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Value Added Ep.05 – Keeping Clients Happy vs. Getting Results vs. Being Profitable


13 May 2020


How many times have you heard it said that all clients care about are results?

While that may be true, how you measure success can easily differ from the way your clients do.

It’s crucial to ensure that your goals and the goals of your client are aligned.

Return on investment (ROI) may seem like the most logical method to measure a digital marketing campaign’s success — but in Jonathan and Jarod’s many years of servicing clients, they’ve learned that clients don’t always agree.

In this week’s Value Added Podcast, they share some war stories and tips for how you can both manage your client’s expectations and ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to measuring performance and results.

Subscribe to the Value Added Podcast — featuring SEOButler founder Jonathan Kiekbusch and Blue Dog Media head honcho Jarod Spiewak — to be notified about future Live Streams and Podcasts.

Key Takeaways

  • “Vanity” metrics — such as ranking #1 for a specific keyword — are often more important to clients than overall ROI.
  • Reframing a client’s perspective on SEO or attempting to educate them on how digital marketing “really works” can be a worthwhile endeavor, but it also carries risks.People are predisposed to think their understanding or approach to a situation or problem is the correct one — you may encounter significant resistance when you try to change their minds.The path of least resistance is sometimes best. If your client feels better ranking for a bunch of low difficulty keywords with no search volume, it may be worth the required effort to deliver those results — even though it will likely have little to no positive impact on ROI.

Jarod Quote Happiness vs Profitability

  • Framing your proposed services and outcomes while keeping the client’s level of understanding about how SEO and digital marketing works is crucial.
  • Gain as much knowledge as you can about the KPIs of not only your direct contact, but of all stakeholders involved in the campaign.This is particularly critical with larger clients.For example, say you’re dealing with the CMO, who has a solid grasp of SEO and is onboard with your approach.But ultimately, it’s the CEO who is the decision-maker in the relationship, and they have only a rudimentary understanding of digital marketing.The CEO’s success metric may be very different from the CMO’s — for example, ranking #1 on Google for a specific keyword.

    The better you understand the overall expectations of the organization, the better you will be able to tailor your campaign and present results in the most positive light.

  • Jonathan and Jarod shared experiences where they’ve gone above and beyond to over-deliver, only to lose a client regardless, or have them not follow through.Despite such disappointments, they still look to deliver value to clients beyond the scope of the services they’re contracted for.Some of the ways they do this include:
    • Introductions and referrals to web designers, developers, other service providers etc
    • Client education on SEO and digital marketing
    • “Frontloading” work in a monthly retainer agreement to gain clients faster results. As a rough example, if you’re contracted to spend 40 hours per month on a client’s account, it may be advantageous to spend 50 hours a month for the first two months, then spend 30 hours per month on month 3 and 4.
  • When it comes to SEO clients, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. As your clients begin to “dabble” more in SEO, they may become distracted by shiny object syndrome or vanity metrics.

Jonathan Quote Happiness vs Profitability

  • Even though SEO is a digital business, the personal touch — whether through a phone call or a personalized Loom video explainer — is often more effective than standalone reports or back-and-forth email exchanges.
  • Despite your best efforts, not every digital marketing campaign is going to move the needle.In instances like this, the best thing to do is get in front of the situation by being honest with your client — even if that means losing them.Similarly, don’t take on clients who simply don’t have the budget to achieve the goals they’re looking to reach.This may mean losing business in the short-term, but in the long-term, it pays off.
  • Honesty, transparency, and empathy with your clients — big or small — helps distinguish you from unscrupulous agencies and providers — and in digital marketing, there are many.


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