The client is always right, right? Well, not necessarily. And especially not in the marketing industry.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of different clients, including fledgling founders and experienced entrepreneurs. One thing I quickly learned is that the way you communicate with your clients must vary depending on their experience in digital marketing.
In this article, I will explore the three most common categories of clients and reveal how to educate them to improve your chances of developing long-term partnerships.
In most cases, experienced marketer clients are: marketers who have started their own business; bigger marketing agencies; or large businesses with a dedicated in-house marketing department.
These clients have two key things in common. One, they know exactly what they are looking for. And two, they are interested in a long-term partnership
How fruitful your partnership will be is determined by your workflow and the perceived quality of work, more so than the initial results you achieve. What I mean by that is, since they probably hired you for a specific task, it can be hard to evaluate the impact of your work in the grand scheme of things.
A good example is one of our clients that offers a dropshipping service. We have worked with this client for almost three years now, providing link building services. Before the project started, our client already had a guest posting process in place and wanted to use our team to scale it up. They even had their own writers, so our job was to come up with interesting topics, find relevant high-authority sites, write a quality guest post pitch, and manage all communications.
But six months later, the campaign was developing some problems. Our client’s domain authority had risen, but their organic traffic had stagnated. However, they were satisfied with every part of our process so they were not in a position to start pointing fingers. After a little bit of research, we found out that they were lacking a comprehensive strategy, which translated into writers not focusing their linking action on any specific posts or keywords. Needless to say, we earned a lot of points educating our client and giving them some much needed focus.
So, for these types of clients, you don’t have to spend much time explaining why certain things need to be done (as they already know that) and you can focus on educating them how your execution will look like in practice.
The second client group on this list is newbie marketers, which includes business owners and managers who have some experience in marketing. They’ve often tried a few different marketing strategies themselves and have already trialed several different agencies looking for the right partner.
Newbie marketers are often your most time-consuming clients because you need to explain to them both why certain actions are needed and how your execution looks in practice.
From personal experience, I noticed that such clients are interested in learning more about digital marketing so they often come to you with questions that aren’t strictly related to their campaign.
In 2017, we secured a new digital marketing agency as a client. The agency owner was looking to outsource some work to and we seemed like a good fit. While he seemed quite knowledgeable, it was only after we started working with him that we discovered he had very little practical experience in digital marketing. The hours we spent answering all of his questions were probably in double digits every month.
Here are a few tips on how to manage all the questions from newbie marketers. First, if a client asks a question about something you’ve covered in a blog post, forward them the link to the blog and explain they can learn more there. Second, make a list of frequently asked questions so your marketing managers can roll out boilerplate answers. Third, create content that outlines your workflow and send it over before a campaign begins.
Non-marketer clients can be split into two subgroups, depending on how much they want to be involved. The first group will let you do your own thing and will only ask for weekly or monthly updates. The second group wants the ability to review every single step of the campaign
In both cases, because they lack experience in digital marketing, your communication with them should be more focused on why something needs to be done, rather than how will you do it.
One thing we have found very useful in our non-marketer onboarding processes is setting up an education-focused welcome email sequence. If we run a simple link building project, for example, we will send the following sequence.
With any client, but especially with those less knowledgeable, it is important to set the right expectations. Best case scenarios sound nice, but unless you have a crystal ball, it’s impossible to make assurances.
So, when you’re explaining to the client what you need to do, tell them the pros and cons of each approach and show a range of results they should expect.
Additionally, it is very important to set the right time frame in which the results of your efforts will start to show. In content marketing, nothing happens overnight so you have to make this very clear at the beginning of the campaign.
Not every client is going to stick with you for years to come. If you get a feeling that someone is just testing the waters, investing a lot of effort into their education is something you can look to minimize.
That being said, it is pretty hard to know a client’s intentions early on so I would advise that you don’t discount anyone for the first few months. Take additional time to answer their questions and educate them about your process.
At the end of the day, if your clients know what you’re doing and why, then they won’t be looking to jump ship right away, even if some things don’t go according to plan. And that is how client education improves your client retention rate.
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