How Account Managers Can Use Data To Transform Client Relationships
Friday, September 8, 2023
Digital Account Manager
Strong client relationships are the beating heart of an agency. As an Account Manager, it’s my job to nurture those relationships. But it’s not all in the soft skills and relationships - truly effective account management means regularly engaging with different data, and translating learnings for both clients and internals teams.
In this blog, I’ll look at how I - and how some of our other account managers - use data on a day-to-day basis to strengthen client relationships.
Why are data-driven decisions important?
Account Management involves making decisions on what’s best for our clients all the time. Whether that’s in terms of account strategy, workflow or ensuring a good overall client experience. Sure, opinion is a factor and sometimes we have to make a call based upon our best judgement or based on general knowledge of a client. But data allows us to make more informed, strategic decisions which lead to better results. Ultimately, the client wants us to care about their business as much as they do - and data helps us to achieve that.
With valuable data at our fingertips - we’re able to work more effectively on an account, increasing the impact of the team’s work and going the extra mile for a client.
Let’s explore some of the ways in which we do that.
Knowing the client’s audience.
We do everything possible at Uplift to make sure we truly understand the audience the client is speaking to. If we don’t understand the user, how can we market to them? How can we ensure the work we’re doing to optimise the website is targeted towards the right people? Without a solid understanding of the client’s audience, all of the team’s work can feel detached, and not truly connected to what the client’s goals are.
We’re fortunate at Uplift, in that we have a Research & Planning department that carries out user testing and customer journey mapping for our clients. As an account manager, the insights that the team discover during these sessions are incredible, and they help me to truly understand the real people my clients are looking to speak to.
As the Account Manager, these pieces of work are something that we should continuously review so we can keep their audience’s wants and needs in mind. It’s not enough to simply do this once - whilst onboarding the client - user workshop data or user testing sessions provide insights that we aim to revisit every few months, to remind us of the client’s target audience and their subtleties and nuances.
Fundamentally this all comes back to having a client’s users front and centre of our decisions. This helps to ensure the client’s workflow is populated only with work that will genuinely move the needle, but the time we invest in audience research and reviewing this data also lets clients know that we’re thinking strategically and are invested in their success.
Another way in which we use data to better understand our clients, and to manage their accounts more effectively, is through understanding the market and industry within which they operate. Market insights allow us to understand the challenges that our clients are facing and what’s going on within their wider industry. Having knowledge of their competitors, industry trends and emerging opportunities allows us to make informed decisions when it comes to their targets or ongoing workflow.
We don’t have to do super-manual research to achieve this either. At Uplift, we have tools like Similar Web Pro, or YouGov, that help to give a helpful overview of the industries we work within. However, we often end up subscribing to industry press and magazines for the industries that our clients operate within too. Sometimes there’s no better way to learn about a client’s industry than to read the magazines and journals that they’re featured in!
Data, it changes with the seasons.
Another way in which we use data within our Client Services team to better understand our clients is to try to understand and if possible - get ahead of - seasonality trends. Seasonality can play a big role in a clients' targets. For example, a UK holiday destination may be facing challenges around the rainy weather or cost of living crisis, with holiday makers perhaps looking to try somewhere a bit cheaper, or perhaps travel during the off-season. We can garner these insights from paying attention to the industry press, but also using user behaviour tools such as SimilarWeb and YouGov to understand what consumers are looking for, and what they’re not.
We can feed these insights to our clients too. Often they’re experiencing the reality of this when speaking to their customers on the phones or in-store, but we can compliment their understanding by sharing additional data, perhaps around how search trends have changed, or how a user’s online purchasing habits have shifted. This way, understanding trends and seasonality becomes a joint exercise between us as an agency, and our client, as opposed to us just relying solely on updates from our clients.
Having knowledge of seasonal pain points and opportunities allows us to be invested in what our clients are facing too, and allows for points of discussion in regular calls. If we approach a client with seasonally-relevant discussions and look to adapt what we’re doing to suit what they’re experiencing day-to-day, then we’re proactively aligning our work to theirs.
Understanding client-owned data.
It’s not all about the data we have access to either - clients will often share their own reports, whether that’s commercial revenue or market insights. Having access to this improves our knowledge of the client, it gives context to their decision making and helps us to understand their product or service better - leading us to be able to market them more effectively, and to deliver our services to an even better standard.
We take time to review the data that clients provide us with against what we have internally. Does it align? What are the similarities and differences? Are there any opportunities? How can we use what we have to the client’s advantage? They’re questions we’ll be asking ourselves constantly when presented with client-owned data.
Keeping the team in the loop.
Quite often, the role of an account manager is to summarise the data and insights that we learn from a client to the wider team. It’s about taking everything we’re learned, and sharing it with the right people, in the right way - account managers become experts at taking those tiny little nuggets of valuable information, and sharing it quickly and effectively with the right team members, so that they can improve the work they’re delivering for the client.
The account manager plays an important role in translating the client-owned data into actionable insights for the team, but also the other way too. It’s important that when we’re sharing data with the client from the team, we can talk to the client about what the data shows, and give them the key takeaways, as many senior stakeholders simply won’t have the team to read it at length.
In conclusion, it’s easy to see the role of an account manager as one primarily concerned with relationship management - but working with data is a huge part of what we do. From understanding the client’s products and services, through to reviewing user testing workshops and even understanding the nuances of their seasonal periods, data can help us become more effective account managers that deliver a better standard of service for our clients.