​I was recently chatting with one of my web design club members who shared an unfortunate but very common situation for web designers…his client decided to have a digital marketing agency take over the website he had worked so hard on and have them do all marketing and web services moving forward. He felt a little hurt, betrayed and being early in the journey, wasn’t expecting this.

In this episode I share my thoughts and experience on what to do when a client decides to hire a digital marketing or SEO agency to take over the website. The fact is, it’s not a matter of “if” this will happen, it’s “when.” It happened to me numerous times and if it happens to you, you’re not alone! It’s actually extremely common. We’ll talk about what to expect, what to tell your client and how to take the high road in this situation.

Drop me a comment on the post if this helps give you encouragement or if you have experience of your own to share!

In this episode:

01:59 – The “Do not’s”
02:55 – 1) Be offended
04:11 – 2) Caught off guard
04:51 – 3) Lose your cool
06:02 – 4) Close the door
07:05 – 5) Think it’s over
10:41 – From experience
13:22 – Big issues
15:53 – Solutions
17:04 – Warnings
18:34 – 1) Very common
18:59 – 2) SEO takes time
19:46 – 3) Warn of spammy
20:47 – 4) Discuss options
21:35 – 5) Keep door open

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #123 Full Transcription

Josh 0:14
Hey, everybody, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 123. And it’s just me with you in this one, I wanted to share some some thoughts on a very popular scenario that most all web designers go through actually, I’d venture to say every web designer is going to go through at some point. I was having a conversation with somebody in my web design club and he mentioned that a site that he had built for an A client, a great client, decided that he wanted to basically ditch my student, and go with a digital marketing company that not only wanted to do SEO and ads, but also one of the take the website over, they basically said, we can take your website over to.

Josh 0:59
And while my student was, you know, it was bumped up, I think he was getting about 125 bucks a month for the project, he was bummed about that. But more than anything, he was just kind of hurt. And it caught him by surprise that this awesome client of his that he has been working with for nearly a year would would do that to him and that he would basically put all of his trust into this new marketing company. So what I want to do in this episode is give you my thoughts on how to deal with this, I’m going to tell you some things that I’m going to be kind of a heads up.

Josh 1:30
Because I’ve experienced this numerous times in my career. Some of the clients that I went through with this stayed with me, and then some of them did move on. And what’s really interesting is now that it’s a couple years later, and a few years later, in some cases, since they’ve moved on, I’ve kind of seen some of the repercussions and the costly things that they went through. So I’m going to give you some of my thoughts on how to deal with this. And I’m going to also going to share with you my recommendation on what to tell your clients.

Josh 2:00
Because again, this is not uncommon. So I had this happen with a few different companies. And again, some of them just moved on. And sometimes that is going to happen heads up, sometimes people are just going to move on there’s sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. But if you play your cards right, and you come across the right way, some will actually stay with you or as you’ll find out, you can actually kind of have a hybrid approach where you can work with a digital marketing agency, but still be the web guy or web gal. So I have been here and I want to share some thoughts, these are the things that I wish, gosh, I wish somebody would told me,

Josh 2:35
Now I’m going to hit you first with five don’ts. These are five things that I recommend you do not do not if this is going to happen. But when this is going to happen, because it is going to happen that I’m going to share with you kind of the the strategy behind a lot of these digital marketing agencies and some of the issues, and then the solution how to get past this and what to tell your client.

