Pay-Per-Click Client Relations

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “PPC Client Relations.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: To what extent do you consider your job a “customer service” position? Why?

  • Absolutely and unquestionably. Clients have questions all the time and it’s higher level PPC managers’ jobs to educate & answer. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • 100% – They pay my bills (& I have lots of them). – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • Equal part of the job in my book – can provide the best results but if you don’t communicate well there is a problem. – Matt Umbro
  • It is at least as important as managing the campaigns is since clients are our customers & communication is, well, important. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • It’s definitely a customer service position. That said, we have AEs who deal with client relations day to day. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Essential part. PPC is a complex money spending system, client nurture and understanding is paramount to ongoing success. – Ed Leake (@EdLeake)
  • That’s the fun part about working at an agency in PPC! Your job is about being an expert in both paid search & client service. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
    • Agreed – that’s why it’s important to always be doing the tactical side while working with clients. – Matt Umbro
  • Yes, because explaining the difference between a text, PLA and display ad takes patience. Especially for the 20th time. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • To the extent that if they don’t feel served I will be out of clients. So: a lot to very. I’d almost shift this from being a equal part to being a foundational skill. It isn’t a separate element. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • Customer service all the time. They’re paying us for a service. But it doesn’t mean you should be answering questions 24/7. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Since we’re selling a service, it takes more customer interaction than a product which could speak for itself. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • 60/40 Mostly work in campaigns but reporting and other client contact is still a major portion of the job. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Killer customer service is 2nd to performance. Most clients will always do PPC, good performance or bad, will they stick w/ you? – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Not a lot. Others do 90% of client contacts. However, cust service is a large part of the overall acct management pkg. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Quite a bit. There is alot of education involved with PPC for many clients. It’s a complicated marketing product. – Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
  • Half the battle. We have our strategies, but also have to know how to listen so we’re helping not just spouting best practices. The best client relationships start with good communication which leads to good strategy, which leads to good performance. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • It’s not just customer service, it’s customer empathy. Have to feel and understand their troubles to solve them. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
  • PPC totally in customer service biz; need to execute work, but reporting results to client and explaining is half the value add. – Mark Hansen (@markdhansen)
  • Absolutely. It the customer realationship that keeps the client onboard when times get tough. – Jessica Armstrong (@jess_armstrong_)

Q2: What traits (either from the AM, client, or both) make a great relationship? Why?

  • Knowledge, enthusiasm and empathy in equal measures! – Ed Leake
  • Honest communication, ie: the ability for each party to speak their mind without fearing resentment. – Matt Umbro
  • Mutual respect, trust, and open mindedness. – Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
  • Educated clients are the best. There’s a mutual respect that’s possible to build on. – Steve Hammer
  • Being a real human and caring about their business! – Luke Alley
  • Knowing to find the balance between autonomy, communication and micro-management. – Andrew McGarry (@beyondcontent)
  • Communication, trust, patience, understanding. – Melissa Mackey
  • Being a good communicator and trust. Having the ability to share broad business numbers with consultants is critical. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • Also intellectual honestly. Not everything works, and that’s ok. Constantly looking for the positive angle isn’t healthy. – Steve Hammer
  • Competence, trust and communication. Things work better when the goals are clear, reasonable and communicated. – Kyle Crocker
  • Agreeing on objectives is key for good relationship. AM/client must agree on definition of success and metrics to measure it. – Mark Hansen
  • Personality match is a big one I’ve noticed. If you don’t jive as people, the working relationship can be strained as a result. – Michelle Morgan
  • I would also say that the ability to get out of each other’s way is beneficial – ultimately more trust. And willing to admit what doesn’t work and being OK with that. – Matt Umbro
  • Good CS reps know what the account needs. The best CS reps know what the CLIENT needs. Those 2 are often noticeably different. – Mark Irvine
  • Take time to know their business. Not just how to do PPC for their business. Client trust & results will be easier. – Joe Martinez
  • Client here. Straightforward communication. Don’t tell me you can do something, if you can’t. Give realistic timeframes, etc. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
  • Level heads. It’s so much better when you can talk about how to fix problems instead of getting angry and throwing blame. – John Budzynski
  • Agree with those saying trust & communication. I would also add humility. Being willing to learn is essential to life & biz. – Kirk Williams
  • Being proactive def makes you stand out – in your curiosity, comm, & acct mgmt. Clients love it, and you will be glad you are. – Maddie Cary
  • Willingness to learn. The client has to be willing to understand basic ppc concepts and AM’s need to learn the clients business. – Jessica Armstrong
  • It’s great when client is all those things too, Means they’re engaged & partnering with you. That’s recipe for success. – Maddie Cary
  • Clients need to be able to set clear goals and AMs need to be able to say when they are unrealistic. You need to be able to say no. – Jessica Armstrong

