The State of Agency-Client Collaboration in 2024

Author's avatar Agencies UPDATED Apr 9, 2024 PUBLISHED Dec 13, 2023 33 minutes read

Table of contents

    Peter Caputa

    To see what Databox can do for you, including how it helps you track and visualize your performance data in real-time, check out our home page. Click here.

    Most agencies struggle with the same challenge: proving the value of their work to their clients and showcasing performance in an understandable way while ensuring internal processes are streamlined and optimized.

    You usually have no time to build complex reports across multiple platforms for every client. The data you need is scattered across different sources, and most of your processes require manual data collection and calculations. This may cause frustration because you know your team’s time can be spent more efficiently.

    At the same time, you struggle to create clean reports that demonstrate your results neatly, making the ROI of your efforts evident to the client, even if they have no marketing knowledge.

    Without proper tools to automate and centralize your processes, especially reporting, scaling, and onboarding new clients, only adds to the existing stress.

    Databox and ZenPilot collaborated on exploring the current state of agency-client collaboration and possible solutions for the most common challenges.

    We surveyed over 300 agencies to learn more about how they manage client accounts, set and track goals, how much time they spend creating reports, how often they meet with clients and much more.

    Executive Summary

    According to survey results, agencies usually manage 10-30 clients and show a preference for long-term retainers. This indicates a trend toward establishing stable, long-lasting agency-client partnerships. 

    Agencies predominantly take the reins when it comes to strategy formation but with regular feedback cycles. When it comes to selecting KPIs, they choose them together with the client. The implementation of SMART goals is prevalent, though a notable 17.43% don’t use this approach. 

    Despite most agencies having clear internal points of contact for clients, a significant 36% revealed they don’t have full-time account managers at all. This may hint at the fluidity and adaptability of agency structures. 

    On the client side, the owner or CEO typically takes the lead—they are responsible for reviewing and analyzing the report. There is an apparent gap between how agencies evaluate their clients’ and their own data literacy—and an opportunity for them to bridge the gap by educating their clients on marketing data.

    Communication, collaboration, and managing expectations and results are among the most impactful factors that affect clients’ overall satisfaction with the agency’s work. There’s an opportunity to further enrich and strengthen these relationships by empowering clients to better understand and analyze agencies’ hard work.

    Key Findings

    Here are the main takeaways from our extensive research.

    1. Work Models: Remote and Hybrid Prevail Among Surveyed Agencies
    2. Popular Services: Leading Offerings Include SEO, Content, Social Media Marketing, and More
    3. Number of Clients: Over 50% of Agencies Work with up to 30 Clients at a time
    4. Client Retainers: Majority of Companies Have Over 60% Clients on Long-Term Contracts
    5. Client Budgets: Agencies Witness Yearly Payments Ranging from $12,000 to $60,000
    6. Pricing Strategies: Fixed Fee Retainers Dominate as Preferred Pricing Model
    7. Year of Success: Agencies Report Positive Growth in 2022 Compared to 2021
    8. Prescriptive Strategy Approaches: Over Half of Agencies Follow Client Input, Building Strategies, and Seeking Approval
    9. Quarterly Strategy Review: Most Agencies Regularly Revisit Client Strategies
    10. Defining Success: Majority of Agencies Establish Clear KPIs and Targets at the Beginning of Client Relationships
    11. SMART Goal Implementation: Agencies Set Specific, Measurable Goals After Contract Signing
    12. Multi-Goal Focus: Agencies Target 1-3 Numeric Goals Concurrently for Most Clients
    13. Goal Attainment Timeframe: About 45% of Agencies Aim to Achieve New Goals Within One Quarter
    14. Goal Achievement Rates: Agencies Report Varied Success, With Many Reaching Goals Most of the Time
    15. Progress Monitoring: Nearly Half of Agencies Review Client Goal Progress Monthly
    16. Goal Resetting: Agencies Occasionally Reset Goals Due to Difficulty
    17. Financial Success Correlation: More Than 75% of Respondents Attribute Agency Prosperity to Achieving Clients’ Goals
    18. Preferred Project Management Tool: ClickUp is Adopted by a Quarter of Surveyed Agencies
    19. Structured Onboarding: Majority of Agencies Utilize Standardized Approaches to Onboard New Clients
    20. Majority of Agencies Also Have a Structured Account Management Process
    21. Agencies Feature Diverse Numbers of Full-Time Account Managers
    22. Majority of Agencies Collaborate with Clients in Setting KPIs
    23. Dynamic Reporting: Two-Thirds of Agencies Integrate Evolving KPIs and Metrics for Comprehensive Insights
    24. Real-Time Data Accessibility: Over Half of Agencies Prefer Using Live Dashboards
    25. Automated Reporting Efficiency: Half of Respondents Leverage Software for Real-Time Dashboards and Customized Client Reports
    26. Agencies Access Client Performance Data from Various Tools
    27. Time Allocation in Reporting: Analysis and Explanation Consume 50%, Recommendations Occupy 18%
    28. Reporting Responsibilities: Account Managers, Owners, and CEOs Lead Reporting Efforts
    29. Client-Side Review: Owners or CEOs Typically Analyze and Review Agency Reports
    30. Agencies Typically Schedule Monthly Meetings and Reports with Clients
    31. Disparity in Data Literacy: Agencies Believe 90% of Their Employees, but Only 10% of Clients, Are Data Proficient
    32. Agencies Find Their Reporting Process Helpful to Achieve Multiple Goals

