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Great Expectations: How to Communicate SEO Value

flaiz-william
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You've answered the request for information (RFI), presented the request for proposal (RFP), and won the business. You've made it through legal review, developed a strategy, and got the client to implement your recommendations.

Now comes the hard part. You must communicate the value your search program provided.

Don't take this task lightly. It could mean the difference between a renewal and a one-off client project. No more talk of how it may take several months to see changes in search rankings. No more explaining the "unpredictable nature" of search algorithms. Here's how you show that ever important "bang for the buck."

Does your Strategy Pay?

When developing the overall search strategy for a client, you also need to communicate the value of following through on that strategy. Set expectations right out of the gate. Explain what SEO changes will do in the short-term and how the site will perform in the long-term.

Consider building out an ROI model in the strategic planning stage -- though these can be tricky to construct for SEO. The client is going to expect some idea of ROI if they follow through on your recommendations.

Timing for this communication is key. Too often ROI is saved for the end of a presentation and rushed as clients are packing up to leave the meeting. This is a missed opportunity to show that you're thinking about their business and not just their marketing dollars. When presenting to a client, lead with the ROI, tell them what they can expect, and then tell them how you intend to deliver it.

What do Your Tactics Yield?

Now that the client's strategic expectations have been set, it's time to present the underlying tactics that make the strategy work. Resist the urge to present a laundry list of tactics all at once. While you may think you'll impress the client with your wealth of ideas, oftentimes they'll just be overwhelmed.

A client that is new to the space or strapped for implementation resources may not want to make sweeping changes to a Web site they just launched.

Rethink your deliverables. Present your tactics in order of importance and offer a phased approach to implementation. What will have the biggest immediate impact? What challenges must be addressed before progress can even be made? Start here, and work down the list.

This takes the burden of prioritization off of the client. Clients may find it easier to see the value in your tactics if you serve up "bite-sized" chunks of implementation work they can easily swallow.

Anything to Report?

The end of the campaign is where the majority of people and agencies attempt to show the value of their search program -- and with good reason. Measurable results really whet the client's appetite.

Increased traffic and organic conversions are the meat and potatoes the client expects to be served by their agency. With that said, the presentation of data is as important as the data itself (if not more so).

Don't just send the client an Excel sheet of data, a PowerPoint deck of charts, or an e-mail with highlights. Set aside time to review the results with the client. Understand your audience, their level of interest in the information, and make sure you tie the results back to the strategy and tactics that made them happen.

The Value Proposition

If you truly want your clients to believe they're receiving value throughout the engagement, you need to approach each component with a value proposition. This may seem obvious, but take a moment to really let that sink in. Every element of your campaign must provide value, and that value must consistently be conveyed.

Don't wait until the end to "wow" your clients. Continue to impress them throughout the process by demonstrating how each step of the process is a means to the big payoff at the end -- that highly coveted ROI. Clients expect higher traffic and conversion numbers; this is why they hire you. You must ensure them that these expectations are not unfounded every step of the way.

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