How to Know When It’s Better to Stand Up to a Client

Does anyone?
Does anyone?

One of the most rewarding parts of working at a PPC agency is getting to work with any number of amazing companies and clients. There are so many interesting industries out there to learn about. Even in the arguably “boring” industries, you can often find the people you’re dealing with on a regular basis to be quite enjoyable and make the industry itself a non-factor.

But every once in a while, no matter how much you do or don’t like the client, there comes a time when you have to put your expert hat on and push back a bit. It’s not fun. It’s not comfortable. But it’s in the best interest of your clients, their business, and the long term strength of your partnership with them. Below are some common scenarios where a PPC pro can and should push back on a client’s course of action.

Unrealistic Expectations

One time, I was on a kick off call with a client and we were covering goal CPAs for their numerous different products. Each had a different value ranging from $150 to $750, so goals were different for each. I’ll admit right off the bat, I phrased the question incorrectly, but the client’s answer is what I’m mostly focusing on here.

Me: “What would you like the CPA to be for product A?”

Client: “$1 sounds great to me.”

<cold sweats>

Again, that’s poor question phrasing on my part, but the client’s answer was slightly alarming. I began having flashbacks to the audit process where the Avg CPC was somewhere between $5 and $15 depending on the keyword. After what felt like an eternity, he laughed and gave me a more realistic answer.

</cold sweats>

I got lucky, but not every client will have reasonable expectations. It’s up to PPC pros to try to kindly bring them back down to earth and let them know what’s really attainable. It might be uncomfortable. They might hate you for it. But at the end of the day, you’ve done your job as a PPC expert to let them know the realities of the marketing channel they’re playing in.

Going Against Prior Experiences

One of the biggest benefits to using a PPC agency team is the shared knowledge we have across multiple clients, past and present. We as pros need to be able to tap into that on a regular basis. If your client is wanting to execute a strategy that flies directly in the face of all your past experiences, tell them that. Make your experience heard and show them what you mean with data if possible.

The end result doesn’t have to be that you don’t execute the strategy. Sometimes your client is tied strongly enough to a theory that it’s going to happen with or without you. But maybe you can help shape the strategy into a one with a higher likelihood of success. Or you could get them to agree to test the strategy on a limited basis before jumping in all the way.

Counterproductive Strategies

Every company has different goals when it comes to PPC. Some want conversions, others sales, some are simply in the mix for the branding play. All of these strategies are fine as a standalone. The problem comes in when an aspect of one strategy is inserted into another. They can sometimes have an inverse relationship.

For example, if you’re trying to get the most conversions for the lowest CPA possible, you’re probably striking a fine balance with your bids. Pushing as much as possible without going over your CPA limit. But when the client also wants to employ the Avg Pos 1, full domination strategy on some of these keywords, you’re in a tight spot. To attain your CPA goals, that Avg Pos could simply be out of reach with the bid required to get there.

In another example, clients sometimes are interested in having high Quality Scores in their campaigns. That’s great, but a major factor in QS calculation is CTR. For some of my clients, the keywords we have to employ are broad reaching, but we only want to target a subset of those folks. Therefore, we write ad copy so as to EXCLUDE as many searchers as possible from clicking as a way to prequalify our audience. It hurts our CTR, but our lead quality is greatly improved. Here, Quality Score is abandoned as a goal for sake of the lead funnel. In these instances, it’s your job to tell your client how these pieces interact and make suggestions on what you know to be their biggest success factor.

At the end of the day, your client is paying you to spend their money in certain channels. You’re the expert and it’s up to you to advise on the best strategies, whether the client wants to go with them or not.

Bottom Line: Make your objections heard. Back them up with any evidence you have, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the client how they want to spend their money.

What scenarios do you encounter when you have to push back on a client? How do you handle the situation? Share with us in the comments!

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