    Work Models: Remote and Hybrid Prevail Among Surveyed Agencies

    More than half of the surveyed agencies embraced remote work as their work arrangement. Just below 50% of agencies are hybrid, while only 2.9% of survey respondents say they work exclusively on-site. 

    agency work models

    PRO TIP: Having well-documented operating procedures is key for managing remote teams successfully. Use templates, policy documents, and clearly outlined guidelines to standardize processes. You also need to make this documentation easily accessible for all remote team members.

    Popular Services: Leading Offerings Include SEO, Content, Social Media Marketing, and More

    The top offered services, selected by more than half of the surveyed agencies, are, respectively: SEO, Content marketing, Social media marketing, Email marketing, Web design, SEM, and Web development.

    Sometimes, clients reach out for one reason (one service they need), only to uncover more areas of improvement during the discovery and onboarding processes.

    most popular agency services

    “With each new client, we kick things off with a content, SEO, and website audit. This typically uncovers major areas for improvement, and clients really appreciate the insights along with the strategic recommendations we make and then highlight the impact executing on such activities will have,”

    Anthony Gaenzle

    Anthony Gaenzle

    CEO at Gaenzle Marketing

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    PRO TIP: Have skill gaps in your team but can’t expand your offer at the moment? Consider partnering with another agency. A partnership can bring in new leads and help reach new audiences.

    Number of Clients: Over 50% of Agencies Work with up to 30 Clients at a time

    Out of all surveyed agencies, over half work with 10-30 clients at a time. 17.8% have 31-50 clients, while 10% of agencies have more than 100 clients. Just under 10% of respondents are small agencies with up to 10 clients.

    Client Retainers

    PRO TIP: Depending on the scope of work, six clients per account manager can be too many, or 12 may not be enough. Before you assign clients to your account managers, look into each client’s specific requirements to avoid burnout among your team members.

    Client Retainers: Majority of Companies Have Over 60% Clients on Long-Term Contracts

    For more than 50% of the surveyed companies, over 60% of clients are on long-term retainers (longer than six months).

    Long-term retainer

    PRO TIP: Client retention is a big struggle for a lot of companies; just getting them from monthly to quarterly or yearly contracts takes time and effort. One of the ways to increase it is by increasing transparency through regular and accurate reporting.

    Client Budgets: Agencies Witness Yearly Payments Ranging from $12,000 to $60,000

    For most of the agencies, clients pay between $12,000 and $60,000 in a year. Less than 1% of agencies that participated in this research have budgets larger than $600,000 at their disposal. Around 11% of agencies typically see client budgets of up to $12,000 per year.