1) Don’t be Offended

Josh 2:55
So number five, my first Don’t, don’t be offended. Again, just to reiterate, this happens, it happens all the time, it’s very common that web designers will launch a site and generally, six months to a year later, I guarantee your clients are going to be getting hit with digital marketing agencies and SEO emails saying like we can improve your SEO presence. But what I’ve found more common than not is that a client will be about six months to a year into it. And then they’ll feel like, Okay, I’m not getting the results on this site. Like I’m not on the first page of Google yet. And this all depends on the type of site that you build and what you’ve worked out when it comes to SEO and content, stuff like that. So hopefully, at this point, you’ve already, you know, explained the deliverables to the client and already set your expectations for the site. But that’s often the case more often than not, it’s it’s six months to a year, sometimes it’s longer. But if you have a really antsy client, it could be a couple months, they could be like, why isn’t my site number one on Google? Yeah, I’m off to the next person. And then you know how that’s gonna go. So number one, do not be offended. It happens happens to the best of us too. Even if you’re early on, it crushes your confidence, don’t worry about it. I was really far along in my career, making really good sites that are still doing great on SEO, and it still happens. So don’t take it personally.

2) Don’t Let it Catch You Off Guard

Josh 4:11
Number two, don’t let it catch you off guard. expect this to happen again, even if you’re the best designer and best copy and SEO person in the world. It’s going to happen. It’s all depending on expectations and your type of clients. Particularly if you have a client that’s not super loyal yet. Maybe they’re just they’re kind of price shopping or maybe they don’t know you that well. Some clients are smart enough to stay loyal and know that you’re going to help them for the long haul. But it is going to happen so you need to expect this Do not let this take you off guard. That’s exactly what this episode is for also. So again, if you feel like maybe this is the first time you’re hearing somebody talk about this awesome, you’re not alone.

3) Don’t Lose Your Cool

Josh 4:51
Number three, don’t lose your cool. I 100% understand if you’re going to get pissed off about this or not even just pissed off at her Like, like my student who just recently went through this through this, excuse me, he wasn’t like super mad, but it did it kind of got to him, it hit his confidence a little bit, understandably. So depending on what type of personality you are, you might get sad, you might get a little hurt, you might get offended, or you might get mad. And you might be like, well, you freaking idiot, don’t buy these stupid, spammy digital marketing company ads, because you’re going to blow a bunch of money, you’re going to ruin all the work that we did for a year, and then you’re going to freak enough to come back to me, and we have to redo it, it’s going to be extremely costly. Now, I’m not saying I said that to a client, but was that my internal dialogue, you bet your asset, what so my recommendation for you is sleep on it, maybe First of all, center yourself, whatever you need to do to be cool, deep breaths. Don’t lose your cool, because I got myself a little riled up there, just thinking about some previous situations I’ve had to go through. And luckily, I never left, I never left or lost my cool. But by golly, I did get mad sometimes. So that’s number three.

4) Don’t Close the Door

Josh 6:02
Number four, don’t close the door. I’m going to share how you can go about this. But even just remember this, even if they do move on from you, a lot of them will likely come back. The reason is because marketing agencies churn through clients left and right. marketing agencies never have a client for that long. Typically, they are not long haul lifetime client. It’s not a lot. It’s not a long term, client type of business. They are, let’s do some marketing. And of course, they want to keep a client for as long as possible. Maybe some do on a very low level. But as somebody who has subcontracted for a couple marketing agencies in the past, and I have some friends and marketing agencies, I will tell you right now, the churn on both clientele, and people who are working for the company is insane. So it’s very likely that if they do move on, they might come back to you, if you play your cards, right, and you leave the door open. So that’s number four, don’t close the door. I’m going to talk a little more about that here, too, on the tactics on some of these companies.

5) Don’t Think it’s Over

Josh 7:05
And number five, don’t think it’s over immediately, you can depending on the client, you can convince them otherwise, or as we’ll talk about here in a little bit, it’s very likely that you can still take a hybrid approach and work with both the client and the marketing company, the marketing agency, do the SEO and marketing and ads and you still do the on site stuff. So that’s the big thing to don’t immediately think it’s over. Because now it’s time for you to step in. And you might convince some people to stay which I have done again, not everyone, don’t be offended. If they do leave. Sometimes they’ve made up their mind even before they’ve reached out to you. Which is probably the most hurtful thing because it’s like, Well, why don’t you freakin Tell me about this, we can talk about it. So those are my five don’ts.

