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Communicating with clients about PPC strategies and campaign performance is very important. In this week’s PPCChat session, host Julie F Bacchini sought PPCers views on the channels they use generally for client communication. the most challenging communication, the nature of most of their communication, and more.

Q1: Do you have regular scheduled communication times or methods for your clients? If so, what is that cadence or pace (monthly, weekly, daily, etc.)? Does it vary by client?

It varies by client. Try to do once per month but some clients need more attention and some less & pay accordingly. @selley2134

It depends on the size/budget of clients. It’s sometimes weekly, but the smaller ones are monthly, there’s even one that only needs one every two months. But there are more frequent ad hoc emails for those ones. @ClixMarketing

Yes! we have regular status meetings, & we often hop on calls in-between for new launches. Traffic sheets are shared documents we use together with creative teams, and of course there are monthly reports & larger presentations. @JuliaVyse

Yes! Largely depends on the client and their effort size, but usually weekly or biweekly calls. Larger the client effort, more frequent the calls. @cjsoldwisch

Totally varies by client. Our smallest small business clients are mostly hands-off with a monthly report. Just emails, mostly. Some of our larger clients are weekly or sometimes daily, if there’s an active ongoing need. @gilgildner

We do! It depends on the client and their preferences. Nobody is weekly (too much change = can’t find where the results came from). Everyone gets reports monthly and can ask for a call, and we check in a least quarterly. More frequently for larger clients. @amaliaefowler

Usually will have weekly calls and QBRs with bigger clients. I’m pretty flexible with all my clients and try to make myself available whenever they need to talk. @ValenciaSEM

My best clients get weekly calls that they can choose whether to attend or not. Everyone else is monthly. I also turn a lot of my clients into friends, so we often chat on FB messenger/Gchat/slack/linkedin. @navahf

Few grandfathered into weekly. Otherwise, we do monthly for most clients. We can talk all the time or we can work on your ad account. You can not have both. Especially since we don’t use AMs and have broken telephone. @duanebrown

This varies by client, Plan levels and communication preferences. We run everything from weekly to quarterly, from all written to in person. @ynotweb

While it can vary from client to client, I’ve found that weekly scheduled communication tends to be what ends up occurring. Love the clients I work with so the frequent cadence is alright with me. @BrettBodofsky

I’m very blessed to have “trainable” clients who understand meetings are for strategy not going over numbers that can be addressed in an email. @navahf

My scheduled interactions are almost always monthly. More frequently with new clients, but monthly is what I prefer for scheduled comms. @NeptuneMoon

It all depends on the client and their needs/preferences. We try to have frequent written communication with them always. Some, with more complex needs, have bi-weekly or monthly meetings. @snaptechmktg

For me, it has varied. My favorite cadence though is biweekly or monthly meetings/calls with more frequent communication by email (or a project mgmt tool) as needed in between. We’re all busy and meeting more than needed often comes at the expense of good execution. @akaEmmaLouise

Yes. Depending on scope, formal meetings can be frequent as daily, and as infrequent as quarterly. Always open for chat/email/calls, providing they dont get abusive of the time. @JonKagan

Varies by client size/needs/items to discuss. I love an ad hoc call to reduce back and forth on email, so for me a quick 30 minute call can go a long way! This approach has also helped me personally relieve any stress around client sentiment. @sonika_chandra

It depends on the client but we’re in contact with everyone pretty frequently. Sometimes it’s just a quick update but we generally send a bi-weekly and monthly report to touch base with them. @ameetkhabra

Most things can be an email. To much time wasted having calls just to have calls, so some clients feel like they are being productive. Unless it’s Black Friday or a major product launch. We can communicate very well via email. ALSO NO SLACK. I’m not an employee. @duanebrown

It varies, some I have scheduled calls in and others it’s just a monthly call after reports go out and gets scheduled then. @tiffanyjshears

This varies by client. For agency mandates, I’d make sure to schedule monthly reporting sessions to review data, as well as plan next steps for future campaigns. In the performance space, communication is more regular. Some clients request weekly/bi-weekly calls. @j_bertho

Q2: What is the nature of most of your client/stakeholder communication – reporting performance, answering questions, asking them questions, etc.?

