Whether living the agency life or working in house, managing the relationship with your client or boss is a critical, but often ignored, skill set that is necessary for success.  The fast paced PPC industry forces us to constantly train up on the latest and greatest technology, but stepping back and honing the fundamentals of client relationship management will set you up for a long prosperous career in PPC.

Here are some pro tips that can apply to any client relationship:

1.  Develop a strong relationship with your client

Like any relationship, client relationships work best when they are built on trust, empathy, and respect.  Being relatable and straightforward will allow for a deeper connection and make the relationship more cooperative instead of adversarial.

It can be hard to look at tough clients as more than an obstacle, but the benefits of forging a strong relationship far outweigh the alternative.  Ultimately, the trust gained from a strong relationship will give you far more leeway when pitching new strategies or initiatives.

2.  Communicate updates regularly

Communication is the name of the game in client management.  While it’s not possible or efficient to update clients on every small change or problem in their account, communicating clearly at regular intervals will set the expectation that you are reliable and able to manage without constant oversite.

In addition to regular communications, sending critical updates when they are needed will do wonders for strengthening your client relationship.  This will also avoid any situations where the client notices an issue and begins to worry, because you have not reached out with an update.  It is better to acknowledge a problem with no known solution than pretend a problem doesn’t exist.

3.  Address problems directly

When problems inevitably arise in your account, whether your fault or not, the client deserves to know as much as possible about what happened, why it happened, and what the solution is.  This is potentially the hardest part of client management.  Stepping into the spotlight after a critical problem goes against our nature as humans, but it’s imperative that you step outside your comfort zone to address these issues head on.  Your service is a piece of your client’s overall business plan, and the client needs every critical bit of information available to make important decisions.

The benefits of stepping into the fire to call out problems will likely not be immediate, but these decisions will bear fruit as your client begins to look to you less like a vendor and more as a critical business partner.

4.  Agree on performance goals

Setting goals that align the client’s business interest and the capabilities of their paid search account is critical for building a sustainable client relationship.  It is important to give an honest and thought out assessment of the potential campaign performance when setting goals with the client.  It is infinitely easier to push back on the client during goal setting than answering for campaign performance that did not meet unrealistically high goals.

Agreeing on achievable, yet challenging goals will give you the tools you need to optimize the account, while giving the client the tools they need to gauge your performance as a vendor.  Realistic goals will keep you and the client pulling the same direction, while removing avoiding any distractions from missed goals that were never achievable.

5.  Get buy-in on Strategy

Clients come in all shapes and sizes.  Some have sophisticated, marketing teams that develop their own internal strategy, while other clients are working out of a one desk office suite and trying to sell the most widgets possible for X dollars.  No matter the situation, the client’s internal demands can have a huge impact on their confidence in your strategy.

It is important to craft a strategy that is aligned with the client’s internal business demands to get maximum buy-in.  Remember to relate how your strategy will not be working as a stand-alone initiative, but instead will work seamlessly with the larger business strategy and goals.

6.  Report on critical metrics

Reporting can be one of the most uninspiring and tedious aspects of any client relationship.  It is easy to forget anyone looks at that annoying weekly report that takes forever to format and download.  Be sure to keep in mind that your client needs that information to make decisions or report to his or her superior.

Focus your reporting and any account updates on the metrics your client will need when they are answering for performance.  The key is to position your client for success with the information you are sending so your relationship will thrive.

Wrapping Up

Managing client relationships is full of grey areas like almost everything else in life.  The key is to rely on client and peer feedback while learning from mistakes to hone your skill set.   Good luck managing!