Tips On Setting Client Expectations

Chris Sams, November 19, 2013

The industry of digital marketing has seen some tremendous strides in the last few years.  More and more business are realizing just how important an online presence is to their bottom line. As such more of them are turning to digital marketing experts like us.  One of the most effiecinet strategies for digital marketing is signing businesses up for SEO marketing. Why?  Well SEO is the practice of optimizing search engine results, gaining traffic to client’s sites. Almost everyone uses a search engine like Google or Bing to find what they are looking for these days. As such it is vital for businesses to rank well on these search engines in order to capture the attention of their customer base.  This is exactly what digital marketing specialist promise when they offer SEO services.  The promise can be a simple as sign with us and we will have you ranked on the first page of Google and Bing search results.  For many business this sounds like the perfect situation and they sign up.  The problem with this is that there is often a disconnect between what the digital marketing firm provides and the expectations of the client.

It is because of this common disconnect that the burden of setting the proper expectations falls upon the digital marketing firm.  Here are some tips on how to clearly set client expectations.

Tip 1. Never sell the client on the idea of buying rankings. Instead you will want to make it more about building a proper presence on the web.  It is important to inform the client that while rankings are a great way to boost traffic, it does not produce sales.  It is vital to discover what the client’s goals are.  Is their goal to be ranked #1  or to grow their business? Whenever a client starts to talk about their rankings, it is up to you to bring them back to their goals set up from the very begining. As the SEO expert, it is your job to educate the client through out the process, explain to them that while rankings matter, their main goal is to grow the business.  By keeping the client informed and focusing their attention to the things that matter it will help set expectations from the begining. 

Tip 2.  Lay out a realistic timeline for both expected results and deliverables.  This should be done as soon as the client signs the contract if not outlined during the sales process.  It is best to breakdown the timeline into phases, explain to the client what will happen in each phase, what the need to provide (if applicable), and when the phase will be completed.By outlining  the deliverables and expected results in such a clear cut manner will limit any confusion and give the client a better understanding of what they are getting out of the service. 

Tip 3.  Always keep the lines of communication open.  One of the biggest problems we see is when there has been miscommunication or lack of communication between the marketer and the client throughout the process. By keeping open lines of communication throughout the project or campaign it is easier to address questions or issues as they come up, versus saying nothing until the project is completed and the results do not match the client expectations. Proper communication is even more essential if the client works with their own developer and all the back end changes must be done through them.  This added complication can be disasterous if open communication is not achieved.  That being said it is important that the digital marketing team stress to the client that if their is a communication breakdown on their end, the results will suffer.

Tip 4.  Document everything.   It is not uncommon for digital marketing or SEO specialist to suggest a change to strategy or additional service that was not a part of the inital scope. While this suggestion is not part of the contract the mere mention of this idea during a client meeting can convince the client that it is part of the project. Because this is an easy mistake to make, it is vital that when making suggestions you make it clear that it is not part of the current contract and in order to incorporate the changes the conrtract will need to be adjusted. This may result in price change, so you must be clear with the client and keep track of each suggestion or change.   The same goes for any suggestion or change request made over the phone, in person, or via email. 

Tip 5. The proof is in the pudding.  While you do not want your clients focusing on rankings along you can showcase the amount of work and the progress made by digging into analytics and reporting progress.  You can send the client reports illustrating traffic growth, conversion rate incrases and new revenue. By reporting back to a client regularly you can keep the client up to date on their progress and make they a part of the process. It also helps the client keep track of their goals and eventually see a ROI.




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