Agency Life: Balancing Client Expectations

Do you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to your clients and prospective clients? There are many reasons to be transparent, but there seem to be a number of people in the industry who tell a few too many porky pies. From skewing forecasts to win new business and editing monthly reports to hide keyword drops; these practices happen in SEO agencies across the globe. It can sometimes feel like a battle against these bad guys, but here are the reasons why being honest wins in the long run.

Don’t set yourself up for a fall

If an SEO manager spends time doing a forecast for new business, it isn’t acceptable behaviour for the new business team to change the data to suit their sales targets. Forecasts are done for a reason: they exist to give the client realistic expectations about what their budget will bring them in terms of results over weeks, months and even years. Skewing this can lead to many difficult conversations later down the line about why these results haven’t been achieved.

Build relationships for the long term

If your method is to get clients in on false pretences and expect them to leave you after a year’s retainer and poor performance, you aren’t in the business for the right reasons. An SEO should love the work they do, helping businesses to achieve their goals online. Being honest can go a long way to building trust with your client, and it is likely that if they understand your strategy and you back it up with results, they may well stay with you for longer.

Explain why you’re right

When your client isn’t an expert in the subject, they can be easily confused by information they receive from others. This might be from “a friend who knows a bit about SEO” or another company touting their services. You must show your client – in black and white – why your strategy is working, and potentially disprove the claims made by others. We’ve all been there before: “so and so says that if we make this change, we’ll be number one in Google.” It can take a few attempts to get the message across, but you can’t blame your client for wanting the best for their business.

Honesty is the best policy

So how do you ensure that you are meeting your client’s expectations? Agree how often you are going to send them a report, and let them know exactly what it’ll include. This may be ranking changes, the revenue and ROI from their spend, work you’ve done on-site, and any link-building activity. It is important to get on the same page where link-building is concerned, as you will not want your client to be penalised in a search engine algorithm update.

You should also make a point of regularly speaking to you client by email, phone and in person. There are certain aspects of a campaign that are easier to show and talk through, and it gives your client a chance to ask questions without feeling guilty for sending you a load of emails. Time to clear the air also allows you to build a stronger relationship in the long run.


Guest Author: Hannah Warder works for a Manchester SEO agency who focus on creative strategies. In her spare time she likes to watch football, F1 and eat chocolate cake.
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