I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you work in Search Engine Optimization, you most likely do such work for clients — people who pay you cash to improve their rankings.
And, it’s probably not a stretch to say that sometimes — no matter how nice it is to hear your bank account go “ka-ching!” – these clients can be a bit, shall we say, challenging.
From sending you emails every couple of hours asking why they’re not on the first page yet, “what am I paying you for??”
To why on earth there needs to be text on a website, “but I have great photos!”
You’ve probably come across every imaginable version of crazy-talk an adult can dribble out of their mouths.
But alas, maintaining good relations with your lovely bunch of clients is essential to staying in business.
Something about revenue coming from selling things, and revenue putting food on your table.
The math can sometimes be fuzzy.
The math for SEO clients, however, is surprisingly straightforward.
One or two disgruntled clients can not only lead to a direct loss of income, but can also potentially give you a bad reputation.
Conversely, happy clients are likely to send you business, not just their own, but that of their network.
It should now be pretty obvious that it is to your benefit to know how to manage these clients, yes?
10 Quickies To Satisfy Your Clients
These tips ranges from managing expectations, selling your services, handling upset clients, and more.
It’s by no means conclusive and the mother of all advice, but should keep you on the right track towards happy clients and plenty of cash in your pockets.
1. Start With Good Communication
Do this from the very beginning. It’s not unusual that clients who want SEO services haven’t the slightest idea of what type of work goes into it. All they know is that they need it and a vague idea of what they are trying to achieve.
Listen to them, be mindful of their concerns, and acknowledge what they say. Don’t be too overly concerned with trying to get your points across all the time. Listen to what they have to say, and express a desire and ability to help them.
Kristen Quinn, an Inbound Marketing Consultant from UpCity, wrote a great article on how to start a conversation with your prospects.
2. Explain The Process Of SEO
Your clients don’t know how you do your job, and giving them a basic understanding of the subject will help you later on if you should ever have to explain why they are “not on page one yet.”
3. Don’t Use A Lot Of Technical Jargon
You need and want to be understood by your clients, and if you use a lot of technical terminology, you will lose them completely.
People will say that they understand you, but the ensuing questions will demonstrate otherwise. Simplify your speech, not in a patronizing manner, but with the intention of being understood.
4. Be Realistic With Your Claims
Promising spectacular results may seem like a good idea at first, but should you not be able to deliver that exactly as stated, you can pretty much kiss that contract goodbye, or at least have to pour in time and resources to the point where you’re operating at a loss, anyway.
Assess their situation first, and after careful evaluation, give them a real and attainable result that you know you can deliver.
5. Set Yourself Up For Success With Your Deals
When trying to close on a contract, emphasize the need you’re meeting and show any past or current results.
You can wax poetic and gush about how great your latest tactic is, or how many services you can provide, but that all means absolutely nothing if your client doesn’t know why they need it.
This of course requires you to be honest with them, but that doesn’t mean an end to any and all upsales. It just means that you are offering the services that they need based on your expertise, and aren’t selling something that they don’t need.
6. Handling Upset Clients
You must keep your cool. You’re a professional, act like one. Maintain a positive and understanding attitude. Whether right or wrong, the worst thing you can do is begin to argue with your client in response to an accusation.
Instead, keep a level head and a friendly yet understanding demeanor. Acknowledge their upsets and if you actually did make a mistake, don’t be afraid to admit it. You’ll be surprised how many people will calm down if you take responsibility for the situation.
Remember, you are the professional in this situation. Offer them a solution. If you can fix the situation without too much personal cost, then try to. I would even recommend having someone act as an upset client while you practice handling them. It is always good to be prepared.
7. Set Clear Terms, Beyond Any Shadow Of A Doubt
Leave no room for questions or unresolved issues, when it comes to having your client understand the terms of the agreement.
When you’re finalizing the deal, check to see if they have any questions, or if they fully understood what the agreement entails. There is nothing worse than trying to explain to an angry client something that they agreed to, didn’t understand, and are now protesting.
8. Include Your Clients In What You Do
Make SEO “interactive” by including them. There are plenty of simple steps that your client can participate in, like putting snippets of code into their website, giving you a piece of copy that they wrote, or being active on Facebook, and more.
This also makes your client take some responsibility for the results as well. You’re working together in a kind of partnership, where the success of what you’re doing can only happen if you’re both equally invested in the outcome and work towards achieving results.
9. Deliver What You Promised
Pretty obvious but needs to be included on this list. In the end, the work goes to the guy who gets good results.
Keep striving and improving your craft so that you can deliver the best service possible to your clients.
Your product is the SEO services that you’re offering. If you can’t deliver on your product, then why should anyone trust you or buy from you?
10. Be Interested In Them And Their Business
Sounds pretty generic and strange, but you have clients solely for the reason that they are trying to improve their own business.
Showing some interest can go a long way. A simple e-mail asking how things are going lets people know that you really do care about them. They will be more willing to work with you in the future if the “care factor” has been previously established, should an upset happen.
SEO is only good for how far you can throw it. It’s a means to an end and a powerful tool for achieving business goals.
Was It As Good For Them As It Was For You?
It’s not like you need to be therapist and solve complex psychological problems, but some tender, loving care will go a long way with your clients.
Search Engine Optimization is obvious to us — how it works, its jargon, what black-and-white animals are up to, why long-tail keywords aren’t the tails of aforementioned animals, what you need from a website to rank it, and how to oil the machinery of search engines.
But our clients usually don’t know.
Most of them probably have a baseline understanding that if you do a “bunch of stuff”, you can get to page one in Google. They might even know some of the “bunch of stuff” you need to do.
Don’t assume anything, though, and it’s better to err on the side of too much care than not.
Look, I know you probably just want to spam forums and comment sections all day long and collect links like they’re fairy dust.
If that floats your boat, then sure, knock yourself out.
But something tells me you take a little more pride in your SEO knowledge than that.
And that can spill over into how you deliver your SEO services, too.
Applying good practices like these 10 tips above will rank you highly with your clients — and get you traffic from others looking to hire you in their quest for the ever-elusive #1 spot
How do you go about managing clients and all that goes into it, from expectation to delivery?