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Why Long-Term Digital Marketing & Web Maintenance Contracts Are a Bust

There are a lot of problems with long-term digital marketing and website maintenance contracts. They are often called retainers and what they do is lock you in to a set number of hours for a set number or dollars each month for a year or more. Their reasoning behind this is so that the agency can focus on long-term marketing strategies and goals and build a better relationship with the client. In order to this, they claim they need a long-term commitment from the client. 

At Matt Gerber Designs, we simply don’t believe that is true. It is completely possible to focus on long-term goals and build a strong client-agency relationship without hanging a long-term contract over your head. In fact, when you consider all the downfalls of long-term marketing contacts, it’s not only possible, but it’s actually easier. 

Downfalls of Long-Term Digital Marketing Contracts

Just because long-term contracts are the norm doesn’t mean they are the best. Like any business strategy, there are both pros and cons. But when it comes to long-term marketing contracts, the pros really only benefit the agency. Here’s how.

Long-Term Contracts Lack Flexibility

Needs change, sometimes on the turn of the dime. It’s important to be able to adapt your strategy as your marketing or web needs change, but long-term contracts can lock you into a strategy that isn’t working. Working without a contract, means you call us up, tell us what you want, when you want it and we make it happen. 

You Pay No Matter What

This is probably the biggest selling point for the agency to lock you into a long-term agreement. It’s guaranteed revenue for them no matter what. Whether you use it each month or not, the agency is billing you for a set number of hours per your contract. If something comes up and you go over your allotted time, you’ll pay extra. If for whatever reason you don’t use all the time, you’ll still pay your normal retainer fee. Our no contract strategy means you pay for what get. You can dial up or down at any time without penalty. You’ll only ever be billed for services and hours you actually use. 

No Need to Earn Your Business Every Month 

If you’re locked into a contract for a year or longer, the agency has no reason to consistently deliver great service. Sure, they’ll need to deliver at some point, but little setbacks and minor mistakes are likely to be overlooked since you can’t really leave without paying a big penalty. Chances are, they’ll work really hard to get you sign the contract and really hard when it’s time for renewal. Without a long-term contract forcing you to work with us, the only real reason to stay is because you want to. That means we work really hard to keep you all the time because you’re free to leave whenever you want. 

Contracts Don’t Guarantee Better Service

Contract or no contract, an agency’s customer service is the same. If anything, it’s better before you sign while they are still working to earn your business. And if the agency relies on contracts to keep clients, chances are their customer service alone isn’t enough to keep clients coming back. But customer service is at the center of our business because it is what we rely on to keep our clients coming back. We work closely with our clients from the moment we take on their project until work is complete – not until the contract is up. It also means that we’re available to answer questions and to make changes as needed. We even leave open time on our calendars so that we can be immediately available for the unexpected. 

The Retainer is Often the Agency’s End Goal

When an agency requires clients to sign long term contracts, the agency’s goals are not the clients. More often than not, the agency’s goal ends with the long-term service agreement, whereas the clients’ are just beginning. By locking you in to a monthly retainer, the agency has a guaranteed revue stream, which is their ultimate goal – to make money. But without a guaranteed source of income, without a long-term contract, in order to keep you and our revenue stream we need to deliver on your goals. So, your goals become our goals.

Contracts Don’t Develop Relationships

Having a contract doesn’t guarantee a strong client-agency relationship. I said earlier that with long-term contracts, the goal is the retainer. So, it would make sense that the agency would spend its best resources looking for new clients and getting new, big deals signed. This can mean small companies, with smaller retainers suffer. They get passed off to the junior sales guy, get the green developer and basically take a back seat to the real money makers. But our business model means every client, regardless of size, gets the attention it deserves. 

The No Contract Way

Long-term contracts really only benefit the agency. We believe a good partnership is based on trust, that good customer service is what keeps clients coming back and that long-term relationships and strategies aren’t contingent on a legal agreement. Which is why at Matt Gerber Designs, we simply don’t offer website maintenance contracts. We prefer to give our clients the option to work with us when they need us and because they want to, not because they have to. 

So, whatever it is, from a little copy update to a new promotion or a whole new digital strategy, if you want our help all you have to do is call us or send us an email. We’ll track our time and bill you for what you use. It’s as simple as that. No commitment, no contract, no surprise hidden fees, just above and beyond customer service. If you’re ready to see what that’s like, give us a call today at (414) 232-7862 or send us a message online


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