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You may have noticed that no one buys mere goods or services these days, they buy the experience.

When I attend my gym, the company isn't just worried about providing me with decent equipment and classes; it wants to ensure my experience is as good as it could be.

From the entrance, I am bombarded with positive marketing campaigns; happy, healthy receptionists; smoothie stands; and uplifting pop music. The rowing machine almost seems an afterthought.
 
It is the same everywhere. Go for a haircut and you get a massage and a latte. Businesses recognise that it isn't just the end product people care about, they want a package. That doesn't mean just extras, although of course they help customers feel cared for, the entire interaction needs to be positive.
 
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a weird one. The end product is entirely measurable, the benefits are easy to see. Has the client's visibility increased? Have visitor numbers risen? Are those visitors relevant and are they carrying out the hoped-for action once they hit the site? These are simple to monitor.
 
Yet, corporate clients also like to receive the experience, the package, to feel cared for. So what can we in the SEO industry do to achieve that? Here are my ideas, feel free to add your own in the comments if you think I have missed anything.
 
Be a person
 
It is so easy in the online marketing sector to never meet your clients but simply email. Perhaps the occasional chat on the phone might be in order but it is all too easy to allow communications to become functional and minimal.
 
Be a person to your clients. If it is at all possible, go and see them once you've won their business, get to know their names and interests, send them a Christmas card.
 
It is not hard, it does not cost a great deal but it makes for a much stronger working relationship.
 
Be contactable
 
Give them your number. Tell them you are always pleased to hear from them or to answer any questions they may have and encourage them to pick up the phone whenever they need to.
 
This will make your clients feel more connected, more able to approach you with concerns and questions and less likely to puzzle or fume in silence.
 
Don't forget, if you are a client's contact and you go incommunicado for whatever reason, holiday, parental leave, conferences, whatever, it is important to let them know and give them an alternative contact name. Few things will upset a client as much as not receiving a response.
 
Be at a decent location
 
Now, if you're raising an eyebrow at this one, bear with me. Most businesses have an office but some SEO start-ups are operating out of the developer's spare room. SEOptimise is lucky enough to have offices at the Oxford Science Park, but not everyone has reached that point in their business development.
 
If you lack an office, or if your building is in some less-than-attractive area, it may be prudent to make use of a virtual office. This means you can have a city-centre address but even more importantly, a receptionist service.
 
Most virtual offices will be able to rent you a meeting room at your virtual location, so you can meet your clients at the more impressive address and enhance their experience this way. Cynical perhaps, but definitely a sensible option for some smaller companies and one-man-bands.
 
Be authoritative
 
Companies invest a great deal of money in their search campaigns and it is reassuring to know they have entrusted that cash with a professional who really knows their stuff.
 
By blogging, speaking at conferences if possible and providing guest articles, an SEO professional can develop a reputation. It may take time and planning to create such articles but it adds to your clients' overall SEO experience and also makes you more of a personable individual.
 
Be good
 
I hardly need to add but it is important to remember that all of the above is mere window dressing. It is important but it is an important extra, not the service itself.
 
The ultimate thing that determines the SEO experience is the success of the campaign. It doesn't matter how easy you are to contact, how authoritative and where your office is located if the service you deliver is less than expected.
 
It is important not to lose sight of that when considering enhancing the overall package your SEO company offers.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 7 July, 2009 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

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Brett Pringle

It's sometimes so easy to forget the real basics in our industry. Sometimes i think we need to bring ourselves back down to earth once in awhile. LOL

A few years ago i was given probably the best customer service advice... If you don't know the answer to a question, don't make something up on the fly, rather be open and say to a client, let me get back to you on that. In many cases, clients respect the honesty (although there are exceptions to the rule :) )

over 7 years ago

Alice Morgan

Alice Morgan, Freelance digital marketing consultant at Freelance

I liked the article and I also endorse what Brett Pringle says too, but it's all basic account management training that anyone who's been at an agency should have. Or am I old fashioned?

over 7 years ago

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Victoria Walmsley

I completely agree with all of these. We always make an effort to get to know our clients - we visit them on a regular basis and conduct communication through both email and telephone.

It's important to help build up the trust between us and the client. I feel that a good working relationship ultimately brings better results.

over 7 years ago

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Devaki Phatak

Agree with the points mentioned above and also Brett Pringle's point about keeping it real.

Also important in the whole SEO experience is ‘willingness’. Willingness to learn more, understand the bigger picture and willingness to adapt to rapid changes.

over 7 years ago

Gaurav Gurbaxani

Gaurav Gurbaxani, CEO at Pragmites Consulting

I think educating clients is also a very significant part of the complete SEO expereience. 

SEO is not really rocket science. Getting your customer to understand the importance of good quality backlinks, and or creation of Press Release etc always work wonders. We like to belive that we are on the same side as our clients. Helping them understand what works best and then actually tracking the progress of these efforts contribute positvely.

Other than that, being available on Skype and other IM's is reassuring. Frequent reporting and occasional calls help keep the experience better and we have happier clients! 

over 7 years ago

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Mark Peterson

The tips you've mentioned certainly sound important in maintaining any business, and I really think AdWido handles clients well while providing them with excellent advertising and marketing services.

over 7 years ago

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Marilyn Martin, SEO Executive at Branch Communications Ltd

Agree with all of the above.  Personally I find setting out realistic business and SEO goals and objectives at the outset build a strong foundation for successful collaboration.  Having a sound grasp of running a business, the financial restraints and budgetary limits yet having the online marketing and SEO experience means that I can maximise my clients' SEO experience, adding value which enables us to achieve both management and marketing objectives and goals.

http://www.branchcommunications.co.uk

over 7 years ago

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Website promotion london

for any busines management this tips would be great,it has extra management tips,

over 7 years ago

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Seo consultant

This is a great article, l am glad there are more people like yourself, and belive the best way to operate is with the assistance of the company you are promoting.

over 7 years ago

Vikas Sah

Vikas Sah, Head of Search Marketing and CTO at Indigo Consulting - A Leo Burnett Company

Clients do not understand SEO as much as you (an agency) does but it has lawyas worked to our advantage to explain to our clients as to what means what. We enriching their understanding makes them a better client.

over 7 years ago

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