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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Julia Vyse and the  discussion was about communicating with clients, attending to their queries, making clients understand the intricate performance metrics, biggest challenge faced while interacting with clients  and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.


ppcchat discussion


Q1: What is your biggest challenge in communicating with a client?


Conveying complexity in simple ways. – @robert_brady

Translating perspectives from myself as a technical marketer to what will mesh with a client’s ultimate business goals. – @timothyjjensen

Adapting to client communication styles. Some are very chill and hands-off, while others want to be super in-the-weeds. Can be hard to establish expectations about frequency and scope to use time effectively and get needed discussions addressed fully. – @akaEmmaLouise

This is a big question, but I’d say overall it’s managing expectations. That could be service expectations and/or performance expectations. – @nataliebarreda

I’d say we and our clients always have to work hard to transmit info that has value to the other party. Talking with, not at each other. – @heyglenns

Setting expectations. – @SEMFlem

Providing Monthly Campaign Management Reports for C-Suite without Overwhelming them. – @BRAVOMedia1

For me it’s dealing with all the shiny things. my clients hear things from Google and Bing and even though they have no relevance to their program, they still want the shiny thing. – @JuliaVyse

Avoiding getting too technical/in the weeds and being able to break everything down into how it will grow a clients business. – @twooctobers

Know how much detail to provide and what to focus on! Don’t want to get too in the weeds or tactical but want to convey how certain things do or don’t impact goals. – @AudreyBloemer

Managing expectations from both fronts. IE: Sometimes, I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours. There’s a lot of give and take that sometimes clients don’t realize. – @BrookeOsmundson

Making the reports useful and simple, but when clients get hit with neat new metrics from other consultants…. If the metrics do not necessarily impact how we manage ads and performance. – @lchasse

Finding the right level of technical can be challenging. Setting expectations about everything from performance, to response times, etc. – @NeptuneMoon

Trying to gear them to focus on the right things/metrics. If you we brilliantly made the ROI/CVR targets, we don’t need to do a massive investigation as to why the CPCs dropped my 1/2p (or cents) i the last week of the campaign. – @ansicles


Q2: Is your client obsessed with stats? Easily distracted by new toys? How do you answer their questions honestly and accurately, but and steer back to relevant topics?


For most “shiny toy” discussions I explain where I feel it may/may not fit for them, give the risks/trade-offs and then we decide on a test budget if they really want to do it. Then the discussion can progress beyond it & you revisit later. – @robert_brady

Depends. Some clients are really great and share backend data with us so we can talk about their real KPIs rather than stats (i.e. this is how revenue/ROI/profit has been impacted by x strategy) but others still focused on CTR/CPC/random search queries they notice.  As much as possible, we answer their questions accurately but simply (“we lifted bids for keywords with lost impression share” vs. “we raised bids for a,b,c keywords in x,y,z campaigns”) and redirect to remind them of the larger strategy that drove the tactics. – @akaEmmaLouise

I’d say most clients are obsessed with stats in some way. I personally really love when my clients are excited over new features because it shows how engaged they are with the channel. This being said, it’s my job to scope said feature out and recommend an implementation plan. Normally, if I am able to somewhat forecast an impact, they are open to prioritizing accordingly. – @nataliebarreda

Minimize the amount of info you share about stats – stay focused on engagement, conversions & ROI. They love that! – @BRAVOMedia1

The best way to address the “new toy” distraction is to stay ahead of trends and communicate them to the client first. Demonstrate your knowledge & how new features/tech helps their business goals. – @twooctobers

have an overarching project plan and measurable KPIs for everything you test. This allows you to entertain new ideas but helps to easily steer the conversation back to goals and why you are recommending (or not) certain tasks! – @AudreyBloemer

Some are obsessed with “early” data. As in, they want to make rash decisions based off a few days of data. It’s hard to explain to them why ending a test or changing things so early can affect their whole marketing strategy. – @BrookeOsmundson

I may sure and talk about the new toys, but let them know the “why” it may not pertain to them and how we are managing the account. Educating them is important and as long as we “listen” they are usually open to our advise. – @lchasse

