How to avoid bad clients, 5 questions to ask clients before working with them.
I don’t know about you but I have been instructing clients on improvements for their websites, their linking strategy, social media or content marketing only to be met with excuses and delays. I have been waiting on web developers, managers to sign off content or PR companies to produce content. I have been trying to get in touch with clients and hitting a void where no one replies to emails or answers the phone, clients changing their mind on strategy and focus or clients that want you to implement their latest whim based on an SEO article they read. These are bad clients.
How do I know about bad clients?
– I was a bad client once. I worked in a company that hired an SEO company and I was their liaison and I found myself annoyed by monthly phone calls and irritated by having to sign off content. I had to come up with content headline ideas each month and reply to forum threads that might or might not be relevant to our industry, most of which weren’t. This was not only an inconvenience but they didn’t know enough about our industry to make great suggestions. I was busy running the PPC accounts and didn’t have the time to give them, I wasn’t the right person for the job. This wasn’t a collaboration and not surprisingly it wasn’t a great success so it was doomed from the start.
I realise that things have come along since then but I remember that dreaded feeling when the phone call came in and I would inevitably have more work to do. Since then I have come up against similar situations but as the SEO not the client.
Before you sign a new client do a little research and ask them these questions:
- How long have you worked with the last SEO company, what went wrong? Do they change their SEO company regularly to ”keep them on their toes”? If so, it doesn’t sound like a company I would want to work with. Try and do some research and find out if any freelancers are talking about them. Use your instincts and try to read in-between the lines. If they say there was as lack of results then find out what results they were expecting and was this agreed by the SEO company.
- Who will be in charge of this project and what role do they have in the company? The person you will be liaising with can help or hinder the project, make sure they have a desire to see the project succeed. If you can speak with this person try and gauge whether they are the person best suited to the role. Do they have time to work with you? Do they understand what you are trying to achieve?
- What is your long-term goal for SEO on your website? If they talk about increasing traffic, keyword rankings or even PageRank as a long-term goal, they are likely to be a headache client. Surely increased revenue should be a priority, don’t they realise we can help improve their website reach, conversion, customer experience the list goes on.
Use this question to find out how much the client knows about SEO as this will give you an idea of their expectations and the type of client they may be.
- How would you expect to measure our success? What is the timetable for results? Are they realistic timetables? Do they have KPI’s that you can work towards and independently measure or do you have to rely on their internal data? You need to have achievable and measurable targets in order to know if you are on track that month. If you have to rely on a client’s data then you can’t make any decisions until you get it.
- Do you give out logins to accounts or content management systems? Trust is an important part of this relationship and if they don’t trust you enough to give you logins to certain accounts then this could be a very difficult client to take on.
In order for a website to be a success there needs to be a collaboration between the client and SEO company, there should be regular communication, mutual respect and a lot of trust. In fact, in an ideal world all relevant parties would collaborate including PPC, PR companies and any offline media.
When signing a new client you need to feel confident that the relationship is going to work, if not then it’s going to be a difficult and unrewarding time for you both.
Article by :
Bio: Julia Niven has been in the Digital Marketing industry since 2004 and has worked mainly within the Finance and Insurance market but has experience within manufacturers and SEO agencies. She has worked both within PPC and SEO roles, both managing day to day workloads and developing and running effective long-term strategy. https://uk.linkedin.com/in/julia-niven-9a1b96b