Grow Client Relationships by Focusing on Efficiency and Opportunity

  |  March 3, 2014   |  Comments

If we wish to grow our relationship with our clients, and be viewed more as partners than subordinates, we need to provide the level of value commensurate of a partner and help our clients understand better.

A few years back, before I got my start in digital analytics, my specialties were in paid search and conversion rate optimization. While focused on these disciplines I was responsible for creating a lot of reports, more than I'm actually responsible for as an analyst now.

A lot of this reporting focused on the success specific to a campaign, keyword, landing page, etc., or providing insight into why a specific event or outcome happened. And while this type of reporting is beneficial, it usually doesn't go far enough.

This is because the reports we create are usually the only view our clients have into our efforts as marketers. For the majority of marketers, paid search and SEO tactics are still fairly abstract or misunderstood disciplines. And if we wish to grow our relationship with our clients, and be viewed more as partners than subordinates, we need to provide the level of value commensurate of a partner and help our clients understand better. Simple chart exports and recaps of efforts won't cut it at a partner level. No, as a partner we need to be focused on two topics: efficiency and opportunity.

I like to think of efficiency as the question, "How can I stop wasting the client's money?" For this question you need to focus on what you are doing wrong, i.e. what's not converting, and how you can fix it.

For direct response and e-commerce campaigns this should be fairly straightforward and something most digital marketers should have experience in. But for branding campaigns, it can be more difficult to look into what is or isn't working. If you're unsure about how to gauge success for a branding effort, look at metrics from your campaigns, like the percent of new visits to your client's site from different creative and placements. Combine this data with some demographic data from your client's site metrics to get a clearer picture of who you're actually reaching. If the resulting segment is in your client's target market and previously unexposed to their site, then you are likely on the right track. However, if you're not on the right track then you need to start making some additional optimizations and analysis into where things went wrong.

The main takeaway from the efficiency topic is to take an objective look at what you are doing, and compare it to how it is affecting your client. The client's best interest should be kept in mind throughout this entire process, even if that potentially means less management/consulting fees to your organization in the long run.

While efficiency focused on what you are doing wrong, opportunity should focus on the question of, "How can I get the client more money?"

This is the more exciting of the two topics, and is the one the majority of marketers tend to focus on, as it possesses the greatest potential for additional work and fees. But again, make sure it's focusing on the client's best interests. Just because someone can double their spend in paid search, display, etc., it doesn't mean they should. While this scenario would be very tempting to get a client to agree to, do your best to forecast what will actually result from the proposed efforts.

You may also find yourself identifying opportunities for success outside of your current engagement. If you do, speak up, but don't go full bore from the start. Just like when you call to change something on your cellphone or cable account, constantly trying to sell more and more of your services quickly becomes annoying. Mention the opportunity, provide a range of potential success, and let the client's response dictate your next steps. If you've achieved that partner status, you'll likely be encouraged to continue exploring the topic. However, if you haven't earned that level of respect yet, you'll be just another salesman.

One more thing to remember as a part of both of these topics is to prioritize and forecast. Whatever your recommendations, prioritize the efforts based on expected outcomes and provide the client with expected results, even if the results are a range. Again, this will help your client take you more seriously and will make it easier for them to get approval or make a decision on how to proceed.

Image via Shutterstock.

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Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a Senior Analyst at Search Discovery. He is actively involved in industry organizations, such as the Analysis Exchange and the Digital Analytics Association.

With the Analysis Exchange, he helps non-profits capitalize on their website data, and educates aspiring digital analysts about the foundation of digital analytics, from the implementation of a digital analytics tool to performing analysis and making data-driven recommendations for organizations.

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