Sunday, December 23, 2012

SEO Client Retention:
The Key to Long-Term SEO/M Business Success

Building a successful SEO/M consultancy is hard. There’s a lot of competition and a lot of snake oil, SEO voodoo floating around the web, so building a solid reputation – one that leads to referrals and repeat business is essential to long-term business growth.

Keep 'em coming back
Once you have a client, you have to keep that client coming back because of the quality services and opinions you offer. You have to build a client base of happy clients. They come back for more. They’re also your best salespeople.

Here are some suggestions for keeping the customer satisfied.

1. Go through an extensive discovery phase. Determine such things as the target demographic, market competition, unique selling position, client objectives, challenges – a top-down analysis of what needs doing. A few hours more at this stage will save days of re-dos in the weeks ahead.

2. Prepare a written SOW. A statement of work describes the work to be undertaken (usually in chronological order), approval milestones, payment schedule, who’s going to do what. The more complete the SOW the more accurate the client’s expectations. Clients hate surprises so get on the same page early.

3. Give a stake to the client. No client is going to quibble with a strategy or design that s/he proposed. Instead of presenting finished pages and data analysis, engage the client and incorporate his or her suggestions into the final product. As best you can, let the client “own” the project.

4. Go proactive. In everything. Offer suggestions and counsel beyond the expectations of the client. If you discover an error you’ve made, call the client to let her know you’re on top of it.

5. Communicate. A lot. Not just approvals, though they’re essential to increased productivity, but also discuss implementation strategies, guerilla marketing tactics and opportunities for future growth of the client’s business.

6. Fix it. If the client ain’t happy, fix it. Period. A happy client will talk you up through his network. An unhappy client will bad mouth you to anyone who will listen. Rely on your SOW only as a last resort. Keep the client happy – even if it’s a loss leader for you.

Growing a stable of regular clients takes time and trust building. It’s an on-going process. But once your regulars are making up 75% of your work time, you don’t have to constantly worry about where the next job is coming from.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just What IS Good Copy Writing? Savvy Clients Want To Know

                            TREAT READERS RIGHT

Writing good site text is a complex mixture of defining benefits and keeping visitors interested, i.e. enhancing the on-site experience with good information that’s short on sales hype, long on useful tips and suggestions.

Here are some tactics that have worked for my clients:

1. There are three topics about which most readers are interested: health (nutrition, fitness, diseases, etc.), family (how-to’s, relations, child-rearing) and finances (aka money. How to make, save, spend or stretch it.) Choose a topic in one of these areas. Combine two interests, as in “10 Ways to Improve Family Nutrition.”

2. Engage the reader. Befriend the reader. Encourage the reader with good, useful information. Don’t make the reader angry.

3. Write like you talk. Don’t write words to be read, write words that are heard in the reader’s brain. You don’t say, “I am going to the kitchen.” You say, “I’m going to the kitchen.” Pretend there’s someone sitting next to you. Talk to that figment and type what you say. Then, clean it up for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

4. Readers don’t want to learn, they want to discover. Learning connotes homework. Discovery connotes excitement. Don’t teach, create a map with words that leads to a helpful, interesting or funny discovery.

5. Use short blocks of text, like this post. Layout is important to eye scan and web readers rarely read, they scan and small blocks of text are more easily scanned. That’s why it’s a good idea to use titles, headers and sub-heads to raise the curiosity of the reader. To intrigue. It’s a pleasant discovery. (See point 4.)

6. Practice writing in a number of voices so you can take on any writing job. A corporate white paper uses different wording than a quick how-to written for parents. A business plan has a different tone than a piece on oddities in Nebraska. The more voices you develop, the more readable and engaging your writing.

7. Respect the reader. S/he takes the time to read what you write so keep it interesting, on point and short. No extra words.

8. Eliminate qualifiers. Not: We strive to achieve client satisfaction. Strive and you might fail. Eliminate the qualifier: We achieve client satisfaction. Not “Our widget CAN increase production by 300%.” Eliminate all qualifiers: “Our widget increases production by 300%” This gives writing authority and confidence.

There’s more, but that’s a start. The one thing you don’t want to do is anger readers. Or annoy them. Or push their buttons. Be straight with them and they’ll read what you write. 

Paul Lalley