This is the 28th installment this year of our Deep Dive Into Local series. For the week ending Monday, July 25th, Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal shared their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video, including links and commentary on critical happenings of the previous week is posted in the Local U forums (paywall). In the second half of that video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week.
In this discussion Mary and Mike talk the role of client education to be successful in running local search campaigns.
Mary: We’re gonna go into our deep dive and talk about a topic that Greg Gifford wrote about in Search Engine Land about how you can make your life easier by educating your clients, and that sometimes it’s best for this education to take place before you take them on as a client. And to me, this is absolutely critical. I teach classes on local SEO and this is something that we discuss in every single one of them — that your best clients are going to be the ones who are the best fit for you. They’re going to be happiest. You’re going to be happiest. It portends a long-term relationship, and it’s definitely worth taking the time to make sure that you’re a good fit and that you can work well together before you enter into a relationship. And I know a lot of times I will tell clients who want to dive in and do something for…
Mike: And rank this month, or rank next month. Right?
Mary: Yeah! Or even that want to say, “Let’s do something” — some big project. I’ll say, “Let’s back off. Let’s do a little project. Let’s date a while before we become engaged.” Because that really gives us a chance to work together a little bit and make sure we that can work well together, before people end up angry and/or disappointed at each other.
Mike: I think education is important throughout the whole customer journey that you’re going to be involved with as an agency. Obviously, I see a lot of people in the review world, and the question they always ask is “How do I get more reviews?” And it really requires a fair bit of education. Because getting more reviews, the biggest correlation I can see with getting more reviews is quality of business. I mean, consistently that’s the biggest correlation. We’ll see 6X reviews in two businesses with the exact same size, the exact same customer base, the exact same communication. We’ll see 6X reviews in a business that’s good vs. a business that’s not as good. Right? So, the answer to these guys is: Suck less, and ask for reviews. Right?
But they don’t want to hear that. And so you have to take a fair bit of time to educate them, and move them through both from from the fear stage of reviews through to the acceptance and the understanding. And I think that’s true with search, it’s true with conversions, it’s true of content, it’s true with social. You have to get them to first understand what it can do, exactly how long it’s gonna take to do it. You know, how long is this sort of activity? Right?
I mean, reviews is a — you know, Barbara Oliver, my pet client, she’s been doing reviews for seven years now. Right? And it took her a long time, and I still get these ballistic emails. Somebody leaves a bad review, I still get a ballistic e-mail a from her. Right? It’s like she has 110 good reviews at Google, and she gets one bad one and it’s like, “Oh, my God!” Right? So it’s a long learning process, and I think you have to be prepared as an agency to understand that they’re gonna start at one place and you want to get them to a place compatible with you and reality, where everybody can see the benefits but realize it’s gonna take time to get there. Right?
Mary: Yes. Very, very true, but I do think that it’s kind of easy to quickly weed out some of the people that are not going to be a good fit for you by immediately be asking about goals and budget. Because realistically, if somebody doesn’t have the budget to support their goals, there’s really nothing you can do to help them. Unless you want to educate them on how to do it for themselves and you think that they would be willing and able to pay you for that, it doesn’t seem to be the basis for a very good relationship. I also think that that there’s a lot of folks out there who’ve had a lot of success over the last 10 to 15 years promoting local businesses online that have just not kept up with the huge changes that have happened in about the last 3 years. Even agencies who are still, you know, going out and building 20 reviews in 10 days for a client. Or…
Mike: At a fake location.
Mary: At a fake location, yeah! I mean, there’s still a lot of stuff going on that is not going to help you build your online business over the long term. If you’re just looking for quick wins there are some crazy things you can do to make that happen, but … I can’t remember who I heard saying this, but one point very early on in my search marketing career, I heard someone say, “Are you building rankings or are you building a business?” And that’s really what it all comes back down to, I think, with local search.
Mike: And helping the business understand that that’s your job as an agency, is to help them build their business and increase sales. That’s the goal. If they understand that, then I think you can probably build a relationship with them.
Mike: So, with that, I think we’ll call it a wrap. Beautiful summer here. My zucchini just started coming in, so warning, lot of zucchini coming up. So watch out. With that, we’ll say goodbye. Take care, Mary.