Keep it simple – explaining PPC to clients

Experienced PPC’ers know how important it is for the client to understand what is happening with their account. The client may not be familiar with the Conversion Optimizer. Many digital marketing managers may not know exactly what remarketing codes are currently installed on their site. When pulling keyword reports, managing bids, and reading industry blogs about the latest Adwords features is part of your daily routine, it can be tough to remember that marketing managers may not get down to this level of detail within paid search. If you’ve ever heard a couple of friends talking about their World of Warcraft characters, you know what I’m talking about.

Tips for communicating with clients

  • Use the client’s goals to determine what they are interested in hearing about. The fact that they have a PPC account and have asked you to manage it, is an indicator that they understand PPC can help them improve a certain aspect of their business. They’re trusting you to do this, so never miss a chance to prove that your efforts are working. While it can be ok to surface some nitty gritty details of account optimization, you should always relate them back to how it’s going to help your client meet their goals.
  • Give your client talking points they can repeat back in their own meetings. It’s your job to make them look good in front of their boss. If they can’t explain the work you’re doing then it’s time to pull back and reassess your approach. Putting myself in this “talking point” mindset often helps when compiling monthly reports for my clients. It’s safe to assume that some of your report is going to be repurposed or literally “copy and pasted” into your client’s own presentation. Make it easy for them to do so.
  • Avoid technical jargon and buzz words whenever possible. Every marketer is guilty of this, in fact, it has become the subject of numerous BuzzFeed lists. Keep in mind, terms you are innately familiar with will more than likely be completely new to the client, especially at the beginning of your engagement. I’ve found it helpful to include a glossary of paid search terms at the beginning of the first few reports. Often the person receiving the information may not want to ask a seemingly obvious question, and having a list of terms defined can help alleviate this.
  • To piggy back off of the last point, you should recognize the generation gap that likely exists between business owners and marketing directors (clients), and those of us managing paid search accounts. PPC is still an extremely new advertising medium with many of it’s experts being men and women in their mid 20′s, or fresh out of college. Putting us in charge of six figure Adwords & Bing accounts can be an issue for many clients who have worked for years to build their businesses to where they are today. You’re going to have to work to build their trust and confidence in your ability to meet their goals. This will take time. Going into the first meeting with a ton of complicated stats about lost impression shares and view-through conversion rates is probably not the best approach.
  • Pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues your client is giving throughout your conversation about their account. Are they staring blankly back at you as you explain why their cost per lead has risen month over month? Take a step back and remind them how the cost per lead is figured and why it is an important indicator of how the account is doing. Are they stopping you every three sentences to ask a question, or did they just let you talk for twenty minutes without asking any questions? Either scenario probably means they aren’t taking in everything you’re saying, and need clarification. It’s especially important to be mindful of these cues over a conference call where you can’t see how the client is reacting to the material. Be sure to speak slower than normal and pause frequently for questions.

Being mindful of these points can go a long way to strengthen the client-agency relationship. They are the ones paying you after all, and will always be interested in how the money is being spent. Remember to keep it simple, and save the jokes about the Bing Ads Editor for the office.