    Client Budgets

    PRO TIP: Regardless of their budget, clients will have expectations from the collaboration with you. Managing these expectations is a challenging part of the job, but overly communicating what you do and how you do it can help prevent issues. Expectations should be set up front, and the clients should know how often you will provide them with updates, especially those related to the ROI of their investment. Databox can help create streamlined, visually appealing, and effective dashboard reports for your clients where the data will effortlessly come together to tell a story in a way that they’ll understand.

    https://databox-3.wistia.com/medias/0dpbgyvun9?embedType=async&seo=true&videoFoam=false&videoWidth=850

    Pricing Strategies: Fixed Fee Retainers Dominate as Preferred Pricing Model

    Fixed fee retainer is the dominant pricing model for most agencies (56.02%). Others charge a fixed fee per project or hourly, while just a small percentage of agencies offer incentive-based and points-based pricing.

    Pricing Strategies

    PRO TIP: What if your prospect isn’t a good fit for a marketing retainer? It doesn’t mean you have to give up on them. If your potential client isn’t ready for a 6-month retainer, consider offering analytics as a service. This way, you can help clients who have in-house marketers who aren’t that well-versed in analytics but can work with your insights and suggestions.

    Year of Success: Agencies Report Positive Growth in 2022 Compared to 2021

    The year 2022 was a relatively successful one for agencies: only a few reported a decrease in Revenue, Number of clients, Workload, Scope of services, Tech stack size, and Number of employees compared to 2021. The most significant increases were seen in revenue and workload.

    Many agencies are seeing an increase in their workload or number of clients due to companies realizing it can be more cost-effective to outsource marketing activities than build in-house teams.

    “Clients knew they needed a digital strategy, and it’s more cost-effective to outsource to an agency than build an in-house team,” explains Jamie Press from Eurisko.

    These internal teams may also not have enough time to focus on innovation and creativity, according to Sam Underwood of Futurety, who says that his clients “often have great internal people who either don’t have the capacity to innovate due to schedules or want an outside perspective to bring new ideas.”

    Agencies Report Growth

    PRO TIP: If you’ve set the goal to maximize your agency’s profits over the next few quarters, start by analyzing your current business processes and identify where you can make changes to ensure they’re more streamlined. Simplify onboarding of new clients, prioritize your most profitable services, and think about how you can measure your success and share it with your clients in a compelling, effective way.

    Charging for Strategy: Most Agencies Include Strategy in Retainers or Do Paid Discovery/Strategy Calls

    Agencies usually either include strategy in the larger scope of projects or retainers (35.27% of surveyed agencies) or do a paid discovery and/or strategy project before beginning tactical work (30.29%). A small percentage of survey participants claim they only implement tactical work. Less than 20% of agencies don’t charge for strategy at all—they give it away as a tool to close the client and then make up for it during implementation.

    Agency strategy packaging

    PRO TIP: Not sure how to charge your monthly retainer? Don’t forget to factor in manpower, job complexity, extra work hours in case something goes wrong, and the client’s ROI when determining the price.

    Prescriptive Strategy Approaches: Over Half of Agencies Follow Client Input, Building Strategies, and Seeking Approval

    Over half of the agencies (56.02%) set the strategies for new clients in a more prescriptive, less collaborative way—they take initial input from the client, build the strategy, and present it to the client for approval.

    Both prescriptive and collaborative approaches have their pros and cons. Some experts believe it’s a plus and a demonstration of expertise when an agency only involves the client in strategy and KPI reviews.

    “I believe what almost all clients look for in an agency is one that can work autonomously and without involving the client at every step. Our method is to discuss the product development roadmap with the client, outline the strategy and the goals, and then only involve the client during the KPI review, which we follow quarterly. I believe this is one of the key factors behind our client satisfaction,” shares Alan Carr at Webpop Design.

    On the other hand, more client involvement can enhance the entire collaboration, according to Brendan Flanigan from SmarkLabs.

    “I believe the greatest impact is how they experience the services we provide. Quality and performance are always expected but also can be subjective. When we make it easy for clients to use our services, we see more client participation in the services we offer, creating more collaboration, improved quality, and better results.”

