We asked a few dozen agencies to share their most painful client experiences, and more importantly, the advice they’d give to other agencies to avoid them.
Agencies | Nov 5
Kevin Kononenko on October 4, 2018 • 9 minute read
“Databox is far more interesting to look at compared to a Powerpoint deck or spreadsheet.
We can feel that our clients are more in tune with their own performance and are even checking on things when we’re not on the phone with them, which is nice. We’re definitely spending less time pulling together those reports at the end of the month.
We’ve centered our whole process around leveraging Databox and using that data as our focal point of conversations and actions.”
-Sean Henri, CEO, Pepperland Marketing
Sean Henri: We’ve only been around since 2015, so life before Databox also takes me back into the time when I was on the other side. We still did a ton of reporting on a monthly basis, quarterly basis, annual, you name it.
In that prior life and in the early days of Pepperland, I was spending too much time in Powerpoint and Excel. Towards the end of the month, we’d be spending hours building these clunky Excel reports that were 50 megabytes large. Then, we would find some way to package that into a Powerpoint presentation and eventually, that became Google Sheets and Google Slides.
That was still a pretty painful process. One of your calculations would be wrong, so the data in the deck would be slightly different than what the client was seeing in Google Analytics or Adwords. It was messy and error-prone and not where we wanted to be spending our time.
We were still looking at the data throughout the month, although not as much as we do now. It was just a lot of stress.
We did have mistakes that could erode some of the trust that we developed with the client. That’s obviously something that we want to avoid. Generally speaking, it was not a fun or particularly useful use of our time.
I would say the biggest thing is that the client is more in tune with their own performance.
Databox is far more interesting to look at compared to a Powerpoint deck or a spreadsheet.
We feel our clients being more in tune with their own performance and even checking on things when we’re not on the phone with them, which is kind of nice. We’re definitely spending less time pulling together those reports at the end of the month.
We’ve centered our whole process around leveraging Databox and using that data as part of a center point of our conversations and actions.
We have a lot of our clients come to us with some frustrations around their data. They may not know how well their marketing is performing, or they may not trust what they are seeing. They don’t know whether they’re looking at the right information or it’s just too difficult to access. In the sales process, we will typically bring up Databox and that gets them excited early on. But then throughout that sales process, we try to get them to a point where we could establish SMART goals.
They’re not. The concepts of setting goals and using KPIs seem to be new for most marketers. A “goal” to most of our clients, at least when we’re first starting to work with them is: “Did you create the content you said you were going to create?”. Instead, they could be looking at how that’s contributing to bigger business objectives and goals.
There’s always some hesitation. We will usually give them two scenarios.
First, here’s a modest conservative goal where you’re not setting the bar too high. But if all the pieces fall into place, here’s the potential of where we might potentially get to.
In many cases, I feel people are a little bit scared to stick to that conservative goal. But, you know, over time when we start to have some quick wins, they get more comfortable. They’re more willing to share that with others internally.
We always try to give them some quick wins. We will typically come to the table with something they can implement before they’re a client and see some results. We want to provide value on day one and usually, we can achieve that. If not, we’re going to look for those quick wins in the early days of the client relationship. It quickly starts to build trust.
It depends on the client. We have one client who may be closing three to four deals a year, but they’re massive deals, so it’s a very long sales cycle. In their case, we might be pretty much looking at things annually, but trying to break that down into quarterly or at least semi-annual goals.
With other clients, it’s month to month and with others, it’s week to week. It really depends on their audience and what their sales cycle looks like. At the beginning, we will look at an annual goal and try to reverse engineer their funnel based on their historic performance. If they don’t have that data available, we’ll work with industry benchmarks and refine it once we have a better idea.
If you need to make $X in new business, you need to know:
We’re reverse engineering the funnel to establish some benchmarks early on. Then once we get some real data, we’re always going to go back and refine those goals. So there’s usually a course correction after a month or so.
Once you get past that initial hurdle, we eventually get to a point where we’re making adjustments on an almost weekly basis. In a specific month, you might be in the second week of the month and you realize you’re not going to hit the goal. At that point, our team needs to reset expectations and figure out what we need to do differently to course correct.
We’ve adopted the pod structure. Every client that we work with has a dedicated strategist, so it’s not really an account manager, although they’re playing a dual role where they’re providing strategic advice to the client and also managing the project.
That dedicated strategist is the person who’s making recommendations for what those goals should be. We’ve just started to leverage your Goals feature to start documenting that in the tool and it as our central place where we’re measuring progress.
We’re doing a few things. We’re starting with performance, so we pull up their dashboards in Databox and we go through the three to five different Databoards that we’ve created. If necessary we’ll go to the secondary set of dashboards to tell more of a story. We’ll spend a few minutes seeing how we’re doing, are we on track, are we falling short, and what we see as the reason behind it.
We’ll usually do some analysis of the data before the call to understand some of those underlying trends. So we’re coming to the call prepared with some insights and recommendations based off what we’re seeing. Other than that, we’re saying:
We have to understand what we’re seeing in Databox. We do spend time looking at those dashboards before the call. But we’re also drilling deeper into the actual source, whether that’s Google Analytics or Google Ads or HubSpot or whatever it might be. We do try to go a level deeper than what we could actually see in their dashboards to be able to tell that story.
We are using Teamwork as a project management tool. So we’re getting pretty aggressive with staying on top of that. We also have a team meeting internally where we just review all accounts at the beginning of the week, go through performance, talk about what’s coming up, what went well, what didn’t go well and that just keeps us in tune.
I think, generally speaking, our clients like it. They liked this approach. That’s a part of why they chose to work with us in the first place.
For those who have been with us for a longer time, maybe it takes a little bit longer to adapt. But we get a different reaction from our new clients. We just had the second or third check-in with one of our new clients. They made a comment after reviewing one of our dashboards. They said:
“We had been hoping to get something like this for years and this is where you’re starting? You’ve set the bar really, really high for yourself!”
They told us they took a screenshot of what they were looking at and they sent it off to a VP. They love this stuff. I think there’s a gap where they need help understanding and interpreting the data, knowing where they should be focused on and where they should be concerned. We try to help there.
Agencies | Nov 5
Agencies | Nov 2
Agencies | Oct 26