good customer relations work – and how you can align your marketing even more efficiently.

This post is the fourth and final part of our series on customer acquisition. To learn the basics of how to acquire new customers, we recommend you read the previous articles in the series. They deal with target groups and inbound leads, remarketing and affiliate marketing and upselling, cross-selling and measuring success. You can also download the complete series of articles as an e-book.

How to optimize your processes

Before you think about building closer customer relationships and customer relationship management, your internal marketing processes need to be in order. After all, whether your customers are satisfied with your work or not depends on them. When it comes to processes and productivity, the following question usually comes up: Can I do my (online) marketing completely in-house? Or should I be more concerned with outsourcing it?

The heated discussion about whether you should outsource your marketing measures or invest in your own team or know-how doesn't just crop in the WordPress universe. This question also applies to agencies and almost no agency team can always do everything themselves. Or the available expertise is urgently needed by current clients. It's more effective to concentrate on one's own strengths and leave the rest to others.

For freelancers, on the other hand, "outsourcing" means joining forces with other experts to offer coherent service packages. In this way, a productive network can be created from which all participants benefit.

Outsourcing vs. in-house marketing

It goes without saying that (online) marketing is more than just cobbling together a few SEO keywords and posting an occasional update on Facebook. It's a full-time job for one person who really knows their stuff. In fact, as your agency gets bigger, you'll need more than one person, split up according to their expertise. Because no one can really know all the disciplines of online marketing anymore, it's already become too complex and comprehensive for that.

Increase marketing productivity

Nevertheless, you can still optimize every single measure in online marketing – preferably without your desk overflowing. Find out how to do this in our article on productivity hacks for agencies and freelancers.

But that's not all. If you don't have competent, professional and trained people who know your business and can put together and implement your marketing plan, you need to rethink. A half-hearted attempt to make an impact in today's over-saturated media landscape is like hoping someone will happen to notice you and buy your products. Here are some general pros and cons of outsourcing that you should consider.

Advantages of outsourcing

  • Readily available expertise: If you hire the right professional team that focuses exclusively on online marketing, you don't have to worry about a learning curve or integrating new staff into your existing setup.
  • Results and flexibility: Hire professionals and they will deliver results. Otherwise, you can terminate the contract and hire another outsourcing team – which isn't so easy with in-house staff.
  • Save money – in some circumstances: Outsourcing often means you can reduce your expenses for marketing staff. Or that you can invest flexibly when you need it. But beware: in some cases, the costs of outsourcing are higher in the long run than hiring your own staff.
  • Fewer administrative tasks: Outsourcing means you don't have to manage your own staff administratively. This can streamline your organization.
  • Honest feedback: An external team is less imbued with the company philosophy and therefore more able to offer honest criticism. Or to think outside the box.

Disadvantages of outsourcing

  • Risk of poor quality: When outsourcing, you have limited insight into what a particular company has to offer. The people in charge will only show you their best side and access to customer reviews in this area is limited. Or you may not end up with people working for you who you have met and found to be good. However, you can have the last risk covered by contract.
  • Your reputation is at stake: If you hire external marketers, they may have to deal directly with your clients. So you need to be sure that their professional behavior matches your quality standards.
  • Unreliability: Once the contract is signed or payment received, communication with your external contractors sometimes miraculously stops. Or your small business is not considered that important. With an internal team, you at least have the possibility to counteract directly if the work is behind schedule.
  • No knowledge of your business: An external marketing team brings fresh perspectives. At the same time, they can never know as much about your business and your customers as you do.

What can be outsourced? What stays in the team?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution as to whether a small company should invest in a qualified internal team to run its marketing. Or whether it should hire external experts. It depends on the culture of your business and where you are on your growth and revenue path. But here are some general guidelines. Tasks that are good to outsource:

  • Marketing activities that require specialized skills, a lot of experience, new technical knowledge and fresh approaches.
  • Activities that can easily be done off-site and require little skill.
  • Short-term marketing projects that offer significant savings compared to using your own staff.

Tasks that are better done with your own team:

  • Campaigns and projects that require the core competences of your team. If you offer SEO yourself, for example, it's not a good idea to hire an external agency.
  • Low-cost activities that are more likely to be carried out internally without much control effort.
  • Tasks that require a very deep knowledge of your products, your services or your target groups. By the time you've explained yourself and revised the results, you'll be doing it yourself faster and with higher quality.
Outsourcing is a matter of trust

Are you still looking for the competent agency or freelancer to work with? For WordPress, web design, online marketing, e-commerce or content? Find your right partner in our RAIDBOXES Partner Directory now.

