Knowing Your Clients Means Knowing Their Business! |

Knowing Your Clients Means Knowing Their Business!

By Daniel Bianchini / March 28, 2011

Richard Fergie recently conducted an in-house training session in which we looked at Analytics – Google Analytics in particular. The session was based on two parts, Technical and Business, the latter of which discussed reporting.

The technical part of the session included a hilarious explanation of how users, browsers and analytics pass around cookies (Tesco double chocolate chip in this case), whilst the business part of the session discussed the reporting and the possibilities of reporting on several levels.

The Business section raised some good points and got me thinking about how much people immerse themselves in their clients’ businesses.

Although I wouldn’t expect to know every aspect of the customer’s business, I would expect to know key activities, features and objectives that would help me achieve the targets that are set by the business. Below, I have listed three areas that as an SEO you would expect to know before you set out on any part of the SEO strategy, or even before defining the SEO strategy itself.

Business Model:

By getting some knowledge of your client’s business model, you can start to understand what they believe success is related to.

These may include:

  • Are they pure play or multi-channel?
  • What are their business objectives?
  • Understanding the industry
  • What is their current online & offline marketing activity?
  • Are they looking for direct response conversion or brand awareness?
  • What is the length of the buying cycle?


Business KPIs:

Each year a business generally sets out their targets for the following financial year, detailing what they want and what they believe they should achieve as a business. These figures are then associated with different channels to ensure that growth is seen throughout the business and not just in certain channels. This is generally when the online marketing director/manager outlines the KPIs for their different marketing channels.

If your client was an e-commerce store and 2010/11 provided them with a traffic split similar to below, then you would know that a significant part of the business KPIs is going to come from search, and SEO in particular.

Potential Business KPIs:

  • Increase revenue by %
  • Improve brand visibility
  • Improve conversions
  • Improve lead generation


Your KPIs:

KPIs need to be discussed and agreed upon before any part of your SEO campaign can begin. Most businesses and online marketing managers will have KPIs ready for you that will either be agreed instantly or be negotiated if they are unrealistic.

I was once in a meeting where the KPI was to increase non-brand traffic from 250k to 2 million in one year for a business in a niche market that didn’t generate a significant amount of non-brand traffic. I thought this was unrealistic – I would be interested to hear any unrealistic KPIs that you have been given in the comments section below.

If your client hasn’t provided you with any KPIs, then either ask whether they have any specific KPIs they would like for this project type or suggest some or even both. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Increase visibility
  • Increase revenue/conversions
  • Increase traffic
  • Increase non-branded key phrases
  • Improve page views
  • Increase in the percentage of targeted keywords on the first page of Google



So you know the business model inside out, you know what they want to achieve this year and have your KPIs set, so now what? Well now we get to work, and put everything into trying to achieve our set targets. The most important thing that we get out of all of this is knowing what we need to report on to show the impact that your work is having.

So the question is, how well do you know your client? Could you tell me their business goals for the new financial year? What’s more important, ranking for important industry key phrases or generating increased revenue through non-brand search?

These are questions that you should know the answers to, not only because they are your client, but because these answers will help you define your SEO strategy, which in turn will help them achieve their business goals. Help achieve business goals and 9 times out of 10 you will gain client retention.

Do you know your clients? Does your reporting reflect what your client is trying to achieve and give them enough information to make decisions? Are your documents tiered for different management levels or are they a single combined document? I look forward to hearing your thoughts below in the comments, or of course on Twitter @danielbianchini.

Daniel Bianchini


Daniel Bianchini is the Director of Services at Having been in digital marketing since leaving University, Daniel has worked both agency side and in-house, working with many leading UK brands.

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