3 Client Communication Tactics That Keep Everyone on the Same Page
A couple weeks ago I found myself in a Twitter chat (#SEOChat) discussing amongst my peers SEO mistakes and the lessons we’ve taken away from our wrong turns.
The Q&A session was pretty straight forward: what is one SEO blunder you’re willing to fess up to; what happened as a result of the blunder; what did you learn from the blunder; etc.
It was interesting hearing everyone’s tales of sweet sorrow, but what I found really interesting was the prominent overarching theme that became clear as everyone shared the lessons they learned from their blunders and the actions they were taking to make sure their mistakes weren’t repeated.
As it turns out, the SEOs in the chat didn’t need a bunch of different solutions to solve a bunch of different problems; they just needed one common solution — improved communication.
Inspired by this chat, I decided to have a chat about client communication with some members of the Bruce Clay, Inc. team. My biggest takeaway from these conversations? A reminder that regular and up-front communication is essential, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to do it right.
- Educate clients early
- Ask your clients about their goals
- Make light interactions a regular thing
- FAQ: How can businesses enhance client relationships through effective communication strategies?
Here are three communication tactics we implement at Bruce Clay, Inc. that you might find easy to apply and useful in your own work.
3 Actions That Keep the Lines of Communication Flowing
You can’t be with your clients 100% of the time. So, how do you make sure their internal teams are making decisions that positively contribute to your optimization efforts, rather than hurt them?
We’ve found that education is truly the key to keeping clients and their internal teams consistently working with us, rather than against us.
Informally I call this the “it’s better to have a bunch of people on the same page working together, than a bunch of people cancelling each other’s efforts out because no one is talking and one person doesn’t know what is going on” proactive client education strategy.
At Bruce Clay, Inc., we get the education process started right away at the onset of our client relationships by requiring that all new clients attend our SEO training. At the training, our clients learn about the fundamentals of SEO, the realities of Google penalties, the difference between white- and black-hat techniques, and — critically — what we consider to be “major” website changes and when they should consult us before diving into a redirect or other big amendment head first.
If you want to do a multi-day training like this to onboard your clients, all you need is a projector and a meeting room or other space that will fit your client’s internal online marketing representatives.
If you don’t have the capacity to onboard clients with multi-day training programs, creating a brief educational YouTube video could be a smaller scale option. If a video isn’t really your style, a thorough PDF report could work, or — if you really want to wear the minimum flair — you could simply ask your client to invite anyone who works on their website to your initial client meeting and get in an hour of education that way.
How much time you take to educate and “onboard” your new clients will depend on your needs, and theirs. Whatever route you take, just remember that the big-picture point is to get everyone on the same page so that your client’s internal teams know what initiatives you should be involved with so they’re working with rather than against you.
There is incredible value in getting to know the burning desires and long-term plans of your clients beyond ROI and KPIs. What kind of a company do they want to be? In a perfect world with no limitations, what do they want to accomplish?
In addition to helping you build trust and a deeper ingrained loyalty with your clients, asking your clients about their plans below the surface level is also a great way to uncover and redirect potential problems before they become problems. Like — for instance — say your fictitious client AwesomeCookies tells you they’ve always wanted to redirect their current AwesomeCookies.net website to AwesomeCookies.com if it ever becomes available. Knowing this big-picture plan ahead of time means you can warn AwesomeCookies about the dangers of carelessly 301-redirecting a website to a newly acquired URL, which could prevent them from doing it on their own and give you time to make sure there aren’t any penalties attached to their dream redirect.
This doesn’t have to be a big to-do, and you shouldn’t charge your clients for this kind of regular communication.
This type of communication can be as brief or verbose as the scenario dictates, but for the most part what we’re recommending is just short, regular emails that keep you, the project, and your services at the top of the client’s mind. The idea is to make sure your clients feel like you are truly an indispensable go-to source that helps them stay at the forefront of the industry and — perhaps more importantly — for them to feel like you are accessible and like they have your full support.
Keeping clients up to date on changes to industry best practices as they happen can also make communicating optimization recommendations a lot easier. This also means that you can keep them updated on the big picture since you won’t have to explain so much of the “why” backstory in so much detail if they are already up to speed.
