Building Long Term Client Partnerships

This week Luke Alley (@LukeAlley) took over as host for Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) and ran through another great question set titled “Building Long Term Client Partnerships.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1:  In your opinion, what are the top factors in building a long term relationship with clients?

  • Setting expectations is huge, even when it means saying no. It pays off in the longrun. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • Results. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • Complete transparency with both the good and the bad. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Doing well on the account. Listening to them. Being honest with them. Being fair to them. Laughing with them. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Trust that each partner is working to get the best results. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • Trust, communication & results. – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJohn)
  • Make sure they have a good understanding of WHY you are doing what you’re doing. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • 1) Results. 2) Good communication. 3) Liking each other. Sounds weird but hard to work w/ someone who doesn’t like you. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Results first. Communication second. Lots of other little things too, setting expectations, knowledge, etc. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
    • Setting expectations is a huge piece. Can’t say that enough. – Michelle Morgan 
  • Mutual Respect. We need to be able to grow and optimize together. If that doesn’t work, I think puppies are a close second. – Cleofe Betancourt (@askppc)
  • Having been on both sides of the equation…
    DON’T BS! – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • Transparency and honesty first and foremost. Results need to be there, of course, but one needs to be honest. – David Prochaska (@DavidProHQ)
  • Beyond a certain point clients can’t tell the difference between good results and meh results. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • Factors of building long term relationships with clients are being up-front, open, and honest with your client..and listen! – Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
  • Making each other jobs easier and lives better. Party A’s goals don’t always align with how party B gets their bonus. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Delivering on clear expectations (set in the beginning) which achieve clients’ goals. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • If you don’t really know something,
    don’t pretend like you do. Clients will trust you more if you are honest. – Bryant Garvin
  • Over communicate, develop personal connection, remember everyone is human, foster trust w/excellent performance, be transparent. – Katy Tonkin (@katytonkin)
    • Great point. Many different pieces that play into that. Being nice, accepting mistakes. – Michelle Morgan
  • IMO, it starts with you taking the long term view – & all that that entails. (Such as turning away clients that are poor fit). – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Mistakes are going to happen. Let the client know a mistake before they find it out for themselves. – David Prochaska
  • Another piece, showing you’re working for their bottom line goals. Ex: generating leads is good, generating customers is great. – Michelle Morgan
  • Being proactive, engaging them to interact w/your brand, showcasing your brand’s value. – Vishal Malik (@vishalraymalik)
  • Follow through on all promises, no matter how big or small. Builds trust, which is #1 factor to make a client relationship last. – Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
  • Meeting in person has also been a great way to build on client relationships. – Olin Downs

Q2: What do you expect a client to contribute to a PPC campaign?