This depends on the client and their needs. Most of my current partners are interested in status updates to cover many campaigns regularly. But others like to focus on results and organize our conversations around reporting. @JuliaVyse

Again a real mix depending on the client. Early on its more education / numbers / introducing them to our process. Later on its reporting but really strategy and that feedback we need from not being internal AND from losing data visibility. @amaliaefowler

Typically ranges from reviewing in progress items, clarifying any questions, dashboard walkthroughs and performance/reporting updates. @sonika_chandra

Monthly meetings are set up to be “reporting calls” we usually spend about 1/2 or 1/3 going over last months performance & the rest brainstorming next tests & confirming next steps on the account plus any updates on their side. @selley2134

I am against having comms about a report and then just reading the numbers. Years ago – that’s how I used to to do it. Now it’s more like – “hi, have you seen the report I sent abt an hr ago? Great, do you have any questions”. And we go from there. @ClixMarketing

With the death of third-party cookies and our scope generally being ads/SEO, we need to collaborate with them and their internal teams on what they’re doing to get more first party data & to take a real holistic look at results (revenue, closed leads, etc) @amaliaefowler

Proactivity/recos, status updates/PM, reporting, exchanging of lobster based recipes. @JonKagan

We have built good systems (in Data Studio) to provide live performance updates for most clients, especially ecommerce, but our monthly report is more task/strategy focused. If we need a phone call, we ask/answer questions and also just develop relationships. @gilgildner

The bi-weekly and monthly touch points are reporting. Any other touch point is usually updates or questions from either side. @ameetkhabra

Again, largely depends on the client. For some, I have reporting cadences where I present results, ask for any updates on their end and have time for Qs. Other clients, I have additional dedicated planning/task meetings that we don’t really discuss results in. @cjsoldwisch

Most of the communication I initiate is about reporting and performance. Or questions that I need answers to or insight on as I am working in the accounts that can’t wait until our next scheduled time. @NeptuneMoon

Comms should be about explaining things that isn’t easily understood not just going – “traffic increased because CTR improved”. Quality over quantity! @TheMarketingAnu

The bulk of our communications is reporting performance with the majority of our communication TIME spent on strategy. Discussions about biz direction or opportunities are in depth, initial performance reports educational, and ongoing communications are kept brief. @ynotweb

As a client, our agency comms typically surround the various projects/campaigns we have in the works. It’s more about learnings, feedback loops, and what’s next. I can read numbers in a report on my own, I’d rather spend time on the why and how. @akaEmmaLouise

We always do an immersive monthly report, which often leads to questions. We aim to be as collaborative as possible, so we make sure to check in on their business and goals, keep them informed of strategy shifts, and let them know about any industry updates. @snaptechmktg

25% reporting performance 20% reviewing action items 15% growth options 25% reviewing what they’re doing in other channels 15% talking about what are plans are for the weekend. @ValenciaSEM

A lot of my calls are about strategies and what we can do to increase performance. They can also be about reviewing and copies or talking about their business and any changes that might affect the current strategy. @tiffanyjshears

Our agenda always looks like this unless client has something they need to talk about: 1. Paid Media Reporting 2. Ad Creative Requests 3. Up Coming Launches, Projects & Initiatives 4. Any Changes TSR Should Be Aware Of. @duanebrown

This tends to be customized according to client type. For the most part, reviewing data is key as it helps unlock potential opportunities for campaign scaling and performance. I also act as an advior/consultant on all marketing aspects with clients. @j_bertho

Q3: What methods or channels do you generally use for client/stakeholder communication – email, Slack, project management platform, something else?

Good old fashioned email and calls works for us. Teams is good for conf calls and connection to Sharepoint, but rather than onboard to various different client mgmt tools, we use shared docs, shared folders and our voices. @JuliaVyse

We use a triage approach: emergency “now” situations require meetings/phone, things that need done today are usually text/emails, and things that need done this month are almost always emails. @gilgildner

Depends how much I like them. My favs get my direct cell, and g-chat and get added to my snarcastic group chat where we exchange memes. The ones I don’t like aren’t given my number and they have to go sherlock holmes to find it. @JonKagan

I try to use only email and calls. I feel like chat is a pandoras box that I am afraid to open, but seems like others find it useful? @selley2134

