As an SEM director, it’s your job to provide the highest level of value to your clients. Today, more than ever before, your clients may already know the functions and benefits of search engine marketing (SEM), and they may have some preconceived notions about what you can bring to their business.
But this increase in awareness doesn’t necessarily make it easier to convince people that you are trustworthy or that you can grow their business through digital marketing. In fact, you may find that potential clients are more skeptical than ever of SEM practices — or that they would rather handle their own SEM than work with an agency.
The key to sustaining healthy and long-term business relationships with your clients is to prove your agency’s value. This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised just how many agencies struggle with this issue. At TangoCode, we recommend taking the following actions to win your clients’ trust and deliver the most value.
Set Realistic Client Expectations
Some agencies may promise the top spot on Google every time, but that is not a realistic promise. Your clients need to understand that there is simply no way to guarantee a significant improvement in organic search rankings within a concrete timeframe.
Establish realistic expectations from the beginning of your partnership. It may seem like a good idea to over-promise and hope you can deliver in the end, but this will only increase your churn rate and destroy your reputation. Set concrete goals, timeframes, and KPIs before you begin working on a client’s SEM plan.
Building a long-term partnership also means helping ensure your client’s web presence is set up for SEM to bring them value. Look beyond the basics: Is their website mobile optimized? Are they set for call tracking? What steps do they need to take to maximize the results of their SEM efforts? Remember, you’re a partner, not just a vendor.
You can’t improve that which you don’t measure. In order to provide your clients with the most value, you need to find out why they hired you — and what their business objectives are — so you can craft an SEM strategy that fits their goals. What does the client intend to accomplish by hiring your agency? Do they want to:
- Drive traffic to their website?
- Improve their SERPs rankings?
- Capture leads?
- Raise brand awareness?
- Increase conversions (driving traffic to specific landing/product pages)?
Asking these questions in the beginning of your relationship will help determine the key performance indicators you’ll use to gauge your success with the client. Revisit this question throughout your professional relationship, as their goals may change over time.
Based on your KPIs, make sure you and your client agree on the benchmarks that will determine your success as an SEM agency. Clearly define what you and your client consider positive results. That way, when it’s time to provide deliverables, you will know for sure whether or not you have fulfilled your end of the contract.
Communicate, Cross-Communicate and Over-Communicate
Communication is perhaps the first step in showing your value to clients. It is also the middle step and the final step. If at any point in your business relationship you stop communicating, you will lose trust and possibly miss out on opportunities to improve their SEM plan.
Always communicate your SEM plan to your clients. Tell them what you are doing for them, why it makes sense, and how you plan to execute it. It’s a good idea to communicate with more than one person within your client’s business. The more people who know what you are doing, the more likely they are to appreciate your work and see the overall value you bring to their organization.
Even the most successful SEM directors and agencies make mistakes. We are ultimately at the mercy of search engines, and there may be times when seemingly innocuous strategies backfire, hurting your client’s rankings progress. Your agency needs to have contingency plans for such occurrences. Remember, you are the expert.
First and foremost, your client pays you to make plans and execute them with efficiency. When you need to find a new plan, do not try to hide it from your client. Be upfront and honest about the situation, and lead the way to a new strategy. Make sure you are ready and willing to communicate the new plan, new KPIs, and progress along the way.
Digital marketing demands agility. It’s important to demonstrate to your clients that your agency is ready to adjust to their specific needs, no matter what they are. If their needs are not compatible with your service offerings, you either need to find a way to adapt your SEM program to their business, or be honest and tell them that you cannot help them. If they recognize that you can’t do exactly what they are asking for, they may be willing to work with you anyway. If there is a way to work around their concerns, do all you can to find it.
Showing value to your clients is essentially about selling yourself. Once a client really understands what level of value you can bring to their business, when they discover that they will grow and flourish under your SEM management, they will hire you and stay with you.
Contact us today to learn how our custom and semi-custom reporting solutions can help you better convey your value to clients and reduce churn.