Q3: What are some items you do for clients that go above and beyond normal expectations?

  • That assumes there’s a “normal” set of expectations. All clients are different. I try to deliver on what each finds valuable. – Michelle Morgan
    • So true! Simply customizing your work to each client (as opposed to cookie-cutter solutions) helps set you apart. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
      • Absolutely. Each business needs different things. Helping to achieve those individual goals is very valuable. – Michelle Morgan
  • Copywriting and website tweaks to improve conversion are the big 2. – Ed Leake
  • Communication from both in beginning to establish agreed goals. Start w/customer avatar. Customers are more than just KWs. – Kurt Henninger
  • Custom reports outside of our standard amount of data we always report on. – Kimberly Wingo
  • We don’t stop at the ppc wall, even if that’s our scope. We’re a biz partner, so analytics insight is key. – Steve Hammer
  • Asking about other parts of the business – show you are concerned with the overall picture. – Matt Umbro
  • Detailed monthly reporting of PPC performance, tied back to client expectations, and used in the education process. – Mark Hansen
  • All clients have things they want. Sometimes it’s what they *need* that we give that might be considered beyond “normal”. – Michelle Morgan
  • Writing in a copy and paste way, so they can drop pieces of explanations into whatever their internal needs are. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Sharing my learnings. I’m constantly checking for ways to optimize. Sharing my info with the client can bring more clarity. – Orlando Valencia (@OValencia_3)
  • Educating why a little change in direction could be a better choice. Demonstrating we have their best interest in mind. – Kyle Crocker
  • Proactive ideation about other channels can be a bonus. – Amy Bishop
  • Any suggestions that help their overall marketing efforts. More other channels grow could help PPC. – Joe Martinez
  • My ultimate goal is to blur the lines & make it feel like we’re an integrated part of a client’s marketing team. – Maddie Cary
  • Also, find out who my POC is reporting to and create reports that will matter to their audience. While making my POC look good. – Orlando Valencia

Q4: What do you believe to be the biggest error account managers make when communicating with clients? Why?

  • Not communicating. Resorting to email all the time vs. phone/in person. – Melissa Mackey
    • Agreed. Sometimes a quick chat on the phone is far more cathartic for everyone than an email. No matter how well written. – Michelle Morgan
  • Speaking over their heads. I’ve had clients come to me from previous agencies with almost no idea what was going on. – Michelle Morgan
  • Assume prior knowledge and/or fail to get on the level of the client. No one listens when the topic is over our head. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • How they communicate issues. You can communicate too slow (why did it take this long to tell me?) or too quickly (w/o all facts). – Kirk Williams
  • No doubt, over promising and then under-communicating is the biggest issue. – Mark Hansen
  • Language. It’s not an action it’s a lead or sale. And Details. Get in the weeds and never get out. – Steve Hammer
  • Assuming they understand the value of different elements, without explaining how they contribute to the greater whole. – Amy Bishop
  • In any client/vendor relationship, I can’t stand when the vendor always blames something else or has an excuse. For example, your conversion rate is down because you didn’t make these udpates or the messaging wasn’t what I said. – Matt Umbro
  • Using a buzzwords without understanding, leading to clients wanting things that may not fit (biggest offender: remarketing). – Kyle Crocker
  • Avoid open-ended questions (How do you feel about QS, CTR?) that you’re not prepared to focus on. Control your own narrative! – Mark Irvine
  • Never assume the client knows anything (not to be rude), that goes for their own business and paid search! – Ed Leake
  • I’d also ad getting the brand strategy. Don’t try to convince teh client to offer a discount on a lux product for one example. – Steve Hammer
  • Hiding bad performance data. Only create trust & make real performance progress if you talk about good & bad. – Maddie Cary
  • Minor pet peeve, but I can’t stand when the AM talks about increases/decreases with decimal points, ie, conversion rate improved by 42.55 percent, just say conversion rate increased by roughly 43%. – Matt Umbro
  • Diluting PPC reports/communication/emails/pony express with unnecessary data so important info doesn’t get communicated. – Kirk Williams
  • Trying to please the client without managing expectations. Jut leads to bigger problems down the road. – John Budzynski
  • Communication is two way, remember to listen. – James Hume (@zerospin)