Josh 7:46
Let’s talk about this situation a little more detail for what these digital marketing agencies are doing. This is kind of what’s typical. Now. I want to say off the bat here, do I think every digital marketing agency and SEO company is bad, and they’re all sleazy, and they’re all out to screw over web designers? No, some of them are really good. I’ve had a lot of digital marketing agency people here on the podcast, I know quite a few who are either owners, or work for companies and some of them are great. Again, it’s just a very different business model than a web designer, a web designer who builds a web design presence gets to learn and get to gets to know their clients are often going to be with them for you should be for years, sometimes lifetime.

Josh 8:29
So with a digital marketing agency, again, they typically work for somebody for six months to a year, maybe a few years, if they’re lucky, luckily, and then they move on. So what they do, whether it’s a good one or a bad one is they’re reaching out to companies that have a website. And whether it’s an existing site that’s been there for a long time. And it’s doing okay, on SEO or worst case scenario, it’s generally a newer site that is like brand new, and is doing a really poor on the SEO rankings. And even if you’re a wizard, SEO, as we all know, SEO takes time.

Josh 9:02
So you may launch a site and then six months later, your clients like hey, I’m still not on the first page. And hopefully you let them know, SEO takes some time. There’s a lot of different strategies we need to implement. There are some things that are really costly, some things that are just going to take some time. And you want to encourage your clients that you can do things in phases, which is the biggie because a lot of these companies are going to go to them. And they’re going to say I see your websites on page five, you know, this is what we’ve done before. Whether it’s a spammy company, or a good company, they’ll likely have some really good sales pitches, and then they’re going to get your client all fired up to use them for not only the SEO and social media and ads, but the website as well. So that’s the other big problem.

Josh 9:44
This is the really big problem is that these digital media companies not only want to take over all the social media ads, but they want to take over the entire website presence and they want to take over the website. Now. There’s a lot of problems with this. Obviously, it’s a big problem for you, because you don’t want to lose your client. And you don’t want to if you’re even if you’re doing hosting and maintenance, if they want to take over all that, that sucks, you lost a little bit recurring income can take a little personally, you lose your you lose your client. But as you’ll find out here, it’s also a really, really big issue for your client. And then for the from the standpoint of the digital marketing agency, if it’s a really bad website, it makes sense. It makes sense why they would want to take over not only social media and ads, but the website, because as we all know, as web designers, we’re sending all the traffic to the website. So it does make sense from a digital marketing agency perspective.

Josh 10:41
However, if you’re a web designer, and you really, you know, put your heart and soul on this website, what a shame. What a shame for it to be just all for not. And I know that from experience, because I had one client, it was an auto care company, who I where I went, I really they were pretty cool crew that the owner was kind of he was an oddball, but I still really enjoyed working with him. They actually sent me content on time, they did a really they invested in, I think was about a 3500 website. And they were they were really good business. They were like an A client, they were doing hosting and it maintenance with me. And then one day, I logged into manage WP, which is what me my agency use for maintaining and updating all sites. And I noticed that it was disconnected. And I went to do some updates on it. And then I looked and it was just a whole new website. It was a whole new website, whole new platform, and what the owner had done without telling me anything.

Josh 11:35
And this was oh my gosh, guys, this wasn’t even six months later, I think this was like three months later, after I did this, he did tell me that he had been working with a couple different companies for ads and social media and SEO. But I was doing the website. And then they just they took over the whole site I talked to him about and I was like, Hey, I didn’t say this. But basically I was like what the hell like what happened here. And he said, Well, we just couldn’t get the site to load fast enough. But thanks for all your work. So they took my entire site that I worked my butt off on, and basically replicated it into a new design with it was still WordPress, but it was a different template.

