Digital Marketing’s Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be So Secret


Transparency and training are the keys to digital marketing client success

Transparency is crucial in all relationships — romantic, platonic, familial, and of course the all-important relationship between small businesses and their digital marketing experts.

Unfortunately, the same customer complaints keep cropping up. Clients say that their digital marketers over-promise, bombard them with jargon, and don’t explain things clearly or thoroughly. Basically, transparency is nowhere to be found.

That’s a horrible situation, especially considering small businesses and digital marketers are supposed to be a team. When one partner wins, they both do — and when one partner fails, the same holds true.

A common thread is that many digital marketers simply aren’t educating their clients. Digital marketing clients can run the gamut from plumbers to doctors, brick-and-mortar bakeries, BBQ restaurants, to auto mechanics. Each of these small business owners know exactly what they’re doing in their own element — but they’re understandably clueless about digital marketing.

Digital marketers need to stop taking advantage of this ignorance. Just like a digital marketer shouldn’t be expected to know how to give a deep tissue massage, a masseur/masseuse can’t be expected to know the best digital marketing strategies.

Transparency and training. These are the keys digital marketers keep swallowing by mistake.

Embracing The 101

It’s the job of digital marketers to educate first. If clients know digital marketing basics, that can help prevent future problems and streamline the partnership.

Many small business owners are eager to learn. By partnering with businesses instead of just doing whatever is necessary to get their business, digital marketers can make themselves an indispensable tool. Work with these businesses to create sales goals, establish benchmarks, and work together to achieve them.

Playing For Keeps

A local business might have heard about “omni-channel marketing” or the importance of “optimizing big data,” but they probably don’t know exactly what that means.

Digital marketers love jargon, and there are many reasons to use it. It might help a digital marketer appear like an expert, even when they’re on shaky ground. It can discourage clients from asking questions since they don’t want to sound stupid. No matter how it’s used, jargon separates people, causes confusion and is deadly to a partnership.

When a digital marketer uses jargon-y terms like they expect their client to know them, there won’t be many questions asked. But embrace transparency — explain those terms — and suddenly you’re on the fast track to a long-term relationship. What is it about that omni-channel marketing solution that’s so helpful, and what does it mean for the client?

However, bear in mind that education is pretty pointless if digital marketers doggedly stick with overaggressive selling. If you let sales quotas dictate your next moves instead of the success of your clients, failure is guaranteed. The goal should be winning and retaining clients, not just the first part of the equation. (This is one reason that my agency has a Client Success Officer.)

Measuring Up

Most local businesses will use their marketing money to get new customers and drive up revenue. However, the overarching industry measures don’t relate to ROI in the real world. The focus is more on leads, clicks and contacts — all words that are confusing to customers. Plus, these words can be used interchangeably and subjectively. Businesses want to know their measurements, statistics and actual data. Business owners want more sales and more customers.

Think about what your customers (those small business owners) care about, and speak to that—transparency. It’s customer service 101: Give your customers what they want. Digital marketing customers want information that’s easy to understand, accessible and fast. Why aren’t most marketers delivering?