Email and phone for sure. I have also been part of project management platforms to keep things easier to find by project. I do not do Slack. And if you text me, it damn well better really truly be that important or urgent. @NeptuneMoon

Project management system – everyone Email – those who refuse to use the PM system Calls – Email isn’t a replacement for this. You still need to connect with your clients and calls can make a difference. Just not super frequently. @amaliaefowler

Email and phone (or some video conferencing tool). Messenger tools like slack can open a whole can of – no respect for boundaries – worms. @ClixMarketing

Email and Slack primarily. Slack for quick stuff, email for lengthier stuff. @BrettBodofsky

We generally use email and that oft-maligned telephone. For the occasional multi-person or multi-topic discussion, a scheduled zoom/skype or in person. I do miss the occasional (annual) meeting of minds in person. No “on demand” access. @ynotweb

The majority of our written communication is conducted over Basecamp and email. We use Zoom for our meetings and sometimes, a good old-fashioned phone call is the best way to connect with someone. @snaptechmktg

I am just going to add this here too – be cognizant of people’s time zones, please when communicating asynchronously. I had a client who would ping on ALL places he could at all hours. Had to shut that down, but it should not have even been necessary to do so. @NeptuneMoon

I’m “platform agnostic” but usually I try to use whatever the client already has integrated at their company so I can tie in seamlessly. @ValenciaSEM

Phone calls and camera calls are crucial to gaining amazong client relationships. Emails are also key to communicate in between so you can create folders, save emails and have a way to find the information again. @tiffanyjshears

Depends on the agency. One uses Teams (which I hate; so hard to switch between instances), one is primarily email but also has a Slack channel set up (which we rarely use), others are just email. I would prefer a more organized tool like Asana or Basecamp though. @akaEmmaLouise

Keeping it tight… Phone or video calls and email. You can have any comms method you want as long as it is one of those three. @duanebrown

Communication is mostly done via email and SMS. Skype/Slack is more conversational for some vendors/lead buyers. I’ve onboarded some clients onto PM platforms like Basecamp & Asana, which just led to further confusion and resistance. @j_bertho

Basecamp, email, and slack for some clients! @sonika_chandra

Q4: How do you manage client/stakeholder requests in between your scheduled communication times (assuming you have them)? How available do they expect you to be? How do you set boundaries?

In priority order. Also, if a quieter client has something on the books I never push it. They shouldn’t be delayed because someone is better at being loud. If I have time, I answer. If I don’t, I’m honest with that. Other factors affect it too. @amaliaefowler

Depending on the lift, I may take it on immediately, but more often I tend to respond with a priority regroup: “what is most important to get done first / how much of a lift is it / can we move other items back to make room for the new request?” @sonika_chandra

I also find it helpful to determine “why do we need the answer to this question right now? what business problem is it helping to solve?” This has allowed me to help the client understand if the request is actually urgent. It can be a helpful exercise for anyone! @sonika_chandra

This was hard our first 2 years because revenue was a bigger priority than my personal time. So I just dealt with it. Now things are easier, we can cherry pick our clients and pretty much know how demanding they’ll be from the first audit and/or prospect call. @gilgildner

If it is not often I do my best to accommodate. If it becomes a weekly request we need to rescope (we can meet weekly but you need to pay for that time). I try to answer emails within a day & if they need a meeting I do my best to schedule it for that week. @selley2134

Thankfully personally haven’t experienced clients who expect last min requests. I think it’s about managing expectation and setting boundaries. It’s not necessary to reply email the second you receive it esp if you are in the middle of something. @ClixMarketing

Put your standard response times IN YOUR CONTRACTS. You can always choose to be more responsive more quickly, but establish that baseline from go. That being said, I generally respond to emails or calls same day, next at the latest. Also – have a rush fee clause. @NeptuneMoon

With boundaries I’m very clear. My team has 24 hours to respond to a communication via email – not solve the problem, but respond. The reality of my role is I’m booked 2 – 3 days ahead. I tell my clients that – they can usually get on a call with someone else. @amaliaefowler

We try to set boundaries, but also understand where they are at. Often the emergency is related to something beyond their control. Over time you learn the cadence of a team and can predict (sometimes) when they’re likely to be busy. @JuliaVyse