Josh 12:13
And I’ll give it I’ll give it to them. They did make it load faster. But did it look as nice, it really didn’t, it was very templatized. And they ended up doing the whole thing. So that was the situation that I went through where they just did it. That was the only time that’s ever happened. Most of my clients let me know what was going on. And then that this is when I was able to step in and do what what I’m about to tell you, which is try to convince them otherwise or keep the relationship it’s somehow as possible.

Josh 12:40
So here’s the big issue. Before we get to the solution here, this is the issue for again, you but also for your clients. Again, going back to the idea. And this is something to remember when you talk to your clients. Because they don’t they don’t know this, they have no idea often about the churn rate for these marketing agencies. The big issue is when a client pulls their entire website and all their presence that they’ve worked with so far, and puts it in the trust of a digital marketing agency. Guess what happens when they want to move from that marketing agency, they have to move everything, if the marketing agency has taken over hosting and the website and maintenance and they’re doing SEO and ads and social media.

Josh 13:22
Sure That sounds great if it works out, but on the more likely occasion, then it’s not gonna work out for more than six to 12 months, they are going to have to look for a new web designer, and I’m talking about your client, they’re going to have to potentially affect all of their SEO settings, they’re gonna have to look for a new social media person, they’re gonna have to look for new ads, if they’re doing ads, they’re gonna have to do everything. And if you have an antsy client that has left you three months or six months later, guess what’s gonna happen with this other marketing company, they’re gonna leave them too.

Josh 13:54
So that is the real problem for clients. Not only are they going to lose you, their web designer, their trusted web designer, who by the way, can work with different marketing agencies, they can do the marketing, you can do the website, they’re not only out you, but they’re out of their marketing agency. And if the relationship with you went south, or maybe you did close the door, or maybe they just don’t feel comfortable going back to you, then they need to find a whole new web designer. So that process starts again, then the likely you need to find somebody who is going to recreate a whole new site, because unless somebody is familiar with all the tools that this marketing agency redid your design on, they’re gonna have to redesign the site.

Josh 14:35
Listen, a client, I have seen clients literally have to create no less than three websites, all new websites within the period of about a year and a half. That is like Do you know how costly and stupid that is? Unless a company has a web designer and they do a terrible job job and it’s a bad experience. There is no reason you should be redesigning your website completely within about a three year period. So This, this is a problem for for clients. And I want you to kind of relay this and we’ll get to that here. This is the big issue, this is a problem.

Josh 15:07
So now we’ve covered kind of what’s typical, why the situation happens, what these marketing companies are doing. We’ve talked about the big issue for you, and then your clients. Let me talk about the solution. Let me give you my thoughts on on where to go from here. And then I’m going to tell you what to do to tell your clients as we wrap this up. And by the way, if you don’t already know, all these podcast episodes are fully transcribed. And all of this is outlined for you. So you can look at this, you can actually you can keep this either bookmark this podcast episode, so you can revisit it, or you can copy and paste the text if you want. And you can make it your own little like, what to do when this happens. If you’d like that’s cool with me, you you’ve got my blessing, just go to Josh Hall co/123. Yeah, 123, Episode 123 for all of the text here.

Josh 15:53
So the solution, it is a spammy digital marketing company. And you’ll likely be able to tell because, again, some are not some are actually good companies. And they may do a really good job for a little while, but likely, it’s not going to go well for that long. So if it is a spammy company, tell them everything that I just told you about the cost in the big issue, let them know, first of all, that this is really common. And that maybe in some cases, maybe the client didn’t even address SEO with you. Maybe you were just hired to build the website. It looks great. It’s converting, but they’re wondering why they’re not on the first page of Google, well let them know, well, we didn’t even talk about advanced SEO, here’s a bunch of options.

Josh 16:33
If you haven’t already, make sure you join my SEO course. That’ll teach you everything you need to know to be able to learn SEO, the foundations and the offer it on a lower level for clients, even if you don’t want to get too far into the rabbit hole of SEO. But just let them know that there’s something they can do about generally all of these things. And if it’s not something you feel comfortable doing, like if they want to run ads, and they want to leave you because they want to do this marketing agency, let them know, you know, I don’t do ads or advanced SEO maybe. But I can still do all the on site stuff.

