Mike Fitterer // Feb 1 2012
When someone asks me what I do professionally I usually tell them I’m a pirate, a ninja, or a wine connoisseur. Then I tell them that I moonlight as an Account Strategist at an Internet marketing agency. Inevitably they ask “what the hell does that mean?” The truth is that this is a perfectly legitimate question because my roles, obligations, and responsibilities are many. See, the beauty and joy of internet marketing is that every day is an adventure of sorts. No two clients are the same, and that makes our work highly variable and ever-evolving.
Yet, there are some definite commonalities that apply to many, if not all, projects and clients. Below are 6 principles for account managers in the internet marketing realm to follow.
Clients care about money and traffic
At heart, clients are very simple. They want you to make them more money and they want more people to visit their website (to make them more money). Unfortunately, changing a title tag or making the alt text for an image keyword rich doesn’t directly translate into dollar signs and traffic.
That means the onus is on account managers to prove to clients the value of everything the agency does. An account manager needs to connect items being worked on to gains in revenue and traffic increases whenever possible. It will help affirm in a client’s mind their investment in an internet marketing agency.
Don’t lie to your clients. That should be obvious. And don’t take a passive-aggressive approach to keeping clients in the loop when problems arise, either. If your team isn’t going to make a deadline, your client must know that as soon as you do. Even better, tell the client when it will be completed and throw in some added value to help defuse the hardship caused by the delay.
Your client will appreciate your honesty, and probably increase their trust level in both you and your agency.
Don’t stop learning
The Internet world is filled with over-achievers. Every day, companies and individuals come out with tools and platforms that obliterate existing technologies.
So it should come as no surprise that account managers in this industry MUST stay on top of trends and changes.
Naturally there is no shortage of good blogs and resources available for free. I recommend PPC Hero for paid search updates and tips, and the SEO Moz blog for SEO news and advice. Also, in the shameless plug department, Portent CEO Ian Lurie’s posts are always a great read.
Advise, don’t follow
The client/agency relationship can be trying at times. Clients always have a notion of what’s right and wrong for their business.
But sometimes that notion is a bit misplaced when it comes to marketing themselves online. That’s why it’s up to an account strategist to guide the process. After all, they’re paying you to be the expert, and your advice is normally well-founded in past experience and data.
Don’t chastise or ridicule their ideas. Just be honest and clear that other options may better suit their interests. If the client remains steadfast on an idea, look for ways you can modify or expand it to ensure the value remains present.
Organization is essential
Staying organized is a crucial element of account management. There’s an abundance of moving parts on every project, so figure out how to keep track of them. Use project management software, keep detailed to-do lists, and organize your emails so that you can easily reference conversations later on.
Communication is key
Always let your clients know what your team is doing. It worries them when they don’t hear from you. They want to know that you’re working hard to get them visibility and earn them money.
Communicate ongoing work, projects, growth, decline, key performance indicator changes, and the like. That doesn’t mean just sending gigantic emails. You also need to have regular phone calls (like people did in the not-too-distant past).
With that said, be reasonable. Don’t send 332 emails to a client in a day. Respect their time and make sure that you’re reporting valuable news – not mundane and trivial items.
Do I follow all of my advice all of the time? Nope. In fact, I’m not sure if that’s possible. What’s really important is remaining focused on all of these areas, and keeping in mind how important each one is in fostering and nurturing a successful client/agency internet marketing relationship. Put forth the effort and the positive results will follow.
Mike works on strategy and account planning for an expansive spectrum of clients, their products ranging from iPhone apps to vacation getaways to heavy lifting devices. Read More