Roman Davydov

Writer |

7 min read

9 Things Every Ad Agency Client Hates and How to Avoid Them [Infographic]

If you’re on the agency side, this scenario has probably happened to you: a client suddenly stops answering your emails or they have abruptly broken off relations with your agency – sometimes without even giving a reason why.

If you’re a client, you rely on an ad agency to deliver professional service that gets results, but chances are you’ve had a bad experience with at least one agency before.

In this post, we’ve listed the most important things that agency clients hate. See if you agree with us or if we’re missing something that should be added to our list!

Things That Clients Hate

1. Clients Hate When Agencies Don’t Send Regular Reports

Sometimes agency employees have so much to do that they simply forget to notify a client of the project status. Huge mistake!

Without regular reports, the client may get the feeling that the agency has done nothing (even if that’s not the case).

Therefore, it’s very important to assure your client that the work is not standing still, and the agency hasn’t forgotten about it.

How to avoid this:

  • Make sure that your weekly task plan includes something like “Send a report to the client.” Or, you can simply put a reminder on the calendar.
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A reminder on the calendar

You can also use our template for reports:

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A report template

2. Clients Hate When Agencies Don’t Offer New Ideas

Clients hate when they have to constantly push the agency into action, especially when the agency doesn’t propose any new steps or ideas.

The client understands that the agency has experience that the client may not have. That’s why they are paying for your services, and they’re expecting you to bring that experience to use on their accounts.

How to avoid this:

Your goal is to offer the client some fresh ideas.

  • Include in regular reports some reasonable and interesting solutions that you can offer your client.

You can think about what worked well for your past clients and offer using it for your current client (new traffic channels, new publishers, etc.).

For instance, we tested PPC advertising in Quora for one of our clients. It went amazingly well. The client has a very niche software product, and every bit of quality traffic is invaluable for her. When later a different client was in need of new marketing ideas to increase the reach, we suggested Quora ads based on this past experience.

If it’s difficult to come up with new ideas for display advertising, try using Adbeat.

Note: Adbeat is a tool that helps you find out everything about the display campaigns of your competitors. You can see how much money any company spends on advertising, which publishers they use, and more. Try Adbeat for free right now!

Don’t be afraid that the client may not agree with your ideas. Even if the client rejects them, they will appreciate that you had something to offer.

3. Clients Hate When Agencies Forget About Important Details Of The Project

It may happen that during a conversation your client asked you for something or you agreed upon something, and then it was simply put on the backburner and forgotten.

Part of why a client is pays an agency is to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, so attention to detail is going to be expected.

Even if the client asked for a simple change in one banner or one word in ads, and you forgot about it, the client can easily become dissatisfied.

How to avoid this:

  • Send meeting notes to your client. They will help make sure that you didn’t miss any important details during the conversation.

List the main points of the conversation in these notes. Specify whether you understand everything correctly and ask whether there is something in the list that you have forgotten about.

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Meeting notes template

This is how your meeting notes may look like. [Image Source:]

Here you can find more templates for meeting minutes.

  • For more general points (i.e., overall budget, ad networks), we advise you to update a client’s brief more often.

Be sure to include in this file all of your client’s concerns. For example, an increase in the budget for advertising (input exact figures there).

Here you can find a template of a brief (it will be especially useful for agencies engaged in PPC).

A brief will help you remember not just the random small details, but also things that are big picture and always important.

4. Clients Hate When Agencies Don’t Admit Mistakes

Clients hate when some troubles occur (for example, when the budget is exceeded), and the agency does not report on this or does not admit that something bad has happened.

The client will usually sooner or later find out as well as come to a decision that the agency is dishonest or unwilling to admit mistakes, and therefore can’t be trusted.

How to avoid this:

You need to understand that anything can happen, mistakes occur, and this is quite normal. In any case, telling the bitter truth is better than not telling the customer anything at all.

  • Send an email or slack message to your client. Admit your mistake, explain its cause, apologize, and tell a client what measures you took to ensure that the error does not happen again.

We wrote an entire article about what to do if you exceed a client’s budget. In the article, you can find tips on what to say to your client and examples of how to write a letter with explanations.

5. Clients Hate When Agencies Do Not Keep Promises

Sometimes sales reps can promise too much to clients wishing to close more deals. This might also be done because the person doing the selling doesn’t understand how feasible it is to hit a specific goal or result.

