Clients in the beginning of their interactive marketing journey have a lot of questions. They count on their agency partners to be their guide in this new endeavor. Having worked with clients in a digital agency for about 14 years, it strikes me as no coincidence that the same questions continue to be asked over and over again. In the interest of everyone's time and in an effort to help support a level of digital marketing understanding, I have collected the most common new client questions. Of course, every situation is different and exceptions are common so consider the answers in the broadest sense possible.
Common client questions include:
Question: When will I see a traffic spike from the onsite SEO (define) work we just completed?
Answer: It depends. Organic traffic building is generally a long-term strategy. Depending on the tactic, results could happen within hours, days, or months. For example, if your site doesn't have an XML/Google sitemap, creating and submitting one to Google could potentially get your site crawled and indexed within hours. However, if your site doesn't have many inbound links or maintain a favorable page rank, submitting the Google sitemap will have little effect on your traffic. Since the length of time the inbound link has existed is considered in determining page rank, a consistent link-building effort of a few months would be required before any noticeable traffic increase. Frequency of updated content is also a consideration, the more the Web site is regularly updated, the more likely Google is to crawl it quickly. Offsite SEO efforts, chiefly link building, are becoming much more important these days in driving long-term organic search results.
Q: Why do I have to buy my own name in paid search?
A: If you don't show up in the organic results because your site is new, not SEO friendly, or you have a somewhat generic name with much competition, then you need the paid link to be there when people are searching for you. Even if you have good natural search results, research has shown that a combined effort that includes strong natural results and a comprehensive paid program will result in more overall clicks. Yes, you might end up paying for some clicks you would have obtained for free, but the bigger picture looks better if you cover all your bases. There's also a competitive defense argument. If your competitors are bidding on your name and you aren't, you stand to lose business and customers who had been looking for you. This strategy also allows for you to control messaging, especially for seasonality and promotions.
Q: Why can't I triple the buy for that high ROI (define) element of the campaign and dump the rest of the elements? Isn't that optimization?
A: The highest ROI element of the campaign may not work on its own without supporting or feeder programs or it may have maxed out available opportunities at that ROI. Look at your results as a portfolio. Each program element plays a role in producing the conversions and ROI, though some elements may get outsized credit for the actual conversion because of incomplete or inaccurate attribution tracking. Typically, if we could dump more money into the program with the highest ROI, we already have.
Q: Why are these new customers costing me so much to acquire?
A: Under any circumstances, in any channel, new customers cost more to acquire than sales from customers who know your brand, have shopped with you before, may have their information already saved, have earned promotional discounts, or get regular messaging through a customer relationship management program. That's why we all learned the 80/20 rule (define). It's important to pinpoint the lifetime value of a customer so you know what constitutes a reasonable cost to acquire a new customer. You must track that effort separately to establish and analyze the trend in cost of new customers.
Q: Why is the keyword term or phrase I am buying not showing up in searches?
A: Search engines have a vested interest in supplying relevant search results. If your term has little relationship to the content on the page you are supplying as the link, that is factored into the search result algorithm and you will have to bid way, way up to get shown, even if you have a high degree of relevancy. You may also have capped your budgets too low, especially daily budgets, so that you are burning through the limited clicks you will get early in the day.
Q: Why do I have to insert tracking tags on my site before we run a display media/search campaign?
A: Tags are harmless but necessary to run many sophisticated online programs. Without them, we can't identify certain populations or behaviors that allow us to serve dynamic content, message appropriately, or attribute results and drive optimization. Most agencies can either post the tags themselves or walk the information technology team through the simple process. It will not affect the user experience on the site or break the site.
Q: Why am I seeing my geo-targeted ad on BBC news when I am not in London?
A: Geo-targeted campaigns are geared to the physical locations of the users, not the location of the publishers or the specificity of the content. This is usually done through IP targeting and is not an exact science.
Q: When is my site going to be done?
A: That's mostly up to you. 90 percent of the holdups on site development are due to delays in client asset delivery and multiple revision cycles. Your agency probably put together a comprehensive timeline with multiple touch points and review cycles but that means nothing if the content or assets are not provided or if reviews are done piecemeal and iteratively. Strong project management helps to overcome these obstacles early in the process so agencies can offer help if the client tasks are overwhelming.
Q: I'm not quite sure I know how I want it to look, but I'll know it when I see it. Can you show me more? Or, can you make it look like my competitor?
A: The best creative outcomes are grounded in strategy. When a client doesn't tie its creative reviews to objectives, it can become a very long and tedious process that satisfies a personal preference but may not advance business efforts. Agencies must ground their clients and help them make the right decisions. So let's talk about strategy first and then we can talk design.
Q: Could you just...(fill in the blank)? As in, could you just....add two pages to accommodate newsletters and rebates separately, oh, and divide them by month? Could you just...change the left-side navigation by adding a new category and linking it to two new pages that have to be designed and in place by tomorrow?
A: As your agency partner, it is our duty to think through all the impact of any seemingly minor change in your site and plans. What appears to be minor might have a waterfall effect that turns a small request into a real job. Inserting jobs into the pipeline without adequate planning can disrupt your timelines and those of our other clients. You should also expect to be charged for them if they were not in the original scope. Some good ideas do come late to the party, so we listen to everything, but let's agree on a phased approach that allows us to evaluate, prioritize, and plan for success together.
What questions do you hear (or ask) most often?
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Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.
Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.
March 19, 2014