  • (1) Business information/guidance “this is who we are” and (2) trust. – Kirk Williams
  • Well thought out KPI’s for their business, collaboration and partnership…and of course $$. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • I need to know the allowable cost/conv – but will help them work this out if need be. – Steve Gibson
  • A clear understanding of their business & goals. Willingness to understand website is just as crucial as ads. – Timothy Jensen
  • They determine end goals & we build strategy to achieve. Then continual back & forth for continued success. – Michelle Morgan
  • Tell me things I can’t find. Pain points, triggers from sales calls, live chat trends, customer value etc. – Aaron Levy
  • Feedback. Not just metrics. Quality of leads, product issues, etc. – Mark Kennedy
  • On the conversion optimisation side of PPC, I will often ask for testimonials, market info, USPs. – Steve Gibson
  • 1) Results (of course) 2) A growth trajectory (stagnation kills) 3) Great Communication –> All of this equates to Trust. – Jared Schroder (@j_schroder)
  • I want to know the end goal. I want to know the Lifetime Customer Value and passwords to the website to fix landing pages. – David Prochaska
  • Information about their customer profiles, the industry, their competitors, and ability to articulate what they want. – Max Fink
  • Have always said
    "I know PPC, you know your business. Let’s marry the two!" – Bryant Garvin
  • Clear expectations of KPIs or if not, then a willingness to learn together as a partner. Oh and a website that works. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Context & Feedback (Information about other marketing efforts, trends/data unavailable in the interface). – Amy Bishop
    • Feedback on lead quality is huge. And sometimes really difficult to get. – Michelle Morgan
  • Info about who the client’s are and why they’re buying now. – Steve Gibson
  • I want to know their ideal customer is – demographics and such. – David Prochaska
  • Biz goals, imprt KPIs, other channel strategies, impacts of campaign outside PPC metrics, & honestly an understanding of SEM. – Katy Tonkin
  • Expect them to be invested in the campaign. Without feedback on lead quality, indsutry trends, etc. it’s hard to see results. – Luke Alley
  • More than anything:
    A good attitude of working together. We can work through anything when we are on the same page! – Josh Kelson
  • Clear expectations. Company “lingo”, sales trends, seasonal trends, KPIs, the more information about their company the better. – Olin Downs
  • Realistic goals & feedback. It’s a process of course,but nothing hinders worse than client reactions that are unstable(at best). – Cleofe Betancourt
  • Developer resources with domain knowledge to help with scripts / APIs if possible. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • Insight into their business. internal campaigns or initiatives, client info etc. Everything I can use to feed my work. – Kiko Correa (@obiwankikobi)
  • Q2.1 Sounds like we all expect a lot, how do you set those expectations with them? Do you have a list? Just a call?
    • Conversations before even beginning the relationship are important for setting expectations. Then of course, patience, learning, and continual conversations. More DTR. – Kirk Williams
    • Multiple calls and if possible, multiple in person meetings. Show them that you are invested in their business. – Olin Downs
    • Tell them that we can only do so much with no transparency. They’re only hurting themselves. Then guide to a better system. – Michelle Morgan
    • Initally discovery and kickoff cals, but reinforce it again and again multi channel – emails, calls, web mtgs, in person (best). – Lisa Sanner
    • The client must work with us to balance the great equation: “Client Expectations = Goals = Tracking”. – Jared Schroder 
    • It’s all about motivation; if needs are really needs for both parties, both’ll bend over backwards to help. – Aaron Levy
    • Carefully, respectfully, & early on in the relationship. – Katy Tonkin

Q3: If a client doesn’t seem invested in the PPC program, how do you address?

  • I try to present the ROI in an understandable manner. This is what we paid and this is what you made. – David Prochaska
  • There’s usually a reason on their end, so figure what that is first. Do they not see value? Are they just distracted elsewhere? In other words, don’t start with accusations, start with questions trying to see things from their side first. – Kirk Williams
  • Might be jinxing myself, but I haven’t had a client who wasn’t invested in the program. Quite the opposite. – Michelle Morgan
  • It’s tough, but you keep doing the right things to get the results, even if you have limited feedback. – Mark Kennedy
  • If a client isn’t invested or you haven’t been able to establish a relationship your survival is entirely tied to performance. So do your best to keep numbers strong while you work on developing trust and investment. – Kiko Correa
  • We try not to rock the boat too much, but try to emphasize how their involvement/feedback is necessary to see results. – Luke Alley
  • Do the best you can to quantify the lack of engagement so they see it in terms of their bottom line. That usually wakes ’em up. – Katy Tonkin
  • Show Revenue, ROI, Profit…..any successful bottom-line metric that proves “PPC made you money." – Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
  • If they aren’t invested they just might not understand the impact. It’s good to help them connect the dots & understand the value. – Amy Bishop
  • If the client isn’t interested in PPC? Let’s talk display/email/facebook etc. I guess it’s an open marriage? – Cleofe Betancourt
  • Return on effort! Give me an hour of your time, I’ll grow your revenue by $4,000. Marriage revenue…? – Aaron Levy
  • If their lack of investment is hurting the campaigns, be vocal about it. I can’t do __ until I know __. – Amy Bishop
  • Find out what they are invested in and relate. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • Try and keep doing better. Higher ROI + steeper inclined graphs never fail to attract atttention/investment. – Rohan Ayyar

Q4: Whats your opinion about contracts for PPC services?

