It’s much easier to retain an existing client than it is to persuade a new client to work with you. Ask any freelancer who’s been in business long enough – they have stories to tell about the struggles of finding new clients when they’re experiencing a dry month.
But keeping your clients happy shouldn’t be based on luck. You need to be strategic and proactive when it comes to building long-lasting relationships with them.
Whether you’re new to freelancing or are a seasoned marketer, it’s important to understand why client loyalty is so important and how to build sustainable relationships with clients to keep them happy so they work with you month after month.
Why client loyalty matters
Your reputation is everything as a freelancer. When you build strong relationships with your clients, you become their first choice when a new project comes their way. You also become known as a trustworthy and honest person. This extends far beyond your work with them.
Clients talk. A good experience with you will either make or break your chance to develop a reliable source of referrals and repeat work. This is why keeping clients around is good for business.
In fact, it’s 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer rather than to retain current customers.
The same is true for freelancers. It’s more cost-effective to keep working for the same client than it is to do lead generation, marketing, or advertising for a new one. But how do you keep them around?
8 tips for boosting client loyalty
Now that you understand the importance of client loyalty for freelancers, here are some ideas for how to build sustainable relationships with clients so they come back to you again and again.
1. Create a seamless customer experience
According to a survey by Invesp, 89% of businesses see customer experience as a key factor in driving customer loyalty and retention. There are a variety of ways to create an amazing experience for your client:
- Make the onboarding process as simple as possible by removing barriers to entry that make it cumbersome to start working with you
- Provide consistent communication with your client to keep them in the loop
- Be ready to deal with any issues that arise with a smile
2. Be professional and personable
Your reputation matters. The last thing you want to do as a freelancer is for a client to have a bad taste in their mouth after working with you. This is where professionalism comes into play.
As much as you may want to respond to that email right away, it is better to take a step back and wait until you’ve cooled down. A sour attitude won’t get you far as a freelancer.
While it’s important to stay poised when dealing with clients, you also have to remember that the person you’re working with is a human too. Take the time to learn about your clients and what makes them tick, just remember to be polite and get the job done.
3. Communicate clearly and often
Consistent communication builds trust by limiting uncertainty. Why? Because clients want to be in the loop.
Let them know when you plan to update them about a project, clearly define expectations you have for feedback, and give them a heads up if you plan to be OOO in the future. It goes a long way to keep your clients happy.
This is especially crucial as a freelancer because you’re often remote. When your client can’t simply stop by your desk to ask how a project is going, it’s up to you to keep them informed.
There’s truly no downside to clear communication as a freelancer.
4. Be proactive, not reactive
Reactive behavior is an immediate response to feelings about an uncontrollable situation, problem, or other issues. This is no way to find success as a freelancer.
Becoming proactive can help you prevent a problem with a client or project from occurring before it arises. This boosts client loyalty because they feel like you’re looking out for them, not just collecting a paycheck.
5. Deliver work on time (or before) the deadline
Not one client will ever be upset if you deliver work before the deadline. On the contrary, a piece delivered late pushes back timelines, creates gaps in the workflow, and adds unnecessary stress to the project as a whole.
Always strive to manage expectations by underpromising and overdelivering. This means that if it takes you four days to develop a strategy, tell your client you can get it to them in a week, then deliver it early.
The habit of turning work in on time contributes to your reputation as a freelancer with excellent time management and the ability to keep promises. These are all green flags for a client who’s looking for someone to work with long-term.
6. Produce quality work
Anyone can write up a marketing plan, but it takes a skilled freelancer to produce a strategic and effective marketing plan. Focus on your commitment to your craft, do your research, and ask the right questions to make sure the work you do is high-quality.
Your commitment to delivering work that is exceptional and innovative will do wonders to keep clients happy.
7. Be committed
Freelancers aren’t employees, so they often aren’t involved in office culture or even in the office at all. This can lead to some hesitations on the client’s end. They want to know that you care about their company and its mission.
The best way to do this is to show them. While explaining how much their company means to you is nice to hear, talk is cheap. Producing quality work and delivering work on time are two of the best ways to do this.
People who truly care are hard to come by, so this is a key way to ensure you keep your clients happy and coming back to you for projects in the future.
8. Ask for feedback
If you want to show your customers how much you value them and your willingness to improve, ask for their feedback.
They might have suggestions for how to make the client experience more seamless or your presentations more effective. This will both improve your workflow and make you stand out from the rest of the freelancers who didn’t ask. Bonus!
Boosting client loyalty is the key to your success as a freelance marketer. There’s no need to spend time and energy warming up leads when you have paying clients knocking at your door already.
Now that you understand the value of a long-term client and how to keep freelance clients around, it’s onward and upward from here!