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How well do your PPC managers communicate with your clients?
The ability of your account managers to communicate may not be something you consider a top priority. You want growth and profitability, and soft skills are a distraction.
But consider this for a moment…
The growth and profitability of your agency are essentially dependent on two primary factors:
- Client retention – which delivers you a predictable and ongoing stream of revenue.
- Client acquisition – which builds on this base of predictable revenue and grows your business.
Most agencies focus on acquisition, and client retention becomes an afterthought.
We get it. After all, you’re growing and hiring at a rapid pace, so you need enough clients to withstand the high overheads. It’s all go, go, go. Get the clients in, onboard them as quickly as possible, and lock them into a retainer. Then, focus on the next win.
The problem with this way of thinking is it leaves you on a hamster wheel of spending money to acquire customers. Worse yet, this leaves your current clients feeling unloved. Not to mention that retaining a current customer is up to 7x cheaper than finding a new one.
So, if you want to grow your agency and avoid the stress-riddled peaks and troughs of revenue, you need to make client retention a priority.
One of the single biggest factors determining how long your clients stick around is your communication. Whoever it is in your agency that is handling the bulk of correspondence with your clients is the client retention hero. Whether this is the agency owner, or if it’s one of your PPC managers, you need to be 100% sure that this person can speak with authority. They need to sound like an expert, not an amateur.
But what type of “communication” are we talking about here?
The right type of communication
It’s not very helpful to suggest that you need to hire a PPC expert with great communication skills. That’s obvious. But actually doing so is not as easy as it sounds. You have to determine whether your Google AdWords manager has the right mix of these skills.
There are four elements that illustrate whether a PPC manager will converse with authority to your clients:
- They are timely. Your PPC manager needs to understand how often they should correspond with your clients. They also need to know which medium is most appropriate for the information they are conveying.
- They are authoritative. There needs to be a sense of clarity, expertise, and confidence that clients perceive when liaising with your Google AdWords manager.
- They are technically competent. They need to know the language and subject matter of the PPC campaigns. In the same way that you wouldn’t buy a car from someone who didn’t know it’s technical capacity, your clients wouldn’t buy PPC management from an account manager who doesn’t understand the elements of a campaign. This technical knowledge also comes into play when your client doesn’t understand the language of PPC themselves. If your PPC manager can educate the client and explain the results of the campaign in a way that they understand, it is going to create a positive perception of your agency.
- They are empathetic. As well as being technically competent, your account managers need to show empathy to the business owner who is paying for the service. All the technical stuff doesn’t matter if they can’t feel the change in their business as a result of the work you are doing.
Let’s take a closer look at how your PPC manager can illustrate all four of these traits, sound like an expert to your clients, and boost your client retention in the process.
How your PPC manager can sound like an expert and help boost client retention
Whether you hire a PPC expert in-house who is liaising with clients, or you are the one maintaining the client relationship in collaboration with a white label provider, here are six principles that will help you and your PPC manager sound like an expert in the client’s eyes:
1. Agree on goals with the client
The most important thing to do from the outset is to have clear, quantifiable goals that you and the client agree to. If you are using a white label provider for your PPC management, bring them into this goal-setting endeavor too so that everyone is on the same page.
If you don’t have a clear outcome in mind – something tangible that you and your PPC manager can work towards – it’s a recipe for a poor experience for the client.
2. Define clear boundaries
Once you know what you are trying to achieve together, then you need to determine exactly who is responsible for what. It needs to be clear at this point what you, as the agency owner, will be doing. What your white label PPC manager will be doing (if you have one), and what the client’s input into the campaigns, ad copy or landing page will be (if any).
The last thing you want is to be having a discussion in six weeks’ time about something the client was expecting you to do but you had perceived to be out of scope. This gap in communication is a very common one, and it creates tension and resentment which turns into customer churn if you don’t manage it well.
3. Know the language of PPC
Your PPC manager should have a good understanding of the PPC language and key terms. But if you’re not a PPC expert yourself then you will need to start doing some homework before speaking with clients about it.
Key terms like cost-per-click, impressions, and cost-per-lead are the starting point – a bare minimum. Without a base level of understanding of this language, it becomes very hard to hire a PPC expert who you can trust to converse with clients, and it’s impossible for you to do so yourself.
This language is pretty easy to pick up. Speak to your white label PPC manager, go to Google AdWords and familiarize yourself with the platform, or take a short online course about running PPC campaigns. You can get up to speed on an intermediary level pretty quickly.
4. Set a suitable schedule
The best way to make sure your interactions are timely is to set the schedule of correspondence early and lay the foundation for what your clients expect. If it’s a new account then conversations will be fairly frequent in the onboarding phase. Then, once the account is live, you’ll most likely want to move to a set weekly schedule for the first few months.
As the account matures this hands-on touch is less important because you have built a relationship of trust with the client. However, it’s still important to determine how often you will interact, which mediums you will use for communication, and what the expectations are to turnaround an answer to a question.
Along with this schedule, lock-in a regular cadence of going through the PPC campaign performance reports with the client. You may do this yourself, or you can have your PPC manager talk directly with the client. Ensure that you are very clear about the outcomes you are showing them in the report, because if they don’t understand, then it is hard for them to rationalize the value they are getting from the service.
If you use a white label PPC provider, they will be able to arm you with all of the collateral you need before jumping on a client call. What’s important, what’s not important, what the client’s likely issues or concerns may be, and what the biggest wins and successes have been. Illustrating these points to your client will reiterate the value of working together and help retain their account.
5. Accept that you don’t know every answer
You and your PPC manager don’t have to know every answer to every question that the client may ask. Don’t ever put off making a client call because you are concerned they will ask you a question you don’t know the answer to. That’s how relationships die. If you don’t communicate, the client will perceive you don’t care. Set the schedule and stick to it.
If a client asks you a technically complex question and you don’t know the answer, be honest. “I don’t know the answer to that. I’m your PPC manager on this account, but the technical team is the one turning the wheels of the campaign. Let me check with them, and I will come back to you with an answer about this.”
Most of the time your client is going to respect your honesty, as long as you follow through with finding the answer they are looking for.
6. Make sure you do it
Finally, make sure you engage with clients regularly. Good news or bad, it’s absolutely essential that the client feels your presence.
One thing we see agencies do, which I would not recommend, is to go silent. If there is adversity with a PPC campaign and there needs to be bad news delivered to a client, they choose to hide it. In my experience, this will always come back to bite you in the future.
It’s super important that whether it’s good news or bad news, that you communicate both with equal vigor and consistency. Consistency builds trust because the client knows you aren’t hiding anything from them. This trust results in retaining more customers in the long term.
The importance of client retention cannot be underestimated in the agency business model. The cost of acquiring a new customer is continually rising with the low-barrier to entry for digital agencies in today’s ecosystem. So to continue growing and being profitable requires diligence when it comes to keeping your current client base happy and on track.
Whichever way you look at it, communication is the key to client retention. Most of the time your PPC manager is the one who holds this key, which means that the prosperity of your business is reliant on the interpersonal skills and authoritative perception of your team.
Do your PPC managers portray a sense of expertise when they communicate with clients?
If they don’t, then you need to assess where this part of your business can be improved. Get on the front foot with your clients by setting goals, creating boundaries, and agreeing on an interaction schedule.
Be an authority, not an amateur.