SEO, inbound marketing, digital marketing, growth hacking or whatever you want to call it, one thing which is definite that the idea of online marketing is increasing and companies are now heavily investing in this area. According to multiple studies, the demand for SEO professionals is increasing like never before. To fulfill this demand, SEO service providers are expanding and operating with 3 to 4 clients within their pocket – the quality of the expansion is debatable though (and out of the scope).
I have luckily experienced several environments, be it in an agency, in-house, as a remote worker, as a freelancer and even in a consultancy – they all are different, but my current position has taught me some new and very important lessons with regards to business development and client management. And reading this post by Jon Cooper recently got me thinking of why not compile all of them in the form of this blog post to help other digital marketers and agencies know what questions they should ask from their clients at different stages throughout the whole process. So here it is!
Before Any Commitments:
One of the most important things I keep in mind while talking to potential clients is not to commit to something that I cannot deliver. There are tons of different digital marketing agencies available in my country and globally as well, but unfortunately, many of them fail to fulfill their promise which is why many digital marketing clients are unhappy with their SEO/digital marketing agency.
Here are some questions that you should ask before you commit to anything:
What exactly do you offer (products/services offering) and how does it solve people’s problems?
How is your brand unique from your competitors (USP)?
How is your business performing currently and what expectations do you have from our SEO/digital marketing services?
What specific services are you looking for – Rankings, Conversion, traffic, branding the complete package?
Have you ever tried a similar kind of service before? If yes, then what made you quit that service provider and opt for us?
The questions above are necessary so that you can understand the client and their expectations from you and your services. At an initial stage, You need to figure out what your client is looking for from your services, what type of client they are and whether you both will be compatible in the long run or not.
After asking these question, if there is still confusion lurking around or you get negative vibes, refuse straight away as having no client is much better than having a bad client – personal opinion!
Understand the Business
When – and if you plan to say yes to the potential client, it is imperative to understand their business so that you can find the gaps easily and help your client nurture and grow, and capture their target market’s attention.
As you are working on their digital marketing strategy, so keep your questions bent more towards online marketing.
What percentage of total conversions are you getting from your website at the moment and what do you think should be the ideal percentage?
What is your target audience and where and how do you think they usually spend their time online?
What do you want your audience to do on the website – contact form filling, buy a product, signup or more?
What is the average life of a customer and how exactly does the customer cycle look like?
What ideas do you have in mind in order to increase your current conversion rate?
Every business has its highs and lows; how does the calendar work for your business?
What are other online marketing channels you using at the moment?
Are you or were you the victim of any Google update?
These questions are very important to be answered in detail from the client as this will help you align your digital marketing strategy with their corporate strategy. It will also help you analyze how much work is required to achieve the desired goals.
Understand the Community
Now, you should be asking the question that will help you understand their community and social reach so that you can improvise on social strategy. Remember they know their industry and audience better so ask them questions that help you get more insight about how their target audience communicates and interacts with the brand.
What social media platforms you think are popular in the industry?
Does your brand have a voice and personality that you can portray on the social media?
Do you have a place for audiences to interact with the brand, i.e a blog, forum, etc? And how much traffic are you getting at the moment from those areas?
If you receive detailed and accurate answers to the above-given questions, you probably are going to design an unbeatable social media strategy for your client. Clients usually know much about their industry and audience; they can somehow explain it to you in black and white. It’s your job as a consultant/agency to ask the right kind of questions and get detailed answers so that the overall campaign could be much more effective.
Actual Goals and Success Parameters
Obviously, you must have set some goals to measure your project’s progress. Try to ask questions which would give you a clear idea of how much work is required in order to meet expected targets.What are the few basic keywords you ideally want to rank for?
Which competitors have a direct impact on market sales and how do you ideally want to beat them?
What have you done in the past with regards to SEO and digital marketing on your brand’s website?
Are you working with any PR agency? What are they doing for you?
Do you do any offline marketing? If yes, what are its specifics and is there a chance of integrating it with online marketing?
Especially in the case of hardcore SEO, these questions are extremely important as the answers to these will help you understand what your client actually wants and how they see things. If your client’s expectations and the view is contradicting the data you have collected, you can talk to them and discuss the findings.
Availability of Resources
This is one section that most SEOs either forget or do not ask the client at all as they consider it irrelevant. In my opinion, this section is totally relevant as you never know how big and valuable links can be hidden in the answer of these questions:
Can we have access to your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools?
Can we use the company email address for outreach?
Are you in the process of making any change on your website?
Do you have website developers and designers in-house?
Do you have any content assets which they have created in the past and have not used some reason or the other?
Do you have the budget to invest on charity, sponsorship, and contests?
What organizations and associations are you associated to?
Are you working with any mainstream and popular client?
Have you ever worked with any PR agency before?
Is your business directly or indirectly involved in any eco-friendly or non-profit work?
The reason for asking these types of questions is because they will normally give you an idea of the content the client already has and how you can use that content to build some quality links back to the website. If the client had worked with a nonprofit or PR agency before, there is a good chance that you can outreach and get a link for your client. If they have any other content assent, most probably you can also use it online and get few quality links from different relevant websites back to your client’s website.
Mostly SEO asks these questions in the middle of their contract. At times answers may surprise them and they silently have to change their game plan. The idea is to ask lots of questions first and gathers as much data about the client and his business as possible.Remember, the more information you will have about the brand, the better marketing strategy you will come up with.
Next time when you have a new client, don’t think much, just bookmark this post and send it to your client to get all the answers and proceed from there accordingly.
Obviously, I am writing this post, keeping my personal experiences in mind; and different people may and can have different opinions. If you have any questions or suggestions than the ones I have, please share it in the comment section.
At SEtalks, we convince search engines to talk about our client’s businesses. Via our upbeat strategies and innovative techniques, we strengthen the online presence for businesses. We work on the motto “We win only when our clients do.”