How to build client relationships that last – The First 30 Days
As I set my goal for 2017 to increase the size of my agency by 5x (to 10x) in 2017 I knew there was only one place to start. It’s a place where I think most SEO’s/Digital Marketers overlook when they’ve landed a client and are working to ensure they can maintain them month over month.
It’s the first 30 days of your new client relationship (the onboarding process) and it’s all about setting expectations right off the bat.
While many of us are WAY too busy and are focused on the tactical requirements of moving forward as quickly as possible, we are forgetting one big point….
Most of our clients don’t know what we do or how we do it!
Why is this of concern to us?
Well, when someone doesn’t know what you are doing and they are paying you to do something for them they are very likely to develop their own opinion on what they feel should be done and in what timing.
We have all had those clients that don’t realize two main themes with SEO work;
1) That it takes time to achieve the results they want (this isn’t a business of push a button and things happen)
2) That this is like a never ending boxing match where the competitor is always getting back up off the mat and throwing punches again
BUT whose fault is it really that we have clients with expectations that are different from reality?
The Bad News: It’s our fault
The Good News: I am going to tell you how you can change that!
In order to ensure that you end up with a long lasting client relationship, you need to ensure that you both set expectations and educate your clients on exactly what it is that you are doing.
If you can start your client relationships off on the right foot by telling them exactly what they can expect and how you intend on delivering results to them, they are FAR more likely to stay with you for the long term.
The key to success is ensuring you set the groundwork in the first 30 days with your clients.
Let’s be frank for a second, most clients don’t have the slightest comprehension of how we are able to move them up in the SERP’s or how we drive more business in their direction and to be honest, that makes sense!
They need to focus on the important tasks associated with running and growing their business and we need to be focused on delivering results to them.
In the text below I’ll outline some of the steps I take in the first 30 days of a client relationship to ensure that I don’t disappoint a client…or worse…that I don’t fall victim to an unrealistic set of expectations.
Step 1 – The Onboarding E-mail
You want your clients to understand right from the beginning that you are:
- Focused on their results (making ROI from marketing investments)
- You will communicate regularly so they are never left in the dark
- You will educate them on what you are doing and WHY
- You will recommend appropriate tactics when they make sense.
- You will deliver RESULTS!
We want to preemptively explain that once we deliver results (ROI on their marketing dollars with SEO) we will approach them with other marketing investments (PPC, Video, Retargeting, etc) to help grow their business even quicker.
The focus will always be on serving them and bringing them wise marketing strategies that will produce HUGE ROI.
The Welcome Letter
Almost as soon as I sign up a new client we send them a ‘welcome’ or onboarding email message.
This e-mail simply thanks them for trusting us with their business but more importantly it subtly begins the process of setting expectations.
As with all e-mails I try to keep it short (no one wants to read an overly verbose novel) but I let them know that SEO/Digital Marketing is very much a collaborative effort that requires their assistance in order to work properly.
We want to start by explaining that we understand that they are entrusting us with their marketing budget and that its sole purpose is to deliver a return in the form of visitors, leads, prospects, and ultimately paying customers.
As with any good relationship communication is paramount. We outline our communication strategy in terms of frequency, methods, purpose, and transparency. We also explain that while our team is working on their behalf we will require input and answers from time to time in order to deliver the results we both want them to have.
Our agency believes in education and ensuring our customers understand what we are doing, and why we are doing it. So as such we invest in building short video’s that will explain why we are doing certain things and how it will benefit them long terms. These video’s will be sent as they are relevant to their particular project.
Next we want to set the expectations while we are helping them with Search Engine Optimization – this is just one marketing tactic to deliver traffic to their site.
Through this process we aim to deliver customers to them at a positive ROI on their marketing dollars. Once we achieve this we want to bring them other opportunities to scale their marketing and increase the pace of growth in their business.
We view ourselves as their outsourced marketing department, 100% focused on helping them achieve their growth and revenue targets.
We want our customers to feel like we are part of their team, focused on their goals, helping them achieve whatever growth targets they set.
By being honest and up-front about what they are getting themselves involved in and by educating them along the way you end up with an informed buyer (actually a good thing) and you end up with someone who is invested in the process.
It isn’t as easy to say NO to something when you actually understand how/why it works like it does.
Overall I hope that you are able to see why I consider an undertaking of this sort so important to the operation of my SEO business and why beginning this process in the first 30 days of your client relationship is so vital to your success.
Neither the client, nor myself want to feel as though they are being taken advantage of and by making the client an informed buyer of your services the conversations surrounding what you provide will remain proactive and not combative.
More importantly it makes all discussions surrounding fees (yes, the dirty word) much easier to deal with for both parties.
If you are able to successfully keep both sets of eyes on the true prize then you’ll achieve that long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.
Don’t let miscommunication and false expectations ruin what could be a phenomenal business relationship.