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 23, 2018 • 9 minute read
“On the other side of this monitor, there’s a huge 65 inch HDTV where the Databoards look awesome. But, we also share them through Zoom.
In a video call, you can see a client who has never really interacted with the data of their business before (beyond P & L statements) and they say, ‘Oh my God, I had how many sessions? Why do people in Indonesia like my website?’
It’s just so cool to show somebody something that they’ve never interacted with before. And then over time, they’re like, ‘Hey, can I see more about this metric?”
-Kenny Lange, CEO, PHNX21 creative
Lange: Life before Databox was a dark time. I knew analytics was important, and when I started the agency, I began going through the Google Analytics Academy. I knew some basic stuff, but that really gave me an appreciation and a bit more depth of knowledge.
But, several years ago, Google Analytics wasn’t quite as user-friendly as it is now. So when I would build websites and (because that’s how I started), I didn’t have a wealth of information to share. I was like, ‘Hey, people visited your website or they didn’t’.
At one point, I found a program called “ManageWP” for our WordPress sites because that’s my background. They had a client reporting feature and that was my first experience with any for any sort of automated reporting.
It would gather the updates that had occurred. It had a light SEO feature that showed the page speed performance and things like that. They had a Google Analytics snapshot and I set it up so I could either manually or automatically send that out at the end of every month. I thought it was cool because it reminded my clients why they were subscribing to our web care plan because I felt like it added value. I did that for 18 months before I discovered Databox.
As a designer, I love things that are aesthetically appealing and pleasing. But the more I dug into it and then also saw the leadership behind it, I felt like it could be a cool offering. It just felt like the next logical step for us.
It has changed a lot. I think we joined in July of 2017. I found it very intuitive and clients responded well when I would show it to them. But things didn’t really take off in terms of how we used it until I assigned it to one of our team members.
Carter is currently on our team, but previously he was an intern. He got college credit through university and then we decided to hire him part-time and we were trying to figure out his role. And I said, ‘Why don’t you take a look at this Databox thing? I’m using it a little bit. I get the analytics.’
When you’re a small agency with just a couple of people, you have so many hats that you’re bouncing from thing to thing. It almost feels like you can’t give any one thing the attention it deserves.
In the course of a month, he was just like, ‘This is it.’ He really came to life. And I knew we were finding that sweet spot of where he’s passionate and where he’s skilled.
As opposed to account managers, our agency has client success guides. They’re supposed to be taking ownership of each client’s success. He was able to have a collection of clients, and I said, ‘You’re going to help all of us, but you’re going to have a few clients of your own and you’re going to talk to them.’
Not only did he get to edit the boards and do all the behind the scenes stuff, but then he got to turn around and see how people connected in real time.
On the other side of this monitor, there’s a huge 65 inch HDTV where the Databoards look awesome. But, we also share them through Zoom.
In a video call, you can see a client who has never really interacted with the data of their business before (beyond P & L statement). And they say, ‘Oh my God, I had how many sessions? Why do people in Indonesia like my website?’
It’s just so cool to show somebody something that they’ve never interacted with before. And then over time, they’re like, ‘Hey, can I see more about this metric?
So he felt that it was valued and that’s what we all felt was like. Because he enjoyed it so much, it was like compounding the reward for him.
So now you’ll hear him say, “I think if we designed the board this way, it’ll add value. This is going to show them what’s going to help them make a better decision faster.”
As he goes through the data, he’s thinking, “what could I do?” It’s a puzzle to him. We’ll start with some standard boards, but it makes his day to customize a Databoard for a client because they’re chasing this goal. We believe clients should have ownership in the decision-making process. We’re not a dictatorship.
In our sales process, we’re generally setting some sort of revenue goal because in some cases we’re helping people set goals for the very first time.
They’re just like “More money!” and I say, “Okay, everyone wants more money. So let’s move past that and let’s start talking realities.”
We use the SMART goal process that most marketers are familiar with. But we generally start with a revenue goal. Then, we look at the lead to customer conversion ratio. Then we try to see if the client has any idea who’s coming to their site. In some cases, we’re taking on clients that don’t know what Google Analytics is and don’t even have it on their website.
We’re starting a lot of people with no baseline which is kind of fun because we get to introduce them to digital marketing, but at the same time it’s like, “Crap, what do we base this on?” In a lot of cases, I find myself saying that for the first six months, our only goal is to get traffic to their website. Sometimes, these clients have done absolutely nothing to drive traffic besides buying a domain name and building a Wix website. That’s better than just handing out flyers everywhere. So we’ll tell them the goal isn’t even revenue at that point.
The goal is to attract visitors. In some cases, I think of it through the inbound marketing methodology, you know, attract, convert, close, delight. If I don’t have anything going in that first stage, let’s not even talk about these other stages. We’ll have an eye towards them and I know what the next steps are, but everything’s focused on traffic. We’ll design based on where they are. Revenue may not even become a measurable goal for the first 12 months, depending on their level that they’re able to invest.
Earlier in the year, we were going with this monthly rhythm. And I think long term, that’s probably our goal. We’ve recently just changed to a quarterly rhythm. We’ll do quarterly strategy and planning and now we have monthly report and review. Databox is the first thing up on the screen either on Zoom or in the conference room.
Carter keeps an eye on it in between meetings and leading up to those meetings. If he sees a statistical anomaly or outlier, whether good or bad, he brings it to the attention of the client. Or, if we know that some sort of campaign deliverable is going public at a particular time, then we’ll keep an eye on it and update the client. With some of the things we do in regards to inbound marketing, we need a good three, four weeks to really see how it is performing. For example, our number one blog post is a post we wrote in early January and it outperforms every blog post that we have.
In some cases, we want to make sure we’re avoiding a knee-jerk response because we didn’t give the campaign long enough to “cook”. We want to balance being very responsive, but also being realistic with how long results will take. We explain that we’re going to run a campaign this quarter and you might start to see some uptick. But the real value won’t occur until the following quarter when we meet again. That’s tough for people, but we have to repeat that over and over and over again. This is not overnight.
We make the Databoards accessible to any client who wants them. They can have the URL to view in real-time. We’ll actually physically get together or we’ll screen share and they’ll hold up their phone and make sure that they have access to it. We have a commitment to transparency because we view it like it’s their data.
Inside of each of the Databoards, we make it a point to use one of the Datablocks to talk about the key metrics with short, easy-to-understand definitions.
We know where to look and we know how to tie it together. But, we need to help them transition. I’ve always found it better to help the client take a step instead of pulling the rug out from under them. That’s one of our big focuses: helping someone take the next step on their marketing journey.
We’ve also played around with the idea of having forward-facing Databoards and then agency-facing Databoards where we could add a lot more Datablocks. We could have these very user-friendly ones on the front end that we use for presentation. They have fewer metrics, and then we can write on them to tell the story.
To help them grow as more sophisticated marketers, they should have ownership in this. If we can help them grow in their understanding, they’re going to understand the difficulty of our jobs and appreciate it and they’re actually far more engaged in it. We don’t work well with people who say, “I want you to do this, just go away. Do it. Report back when you’ve accomplished it.”
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