How often you communicate with your client and what is included in these communications will vary from client to client. You may discover that some clients find weekly or even daily communication essential to your working relationship, while others favor a single monthly touch base.
Talk to your clients and see what they prefer. Then, set a client communication schedule to remind yourself when it’s time to touch base with each client. This last step is especially important if you have several clients that you are managing.
Don’t Reinvent The Communication Wheel: Just Do It!
None of these client communication techniques should be considered groundbreaking or revolutionary by any means. The key takeaway here is that they should all be considered.
Communication gets you and your clients on the same page, helps keep everyone working in sync towards a common goal, and keeps client/consultant trust levels high. It’s never been a novel concept, and the trick isn’t to try to make it novel. The “trick” is not to forget about it, to work it into your regular process, and to remember to do it in a way that meets your needs and your client’s needs.
Are there ways your team could improve the way you communicate with your clients? Make a list for yourself, and feel free to share your strategies with us in the comments section below.
Looking for a communicative, client-centered SEO agency to improve your site? Let’s work together.
One of the keys to business success lies in cultivating and maintaining strong client relationships, and effective communication strategies are an integral component in reaching this goal. I specialize in this area and will assist you with developing strategies to enhance client relations through effective dialogues.
- Understanding Your Clients
Effective communication begins with an intimate knowledge of your client. Take time to gain an in-depth knowledge of their needs, expectations, and preferences so you can tailor your messages according to them and show your dedication.
- Open and Transparent Communication
Transparency is the cornerstone of trust. Be honest with your clients, even when delivering unfavorable news. Communication is key when building long-term relationships, and your clients will appreciate being able to depend on you no matter the circumstance.
- Consistency Is Key
Consistency in your communication style and frequency is vital. Establish a routine for check-ins and updates, and stick to it. This predictability ensures that clients always know what to expect from you, creating a sense of reliability and stability.
- Active Listening
Listening is a fundamental skill in communication. Pay attention to your client’s concerns, questions, and feedback. Ask follow-up questions to demonstrate your involvement. This will not only build trust but will allow you to tailor services better meet their needs.
- Utilize Various Communication Channels
Different clients have different communication preferences. Some may prefer emails, while others prefer phone calls or in-person meetings. To enhance relationships, adapt to your client’s preferred channels. Be versatile in your communication methods.
Step-by-Step Procedure for Enhancing Client Relationships
- Conduct thorough client research and segmentation to understand their unique needs and preferences.
- Establish a clear and consistent communication plan, including each client’s frequency and mode of communication.
- Prioritize transparency and honesty in your interactions, even when delivering challenging information.
- Develop active listening skills, ensuring clients feel heard and valued.
- Be adaptable in your communication methods, catering to each client’s preferences.
- Maintain a dedicated client relationship team if possible, ensuring clients have a consistent point of contact.
- Implement client feedback mechanisms, allowing them to express their opinions and concerns.
- Continuously assess and improve your communication strategies based on client feedback.
- Ensure all team members are well-versed in client communication best practices.
- Regularly update clients on relevant industry news, changes, or opportunities that may impact their business.
- Show appreciation through personalized gestures, such as thank-you notes or small gifts on special occasions.
- Implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system to keep track of client interactions and history.
- Foster a client-centric culture within your organization, emphasizing the importance of client relationships at all levels.
- Develop a client communication playbook with guidelines for team members.
- Hold regular training sessions to enhance your team’s communication skills.
- Set clear goals and KPIs for client communication and track your progress.
- Resolve client issues promptly and professionally, showing your commitment to their satisfaction.
- Celebrate milestones and achievements together with your clients.
- Stay updated on industry trends and advancements so you can provide valuable insights to your clients.
- Continually seek feedback from your clients on the quality of your communication and services.
Communication strategies can be an invaluable way to fortify client relationships, but this takes effort. Successful client management requires having an in-depth knowledge of your clients as well as open, honest dialogue. Following these steps will lead to long-lasting and rewarding client relations while continuously working to enhance them.
This article was updated on November 14, 2023.