Josh 17:04
So if it’s a bad company, let them know, warn them, give them all the big issues and the costliness that that can happen. But if it is a good company that’s reputable, and that you can actually foresee working with or it might even be a good connection for you. Because some digital marketing agencies just want to do the marketing. And as long as they have trusted web designers who are building good websites can be a great referral partner also, then let them know, let them know, listen, they have some areas of specialty that I don’t. And it would be great to partner with them and just let them know, you don’t have to let me go completely.

Josh 17:39
I’m doing your website hosting your maintenance, and we built a really good site, we’ve worked really hard to building this foundation, it’s going to be way less costly. If you hire them to do what they do well, and I can work with them. So I’m telling you right now, if you come across like that, like the helpful person that can work with other digital marketing agencies, that’s going to separate you from 99% of other web designers immediately, and your clients gonna be like, Oh, well, it’s probably gonna take them off guard, it’s gonna make you look like a rock star, because they’re gonna be like, well, Josh and his team there, I was surprised to hear that they’re open to working with this other agency, if they have areas of specialty that they don’t so and just again, let them know, it’s very common. And if it goes south, guess what’s going to happen, they’re going to have to redo their website, again, it’s going to be extremely costly.

1) Explain That it’s Very Common

Josh 18:25
So that’s the kind of overarching solution, here are my five points in my five tips on what to tell your client? First of all, again, just kind of reiterating this whole thing, let them know that this is very common that you’ve seen this before. Even if you haven’t, you’ve heard it here, just tell me you seen it before, let them know, some companies are spammy and shady. And you can let them know everything that’s going to go wrong. And then again, some are actually good. And if that’s the case, if you feel like you can work together, then that’s where you can talk about actually a hybrid approach and doing this together.

2) SEO Takes Time to Build

Josh 18:59
Now, number two, I’m kind of these are kind of just like the the points that kind of firm up everything we’ve talked about, at this point, just let them know, many of these things are going to take time. And even if it’s like SEO, location based pages, or new copy or site, seeded site speed, etc. A lot of this you can do, and you can do it in phases, if they want. Let them know that a lot of the things that these marketing agencies are promising you can do as well, maybe you just maybe the client didn’t know and maybe that’s their problem or their fault. Maybe that’s your fault for not letting them know, it could be both. Well let them know, here’s a lot of things that we can do. And let’s do that before you dump us and have to build a whole new relationship. So remember to do that. Number one, let me know it’s very common. Let them know number two, that you can often help them with this stuff.

3) Warn Clients if it’s a Spammy Agency

Josh 19:46
Number three, it’s spammy if it is a spammy company, warn them again, this is kind of reiterating what I talked about a little bit ago. warn them of the costs. I don’t want to tell you to use scare tactics, but they need to understand the The retropie are not the repetition, but the problems? And what’s the likelihood of what’s going to happen and how costly it’s going to be, which again, what did we talk about, these companies have a lot of churn and generally don’t last for more than six to 12 months. So if they design a whole new site, they’re going to, you’re going to lose the whole site. Again, you’re often gonna affect your SEO rankings, and it’s gonna be a very, very costly situation, if they have them do everything. Because again, ask your client, do you trust me to be with you for the long haul for like years and potentially decades, and you can work with other digital marketing companies? Or do you just want to put all your trust in this new marketing company and hope that it works out and then have to redo everything that we’ve done over here. So if it’s a spammy company, warn them, let them know the costs that could and are likely going to happen?

