Digital Account Management: Manage Expectations

This is part two of a six-part series recapping my presentation, “Happy Clients: An Intro to Digital Account Management,” from Podcamp Nashville 2011.

2. Manage expectations

In college, I had a professor who used to say, “The measure of someone’s happiness is equal to the difference between their expectations and their reality,” (which I’ve illustrated beautifully with the following graphic).

Happiness Equals Expecations Minus Reality

Now, as a whiny college student, I didn’t truly appreciate the inherent wisdom of that quote. Now, as an account manager, I’ve realized that nowhere is that more important than when working with clients.

Most typically, this comes up when it comes to metrics. The client expects 50,000 unique visitors to his website one day after launch, 10,000 downloads of his app or an open rate of 50% on his email campaign.

But, the most common expectation I find myself having to manage is the following:

Why isn’t my website at the top of Google?

In all fairness, search engine marketing is more art than science and plenty of SEOs purport to understand more than they really do, so clients can be forgiven for thinking that gaining a #1 spot in Google is as simple as launching your website and giving Mountain View a call.

So what’s the easiest way to manage this expectation?

Ask questions

Ask lots and lots and lots of questions, particularly when you’re on the front end of a relationship and haven’t developed a lot of history working with the client.

Figure out what your client’s expectations are before launch (preferably before the project begins). Heck, figure out what your client’s boss’s expectations are.

Start at a high level with questions like: Why are they doing this? What’s the business objective? What does success look like?

Then dig deeper with questions more specific to the project, such as: How much traffic would you like to drive to your website? What do you want them to do when they get there?

You’ll end up with a better proposal, a much better project and a very happy client.

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