By John Alexander
The following tips are just a few of the things I do as examples of setting my service apart from the crowd. In general, the weakest areas in the Internet Marketing and Web Development business, are "Customer Communications" and "Customer Service.” Set your effort towards learning to deliver "excellence" in both customer service and communication, and you'll have distinct advantages over many other competitors. These tips are based on the tried and true method of "under promising and over delivering."
1. Manage expectations on initial Search Engine placement:
Do NOT tell your prospect that you will get their web site placing in the top 10 search results right away. Don't guarantee that you you'll get them thousands of visitors right away. I tell my prospects that I will do my best to position them within the top 30 search results initially. As you know, in this business there are no absolute guarantees, but even if you can often position a client within the top 10 search results on at least a few of the Majors right away, think about what you say before you say it.
People are tired of hearing a lot hype. Many firms make the mistake of pedaling a lot of trumped up claims, even before they learn and understand a prospects business. With so many people out there, who will promise the world to get a sale, a little realism goes a long way to establishing your credibility. Setting a client's expectations low initially, only enhances the effect of achieving a high-ranking result. Why not initially tell your client something that is EASY to believe.
I like to teach the client to expect top placement over a period of 3 to 6 months. It's much easier for them to believe and for each time you immediately place within the top 10 quickly, the client has another exciting surprise! Learn to under promise and really over deliver every time! Focus on educating your clients and teaching them truths that others only gloss over (or are not aware of themselves).
2. Blow away old misconceptions
While some web firms talk about the huge volume of "Hits" to their customers sites, I teach my prospects very early, that "hits" are irrelevant. Hits are not the best means of determining site activity. A hit is NOT a visitor. A hit can be any action from the server. For example a page that displays 1 image, 10 buttons, 1 logo and plays music in the background, might generate up to 14 hits for every visitor to the site. This is best explained by showing the client an activity report and pointing out the difference between hits (any action from the server) and User Sessions (actual visitors). Eliminating any of the common misconceptions about traffic right from the start, will serve you well in a marketplace where others are selling nothing more than hype. Set yourself apart from the rest. Instead of letting customers believe old ideas, educate them and help your customer to grasp how things work.
3. Teach your client about the time required for initial indexing:
I tell my client not to expect much site activity right away. I like to prepare them for the time it takes robots to visit their site for the first time. Once again, this a great opportunity to set your client's expectation a little lower. If we give them an expectation of waiting approximately 6 weeks after registration, before traffic commences, we know that some search engines will probably begin to visit in 3 to 5 weeks. Indeed a few may occasionally even visit within just 48 hours from the time you register. However, creating an expectation of 6 to 8 weeks allows you to out-perform yourself every time. If you really must exaggerate...then under promise and over deliver.
Success Principle: Teach your client's the truth and learn to manage your client's expectations. If you deliver above average results and communicate well, you will have a client for a lifetime.
4. Tip on Mass Search Engine Registration:
Have you been telling your client about how you are going to register them with 250 search engines for free? This is an old out dated approach but you may be surprised at how many competitors will be saying the very same thing (because literally anyone can buy auto submission software).
I take a different approach.
I ask the prospect this question:
“Have you ever wondered why some web developers may offer to register you with 250 search engines for free?” The answer is simple...that's exactly what it's worth. ZERO ......I then go on to teach them how targeted traffic is only realized through achieving a high ranking on the Major search engines. Show them an activity report to validate it. Then educate them about how you remain focused on optimizing their Web site for the Major Search engines.
By setting realistic expectations on search engine registration, and telling them the truth about where most of their traffic will come from, you once again are providing an education that others in the business forget to give their clients.
5. Teach your clients about the value of Manual SE Registration:
If you're like me, you only do manual registration. If you do use an auto-submission program or service, make sure it is one that works in a non-spam manner (there are not many that do).
6. Teach your clients about the risk and annoyance of FFA Links:
FFA Links (which stands for Free For All links) are NOT search engines. Actually what you have probably learned by now is that many FFA sites are often times but not always, nothing more than spam sites seeking your e-mail address. Over the years I have tried subscribing to these services at times just to determine if there may be any benefit. I can determine no benefit in FFA links and I like to educate my clients so they do not get sucked in by the many "special offers." Educate your clients and save them headaches.
7. Build long term relationships with your clients.
Taking the consultancy approach with SEO offers many opportunities to not only build customer rapport but also to maintain it on a long term basis. I see my role as teaching my clients as much as I can about the Internet side of their business. The time you spend educating your client pays fairly big dividends in terms of customer loyalty. What happens after a while is, your customers will seek your advice on issues rather than just get taken advantage of by one of those e-mail deals that sounds to good to be true. Care for your client's business as if it were your own!
8. Does your client need help to write a Media Release?
This may be a stretch for some SEO's but look for opportunities to help your client promote their web site in different ways. I like to assist my clients by doing little things that are easy for me to do, don't really take too much time and add extra value to my service. Examples of these services might be to help your client write a good media release or the creation of little counter top signs that advertise the clients URL. Do they need a little checklist to help them promote their URL? Think value added!
9. Practice customer service excellence.
One of the biggest loopholes in the Internet marketing and SEO business, is lack of quality customer service. Do you return their calls? Do you look after their questions promptly? Do you keep them informed about the newest trends?
10. See your customer, as a customer for life.
Care for your customers business as much as you can with full attention to detail. Most business owners are far to busy running their business to look after all of their "web presence" issues. This is why they hire you in the first place. If you remember to deliver "excellence" in both customer service and communication, you'll have distinct advantages over many other competitors. Look after your customers well, and they will definitely look after you well too.
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