4) Discuss Options of Working Together

Josh 20:47
Number four, if it’s a good one, tell your client again, you’re open to working with them. This will make you look like a rockstar because in worst case scenario, even if they do some on site stuff, and they’re doing SEO, you can learn from them. If they’re doing actually really good at like some on site copy work and titles and metadata and all the SEO stuff that I’ve talked about in the podcast before and keyword research, it can actually behoove you because you can learn from them. And they may really help you adjust the and boost the SEO presence. So if you’re working with them, and you’re working on site speed, and on site stuff, and ongoing edits, and they’re doing SEO can actually be a really good working relationship. Now, not all digital marketing agencies want to do that. But shoot for that if you can. So that’s number four. If it’s a good one, do that.

5) Keep the Door Open to the Future

Josh 21:35
And then number five, either way, I cannot stress the importance of this either way, keep the door open. And here’s the biggie, let your clients know that if they you know, you want to do the hybrid approach, if that’s the case, unless it’s a spammy company, you just don’t want your client to work with them at all. But if they want to do that, and even if they want to leave, tell them, here’s what we’re gonna do, just say, you know, I am really worried about you losing all this eventually. And then as soon and what I the way I would phrase this is I would say, as soon as this relationship with this company goes south, which is eventually more than likely going to happen, you’re going to have to look for a new web designer, you have to redo all this, your SEO presence is going to be potentially really jacked, if they take anything down or stop what they’re doing. So say this, I’ll backup the site as is we’ll have this. And even when it does go south, the doors open to come back to me, however, is a big old, however, let them know, you’re not going to feel comfortable working on whatever platform they’re using, you’re not going to do everything, like you’re not going to be able to work off of what they built. So we’re going to put the site back up the way it is now. If there’s any SEO settings that they put in place that we can transfer, we can do that with an extra cost. But we’re not going to be able to take everything that they did. And you know, I’m not going to work on their tool. So it’s likely you may lose a lot of SEO presence, if that’s the case, but you can come back to me it will keep the door open. And I would only do that once, I would never, ever work with a client, if they do this twice. If you If this happens, and they come back to you, which did happen to me, and then they stay with you. And then six months later they work with another agency, let them know we’re done. And then give them their site and peace.

Josh 23:18
So those are my five recommendations kind of summarizing everything we talked about. Let’s hit those again, real quick. This is what to tell your client. Number one, this is very common. Some companies are good, some companies are bad. And they’re going to tell you everything that’s wrong with the site site speed rankings, copy, whatever they’re going to promise you the world, more than likely, some are going to be really CS sleazy, some are actually going to be good that could do some things. But these are stuff we might already are working on that we might be working on. Or we can work on together. Number two, many of these are going to take time. So if it is stuff that we can work on, let them know, we can build location SEO paces, we can do all this other stuff. Let to know about that. Number three, warn them if it’s a spammy company, talking about all the costs we just mentioned, number four, if it’s a good one, let them know you can work with them, you’re open to it. And number five, either way, keep the door open. It’s going to make you look like a rock star. And once you have the site backed up, God forbid something does happen. If they come back to you, that’s when you’re really going to be powerful and more times than not you’re going to make a client for life.

Josh 24:19
So there you go, guys, those are my thoughts on what to do when your client leaves leaves you for marketing agency. I hope this helps. If it does, let me know leave a comment on this episode, go to Josh Hall co/123. This is Episode 123. Also, if you guys are digging this podcast, it would really mean the world to me if you left a review, particularly if you’re on iTunes, just go just go leave a five star review. Obviously give me a five star rating would be awesome. And then I really I get all the reviews. I use a platform called podcast review. Is it a podcast reviews.com something like that, where I get notified when a review comes in. So I want to hear your guys’s thoughts on the podcast. I’d love to know how it’s benefiting you and your Business I’d love to know what you like. And if you’re willing to leave those thoughts in a five star review it really does help me people look at the reviews I can’t tell you how far those go and helping me grow this podcast because look, I want to help you but we’ve got more people to help with this. I want this to grow to be able to make a bigger impact for everybody. So leave a review it really would mean the world to me. So hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. I’ll see in the comments on the post for this one, and I’ll see you guys on the next episode.


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