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4 Tips for Agencies on Setting Client Expectations

Mark Thompson June 16, 2008

Setting the proper client expectations on the front-end is the key to any successful internet marketing campaign. Here is a list of things you should accomplish with your client before you start to implement your strategy.

1. Learning Their Objectives/Goals

Before you can give advice as to what tactics would work best for them, you have to learn about their company, objectives, and goals. Find out what they are looking to do. Is it, build up their brand? Bring more traffic to the site? Build an in-house email list? Sell more widgets? Do market research to find out more about their customers?

Whatever it is, make sure that the client knows what they are looking to get out of their internet marketing initiatives. Too many times clients do not know what they are looking to accomplish. They just say they want more traffic and more sales.

Once you have properly defined their objectives you can start to set realistic goals.

2. Setting Realistic Goals

Now that you have defined their objectives, you can start to formulate a plan of attack.

In your plan you should include:

  • Resources: Make sure that you will have sufficient resources from both the client and the agency. If a client is looking to implement a blog to their existing website, make sure that the client will have someone who can manage it. If the client is looking to add 50-100 pages to their site and a flash rotation, make sure that you have the developer resources to complete the project.
  • Honesty: Too many SEO/SEM firms say that they promise to get you to #1 on Google for competitive phrases. Do not make promises if you are not 100% sure you can achieve them. It is much better to under promise and over deliver. The client will be more inclined to trust you because you are honest and truthful. Tell them the truth, not what they want to hear!
  • Goals: Are you looking to increase sales by 40%? Do you want 100 people/week to download your whitepaper? Increase website traffic by 35%?
  • Implementation: Know what the means of accomplishing their goals will be. Are you doing a website re-design, a seo project, ppc campaign, email marketing campaign, video marketing, blog integration, social media strategy, etc…
  • Time Frame: Set a realistic time frame as to when you feel the clients goals will be fulfilled. Draw out a timeline for when each component of the plan will be complemented. Sometimes during longer, more complex projects, we will break up the project into phases. This will alleviate the problems of being overwhelmed with too many things to do and will help keep everyone on the right track.
  • Price: Make sure you are upfront about the price. Do not tell them it will be one number and then come back with another. If it is an ongoing project that requires a monthly charge, let them know that upfront. Most importantly make sure they see the value in your efforts; that is where tracking your data will come in.

3. Educating the Client

Your client does not need to be an expert in internet marketing, that’s why they hired you. However you do need to educate them to the point where they can understand the reasoning for doing what you are doing. Some clients will want to learn more than others and that is fine.

Things the client should understand:

  • The Basics: SEO, SEM, and/or Social Media (depending on what services you are offering)
  • Reporting: Make sure that they can understand and read the analytics reporting you provide. Take the extra time to go over the reporting that is available and the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for their business.
  • Time: Again, make sure you educate the client on how long it will take to achieve their goals.

4. Tracking Your Progress

Tracking your results is probably the most important aspect of your internet marketing strategy. Without the proper tracking in place, you will not be able to determine if your efforts have been successful or not.

Determine an Analytics Package: Some clients will request to have a robust reporting system. Before you go and invest in 10′s of thousands of dollars in an advanced reporting system, see what the client would like to get out of their reporting. If a client just needs to track their traffic from the website, PPC campaigns, and leads coming from their contract forms, then all you may need is a free package like Google Analytics. However if a client is looking to execute multiple marketing campaigns over off-line and on-line channels, integrate CRM software like Salesforce, then you may need to get one of the professional analytics suites like Omniture, ClickTracks, or Accenture.

Tracking the Right Metrics: What metrics you track will depend on your marketing strategy. For the sake of time, I won’t go into which metrics you should be tracking for each scenario, however make sure you have identified the proper metrics and are closely monitoring them.

  • ROI
  • Pageviews
  • Time on Site
  • Contact Form Leads
  • Bounce Rate
  • Impressions/Clicks
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