  • I establish an agreed-upon 3-6 mo contract with new clients so I have time to demonstrate results. Then month-to-month. – Kirk Williams
    • Good idea. I don’t like clients to feel “locked” in because trust is important but you need a few months. – Amy Bishop
  • Here contracts are a waste of time. Not worth the paper they are written on. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • I’m for contracts because it gives you chance to show results. – David Prochaska
  • Necessary evil. As with any business, I consider them precautionary. – Max Fink
  • PPC contracts should be month to month (post setup). If expectations are set correctly, no need for a marriage license. – Aaron Levy
    • I’ve found first few months no relationships yet & expectations can be confused. 3-6 mo initial prevents early flee. – Kirk Williams
  • We do monthly, but I can see why longer-term is needed in the beginning. – Mark Kennedy
  • I’m all for short term contracts. Don’t want to be tied long-term to a client who is not a good fit. – Cleafe Betancourt
    • Good point. Can also protect us in the case of a horrible client. But, can an agency break a long-term contract early? – Luke Alley
  • Make sure they’re drafted by a good contract attorney! loopholes are bad for business. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • It’s useful to spell out the SOW so all parties know what to expect /what will be delivered. – Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
  • Absolutely necessary. Risk protection for both parties. – Lisa Sanner
  • Initial duration depends on size, then renegotiate. Always w/an out clause for performance. protection + sets expectations. – Katy Tonkin
  • I like a 3 month min b/c it can take a a month to identify and implement fixes then 30+ days of optimization for results. – Christi Olson
  • Never had someone flee in 3 months, but at 6 months sometimes its right. A little deposit can save the start. – Aaron Levy
  • Have to have at least a 3-6 month contract. Starting PPC is like getting a plane off the ground, most fuel is used at launch. – Luke Alley
  • Contracts are part of setting the expectations. Agreed upon expectations, as well as showing investment. Put it in writing. – Josh Kelson
  • We will set expectations for both sides in writing. But there will be no penalties or minimum periods. Again – who would enforce? – Steve Cameron

Q5: If you’re are not hitting goals, what do you do to keep a client happy?

  • Find out why. Is it a volume issue, a quality issue, or maybe just not a good fit for PPC in general. There is always a reason. – Mark Kennedy
  • Show them what you’re doing to tweak campaigns for better performance. If needs are on their end (website updates, etc) be clear. – Timothy Jensen
  • It depends on why you aren’t hitting them. Were they realistic to begin with? Or impossible targets? Did you make a fubar? – Christi Olson
  • Tell then what you’re going to do hit goals. Or, explain why to work together & develop new goals. – Aaron Levy
  • Explain why. We should know, right? – Steve Cameron
  • Be honest. Figure out what is going on, communicate anything you need to improve and fix it. – Kiko Correa
  • List tests, learnings, competitive situation. Look carefully at landing pages. Lisa Sanner
  • Lean on that relationship you’ve developed to talk about WHY you’re not hitting goals + action plan. – Katy Tonkin
  • It depends on why goals aren’t being met. It’s actually pretty rare in my experience Maybe I’m conservative in my promises. – Steve Gibson
  • Show that you’re doing all you can to hit goals, define new and acceptable goals, make up with extras. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Found transparency, and a plan in place often helps the client get on board – to know you’re on their side. – Josh Kelson
  • In the end it’s about the relationship. If you don’t have one no explanation will work. If you do, communicate and have a plan! – Christi Olson
  • Stay fluid & keep communication open. Keep the client involved & you can extend the honeymoon period so that you can still win. – Cleofe Betancourt
  • Be honest. Acknowledge the problem. If you act like nothing is wrong it comes off as if you don’t know or you don’t care. – Amy Bishop
  • Good communication as to why it’s happening & a clear game plan moving forward. Not every month will be rainbows & butterflies. – Luke Alley
  • Open communication. Discuss strategy to figure out what is and isn’t working, then make adjustments to test. – Michelle Morgan
  • Use data to explain why goals were missed, outline plan of attack to fix; test new kwds/LPs/ads, revisit negs, etc. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • If client shopping around, there’s always sales-driven agency that’s promising 2x what can be done. Under-promising = usp/trust. – Steve Gibson
  • Explain why something isn’t working and what the next plan of action is. – David Prochaska
  • At some point, good to remember you can do everything perfect & some clients will still leave. Just shrug & move on. – Kirk Williams