    PRO TIP: To make sure your strategy is on point and requires little to no revision from the client, include a client questionnaire during prospecting. Ask questions like: What does success look like to you, what’s your top problem, and what are some examples of your ideas/things you want to achieve?

    Quarterly Strategy Review: Most Agencies Regularly Revisit Client Strategies

    Most agencies revisit client strategy at least once in a quarter. Around 25% of agencies do it monthly, while just over 10% of agencies say it depends on their strategist or account manager.

    PRO TIP: You don’t have to wait until reporting time to ensure you’re on track to deliver the promised results. With our Client Performance Dashboards, you can identify when you’re below target before it’s too late and make adjustments as you go. Monitoring your KPIs will help make a case to modify a client’s strategy and reallocate resources accordingly.

    Client tracking

    Defining Success: Majority of Agencies Establish Clear KPIs and Targets at the Beginning of Client Relationships

    More than half of the surveyed agencies agree on clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and specific targets that define our success at or near the beginning of every client relationship.

    A bit over 40% stated that they determine KPIs and set general goals, but the success of their engagement doesn’t entirely depend on achieving those goals for the clients.

    Agency data-driven engagement

    PRO TIP: Once your KPIs are set up, you can easily keep everyone in the loop, both your team and your client. Databox offers a cool feature called Alerts, which delivers regular KPI progress updates to you, your team, or selected users so that you can address issues without meetings and before problems become bigger.

    Alerts

    SMART Goal Implementation: Agencies Set Specific, Measurable Goals After Contract Signing

    Most agencies first set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Timebound) goals with clients at the very beginning of the relationship but after they sign the contract. Interestingly, 17.43% don’t set SMART goals with clients at all.

    SMART Goal Implementation

    PRO TIP: What if your goals change over time? Databox simplified learning from your past performance! You can easily go back and see goal values set for a previous period: week, month, quarter, or year. See your historical performance and your historical goals on a line chart and how you’ve performed over different periods of time. This can help you set more attainable goals that you’ll be more likely to hit.

    Multi-Goal Focus: Agencies Target 1-3 Numeric Goals Concurrently for Most Clients

    Nearly 78% of the surveyed agencies usually try to hit 1-3 numeric goals at once for a typical client. A small percentage of agencies set more than seven goals per client.

    Agency Multi-Goal Focus

    PRO TIP: Our Goals feature allows you to set goals for any metric and KPI and visualize your progress in real-time. You can set goals and track them on any dashboard and in combination with different metrics to get a complete picture of your performance. This way, you can make timely adjustments in your campaigns and increase your chances of achieving the goal.

    Goals

    Goal Attainment Timeframe: About 45% of Agencies Aim to Achieve New Goals Within One Quarter

    For about 45% of the agencies, the usual timeframe to hit the new goal set is one quarter. Around a third of surveyed agencies aim to achieve client goals within a month, while others have six-month or annual goals.

    Goal Attainment Timeframe

    PRO TIP: With Databox, you don’t have to wait until the end of the month or quarter to see if you’re on track with achieving your goals. You can easily set up handy performance alerts that notify you when your goals are likely or unlikely to be hit so that you can react promptly.

    Goal Achievement Rates: Agencies Report Varied Success, With Many Reaching Goals Most of the Time

    About 70% of the agencies stated that they achieve the goals they set for clients most of the time. Another 29.05% stated that they achieve them 50/50.

    Goal Achievement Rates

    PRO TIP: With Databox tools, you can maximize your chances of hitting client goals. Our platform allows you to easily track all important KPIs and goals for every client in a single, streamlined dashboard, so you can easily stay on top of any changes in performance.

    Progress Monitoring: Nearly Half of Agencies Review Client Goal Progress Monthly

    Around 46% of the surveyed agencies say they review their progress toward goals with a typical client on a monthly basis. Other popular cadences among survey respondents were quarterly (around 18%) and weekly (around 14%).

    Agency progress monitoring

    PRO TIP: Databox lets you simplify progress monitoring, whether you’re tracking client KPIs or goals. You can use a simple toggle to view the current performance for all of your client accounts, as well as current progress toward the client goals your team is working toward.

