Occasionally I find myself using our blog as a way of ‘venting’ after a call, and today’s post shall be one of those times. When we’re meeting with prospective clients, we generally put together something called a Solutions Blueprint, which outlines the things our team can see in the account that either need improving or elaboration in order to further push performance forward. We then present that information to the prospect on a call or in-person to make sure we’ve interpreted the data in the right way and inevitably we learn something that the data doesn’t directly say.

This process is one of my favorite things about finding new PPC business, because it forces a true conversation on what we see and what is really happening before we shake hands and everyone decides to work together. You can imagine this is a perfect opportunity to find out if we expect something that isn’t possible for the client, or vice versa. We can’t (and don’t) win them all, but occasionally we have one of those calls and I almost consider screaming – “YOU NEED US!” over the phone line.

The reason I say that, is because there is nothing more alarming than speaking with a prospect about their account performance and hearing words like “What is Quality Score?” or “Can you see this information in the interface somewhere?” By the way, on that last one – they were asking about impression share data.

I want to say out front that I very much realize there could be situations where I’m being led down these very vague paths because the prospective client wants to make sure we know what we’re talking about. I get that. And that’s more than ok. But you can tell the difference in a perfectly placed question and one that is honestly a question from which an answer is desired for educational purposes. And that is what brings me here today…

You. Must. Teach. Metrics.

Paid search management is not about dumping data and rolling it up with “performance is good” or “performance is bad.” “CTR is up and average CPC is down” is not a sufficient report, nor does it paint a true picture of what’s going on. I generally just feel like our prospects were done a tragic disservice if they get to us and don’t understand that they should be focusing on return on ad spend or investment – not just interface-based CPA.

When was the last time you took the time to spit out a data point to your client or team and then followed it with “Does that make sense?” You would assume most clients would bring it up if you say something they don’t understand or that doesn’t really jive with what they’re seeing, but they don’t. More often than not – they nod and say “ok”…and then start looking for new help all while you think everything is gravy.

The next time you go to explain Quality Score shifts or analysis, ask your contact if they know what contributes to Quality Score and how it can be negatively affected even with a higher CTR than before. If you’re discussing impression share data and they ask where you got that information from, explain and ask them if they’re next to a computer or logged in the account so you can walk them through where to see it.

This has to be done with the right approach; because you don’t want to accidentally insinuate that the person you’re speaking with doesn’t understand the channel they’re pushing money in to out of their marketing budget. That said, I can promise you a performance misstep is easier for a client to handle if you’ve done the due diligence ahead of time in helping them truly understand what they’re looking at. Our tendency as human beings is to be paranoid and somewhat untrusting, so a failed attempt at improving performance can very quickly start to feel like it was being covered up in vague explanations in the heat of the moment.

In closing, I want to also be sure you Account Managers know I’m not attempting to sell you down the river, here. There is a balance, as with anything, in teaching and getting the job done. If you’re on a call and it feels like you’re getting hung up on too much teaching and not enough setting of next steps – let the client know you’d be happy to elaborate the next time you chat, or offer to send a couple helpful blog posts for them to peruse in their own time.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me how you handle your client calls and conversations – is the discussion split between data dumping and comprehension checks? Weighted all in one direction or the other? Have you changed your methods in the past based on a poor experience, or do you have a different method for every client? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments section below, and as always – thank you for reading!