Effective use of customer relationship management (CRM)

The romantic image of independent small business owners who keep their client information in their heads and rely only on scattered sticky notes and scribbles on their desk calendars has little to do with efficiency and customer service.

Every person who has a business likes to think that everything is running as it should. That no outside help is needed to carefully complete all the necessary tasks that contribute to the customer relationship. This misconception is dangerous because customers often see a different picture.

In the growth phase of your business, there comes a point when you start to lose track of everything. Customer complaints pile up, things get left undone and, in the worst-case scenario, you end up getting bad reviews on Google, Facebook & Co. You realize at the latest by this point that you need to improve the professionalism of your organization. Check out our article on typical freelancer mistakes as the tips in it also apply to your agency business.

Managing customer relationships

CRM is short for customer relationship management and refers to systems that store and organize all information about your customers and prospects. From their first click on your website, through every interaction with your e-commerce shop, to the processing and history of support requests. Everything is easily accessible and moves you forward:

Improved customer experience

You're much more likely to give your customers a consistently positive buying experience if you have lots of information about them. Personalize every interaction, sift through every email they've read, every blog post they've clicked on, every purchase decision they've made on your website.

All this can be documented in a CRM (customer relationship management) system. Sure, you personally may be proud of being able to remember every detail. But is that still true after several years or with a large customer base? And what about the rest of your team?

At the same time, be careful not to wildly collect and store every conceivable piece of data about your customers. Your data collection must be compliant with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At the very least, you must inform your contacts about exactly what information is being processed. Get help from a law firm specializing in online law, which will put your processes to the test so you can avoid warnings.

Higher productivity

However, a CRM is much more than just a fancy customer file. You can set it up to automate all sorts of tasks to increase your team's productivity. And to focus on growing your business by reducing tedious and repetitive work. You can automate logging of activities and calls, set up automatic reports for each area of your business, and much more.

More integrated cooperation

A CRM is the dream come true of every person responsible for sales. Not only that, it is also an efficient way to bring your entire sales team together and have them work towards a common goal. The person in charge can access the activity log of each employee and get an overview of their status. 

Other people in the team can intervene if necessary and also contact (potential) clients. Before making contact, they can be sure they have all the relevant information and notes from previous conversations as well as offers. Moreover, everyone can see which measures and conversations are more likely to lead to success with which type of customer or where there is potential for improving the process.

Insight and resources

You no longer have to constantly reach out individually to your employees to find out what the status of various client projects is. The team can also determine whether the customer projects are distributed fairly within the team or whether bottlenecks are looming at individual points. Service campaigns, for example follow-up emails, can also be better planned and scaled.

Automated email campaigns

Another way to improve the efficiency of your customer relationships and increase your sales is to set up a solid email automation system. Collecting contacts is all well and good and we all work hard to do just that. But if you're not actively converting them into prospects, leads, sales and more sales, your contacts are just costing you hard drive space.

This is where marketing automation of emails comes into play, which according to some studies brings about a significant increase in sales productivity. Similar to CRM systems, email automation eliminates small and time-consuming tasks that are nonetheless important. By sending personalized, contextual messages that reference where your customers are in the buying process. 

Automated email tasks include, for example:

  • Automatically sending messages to groups of contacts that match a certain criterion
  • Obtaining customer feedback
  • Updates on the product or the step-by-step guidance of customers through the individual functions
  • Campaigns for targeted up-selling and cross-selling

Automating your customer communication can do a lot. You should test every measure and every campaign well, however, preferably with feedback from some important regular customers. This is the only way to find out whether the emails are helpful and whether they sound natural despite automation. Because nobody likes customer service by a bot or a machine. Especially not in a service environment.

Building the customer relationship

So the project is finished, the invoice is paid, the team is preparing plans for upcoming client projects. That means you can slow down for now, right? Not if you want to be successful in WordPress development or web design. In this highly competitive environment, you need to keep an eye on developing a reputation that will get interested audiences looking for you.

It's true that closing the deal and completing a robust, flexible, attractive and, above all, practical WordPress website is the primary client-focused goal. But there's more to it than that. The fact is that what you do for your customers and how you treat them in the future could in some ways be the most important part of the customer relationship. Even beyond the delivery of the original contracted services. According to some studies, it is many times more expensive to invest in new clients than to retain existing ones.