    Goal Resetting: Agencies Occasionally Reset Goals Due to Difficulty

    About 60% of agencies stated that they sometimes reset goals because they’ve proved too difficult to reach. Another 34% stated that this rarely happens.

    Agency Goal Resetting

    PRO TIP: With the Databox Business Goal Tracking feature, you can make your performance more predictable and adjust your goals accordingly. Instead of logging into multiple tools each time you want to check your progress and your numbers, you can visualize your performance and goals in one dashboard. What’s more, Databox can also calculate daily and weekly goals based on your high-level monthly goals, so you can immediately see which goals are attainable and which may not be.

    Financial Success Correlation: More Than 75% of Respondents Attribute Agency Prosperity to Achieving Clients’ Goals

    Over ¾ of our respondents agreed that their agencies’ financial success is dependent on their ability to hit clients’ goals.

    There are also some more niched approaches, as Ognjen Vuković from Four Winds shares:

    “We are very niched, eCommerce oriented performance agency, and our fee depends on the performance only. This is a great model as brands have almost 0 risk, while giving us a huge payouts after the success is achieved. Four Winds went from 0 to almost 80.000.000 USD in adspend in first 13 months because of this model, and it is really good.”

    Agency Financial Success Correlation

    PRO TIP: Tracking client retention rates and ROI can tell you a lot about your agency’s profitability. However, only financial reports can give you a clear picture of how profitable you are. You can easily create these reports with Databox and share them with your finance team or external financial consultant.

    Quickbooks: profit and loss overview

    Preferred Project Management Tool: ClickUp is Adopted by a Quarter of Surveyed Agencies

    About a quarter of surveyed agencies stated that they use ClickUp as their primary project management tool. Some agencies use docs and spreadsheets for project management, potentially missing workflow automation opportunities that would save them time and money and streamline their operations.

    “We’ve standardized on ClickUp (after a 6-month project management platform search), and it has been tremendous,” shares Charles Musselwhite of Musselwhite Marketing. “We track everything from emails, metrics, partners, tech tickets, and more. Implementing ClickUp has been a great benefit to us (internally) and to our customers and clients.”

    ClickUp is also praised for the possibility for agencies to have a more holistic overview of their client pipeline.

    “[ClickUp] has sealed up gaps; fewer things are being missed. Also, better insight into profitable and unprofitable clients,” says Ryan Johnson of Venn Digital Marketing.

    Agency Preferred Project Management Tool

    PRO TIP When choosing a project management solution for your team, make sure it’s one with a wide range of integrations. This way, you’ll ensure minimal disruptions to your current workflows and avoid duplicate data. If you’re new to ClickUp, check out the platform’s website and its dedicated section with tips on managing your dashboard, custom fields, automation, and more.

    Structured Onboarding: Majority of Agencies Utilize Standardized Approaches to Onboard New Clients

    More than half of respondents selected the following sentences to describe their onboarding process:

    1. We hold a kickoff call that follows a standardized agenda to welcome new clients, make introductions, and begin the onboarding process: 81.33%
    2. We get access to everything we need (website, social platforms, analytics tools, design files, etc.) early in the process: 80.50%
    3. We set the schedule for regular client calls: 62.66%
    4. We establish clear goals and KPIs: 56.85% 
    5. We conduct audits of everything that could impact the results we will generate for the client: 55.60%
    6. We have an onboarding template in our project management tool that covers all the tasks needed to complete onboarding: 54.36%
    7. We explicitly share communication guidelines like who the client should contact, what channels are appropriate, response time expectations, etc.: 53.53%
    8. We set (or reset) expectations around the timeline, cost, and effort to achieve specific goals: 50.21%

    PRO TIP: Client onboarding sets the tone for the rest of the collaboration. Use the onboarding call to set clear expectations and discuss potential roadblocks with the client ahead of your collaboration. Make sure to take notes during this call so that you can revisit the client’s specific talking points later on.

