The trick to landing clients is to speak their language. Clients often operate on hearsay and old blog advice.
In our experience, clients tend to be turned off if you start your conversation by dismantling what they know in favor of what actually works. Too many SEO agencies want to show what they know. Instead of appearing knowledgeable, many clients think you are bull-headed and perhaps resistant. Others take offense, preferring to hear reinforcement. You will educate your clients in the long run. But first you must break down some barriers.
The first step is to establish a working relationship, so down the road you may showcase yourself as an experienced professional. Think about landing pages for a second. What makes a landing page increase site conversions and ultimately sales? Benefits. You need to treat your first conversation with a client like they are visiting your personal landing page.
The first conversation with clients should overview what you can do for them. What guarantees can you make? What are the benefits that your company can offer?
Many clients harbor intense distrust for services that appear intangible. The statements we hear from clients may vary, but client wariness tends to follow a common theme:
- SEO is a con.
- I thought SEO wasn’t effective on Google anymore?
- Why should I sink money into an SEO service when I have a website and pay for ads?
- Someone else told me I could do this for less.
- I already know what keywords I need.
Trust is quickly cultivated if you open your company-client relationship by listening. Ask a client their needs. Clients unprepared to fully give up the reigns of their website will need to be convinced of the merit of your ideas. This early discovery phase is a dance.
Some clients will be naturally resistant to certain suggestions. Be prepared for many “but I heard _____” statements. Never assault these statements directly, especially when clients sound sure of their preconceived notions. Listen to your clients. Repeat what they say back to them. More than anything, early strategy discussions should make them feel comfortable.
Dispel Outlandish Notions
After building a relationship, you can start providing concrete advice. Reel in the client’s expectations, reminding them that no, a month of SEO won’t launch them to the top of Google’s ranking.
Many clients, especially those who own a brick and mortar company, tend to think of a website as a business card instead of a passive salesman. Your first job is to transform this line of thinking. Talk about their business and advise them about how SEO can help their business.
Ultimately, clients care about realizing a strong ROI. As we mentioned above, SEO tends to be a service either overlooked or underfunded by many small business owners. Local, established businesses in particular are used to throwing ad money at newspapers that reach their intended audience. As a result, lots of business owners lean toward low prices as opposed to results and experience. They will opt for that one IT in the family who charges them $200 because they don’t know better. That is why the dance can be so slow.
The Ongoing Collaborative Process
Once the ball is in your court, the relationship must stay strong. Call your client. Ask if their needs are met. Your first update to the client should be quick, so focus on the easy to fix problems. By identifying early opportunities, the first stage of the relationship will be less rocky. Your clients will feel validated that they made the right decision.
Many clients complain they have no idea what their SEO company is doing. Don’t appear mysterious or operate from behind a curtain. Clearly express your forward approach. After they hire you, it becomes your job to educate your customers. Begin drawing them to the correct best practices. The more they trust you, the easier it will be to lead them down the rabbit hole.
Metrics Your Clients Care About
Marketing reports keep clients happy. Most clients tend to favor certain metrics, and despite variations between businesses and website purpose, those preferred metrics tend to remain fairly consistent. Clients want to understand whether or not your SEO efforts have been successful. These metrics will help put their minds at ease.
- RPV (revenue per visitor)
- AOV (average order value)
- Traffic (This includes visitor demographics, clicks, and session length)
- Conversion rates
- Advertising ROI
- CTR (click-through rates)
- Social mentions
An important note: social media mentions should directly tie in with revenue. If serveed with a number of retweets, most business owners will reply with “What does that mean?”.
Offer Tangible Services
You need action items to help reel in new clients. The key is to reach out in ways that are immediately helpful for business owners. A mix of pre-hire and post-hire services should be used. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Free SEO Audit: SEO audits provide clients with data to consider you for hire. Delivering on the audit will show your company goes out of its way for clients, and provides a valuable in for early follow-ups.
- Hold Free Webinars and Seminars: Nothing is better than free advice. Companies looking to improve their web presence will see you as an industry leader and will likely crave the Q&A at the end. Many clients are successfully landed at informational seminars. Remember those preconceived barriers? These are easier to address ahead of time, allowing you to plow through the obstacles and get a head start on trust.
- Refer-A-Friend: Businesses are successful when they network. Free mp3 players and gift cards for successful client referrals are a wonderful way to passively gain new clients and build trust.
You have to learn to affirm your client where they are while at the same time encouraging them to move in a more practical direction. Don’t be the know-it-all SEO agency. Treat people with respect and encourage them to go on an SEO journey with you. Relationships mature over time; and over time trust is built. People won’t care what you know until they know you care.