Even the best search marketing agencies lose clients from time to time. I was the account manager for a client that recently elected to end their relationship with PPC Associates in favor of another agency.

Here’s some background on them: When they came to us, their PPC account was a mess, with CPAs around $30-50.

My initial “deep cleaning” and “targeted expansion” of the account quickly brought down the CPAs to $8-9 with a large increase in conversions.

We got them to start using SearchForce, which has, among other things, a wonderful bid-management system. This pushed the CPAs down to $5-6 with another conversion uptick.

All this was happening despite using an outdated, somewhat ordinary-quality landing page. It took a while for them to produce new landing pages for the campaign, but when they finally got them done, I knew immediately how awesome they were. Upon their launch, the CPAs dropped immediately down to the $2.50-3 range while conversions exponentially increased. Not only were they getting lots of conversions for their budget, I could determine that they could probably double (or more) their budget while maintaining their low CPA.

The company then hired a new Chief Marketing Officer, and after only a couple real brief conversations and about a month of no contact whatsoever (despite my best efforts), we were let go in favor of another agency that had worked with the CMO at a prior position.

There is one party to this relationship that I feel sorry for…and it’s not the party that you think.

I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel comfortable that I did my absolute best for the account, and the numbers bear that out. I also have some really exciting new clients coming down the pike that I look forward to working with.

I don’t feel sorry for PPC Associates. A certain amount of client churn always happens even at the most proficient of agencies. Our agency is growing at an incredible rate…all the while maintaining high ROI for all our clients, including the ones that leave us.

I don’t feel sorry for the former client. They are in a terrific niche, and having looked in depth into their entire analytics (not just paid search), I know that they’re getting terrific results from many different types of internet-marketing traffic. They’ll continue to do well.

I feel sorry for the new agency taking over their account. In order to justify that that the CMO made the correct decision, they will have to demonstrate better results than we did. They’re faced with the classic Blue Pill/Red Pill decision:

Blue Pill: They scrap what we’ve done and manage the account using their processes and methodology. In order for the agency to justify this choice, they would need to achieve better results that we’ve achieved. I hope for the sake of my former client that the new agency doesn’t take the Blue Pill.

Red Pill: They adapt their processes to ours and attempt to follow the way we built out their account, attempting to expand upon our work and our processes to the best of their ability. Of course, they’re not likely as experienced with our process and methodology as we are. The Red Pill would better serve the client, though how the account will perform going forward is a huge TBD.

I feel very comfortable that our agency would retain 99% of all the clients where we achieved the level of success that I achieved for my former client.

They are the 1%.














Todd Mintz, Senior SEM Manager




  1. Jon February 1st, 2012

    sounds very familiar in the agency world. yeh, those are some stiff standards to improve upon after taking over yours. Keep up with the great efforts!

  2. DJDJ February 2nd, 2012

    Great story and a great way to deal with the loss of a client. I wonder though what your words were when you first heard about them leaving ;-). You may answer in #%$&%*(#^#%# :-)

  3. Tiggerito February 2nd, 2012

    I’ve taken over a few accounts in my time. Luckily most of the previous managers must have been on the red, blue and a few other pills as I’ve found them easy to enhance :-)

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Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.