    Majority of Agencies Also Have a Structured Account Management Process

    Most surveyed agencies agreed that the following sentences describe their account management process:

    1. Every client has one clear internal point of contact at our agency: 74.27%
    2. We have regularly scheduled calls with every client where we review what work has been done, what work is planned next, and our progress to goals: 65.15%
    3. We set clear goals for each client and regularly measure and report on results to the client: 51.87%
    4. We adjust our plans regularly based on client performance data: 50.21%
    Agency account management practice

    PRO TIP: If you want to include your clients in your processes more and educate them about your work, you can leave them notes directly in your Databox dashboards. Add your insights and observations so your clients can understand exactly what you did to generate a specific result.

    Anotations

    Agencies Feature Diverse Numbers of Full-Time Account Managers

    Shy of 40% of the surveyed agencies have 2 to 5 full-time account managers. However, it’s worth mentioning that 36% of agencies stated they have zero full-time account managers.

    Agencies Feature Diverse Numbers of Full-Time Account Managers

    PRO TIP: Are you hiring for an account manager? Ask them what they think their greatest asset is, if they ever needed to adjust to a coworker’s working style to achieve success, and how they onboard new clients. See the other 23 great interview questions to ask your potential account manager.

    Majority of Agencies Collaborate with Clients in Setting KPIs

    Most agencies (73.03%) determine KPIs together with a client. Around 20% of agencies determine the KPIs on their own.

    Setting  Clients's KPIs

    PRO TIP: What if the preconfigured metrics in the tools you’re using aren’t the ones your client wants? Databox’s Metric Builder allows you to use filters and dimensions to build your own custom metrics! The best part is – you don’t need coding knowledge to create new metrics and ensure a more granular view of your campaign performance for more accurate insights.

    Dynamic Reporting: Two-Thirds of Agencies Integrate Evolving KPIs and Metrics for Comprehensive Insights

    About ⅔ of agencies stated that their reports include important KPIs as well as metrics that change during the reporting period or that they discover are important in between reporting periods.

    Dynamic Reporting

    PRO TIP: Including benchmarks in the report may help the client understand the results of your campaign better. Showcasing your other clients’ excellent performance can help build a stronger case for your agency, especially if you’re working with a new client you have yet to impress. With Databox, you can host a private benchmark group and collect unique insights your prospects and clients won’t be able to get anywhere else.

    Real-Time Data Accessibility: Over Half of Agencies Prefer Using Live Dashboards

    Over half of the agencies have dashboards with live data accessible to members in real-time. Also, shy of 60% of agencies present reports at meetings (in person or via Zoom). Close to 50% also share reports asynchronously.

    Real-Time Data Accessibility

    When it comes to report formats, more than half of agencies typically share their reports in PDFs and Slides. Around 48% of agencies use Google Docs, and 38.59% use Spreadsheets.

    Report Formats

    PRO TIP: Databox offers live dashboards you can quickly turn into reports. Both are updated in real-time, so they’re suitable for you to present in meetings (whether via Zoom or in the office) or asynchronously. Our reports support multiple formats (such as PDF or slides). If you prefer automated performance updates for your team or clients, you can get even more efficiency via scheduled snapshots.

    Scheduled Snapshots

    Automated Reporting Efficiency: Half of Respondents Leverage Software for Real-Time Dashboards and Customized Client Reports

    About half of the survey respondents use reporting software that automatically pulls data into one spot, allowing them to deliver real-time account dashboards and/or regularly occurring reports to clients that show all of the key performance indicators (KPIs) important to each client.

    Automated Reporting Efficiency

    PRO TIP: Automate client reporting with pre-built Databox dashboards, in which you can customize the look, feel, and flow to showcase your results in the best light possible. Add transparency to your client reporting process by allowing clients to see real-time data in live dashboards and save precious time by skipping the copying and pasting data from multiple sources into documents and slides.