If I do know the task will take a while, when I have a moment I will send an email confirming receipt and express that the request will take a while to deliver and set expectations of tentative timelines. @ClixMarketing

Also, for anyone that needs to hear this right now – not every call has to be a Zoom, Hangout, etc. If you want it to just be an old fashioned phone call, advocate for that. I can’t be the only one sick of looking at my own face on the screens? @NeptuneMoon

You also have to set expectations early on. We give timelines for turnaround. We also keep receipts via email so we can point to them if needed. And, we don’t respond to emails the second they land in our inboxes. @amaliaefowler

It’ll vary on the severity of the request, but for big clients I try to make myself available within a day or two. @ValenciaSEM

Agency or colleague, I never expect my asks to be someone else’s top priority. I try to communicate if there is a hard deadline or quick turnaround (<1 week) but would never ask an agency for something by EOD. I’ll do it myself if it’s that urgent/important. @akaEmmaLouise

Phone is on a Do Not Disturb setting off business hours/weekends and I generally don’t look at email. Paid Search is not an emergency. EVER @ynotweb

I recognize not everyone has that luxury though, since most clients don’t have a background of being hands-on. As such, I think it’s important to set expectations early on about what is a reasonable turnaround time when last-minute asks come up & push back if needed. @akaEmmaLouise

The reality of agency life is having to prioritize multiple requests at the same time. We have an in-house rule that we should reply to client requests within 24 hours. @snaptechmktg

While we understand that clients might feel like they need help *right now*, we try to set clear boundaries and make sure that we have time to complete our other tasks and ensure that we respond in a valuable way, instead of rushing. @snaptechmktg

Ideal goal is respond to all client emails within 24 business hours/1 business day…even just to say you got the email and will review later. IF a client emails us past our working day. The 24 hours doesn’t start until 9am next business day. @duanebrown

I have almost 0 boundaries. It is one of my biggest flaws professionally (trailing my organizing of real life hunger games for my interns). Don’t be like me. @JonKagan

We have a clear email policy, and use Asana’s email feature. I find things get dropped on the phone (& every phone call becomes an email, anyway). @DigitalSamIAm

Some clients ask us to be available on the same day but most understand that sometimes that’s not a possibility. My calendar link will only allow you to book a 30 minute meeting and I need at least 24 hours notice which I believe helps with creating that boundary. @ameetkhabra

The reason I become a valued consultant to clients is that I make myself available in case there’s anything urgent. Being responsive- even acknowledging and email- in between scheduled meetings can work wonders. @j_bertho

Q5: If a client/stakeholder is not responsive to your emails or calls and/or often cancels scheduled meetings, how do you handle that?

Depends if they’re still paying their invoices. If they are, we’ll keep trudging along! If not, bye Felicia. @gilgildner

Great question. I hear too many people skipping the step of actually CALLING. Clients are busy too. However, for serial non-responders, we put in deadlines for action “if we don’t hear from you by Friday, we will consider this agreed upon” @ynotweb

I usually face it head on and ask the client if they are struggling with bandwidth and how can I help? Would a different method of communication work better? Different cadence? Lead with empathy and don’t assume the worst, we are all human! @sonika_chandra

I work in search. It is my job to find you and get a result. and I will do just that. You will not, not-respond to my team. End of statement. @JonKagan

This is something where the most senior person of the client relationship wld need to intervene. There should definitely be a written warning by that senior (if they aren’t getting through either) that there will be consequences if comms don’t resume. @ClixMarketing

I will generally call the client if I am getting radio silence from emails and meetings get canceled. And, I start with asking how they are. Because I’ve learned this type of ghosting almost never, actually, has to do with me. @NeptuneMoon

If it is a long-standing client that I know is wearing a lot of hats, I tend not to pester them unless it’s something urgent. If they used to be responsive & have dropped off I try my best to get them on the phone. @selley2134

That’s a tough one. Sometimes it’s a matter of waiting out a tough situation. I find proposing an offsite lunch or event tends to help, and we try to be in touch with leadership, rather than one contact. @JuliaVyse

Generally if that happens the meeting cadence is scheduled too frequently or the account is in danger of getting canceled. A KPI report is sent out by next day mail with a coffee gift card, plus a note to schedule the next call @PPCKenChang

