For a moment, let’s boil down paid search account management into two distinct categories: results and relationship. Results come in the form of revenue, ROAS, CPA and the like. The relationship would be defined roughly as the level of trust and confidence the client (and their team) has in the manager. Some might argue that excellent results alone can carry a lacking relationship, but fail to consider the long term impact.
It’s my belief that a successful client relationship will yield both better results and a greater client longevity than great results alone. Take a moment to consider the impact relationship has on success: with better understanding of each other, goals can be defined and achieved in a more efficient manner.
How can you become an experienced relationship builder? Like so many other skills it comes down to being mindful of your goals, and consistent practice. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Meet in Person
I cannot stress the importance of being physically present with your client on a semi-frequent basis. Whether it be for a quarterly business review, monthly summary, or just company updates over drinks, there’s no better trust-building exercise. When you meet in person, you can follow a few steps to ensure the smoothest process possible. Once you nail down a date/time, ensure that you’ve invited any client team members you interact with. This includes requesting the attendance of VPs (when appropriate), engineers/website designers and the like. Have an agenda prepared and sent ahead of time, along with an executive summary if needed. Be on time, dressed well, and ready to extend a firm handshake upon greeting your clients. Start with a round-table of introductions then move forward with your agenda.
2. Set Goals and Expectations
Almost ten years in search marketing and one of the biggest blunders I see is the lack of goals and resulting fallout. “Drive as much revenue as possible” and “get the best ROI” are not acceptable goals. When you set a goal, I also recommend assigning a time-frame e.g., “We would like to achieve a $50 CPA while driving at least 100 conversions per month by July.” Often you might find that a client has an unrealistic goal and expectations need to be set appropriately. Use examples of past clients to show what’s reasonable in their vertical. What if you’re running keywords you’ve never seen before? Try delaying goal-setting for 1-2 weeks while you get a bit of traffic: a $20 CPC precludes a $40 CPA, so it’s better to know for sure than guess. Lastly, it’s human nature to enjoy the setting and achieving (or breaking) of set goals. A lower CPA week over week is nice, but the moment when you meet a goal feels awesome.
3. Be a Trusted Partner
Too often I see agencies and vendors acting as a silo; their valuable information being kept to themselves, while they lack “inside” knowledge of their client’s business. Does their e-mail marketing team have years of data on what CTA works best? Do you have performance data from display ads that could be shared with their internal programmatic team? Sharing data saves time and lets you get a huge leg up.
Your team should be part of your client’s company, and that means being on-top of company news (google news alert, twitter alerts, being added to their internal e-mail lists). Being in the know has tons of advantages, but I’ll give a quick story to illustrate its importance: a client I managed was in a major news story that morning (thanks, Google alerts) for something we didn’t want our paid ads showing for. With my client out on vacation, the news alert allowed me to add one negative keyword that saved thousands in needless, irrelevant clicks. It’s important to note that I always recommend getting your knowledge from a human source rather than second hand, as it also helps with rapport.
4. Always be Testing
Settings your ads to rotate for conversions does not count as testing! At the most basic level, simple ad copy and/or landing page testing is fine: this data should be analyzed for significance and delivered on a monthly basis. Once a test is complete, get new copy/creative/landing page content and start again. I’d recommend dedicating a slide or major call-out to all the tests performed in a given quarter/year and what was learned from them — it’s especially impressive to marketing VPs as it can be applied in other channels.
5. Ask Questions
Setting an agenda is excellent, but asking questions off the cuff shows interest and allows you to brainstorm with your client. What promotions do you have coming up? What messaging are you using in other channels? How is your paid social/display campaign going? Learning more about your client and their company will help spark ideas for new campaigns and allow you insight you otherwise wouldn’t have.