Most of the time, if you understand your strategy in an account, then you’ll also understand why other tactics won’t work so it should be relatively non-confrontational when emailing them about why it’s not the best thing. But every now and then, I’ve been presented with a decent idea by a client that might work and I just told them, “Ya, let’s test it and see if it works.” As long as it’s a healthy relationship it should be a collaborative process. – @timmhalloran

Best thing to do is to try to keep things grounded in whatever is most important to client – and educate them about things they should care about if they are focused on the wrong things (vanity KPI for example). – @NeptuneMoon


Q3: When explaining a PPC concept the client is unfamiliar with, how do you make clear what you want to get across?


That’s where our job gets interesting, right?! I’d say a huge part of what we do is finding how to explain complex concepts in a very simple way. Depending on the knowledge level of the client, I’ll typically keep it higher level and call out features & impact. – @nataliebarreda

I love analogies. They’re like great ways to explain things. (see what I did there!?!). – @SEMFlem

I usually start with the takeaway and work backward. i.e. “Here’s a chance to improve CTR & win more clicks from competitors” & then explain how the new ad extension works. – @robert_brady

Agree! Keeping it high level and going into more detail if they’re interested but mostly focusing on how the tactic can help reach their goals and lots of screenshots of how it will show. – @Sarahh716

Always start with the WHY – why does this make sense for their account & what do we hope to accomplish with it. Analogies can be super helpful too. – @NeptuneMoon

Figure out what questions they will ask in relation to their goals and work to answer those. Try to present information visually if you can. You’d be surprised how often complex concepts can be simply communicated with the right visuals! – @twooctobers

I always start with the end goal of the concept, and then work backwards. If they can see the overall picture, then they start to understand how a tactic/strategy will help make that happen. – @BrookeOsmundson

I just try and keep things simple for them. Also if possible trying to explain the concepts in terms of how it can impact their business is important. – @lchasse


Q4: What do you find is the most effective way to explain tangential stats, such as impression share, reach metrics and other tools that are useful, but don’t belong in the main line of sight.


First, ask yourself if sharing any metric with the client clarifies or muddies things. If it is not a clear clarifier, keep it to yourself. Also, you don’t always have to “show your work”- often times a narrative explanation works great. – @NeptuneMoon

Always connect tangential metrics to your KPIs to show the relationship. No lonely metrics! – @SEMFlem

We also use them to explain available opportunities and “tell the story” behind the data. I talk about the searcher a lot and what we can see about their behavior from the data points/metrics we have. Something easy for the client to relate to. – @akaEmmaLouise

VISUALS! I’m a big fan of using powerpoint to create my own visuals that easily explain complex ideas. For example, a very (not pretty) version of this explaining impression share: – @nataliebarreda

Tangential stats can like IS can be used to highlight trends & opportunities in relation to actual goals. Just don’t start framing them as THE goal. – @twooctobers

I like to use those when talking about overall branding and competitor analysis. IE – this is how you fit into the market against your competitors. It’s also a good way to look at whether you’re bidding on the right terms or not. – @BrookeOsmundson

That is a good one. I try and use the data they understand like if we are hitting a 700% Return, then I can show them the impression share as an “opportunity” if we increase bids, budgets or what we need to do. – @lchasse


Q5: How do you explain important metrics that directly affect their business to a disconnected, unengaged client contact?


My model is built upon engaged clients. I want them to be feeding information back to me so I can refine what I’m doing for them. If a client remains unengaged despite efforts to connect with their needs better, not a whole lot you can do about that. – @NeptuneMoon

Do anything you can to connect those metrics to the company’s bottom line. – @timothyjjensen

Toughest situation I’ve experienced is when Mktg & Sales don’t communicate internally so when you try to talk about lead quality & closed business, the mktg people don’t want to help you. Sometimes a disengaged contact means they’re planning on leaving or they’re planning on you leaving, but haven’t told you yet. – @robert_brady

I know I’ve said this before, but talking about bottom line. Talking about actual increased company profit, missed profit (if talking about opportunities to do more), etc. – @nataliebarreda

