4 Easy Steps to Know Your Client

Shaking hands with your client

Knowing your client may be the most important aspect of being a successful Internet Marketer. Every client is different and you must be able to adapt your work to your client’s preferences. Internet Marketers see all types of clients from clothing to online gaming and there is a big difference in how you are going to market each client. In order to market your clients effectively and retain their business, follow these 4 easy steps to know your client.

Gather Your Client’s Specs

Once you’ve gained a new client it’s time to start getting to know them more. To get the ball rolling send a questionnaire to your new client with some questions about their business. You’ll want to gather basic information such as their contact information, and passwords and some more important information, including their goals and expectations of the campaign.

Get Ready for the Kick-Off

After receiving the completed questionnaire, it’s time to schedule a kick-off call. A huge part of customer service is showing your client that you care. Scheduling a phone call instead of just emailing back and forth adds a personal touch to your client relationship. Remember: don’t just talk business the whole time, it is important to connect on a personal level. Whether you both love basketball or you have traveled to where they live – make a connection! I suggest connecting with your client on LinkedIn to see where they went to school and their interests; this will give you some simple talking points, plus you can put a face to a name.

Be Nosy: Ask Questions

Now on to the business side of your phone call. Be sure to ask a lot of questions! It is extremely important to know the goals and expectations of your client. What is important to them? Is it sales, engaged visitors, or signing up for a free trial? You will also want to be on the same page for the time frame of the project. Issues can arise with unrealistic expectations on the delivery of a project, so set a realistic timeframe at the beginning of the project and stick to it. Next, ask your client about their presence on the internet. Did they sign up for SEO but run PPC on their own? Finally, it is important to be aware of who their ideal customer is. Who are you marketing to? That one detail can change everything in your campaign. After they have answered all of your questions, you must be prepared to answer any questions that they might have for you!

Do Research to Become an Expert

Don’t stop there! You should have already completed some basic research on your new client, but now that you’ve discussed their goals and expectations it’s time to complete some in depth research. Spend time on your client’s website and determine what needs to be improved. This involves using your marketing as well as technical and design knowledge. Are their title tags non-descriptive? Do they have a form that is too long? Are there a ton of broken links? Are the pictures on the site stretched? Make a list of all the changes you would like to make and start tackling them! Also, find and follow them on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to learn more about their target audience. Another great way to know what is going on in their company is by setting Google alerts for when their company name is mentioned on the internet.

Now that you’ve completed the 4 easy steps to know your client including a questionnaire, a phone call, asking questions, and research, you should know your client inside and out! Knowing your client should give you the confidence to market their site with ease. Continue communication with your client based on their expectations and give them some unsolicited “great news” updates to keep them engaged. It is easier to keep an existing customer than to get a new one so be sure to know your client! Leave us a comment and let us know what has worked well for you.

A Simple Guide on How to Effectively Talk to Clients

talk_nerdy_to_me.jpgEveryone needs a website made, but not everyone can talk “tech” like we can. From the farm owner in Indiana to the brain surgeon in Malaysia, we quickly see that employers can come from all walks of life. Learning how to carry on a compelling conversation about web development is a paramount skill that all web developers should possess if you want to keep the checks coming in. Maintaining your audience’s interest and gaining an accurate picture of what they truly need to get done can prove to be a challenging part of any web development project, but here’s a few tips that might help a bit.

Get an estimate of their computing/technological expertise.

So that you know how in-depth you have to explain certain concepts or ideas, you should first try to determine the individual’s computing/technology knowledge. This can be accomplished indirectly with, what I’d like to call, fishing questions (similar to “fishing for compliments“).

For example, you can ask in passing, “Hey, what operating system do you have on your home computer?” or “What’s your preferred web browser?”. What you’re really trying to learn is: (1) if they know the basic terminologies like operating systems and web browsers, (2) if they have any experience with computers and the internet, (3) their tech savvy-ness, (4) how and why they use IT. A person using Linux probably knows a thing or two about computers and Mac’s are generally appealing to artists, designers, and musicians.

Other fishing questions are:

  • What do you already know about search engine optimization?
  • Do you use Adobe Photoshop (or a similar digital-image editing software)?
  • What are some websites you frequent on your spare time?
  • Do you subscribe to any RSS feeds?

Don’t underestimate a person’s knowledge.

You know that colleague who insists on explaining to you the difference between HTML and (X)HTML when you’ve just finished a strict-doctype XHTML website? Don’t be that guy. People don’t like to be treated like they’re stupid, and not being able to understand a person’s knowledge is a sure-fire way of landing yourself on his or her bad side. If you’re unsure of their grasp on a particular subject, don’t assume they don’t know anything, ask fishing questions and judge by their reactions whether or not you’ve explained enough.

Use actual examples.

When talking about a web project, it helps to have a computer with an internet connection nearby so that you can both communicate look at stuff that’s on the internet. For instance, if you’re trying to determine what look-and-feel a client wants for their website (i.e. “web 2.0”, dark, clean, etc.) you’d get a more precise answer if you were to show examples of websites that may have a similar theme that they described.

Keep an emphasis on the bottom-line.

People may not understand what SEO is, or how it’s accomplished, or why valid mark-up matters when trying to achieve a search engine optimized site, but if you talk in terms of results, they’ll be inclined to keep listening. For example, trying to describe the importance of standards-compliant XHTML, you can say: “standards-compliant XHTML ensures that the website’s mark-up is valid and supported by most modern web browsers which in the end means less maintenance and fewer customer support due to browser-rendering issues“.

Keep it simple.

Sometimes we have a tendency to overwhelm employers with technical jargon and over-explanation because we want to show them our knowledge and expertise. There’s no need to explain how you’re going to mock-up the web design in Photoshop (layer by layer, in excruciating detail). Most probably, they don’t care and you’ll only risk complicating things and adding to the client’s anxieties about a topic they’re not well-versed in.

Encourage questions.

It’s always good to figure out any questions or needs for clarification as early as you can to avoid dissatisfaction at the end. Give off the attitude that you’re always willing to answer questions and that no question is too simple or silly. If you have the luxury to meet with a client in person, you can do this by judging their facial reactions to the things you say. If they seem confused, ask: “should I explain further?”. If you’re meeting remotely (emails or phone calls), regularly say things like: “I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have”.

Talk using familiar analogies.

A great way to relate information to employers is by using scenarios and situations that are pertinent with their background. Be creative, make analogies funny, and most of all, use it to relay complex concepts. To illustrate with a satirical example: if you were talking to a basketball fan, you could say “using tables instead of div’s for page layout is as bad of a decision as picking Michael Olowokandi over Michael Jordan on your fantasy basketball roster because…“.

Be yourself.

Don’t pretend like you’ve worked on hundreds of websites and that you’ve been doing this for 15+ years… if you really haven’t. If you look uncomfortable or unsure of yourself, it gives off the impression that your trying too hard to impress or appear knowledgeable in the subject. A lot of web designers and developers nowadays don’t hide the fact that they are small, young, and playful. When working in an industry that’s complex and intimidating to outsiders, it’s a welcoming relief to find people that are normal. It can prove to be a plus when you don’t obfuscate the fact that you’re just starting out in the business. It’s easier to talk to a person who’s honest, sincere, and up-front then someone who appears to be B.S.’ing you all the time.

Do you have your own tips on how to effectively communicate with your clients? Share them by leaving a comment!