Recent surveys of companies involved in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) by Jupiter Research imply there are changes in store for client/SEM agencyrelationships. Gary Stein posts a very good article pointing out reasons why – along with suggestions for agencies on what they can do.
I think this can apply to SEO firms and clients as well, although the timeframe for an appropriate implementation for a SEO project is much longer for SEM. Setting clear expectations at the outset of a client/agency relationship is key for productive engagements.
However, clients often change direction anyway. The most often cited reason for change in the Jupiter study was that the agencies were not proactive enough and cost.
Changing agencies is common and those that do not pay attention to clients will lose them. Another common occurrence is an agency change as a result of staff changes within the client company.
We’ve learned that it is essential to be very proactive in those situations. As soon as there is an inkling that your contact on the client side might be moving on or that they’ve left, schedule an account review with theirsuperior ASAP. Your work must hold up under scrutiny at any time.
It’s critical for clients to have a relationship with someone on the agency side that can serve as a client advocate and is empowered to handle issues from routine reporting to putting out fires. Account managers are accountable and can develop a rapport with the client that reinforces long
Another good point from the article mentions strategy. Bring more to the table than implementation. Provide strategic direction for the client and be proactive about improvements. Demonstrate to your client the value your agency brings on a regular basis through active communication of results inalignment with the client’s overall strategy.
A recent article by Phoenix at Search Engine Roundtable points out issues with Big SEO and True SEO firms. There are several large SEO firms with a “churn and burn” mentality, signing up as many clients as they can with aggressive sales teams. The way these larger SEO firms treat clients on an ongoing basis by over promising on the sales side and under delivering on the implementation is certainly cause for dissatisfaction and churn.
Setting clear expectations starts with the sales process through the proposal and continues with the account manager, ongoing reporting and proactively demonstrating value. Clients, agencies and the industry as awhole is better served.