Q6: If a partnership is not right, what’s your approach for breaking it off?

  • Like a Band-Aid. Quick and painful. – Robert Brady
  • I think a personal phone call is in order. Just to talk about the why. But then an email after to have it in writing. – Mark Kennedy
    • I’d imagine a phone call would be tough. I’m an email guy. Do they take it well, typically? – Luke Alley
      • As someone who’s been on the other end, I dislike email break-ups. Want to have chance to ask questions. – Kirk Williams
        • Good point. I’d think email first, then phone call so they are not caught off guard would be best. – Luke Alley 
  • Straightforward. I tell them I don’t think my approach seems to be the best for their situation. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Reset expectations. – Avik Kumar (@avikkumarsi)
    • Agree. Reset expectations, if they agree cool, if not…break it off & we can still be friends. – Travis Phipps (@phipps)
  • If its my call, recommend a few other firms. Great way to build reciprocal clientele w/ competitors. – Matt Vaillancourt
    • I find it works well. I simply explain why the promises can’t be delivered. Who are they going to go with? – Steve Gibson
  • However you do it, keep it professional and don’t burn bridges. They might not be a good fit, but their biz friends could be. – Kirk Williams
  • With humility, honesty. Listen to your gut. Don’t let it fester. Don’t react to negativity: they might know your next prospect. – Katy Tonkin
  • I stated that I felt my numbers suggestions for their account weren’t being valued/implemented, so it was best that we parted ways. – Steph Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
  • Face-to-face or via phone. It’s a personal discussion. Once it’s been decided I do like the band-aid approach. – Christi Olson
  • In most cases, the client plays the “break up” card. Be sure to have a transition plan. – Cleofe Betancourt

Q7: What unique things do you do to maintain a great client relationship?

  • With the holidays just behind us… we send hand-written Christmas cards to all our clients. – Luke Alley
  • Remember important dates (birthdates, child born, etc) and reach out and say congrats. – Josh Kelson
  • I really try to get to know the “person” behind the “client”. Laugh with them, hurt with them when they have something bad happen, etc. – Kirk Williams 
  • Small talk about interests is great, then write down the things. With lots of clients, hard to remember everything. – Josh Kelson
  • We give all clients a book once/qtr. I read a lot, & like to pass on the good ones. – Travis Phipps
  • I like to keep things simple & communication open. If you like cliches, there is also the “under-promise, over-deliver” thing. – Cleofe Betancourt
  • Relationship, relationship, relationship. It takes time but know what is important to them personally and in work. – Christi Olson
  • Random acts of kindness & hilarity go a long way. Funny videos they may like, little gifts. Just like a real (girl)friend. – Aaron Levy
  • Spotting troubles before they do (like sites down, funnel issues, etc) is a great way to cement relationship. – Jared Schroder

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Avik Kumar (@avikkumarsi)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Christi Olson (@ChristiJOlson)
• Cleofe Betancourt (@askppc)
• David Prochaska (@DavidProHQ)
• Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
• Jared Schroder (@j_schroder)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJohn)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Katy Tonkin (@katytonkin)
• Kiko Correa (@obiwankikobi)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
• Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Steph Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Travis Phipps (@phipps)
• Vishal Malik (@vishalraymalik)

Building Long Term Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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