Q5: I know an account manager knows what he/she is doing when this trait is brought to the client relationship. What is that trait?

  • Precognition on what the client wants to hear most about. – Doug Thomas
  • Being a Realist. Set expectations, don’t over-promise. Know the account & trends and be prepared to answer questions. – Amy Bishop
  • Starts relationship by asking ?s and listening to the answers. – Theresa Zook
  • A confident demeanor – the AM steers the conversation and doesn’t get rattled by surprises. – Matt Umbro
  • Humility. – Mark Hansen
  • Confidence, yet not arrogance. – Kirk Williams
  • Hard to call it a trait, but questions are brought to the client. The best ask questions. – Steve Hammer
  • The art of small talk, no uptalk, confidence, and knowing how to own/steer the conversation. – Kimberly Wingo
  • Also, grace. Be able to deliver bad news, say no, & diffuse tough situations without creating waves. – Amy Bishop
  • Know when you need to let the client be right, even if they’re wrong. – Mark Irvine
  • It’s a combo = speaking w/ authority + strong expectation setting skills. An AM wows me in a few seconds when I see that. – Maddie Cary

Q6: As account managers, do we listen to our clients enough or are we too eager to present and execute our ideas? Why?

  • A wise sales manager told me, “You have 2 ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion.” – Melissa Mackey
  • I think we listen, but lots of problems b/c from unrealistic expectations. Takes so much time & energy to talk them down. – Theresa Zook
  • Listen too much and we’re order takers not adding value, push too much and we’re bullies that just want to win. – Steve Hammer
  • I don’t put together ideas/presos until I’ve asked a bunch of questions. Not sure about others but I’d guess the same. So neither? – Michelle Morgan
  • Tough balance: we need to give our clients value by bringing ideas & execution, but be sure to listen & understand their side. – Kyle Crocker
  • It’s necessary to listen in order to sell. You have to understand the context of their situation & needs. – Amy Bishop
  • Everyone could be better listeners, no matter what industry. Also gotta remember how much is lost/misinterpreted via email. – Maddie Cary
  • I think this comes down to how novice the client is. I dont need to know your life story to know to u need more than 1 ad group. – Mark Irvine
  • Listen to client’s requirements/ideas at the start, explaining them whether those ideas can be implemented or not. – Shiva Teja (@ShivaTeja1707)
  • Depends on the client. Some hire you to run this part of the business for them, not so they can tell you how to run it. – Orlando Valencia
  • Conversely, if you’ve got 500 campaigns, I’m going to want to know more than I’m going to get in a 30 min call with you. – Mark Irvine

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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)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Andrew McGarry (@beyondcontent)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Ed Leake (@EdLeake)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• James Hume (@zerospin)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Jessica Armstrong (@jess_armstrong_)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Mark Hansen (@markdhansen)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Orlando Valencia (@OValencia_3)
• Shiva Teja (@ShivaTeja1707)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Streamcapping Relations

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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