How do we handle it or how do I wish we handled it? They are different answers. How we handle it often involves chasing (we can’t do our work on the SEO side without feedback). Generally unless they’re wasting my team’s time I’ll keep following up endlessly. @amaliaefowler

If they’re canceling performance meetings, I can sometimes see that as a form of trust. If I need something from them, I’ll follow up asking if there is someone else on their team that might be able to help. @ValenciaSEM

I straight up tell them how it is a waste of our time (and theirs) as we prep for meeting. I move them to ad hack calls and they don’t guarantee our time anymore for meetings. Use it or lose it. @duanebrown

Persistence, without being overbearing or irritating – this is where phone calls are so important. We also keep up our reporting, so they still have a way of accessing their results while dark. @snaptechmktg

I wish we handled it by getting rid of those clients (after discussion) or explaining up front that we have specific communication needs and our best relationships are collaborative. I love the idea of a pause clause which was introduced to me by @NeptuneMoon @amaliaefowler

We actually haven’t had that issue aside from one client. They asked for bi-weekly calls and that would not show up for them so after the third time, I just deleted the calendar invite, they didn’t even notice. @ameetkhabra

Depends on the client + the situation. If it wastes the team’s time, we have a clause in our contract allowing us to terminate for lack of client participation. We try to be flexible and understanding, but it’s a two-way street. @DigitalSamIAm

Q6: If a client/stakeholder is constantly emailing, calling, texting or slack messaging you, how do you handle that?

Hooo boy. So it depends. If it’s early on we have those calls for a bit, focus on education. I will ultimately explain that being on the phone with them = not being in the account, and suggest if they want more meetings their retainer is going up. They stop or pay. @amaliaefowler

Stick to the boundaries set in contracts and if necessary, establish the boundary clearly again! @sonika_chandra

This rarely happens but usually it’s when the client hires a new team member who hasn’t been clued into our workflow. I usually find responding at our usual pace will set the tone for them. It’s almost always an intern or new hire who just doesn’t know yet. @gilgildner

We try to find out what they need & why they’re comfortable communicating this way. Some teams need everyone on the email thread so we can tap in or out through the day, some need acknowledgment, some need an account manager, so specialists can spend time working. @JuliaVyse

Really depends on the client + relationship. We generally try to keep accounts scheduled – meetings on X date, updates at Y interval, etc. For some clients, that doesn’t work (for whatever reason). In those cases, we try to stick to one channel for comms. @DigitalSamIAm

Once again, I have contract language about this. All pricing is based on “standard communication levels”. If they are constantly reaching out on every channel available, we will have a talk about that and try to get to the root of their agita. @NeptuneMoon

Batch reply when we can, or offer our next available meeting slot (whenever that may be). Their desire to constantly talk about things does not change our availability to talk about things (taking time away from DOING things) @ynotweb

We’ve had some clients that are in rapid-response industries where if something changes, we need to adapt. We were all clear about that going into the relationship. To faciliate that, we created a distribution system with the team on it and scheduled “on call” @DigitalSamIAm

This hasn’t happened in a really long time. The last time a client was emailing too much, I just hopped on a call with them to help alleviate there anxiety which helped. @ameetkhabra

But that was the channel, and we were crystal clear with the client that messages outside of that channel didn’t count. Our account people were steadfast if the client texted that they needed to use the channel. After a week or so, the client did it and no probs. @DigitalSamIAm

Once it becomes excessive, I purposely slow down the response time, to essentially to get them to learn. @JonKagan

This is a great time to set expectations and let them know you’ll be able to add it to the regularly scheduled meeting to discuss.@ValenciaSEM

Agencies in the paid media space NEED to have dedicated account managers and create well-defined boundaries. If a client exceeds the predefined communication threshold, raise the issue politely and try to create a new process. @j_bertho

Because of the budget size this is completely normal for large accounts and I like to pick out a set time where we would have a daily meeting. For smaller clients who are depending on their campaigns we try to move it to a weekly meets and are respectful of chats. @PPCKenChang

I’ve come to agree with the philosophy that “we train people how to treat us” in many cases. Even if I am checking my email at the moment someone sends it, I will usually wait a bit before responding to avoid encouraging the expectation that I’m always “on call.” @akaEmmaLouise