Furthermore, your contacts are very likely to make another purchase after a positive experience with your customer service. This may not apply one-to-one to you as a service provider or WordPress developer, but it's still an important concept to keep in mind.

The RAIDBOXES Sales team

At RAIDBOXES we invest a lot of time in the cooperation with our customers and partners. Check out our article on our partner program for WordPress agencies. It offers you a look behind the scenes in our sales team. Would you like to discuss how we can work with you to strengthen your WordPress projects and client relationships? You're invited to contact us any time.

Think about it: if someone has agreed to pay you money to do a certain thing well, that's a fair relationship. But those providers who continue to offer cheerful support and stay in constant contact with their customers, even though the contract has been signed, are the ones who stand out. And they're also the ones who are recommended to others. Because good customer support and attentive listening, as we all know, are unfortunately by no means a matter of course.

Turning the relationship into long-term loyalty

The problem with creating something as ephemeral as a website is that what your client needs today may not be the same thing they need six months from now.

No matter how well you anticipate the needs of your target group and no matter how well you work with your contacts, needs evolve. So countless websites need to be optimized, adapted and brought up to date. And when that's done, Google comes out with a major update and the work can start all over again.

But as we've already established, there are plenty of WordPress designers out there who are eagerly looking for work. What's to stop your client base from turning to someone else to redesign the website you've put so many hours of work and sweat into? The answer is simple: you. And the quality of your development or guidance.

You are your reputation

The difference comes purely from the attitude you have towards your work. What you have to offer – not only in terms of your concrete skills, but also on an interpersonal level – is what makes you a WordPress developer, designer or consultant.

Of course, you hope that former clients will come back to you because of the value you created for them the first time. But it's just as important to continue to add value for them after the project is over. Here are a few ways to ensure that your clients keep coming back to you.

You save them time

We live in the age of lightning-fast broadband connections that connect us to people all over the world, so no one likes to wait. And yet we all get stuck in this modern life again and again. There's the waiting queue on the phone, the delayed email reply, or leaving a question in a comment or a review in a busy online forum that goes unnoticed.

And yes, it's convenient to put off responding to established clients. After all, you already have their money in your pocket. Besides, you have your hands full creating projects for new clients. Nevertheless, it's important that you conduct every contact with already acquired people as if they were new prospects you want to win over.

The fast, friendly and responsive support and advice you offer after the project is completed will cement your reputation as a top agency or WordPress professional. It will also secure you many a future project.

RAIDBOXES Support Chat
A time save for many customers: support via live chat

You treat them individually

Your customers are calling you because something isn't working in some part of the website you built for them? Make sure that you or someone from your team who is familiar with the project and the technology responds as quickly as possible. And – this is the key – in an individual way.

We're talking about building relationships here and relationships take place between people. When a person calls with a support request for a project that was completed six months ago, they don't want to hear: "How can we help you today?" But rather clearly more personal: "Anna! Hello, how have you been with your project xy?"

This doesn't mean you have to know their children's birthdays or invite them for cocktails. But make sure you know the full story of the website you built for them. Also what ideas have gone into it, as well as all the cornerstones of the personal conversations. By the way, your clients will sense whether this friendliness is authentic or not. In your agency, customer contact should be handled by those members of the team who are not only technically skilled, but who have an inherently positive aura towards other people. A few more tips:

Remain positive throughout

There's nothing worse than needing help with something you've already bought and paid for and being turned away. Again, it's about building relationships that last. No one wants to hear, "oh, that's impossible", or anything along those lines. We want to know that we are being listened to. And that the person on the other end of the line is open to helping us find solutions rather than putting obstacles in our way.

Helping people, with a smile and a positive attitude, giving them what they want and need – these are the hallmarks of any good customer relationship. Whether in a private or professional context. That's how you build trust and that's the only way people will continue to hire you or your agency.

Be transparent

To ensure long-term loyalty, you need to communicate clearly and openly with your clients. If you don't listen to what they want, and if you don't make sure to listen between the lines, the relationship can quickly deteriorate. And then another service provider is hired.

It's also not just about what you communicate, but how. You should communicate every step of the way and make sure your contacts know exactly what you're working on for them, what the progress is and what will happen next. If you get stuck or run into time constraints, communicate that too. And present alternative proposals.

