All too often SEO professionals end up meeting with people who don’t understand the industry but have been told to get an agency on board. It can be a challenge to pitch the explanation at the right level – informing without alienating, and explaining without patronizing.
The results of a survey of agencies and clientson SEO priorities, expectations, and decision-making, which were presented at BrightonSEO in the UK last week, were very interesting. For example, clients value link metrics in very different ways to SEOs – such as considering domain authority to be a less important than anchor text, where naturally SEOs disagreed.
Unfortunately, our industry can still get a bad reputation and doesn’t always attract the most diplomatic of individuals. This can result in complaints about rude or incompetent SEO agencies when actually there’s just been a miscommunication.
Here are my tips to working with clueless customers without offending or patronizing them. We’ve all encountered people in this industry who fail to stick to these.
Consider Your Tone At All Times
If you’re dealing with a customer who really doesn’t get it, it can be frustrating.
But it’s essential to be aware of your tone and to make sure that you never sound negative.
Remember that a confused customer is also likely to be frustrated and will be listening out for any indication that you’re patronizing or sneering at them.
Don’t be tempted to make jokey remarks to colleagues or scoff at a simple question. Your customer may well be feeling sensitive.
Don’t Dumb Down
When dealing with a completely uninformed customer, you obviously won’t be able to explain the complexities of your SEO work in huge depth. Neither you nor your client will benefit.
But don’t skip over the simple facts if your client needs to know them, however basic they seem to you. Conversely, don’t ever be tempted to miss important information out because it’s too complicated. If your client needs to know, they need to know.
If you miss out relevant information then you risk your customer hearing it from another source or reading it online. That could leave you looking deceitful or incompetent.
Your Customer Isn’t Always Right
Clueless customers are sometimes the most enthusiastic and will take the time to read up on SEO online. Unfortunately, there’s so much bad advice out there that they may ask you to adopt ill-advised tactics.
Remember that they’ve hired your agency because they need your expertise and be firm in rejecting bad ideas.
Don’t ever let an ill-informed customer force you to adopt a bad idea. They might be the one paying but they won’t pay you for long if you let them adopt the wrong tactics. It also won’t do much for your professional reputation!
Show Your Enthusiasm
Words like “algorithm” and acronyms like SERPs can be bewildering to outsiders – but everyone understands enthusiasm.
If you’re excited about the results you’re seeing, then make sure your customer knows. Don’t send a boring, formal email – pick up the phone and communicate your excitement.
Enthusiasm is infectious and your customer will soon become more excited about the SEO project if you are.
Some clients need less nurturing than others. However, a customer who doesn’t fully understand the work you’re undertaking will usually need their hand-holding.
Make sure you’re in regular contact with this kind of customer. If they don’t fully understand the value of what you’re doing, then you need to regularly remind them of the your hard work.
Instead of monthly reports and figures, offer them weekly updates. Spend more time meeting up with them than normal and make sure they can get hold of a member of your team whenever they want.
This strengthens your professional relationship, highlights the work you’re undertaking, and gradually increases the customer’s awareness of SEO and its benefits.
Image Credit: Nina Matthews
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