Stop Spewing Jargon and Report on Growth

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We recently landed a client who thanked us immediately after we closed the deal. Clients don’t usually thank us at this stage of the process; expressing thanks is a rare commodity in most businesses where people pay for a service. What surprised me was what she thanked us for.

“Thanks for not confusing us with loads of complicated technical talk,” she said.

It reminded me of the gulf that can creep between client and provider. As an online marketing advisor, I live in a world of jargon. Our clients don’t care. In any pitch session, we walk a tightrope between educating them and drowning them in detailed mumbo jumbo.

It’s for this reason I reminded myself recently to “keep the main thing the main thing!”

What is the main thing?

To answer, first put yourself in your clients’ shoes for a minute. They have just invited you, the expert, into their business they have devoted themselves to, perhaps a business to which they’ve devoted their life.

They share their passions and frustrations and are looking, cautiously, for you to solve a problem for them. They may see their problem as an SEO problem or see their need as an AdWords need, perhaps they need help with social media or in analysing their Google Analytics data. However, deep down, underneath all of these issues they are asking you one thing.

“Can you help me grow my business?”

Let’s suppose you land their business and you’ve been working with them for a month. What is the one thing they need from you?

A report? Well yes, a well-presented report is necessary. We use Raven to impress clients with comprehensive reports on how their online marketing has performed. But that report is full to the brim with data they don’t understand, except for one thing.

Clicks? Nope…
Impressions? No way!
Bounce Rate? Bounce what?
Time on Site? Whatever!?!
Conversions? Warmer…
Sales $ Eureka!!!

Clients only care about one thing. All the other metrics are useful, but in reality they only help support one figure. Sales! All your clients understand is dollars and cents. They just spent a stack of cash hiring you right?

We are marketers first; technology experts second. Marketers grow businesses via sales and return on investment. We use technology such as Google AdWords, Analytics, Facebook Advertising, etc., to generate those sales. But ultimately, it’s all about sales!

I recently attended a Google-sponsored Sales Masterclass in Sydney. The room was filled with intelligent people, people who seriously knew their stuff. However, the trainer, Alan Langshur, spent a considerable amount of time telling people to stop talking about the tools they use.

He urged us to look away from our screens and consider how we are growing our clients’ business. Helping our clients succeed is where the real value of any agency lies.

At TheOnlineCo., we spend a lot of time agonising over our reports, making sure everything is just right and ensuring we communicate our value to the client. But do they read our reports? Sadly, I think they skim them at best.

But let me show a report that highlights a 500% return on investment (ROI). Turning your $2,000 investment into $10,000 garners a whole lot more attention than a graph showing how many people visit your website.

Helping Clients Succeed

So how do we help our clients succeed? We measure online marketing success three ways.

No. 1 – E-Commerce websites are the easiest to figure out. People part with their money at the checkout, and you see the number in Google Analytics. Simple. Just don’t forget to set up goals correctly and place the figure at the top of your report.

No. 2 – Lead Generation Campaigns are slightly more complicated but not much. You need to determine the average value of a lead or a closed sale for your client’s business. Even estimates are better than no figure at all.

Then you need an estimate of how many leads you need to close a sale. I usually ask the question, “If you receive 10 phone calls, how many do you believe you should convert into a sale?” If a client tells you that their average order is $7,500 and they convert 20% of their leads into a sale, then each lead is worth $1,500.

If you drive 10 leads to their website, then they have potential sales of $15,000. So the $2,000 they invested in you, returned a substantial profit.

No. 3 – The third method is tracking ROI for soft conversions. Prompting people to sign up for an email newsletter is a perfect example of a soft lead. In this case, you have attracted an interested customer but they may be further up the sales funnel than someone who contacted you directly.

For this reason, you need to analyse how many people move from newsletter subscribers to paying customers. This number is generally a smaller percentage than a hard lead. You will need some historical data for this.

Make sure your client has a good software tool to nurture the client over time. We use Infusionsoft, which is a powerful method of segmenting customers based on interest level. It scores them according to how “hot” a lead they represent. You can then send them relevant, timely information to help move them through the sales funnel.

Track Phone Calls – Not Just Web Form Completions

There was a time when we were only able to track people who filled out a web form, which made proving ROI difficult. First, we knew the phone was ringing “out there somewhere,” but we didn’t know how often. Second, we had anecdotal evidence that for every lead the website delivered, there were two to three phone calls received.

The result was that any return on investment figures we presented looked thin. If they received 10 web leads, we couldn’t prove the value of their marketing. When we installed call tracking, we were then able to show them the 30 leads they received and the massive ROI we delivered. These clients then became very interested in our marketing reports.

In Australia, we use Google Call Forwarding numbers to track our AdWords conversions. This option is free, but it will only track AdWords phone calls, not SEO or Social Phone calls.

A superior option is to use a service like Jet Interactive. It will embed into your analytics and give you accurate information on how many calls you received and from which traffic source they originated. This becomes highly valuable information. It’s a paid service, but relatively inexpensive. You may need to do a Google search for “call tracking” in your area to find a local provider.

Practice Radical Honesty

I think I can hear you asking yourself a painful question. What if my campaign isn’t bringing my client a return on investment? Ouch.

Before you practice radical honesty and tell your client that the campaign you set up sucks, you need to rule out a few things.

One poor month doesn’t mean the campaign is a failure. It could be a seasonal issue, perhaps there was an error with your Google tagging or something similar. You need to monitor issues over a three-month period to determine if a problem exists.

If you have established that your campaign is underperforming over that period, you need to talk to your client about the steps you are taking to fix it. You may need to:

  • Update landing pages
  • Improve their AdWords campaigns
  • Adjust the keywords you are targeting
  • Take a new approach to your content marketing
  • Change tack on your social media voicing

The options are endless. Don’t dodge the truth. Don’t stay static. Just try something different. Get creative and turn the ship around.

If after trying everything possible to get your campaign on track, you still can’t make it profitable, you now have an ethical problem. If you can’t at least break even for your client, you are no longer helping them; you are hurting them. You need to have an honest discussion about whether you should continue working together.

Your clients will value your integrity, and you will sleep better at night knowing you did the right thing. Having clients whose campaigns aren’t working is bad for your business, both theirs and yours. You risk developing a poor reputation, damaging your brand and undermining your own confidence. These things can spark a downward spiral. This can all be avoided if you follow Alex Langshur’s advice and practice radical honesty.

The Main Thing

If you were to hire yourself, what would you most want from yourself? I’m fairly certain it would include a return on investment for your marketing dollars. This is one marketing metric you want to keep front and center at all times!