We try to figure out *why* they want to talk as much as they do and ensure we’re filling in any gaps. Then we explain the benefits of having us in the account vs on these calls/comms and set times to reconnect so they get what they need but we can also do the work. @snaptechmktg

Not responding right away helps as it sets expectations. Just be honest with clients and keep it real. Maybe they don’t know it’s problem or issue… keep telling them until they listen. @duanebrown

We also try to figure out where the requests are coming from. I’d say 80% of the time there’s a new CEO / stakeholder internally who wants to get up to speed and is using our point of contact as a middle person. We try to get direct access to explain. @amaliaefowler

I set expectations when I first start working with a client for this very reason. I will ask them to put an agenda together for a meeting to discuss any of the items instead of peppering me with emails. @lchasse

Also, this should go without saying, but NO ONE gets my cell number. I do not need clients texting me at home. I check email frequently enough that a real emergency would be seen even on a weekend (or when I had a work #, the call would forward and I’d get the VM). @akaEmmaLouise

Also getting to know the people. I had a client who often sent late-night emails and it stressed me out. I later learned she was the type who just wrote emails the second she had a thought so she didn’t forget, and there was never an expectation for immediate reply. @akaEmmaLouise

Q7: What type of client/stakeholder communication do you find to be most challenging and why is it challenging?

The most challenging across any marketing campaign is explaining that results don’t happen instantaneously. Some clients expect major wins off the bat, not caring that there needs to be an initial testing period. @j_bertho

More about type of clients than communication itself. There’s no room for ego or aggression in paid search. If someone is taking themselves (or PPC) too seriously, that’s hard for me to deal with, without snickering. We ain’t doing rocket science or brain surgery. @gilgildner

Video because I’m not photogenic and I’m distracted by my bad hair. @PPCKenChang

Been doing this for so long, that there are not many situations I’ve not previously encountered at this point! Had a few clients over the years that were very disorganized & felt certain that their lack of planning, did in fact, constitute my emergency. It did not. @NeptuneMoon

I find the “can we jump on a call” comms hard to deal with. I like context so I can prepare and I also find (especially if I’ve set the timing boundary before) the last-minute demands aggravating. If its an emergency, absolutely. But tell me what its about. @amaliaefowler

The “why we don’t do that thing your 2nd cousin’s uncles brother says you HAVE to do” discussion. I’m too tired and too old for that bullshit (and maybe a little PTSD), so we pick clients that are well past that level of hearsay and understand we are professionals. @ynotweb

See what I think about Slack: twitter.com/duanebrown/sta… @duanebrown

Yes – definitely this. Heecck…I even get nervous when a family member says this!! I want stats & context and to know who is in trouble! lol @ClixMarketing

Not necessarily a communication type, but a contact type that I find most difficult. Working with owners of companies can be difficult as they are personally invested & may not come from a marketing background. It can take a lot of teaching & explaining. @selley2134

My least favorite is the emergency that is not really an emergency. When someone else did not plan properly and needs us to run through hoops for them. @lchasse

I mostly like all kinds of communications. I like hearing from people, sharing ideas, whether on a call, in person, in a strat session, or reporting. Backseat driving is a pain, but shows curiousity in the program. There are ways around just about everything. @JuliaVyse

Last minute or vague requests. We really want to make sure we’re giving our clients value all of the time. In not being entirely sure of the context as to why it is urgent, or what their request is, we risk not providing them with the expertise that they deserve. @snaptechmktg

You know what? the not-thank you. The ever demands, without the, wow, you really pulled a rabbit out of your hat for us! I don’t need oceans of gratitude, but basic decency goes a long way. @JuliaVyse

I’ll go on record for disliking talking on the phone in general, but getting unscheduled phone calls out of the blue for non-urgent issues is my least favorite. @timothyjjensen

I’m just going to echo @snaptechmktg, last minute and vague requests are the worst. More often than not, the last minute request could have waited and the vague request needs more information! @ameetkhabra

Email. Super easy to over analyze it and send yourself into a tailspin. @JonKagan

It’s maybe generational to some extent, or introvert/extrovert, but I get stressed by people who would always rather “hop on a quick call.” Like, send me an email first so I can be prepared. But also, I’d rather just answer your email than have to get on the phone! @akaEmmaLouise

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