    Agencies Access Client Performance Data from Various Tools

    The tools agencies most frequently log in to pull clients’ performance data are, respectively:

    1. ​​Website Analytics (i.e., Google, HubSpot, Adobe, etc.)
    2. SEO tools (i.e., SEMRush, Moz, Ahrefs, Google Search Console)
    3. Ad platforms (i.e., Facebook ads, Google Ads, Linkedin Ads)
    4. Social tools (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest)
    Agencies Access Client Performance Data from Various Tools

    PRO TIP: Tools like Databox saves your time by allowing you to automatically pull data from different sources without needing to log into each platform to get the data manually. We have 100+ integrations available and over 300 dashboard templates you can download for free. Start using our templates now to immediately save hours of work and reduce reporting complexity while at the same time, providing more informative and engaging reports for your clients.

    ga-website-engagement-dashboard-template-featured-section

    Time Allocation in Reporting: Analysis and Explanation Consume 50%, Recommendations Occupy 18%

    Half of the time agencies use to make a report is spent on Analyzing what happened and why (30%) and Explaining the data (20%). Another 18% is used to write up recommendations for next steps. 

    Time Allocation in Reporting

    PRO TIP: Databox allows you to save time on client reporting in several ways. For example, you can clone your dashboards across multiple client accounts, and each client’s unique data will automatically populate the dashboard. You can also schedule “Snapshots” for specific dates so that a client can receive an up-to-date overview of their performance—asynchronously.

    Reporting Responsibilities: Account Managers, Owners, and CEOs Lead Reporting Efforts

    The Account Manager (or Director) is responsible for making/presenting the report to the clients in 34.85% of the agencies. For 28.22% of the respondents, this task is done by the Agency owner or CEO.

    Reporting Responsibilities

    On the client’s side, the owner or CEO is usually in charge of reviewing/analyzing the report, as reported by 39% of the agencies. 

    PRO TIP: Still haven’t made your first sales hire? If you’ve standardized your offering and have clear requirements and criteria for onboarding someone for this role, it’s time to start seeking for the right person to execute your sales strategy.

    Agencies Typically Schedule Monthly Meetings and Reports with Clients

    Typically, agencies meet with a client to review their report/performance results in-person or over a video conference call on a monthly basis and prepare reports for them also on a monthly basis.

    Although it’s a low percentage, a portion of agencies create these reports weekly or twice a month and meet with the client on the same cadence. It’s critical that they establish efficient report-creation processes to ensure they spend more time conducting actual marketing activities than reporting on them.

    Brian Kelly of Ivor Andrew chose to transition to Databox to streamline client reporting.

    “We’re transitioning all of our reporting to the platform. We previously manually pulled screenshots and data from a dozen different tools to populate a Google Doc and PDF. We tracked it and we were spending $1,000+ per report per client just to build and create each monthly report. With Databox, we’re aiming to reduce the time it takes to build the report and spend more time analyzing the data and presenting recommendations to the client,” Kelly says.

    Agencies Typically Schedule Monthly Meetings and Reports with Clients

    PRO TIP: Client meetings don’t have to turn into daunting updates with the other side not understanding their actual performance. Databox reporting features and beautiful mobile and TV dashboards make data digestible and visually appealing, and moreover, they can be displayed from your phone, on your office TV, on desktops, and more.

    mobile dashboard example

    Disparity in Data Literacy: Agencies Believe 90% of Their Employees, but Only 10% of Clients, Are Data Proficient

    Agencies believe not many people on the client’s side are well-trained to analyze and discuss the data they include in their typical reports: about a third of agencies think there are less than 10% of such people. On the other hand, about 20% of agencies believe that over 90% of their employees are well-trained for this.

    It’s key to strike the balance between providing the client with enough information and keeping the reports simple and understandable. Including explanations for different data and showing how metrics fit into the big picture always helps.

    “Presenting regular analytics data and explanations allows the client to understand why I’m making recommendations in different areas,” explains MaryAnn Pfeiffer of 108 Degrees Digital Marketing. “It helps build trust with the client because they can see what I see, and I can teach them why I believe one action or another would be a good step for them.”

    Disparity in Data Literacy

    “Clients love marketing dashboards. The fact that they are available in between status calls is a big plus. It emphasizes transparency. We all see the same data.”

    Mark Lennon

    Mark Lennon

    Marketing Agency Leader at Espresso B2B Marketing

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    PRO TIP: With Databox Dashboard Reporting, you can easily turn large amounts of data into meaningful reports that your clients will understand. You can choose whether you want to present high-level data or drill down into specific KPIs, all in one place, without ever leaving Databox.