That’s why account specialists who work directly on the client account can not always fulfill the promises that the salesperson gave to the client.

For example, a salesperson promises a prospect 150 leads monthly to get a contract signed. The potential client is delighted. He smiles imagining how his revenue is on track to triple soon.

But in the end, this client may get only ten leads a month of questionable quality because the product is quite niche or there’s no real demand for it.

If this promise of 150 leads per month was run by a marketing specialist first, together they would have been able to provide a more realistic forecast and avoid having unmet expectations later.

How to avoid this:

  • During the sales process, honestly tell the client what you can do for him and be upfront about what you can’t do or can’t promise. This is also a good way to check the sophistication the client and his or her ability to understand the reality of achieving results with advertising.
  • Make sure that besides a salesperson, a specialist who implements campaigns is present during key conversations with the client.
  • Educate your sales people so that they have enough information about running an ad account to be able to sell without over promising.

For example, you may choose to make this a rule – if your salesperson wants to promise something to the client, he must first confirm with someone from account management (or PPC department, etc.), and ask if his promise is reasonable.

6. Clients Hate When Agencies Need “Hand-Holding”

Clients hate when they have to re-work something after the agency did something. For example, when the end result is full of some small and annoying mistakes (i.e., the agency designed banners, but the copy contains typos, so the client has to make changes on their own in order to go live under a tight deadline).

How to avoid this:

  • At the beginning of the relationship, get as many details as possible about the standards of quality required by the client. For example, ask if the client has a corporate style guide for banner design.
  • Also, implement checklists to make sure every detail is performed in a way that meets the client expectation.
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Checklist for display ads

Make sure that every specialist who works on the account always follows a checklist suitable for various aspects of their responsibilities.

7. Clients Hate When Agencies Lack Industry Expertise

Industry expertise can be a big factor for whether the agency and the client will be able to speak on equal terms.

It’s very important to the client that the agency understands the metrics that are important to him or her, and that they understand what is important to companies from the client industry.

Agency specialists don’t have to be pros in the client’s industry, but they have to be informed so as not to make stupid mistakes (for example, confusing astronomy and astrology).

How to avoid this:

  • Study the client’s industry and product (for example, read some authoritative resources related to this industry).
  • Get expertise from those who have it . Ask your client for a consultation/interview to gather data and understanding. Communicating this way with a client is a great way to quickly get up to speed on the industry.
  • Study client’s target audience/buyer persona. Help them develop this if they can’t clearly describe it up front.

8. Clients Hate When Agencies Do Not Care Enough About Security

Since the client trusts the agency with his passwords and money, he wants to be reassured about the security of this data.

You need to show the client in every possible way that you are conscious about security, have processes in place, and that you will never risk a breach.

How to avoid this:

  • Make sure that all agency specialists have signed a non-disclosure agreement, and inform the client about this.
  • Make sure that the agency staff does not upload any data to the public. Take note that this can happen not only intentionally, but accidentally as well.

For example, some specialists may not know that if they use Lightshot – a tool for taking screenshots – and press the wrong button, their screenshot becomes available  for the entire Internet.

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The example of public sharing data using Lightshot

  • Use reliable password security software. For example, LastPass.
  • Discuss with the client in advance whether the agency can use the name of client’s company in some agency’s promo materials, case studies, etc.

9. Clients Hate When Agencies Do Not Meet Deadlines

This is probably one of the most common and relevant problems for many agencies. Each agency should have its own approach of how to manage to do the work on time.

How to avoid this:

  • Improve planning. Namely, always remember that the estimated time and the duration are often very different.
  • Be aware of dependencies and bottlenecks in your workflow and take these into account.

For example, estimated time for doing a particular task may be eight hours, but in fact, the task will be completed in more like 1 week, because you will likely end up waiting for approvals, and so forth.

Final Thoughts

No agency wants to lose clients and no client wants to have a bad experience with the agency that they hire. This post covered points in the agency/client relationship that we’ve found most commonly to cause a break down.

As an agency, what do you do to ensure that the client is always satisfied? Do you have each of the above points covered?

As client, have you ever had situations when an agency didn’t deliver on one of the points above or for some other reason?

Share your story in the comments!

Roman Davydov

Writer |


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