Keep the conversation going

To build your reputation as a first-class address for WordPress development or design, it takes more than just a positive first impression when your clients contact you. You want to keep the conversation going on your terms and be continuously present in the minds of your contacts.

A good way to stay in touch is to send out a regular newsletter. A weekly or monthly reminder about you and your services keeps you in mind. Not only for the needs of your clients themselves, but also for projects of their friends, acquaintances or business partners who may also need a WordPress website.

Get them to sign up to the newsletter themselves. By offering a small bonus or gift, for example. Other ways to continue customer engagement after the project is completed are:

  • Sending personalized emails
  • Follow and interact with customers on social media
  • Invite them to follow your company blog
  • Offer competitions or raffles, send small gifts
  • Approach them for your PR development (for example, to get feedback on their experience with you for testimonials, etc.).
  • Send birthday greetings
  • Personalized recommendations on how they can use your product or service even better

When it comes to your customer relationships, it's a good idea to always think long-term. And not just in terms of the next due payment, the next leads, the next quarter's sales or when a customer contract expires. Without this mindset, you're just one of many WordPress developers that seem to be interchangeable.

Customer acquisition isn't something you do on the side

Customer acquisition and retention is not something you can simply do on the side. The strategies described in this ebook, from inbound leads to remarketing, up-selling and cross-selling to affiliate marketing, each need enough time – and also permanent monitoring. Only then can they unfold their full potential. Your desk is already overflowing? Then decide on one central measure and do it properly.

Be honest with yourself, in which online marketing discipline do your strengths lie? Or those of your team? What do you enjoy doing? And what don't you enjoy? Otherwise, your only option is to hire specialized staff for your online marketing or think about outsourcing your activities (see chapter 7).

It doesn't matter if you carry out the measures yourself or if others do, customer acquisition plans can only be as good as your figures prove. You should therefore familiarize yourself well with the Google Ads or Facebook analytical tools, for example, and view the figures regularly (at least once a week). By comparing the time periods, you'll gradually find out what good values are in terms of clicks, conversion or customer acquisition costs. Because these can differ significantly depending on the business model, industry, product/service and target group. And this is the only way to find out whether your content strategy is on target. Or whether your SEO is focusing on the right keywords.

No matter which measure you decide on, don't give up too easily. All the strategies and tools described need several weeks or even months of lead time and readjustment before you can achieve the first sustainable successes. For example, it's useless to focus on keyword A today and keyword B tomorrow. This will not only confuse Google & Co. but also your visitors. Nevertheless, find a clear content focus for your services, on your website, in the categories of your blog or your online shop. Because then you are more likely to be correctly classified and found by the search engines.

Build your knowledge

Last but not least, build up your knowledge and use your contacts. For the simple reason that you're not alone in finding the right strategies for your customer acquisition. Together with strong partners, you can use synergies. In this context, we invite you to join RAIDBOXES's Partner Network. It's the ideal platform for a valuable exchange of experiences and at the same time helps you to expand your know-how and your network.

This way you can further optimize the growth of your agency or your services. Our goal is to build a long-term partnership with you that will advance you and your WordPress projects. Our partner program is aimed at agencies and freelancers who develop and centrally manage their WordPress projects at RAIDBOXES . Start now as an RAIDBOXES agency partner and benefit from exclusive services such as:

  • Special rates
  • Additional features that can be used free of charge
  • An agency profile in our partner directory
  • Commission for your referrals
  • Direct contacts in the partner management team
  • Joint events or a content partnership

Are you a freelancer or web designer? Then take advantage of the FREE DEV partner programme. With attractive affiliate commissions and the possibility to develop at least three projects for 90 days free of charge. If you have any questions, please contact our team at any time. Here are all the previous parts of our series on customer acquisition:

We support you with strong services and a network that is constantly growing. Together with you, we will advance WordPress and WooCommerce - your customers will benefit, but so will your own business. We wish you every success in implementing these measures. And now good luck in winning new customers!

Your questions about customer relationship management

What questions do you have about customer relations? We look forward to your comments. Are you interested in current WordPress and WooCommerce topics? Then follow RAIDBOXES on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via our newsletter.

Marcel is responsible for sales activities at RAIDBOXES and concentrates on the satisfaction of our customers and partners. He's been passionately involved in sales for over 15 years and, together with his team, is driving forward the further development and expansion of the RAIDBOXES community. This includes a particular focus on the WordPress agency world, cooperations and freelancers.

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