    Agencies Find Their Reporting Process Helpful to Achieve Multiple Goals

    For most agencies, the reporting process works well for achieving multiple goals. And what’s reporting, if not a way of communicating with your clients?

    “Communication has the greatest impact on our client’s overall satisfaction. We believe regular and effective communication is key to keeping clients happy. This includes keeping them informed about project status, any challenges or obstacles that arise, and any changes to timelines or deliverables. Clients should feel that they can easily reach out to us with questions or concerns and that their feedback is valued,” advises Leo Ye of Cubo.

    Using Reporting Process  to Achieve Multiple Goals

    PRO TIP: Think of the reporting process as a key element of client-agency communication, which can be critical for building a high-growth marketing agency. Overcommunicate in your reports, always making sure you’re avoiding agency and marketing jargon and never leaving data unexplained.

    Who Did We Survey?

    This research has been conducted in collaboration with ZenPilot between August 2022 and April 2023. It has collected 300 respondents, of which 241 were eligible for the analysis.

    Out of these 241 agencies, a tad over half work with 10-30 clients at a time, 17.8% have 31-50 clients, while 10% of agencies have more than 100 clients. Just under 10% of respondents are small agencies with up to 10 clients.

    Number of agency clients

    Regarding team size, most of our survey participants have between two and 10 employees. A tad below 30% of agencies have 11-25 employees. We also had one-person-show responses, and around 3% of agencies with over 100 team members.

    Number of agency employees

    Most of our survey participants were agency owners or C-level leaders, such as CEOs and CMOs. Other responses mostly came from individual contributors, directors, and managers.

    Job level of survey corespondents

    How to Use Databox Benchmarks in Your Marketing and Sales Process

    The nature of inbound marketing and SEO is changing fast. And with AI booming and increasing competition, agencies have a hard time ranking and driving website traffic, even with high-quality content and well-targeted messaging.

    In fact, we’ve been there and done that: Databox relied heavily on SEO to grow for five years. And that’s exactly how we noticed the issue and came up with an unusual approach.

    Collaborative growth through Benchmark Groups.

    Benchmark Groups can be an incredibly valuable asset in your marketing and sales process through unique insights and valuable content that only you can offer. How do they work?

    The Databox team will help you select the most relevant integrations and metrics for your target customers. When they join the group, they can benchmark themselves against peers in the market and find opportunities for improvement, getting insights that they can’t get anywhere else.

    Based on the data collected in the group, you can then create unique content AI and your competitors will have a hard time trying to copy: summarize the benchmark data, talk about how to improve different underperforming metrics, answer questions on social media with first-hand data, share your unique observations, and more. We can even help you create and promote a survey that addresses burning questions or surfaces valuable insights for your target audience and later collects responses so that you can convert these insights into different content formats, from blog posts and social media posts to full podcast episodes.

    The more members in your group, the more prospects you can build relationships with. To drive more signups, you can link to your group on your website, send email invites, share the link in your marketing content, and much more.

    Leverage the exclusive insights you have access to to position yourself as a thought leader in your field and generate qualified leads for your business. Instead of a cold sales pitch, you can use the benchmark group to provide valuable insights and resources to your prospects and increase your chances of converting them. Prove your expertise with data and show your prospects how you’re helping your clients outperform other similar companies.

    The Databox team also helps you amplify your Benchmark Group and survey efforts. We’ll feature your survey results on our public Benchmarks App and help you drive visitors there. Your target audience will join your benchmark group to see how they compare to peers or read valuable survey insights. If they’re performing below the average, you can offer to help them improve.

    Any agency or community that wants to partner with us and support each other’s growth can be a part of Databox Benchmark Groups for free.

    We’re offering a unique way to stand out from your competitors.

    Create your forever-free Databox account and start using the best way to reach your prospects today.

    Author's avatar
    Article by
    Nevena Rudan

    Marketing Research Analyst at Databox. Being an experienced Strategic and Creative Planner, with more than 15 years of practice, Nevena is passionately dedicated to untying the knots and entanglements of marketing, sales, and human behavior in order to deliver understandable, useful, and actionable insights for businesses.

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