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Introducing Your Clients to the Online World: Baby Steps

If you’re an agency dealing with online marketing in any sense (Web Design, Adwords, SEO) you’ve probably noticed one thing all your clients have in common. Most if not all are completely unprepared for what is to come when you hand over the keys to their shiny new website, or at the start of their online campaigns. Never fear though, because this is actually a common occurrence. And I want to try to pin down exactly why this happens and what you should do to try and avoid these issues from day one.

Business Baby StepsMarketing Spam Calls

To all you local SEO’ers/marketers out there. Especially if you do a lot of citations and submissions to local directories. Very early on you will learn that one of the issues that will happen is your client will receive calls from random “online directories”, claiming to work with you (the client’s online marketing agency), and that they need to either upgrade or purchase a listing if they ever want results. The issue here is that your average local business doesn’t know how to deal with this and sometimes they can get pulled into it. When it comes to the “online stuff” many businesses just don’t have a clue. We (as online marketing agencies) have to literally hold their hand through the process. Here are a couple of things you can do to avoid this:

  • Give them a heads up – Tell your client, that starting now (the day they sign up) you will begin to be inundated with calls, emails, tweets, and whatever else demanding your attention and money. Get them to forward these along to you to help them determine whether or not this is legitimate. 
  • Tell them what to do – Give them steps to follow, if someone gives you a call and you can’t be sure they’re legit always direct them to a member of the online marketing team.

Filtering out the right calls though is really tough, because sometimes Google will even call to verify things about the business, (check out Andrew’s experience with that here). But in general passing things from client straight to the head of their marketing is the best thing for all parties involved.

New Website Walk Through

This is a big one. When people get ahold of their shiny new website they can get really excited. And when people get excited stuff usually breaks. Now I know for some people a simple email detailing things may work. But if you’re not sure if the point will get across, take some time and meet up with them. In person. Spend some time going over with things, (especially if it’s a custom CMS or theme) and give them a chance to ask questions. Also set boundaries. Nowadays most websites are powered by a CMS of some sort. And with any CMS you need to tell clients, “In this area it’s very easy to screw things up”. It makes them stop and think every time they hit save. I would rather make changes to the site than having to go fix everything after it’s all broken. Even if they do know a little of what’s going on, making sure they communicate any changes they have made or plan to make so that you can direct them if need be is absolutely essential.

Make Yourself Accessible

Whether you have a team leader, or a spokesperson that the client deals with directly, making sure your clients know that you have a team member to answer questions is a big deal. I’m not saying you have to bend over backwards for every client and devote all your time to them, but just being able to take a five minute call or reply back is essential for helping any business, much the same as you would a baby, into the online world. We sometimes forget about the rest of the people in the world who this doesn’t come naturally to. Being a user and being in that mindset really helps you to understand where your clients are coming from. If you forget that then it’s time to take a step back and get acquainted with how real life works again (trust me it’s a necessity).

Your agency may have different ways of dealing with some of the problems above, but I have a feeling that most members of your agency have other things to rather than set up 301 redirects every time the URL structure gets changed. Or that you would rather avoid the grief of finding out that a client has been paying for an overpriced listing/service (Yellowpages anyone?) Preparing customers for online not only gives them peace of mind as the venture into this new world, but it makes your life easier as an agency so that you can avoid as many issues as possible in the future.