I may incur my accountant’s wrath for saying, but I feel those uninterested in learning don’t make for appealing, long-term clients. – @heyglenns

Figure out why the client is disengaged and fix that. Usually it can be boiled down to a lack of communication throughout the client engagement. – @twooctobers

One of the most impactful ways we’ve found to engage clients is to speak in terms of lost revenue or impact on bottom line if it’s things you neeed their buy in for. “If we implemented X last week we could have generated X additional in revenue” or “Because we haven’t X lost”. – @AudreyBloemer

Honestly, I don’t… If the client doesn’t care about certain metrics, I’m not going to put the effort into explaining. If client is disengaged, I just focus on the KPI goals we’ve been given and progress or strategies to get there. Let them ask Qs if they want more. – @akaEmmaLouise

First, I try to figure out why they’re un-engaged. Some people just don’t care unless it directly affects them. Find a way to spin the story so the data does somehow directly affect them. Most people are selfish. Make it about them. – @BrookeOsmundson

I love engaged clients. I always say together we can be better. Like that Tom Cruis quote in his movie, “with me, without me”. I usually will not take on a client if they are not engaged. Help me, help you. – @lchasse


Q6: When you present results to departments outside marketing, how do you ensure they understand your presentation?


Understand any “pet metrics” or “pet projects” of the individuals you’re talking to and work those into the presentation (within reason). – @timothyjjensen

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). Focus on big picture concepts that you can tie to tangible things like their bottom line. Err on the side of less is more for data points too. You can always provide more if they are into it & asking. – @NeptuneMoon

Stay as high-level as possible. – @robert_brady

It all goes back to keeping it simple. Don’t get too technical, put yourself in the shoes of the department you’re speaking too. And again, be visual if you can! Leverage experience within your team. If you have someone on your team with experience in a department outside of marketing, they are a resource! – @twooctobers

Practice. Lots of practice with C-Suite Execs. 🙂 But honestly – I try to bring my presentation down so that a 4th grader could understand it. More concept-based, less tactical. – @BrookeOsmundson

Like a lot of what’s been said already, focusing on how PPC is driving their business KPIs and real bottom line. You don’t have to be in marketing or sales to know that better leads or more sales and increased profits are good for the company. Talk big picture. – @akaEmmaLouise

Visuals are key to folks outside of the marketing team you work with regularly. If you are presenting to finance, show ROI, revenue. If product group, show the products being sold or not converting well (price, selection). Know your audience. – @lchasse

Two (sometimes three) numbers usually do it: leads or sales, and ad spend. Sometimes I don’t even present ROI/ROAS – I just let their minds do the math and watch the expression of wonder of their faces. – @timmhalloran


Q7: What advice would you give to a new hire about client communication?


NEVER assume anything, especially when the source is email. Whether it is tone or content, get clarification or confirmation before you proceed down any path of response. Treat clients as individuals & ask them what they need from you regularly. – @NeptuneMoon

Get to know the technical levels of the client contacts you’re working with and adapt the data you show them and how you talk to them accordingly. – @timothyjjensen

Only addition to the great advice that’s been given is to be genuine, invested, and confident. It’s amazing the tough times accounts can get through when clients trust us to have their best interests at heart and know we are up for any challenge. Thanks for a great. – @akaEmmaLouise

To the best of your ability, answer their email within 24 hours consistently. Even if you don’t have an answer to their question, let them know you’re working on it. Don’t allow messages to get lost in your inbox, it can come back to bite you. – @timmhalloran

Strive to get across something meaningful in context of client’s world. Don’t let up until they’ve shown they get the point & how it matters to their business. – @heyglenns

Don’t get lazy or complacent. A lack of communication can lead to the client questioning what your role. Keep clients updated on results (good & bad) as they come in, stay ahead of the trends. – @twooctobers

Set expectations at the start of every relationship. I’ve had to dig myself out of a few situations where the expectations weren’t clear (such as weekend responding, etc.) – @BrookeOsmundson

Usually we set expectations for communications with a client at the onset. New hires should know those expectations with every client they work with. Otherwise, try to remember the golden rule. Our job is to make our clients look good at work and make $$.- @lchasse



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