Client Communications – The Old Black

In the arms race of SEO it seems to me in the past couple years we’ve forgotten some of the basics. We’re all focused on our cool tools are and fancy monthly reports. I see so many people stumbling over the basics of effective client communications.

It comes up every year in some report or another that customer service is more highly valued than the actual results. That said, don’t be mistaken and think that you’ll keep clients just cuz you write a good email, are good the phone or dog-gone-it people like you. If you’re not getting some level of results you should have your ass fired, and companies as Malaysia SEO services have this present for when they do their work.

Here’s a few things I’ve picked up in past years of SEO communications.

1- Screenshots – If you’re reporting finally cracking the top 10 on Google for a top term for a client send them a screenshot with your email. Rankings fluctuate daily in some verticals and then there’s all the geo crap that Google does so your client may not see it as you see it. Sure screenshots can be faked but if you and your client are actually worried that you’re lying to each other you might as well terminate the relationship right now.

2 – The Bad News Sandwich – We’ve all had to communicate bad news to a client at one point or another. I don’t remember where I learned about the Bad News Sandwich but it’s a very simple concept. Basically you bury your bad news between other items in an email. Ideally the other items are good news. The point is don’t lead with bad news and don’t end with bad news. The good news may be that you’re holding steady on some rankings. No big deal but it’s worth saying.

3 – The Plan – So you’ve had to share some bad news and you buried in the middle of other news. That’s a good start. The next piece of that same communication is that  plan you have to combat the bad news. DO NOT EVER share bad news with out a plan. Even if you current plan is to simply figure out what happened so you can create a better plan tell your client you are working on it and you are working on it RIGHT NOW.

4 – Ownership – You are going to mess up. There’s no way around it. Own up to your mistakes and offer the plans to fix them. If you keep blaming the search engines when results aren’t achieved then you really aren’t a search professional and you should be fired anyhow.

There you go. Four quick points to remember when you are communicating with your clients.

Remember: Results aren’t enough if you’re a jackass.


  1. I have learned the hard way that sharing a piece of bad news without a solution or a possible way out is never a good idea. That’s why I really started to draft my emails carefully, and above all, stopped delivering bad news on a phone conversation.

    That’s actually something to keep in mind; never EVER deliver bad news on the phone.

  2. Thanks for your expert tips. I think my boss must see this post…

  3. Had lunch with Ben from today and he mentioned a very effective rule from his previous agency: every client must be contacted at least once a month by a real person.

  4. Great stuff. Although some people will say it’s obvious – it’s still useful for people to read and have reinforced.

    Managing bad news appropriately is a critical business skill; and a lot of folk in IT (and related industries), who haven’t really worked in customer service before, are seriously lacking in this area.

    #4 particularly – own up. Say it’s your fault. Even say you dropped the ball. Thats good – but as you go on to say – make sure you also tell them what you’re going to do to fix it, and how it will all be gravy real soon.

  5. Todd, this is so true. Hey, just because you can use email, sms and IM does not mean you ALWAYS should use these tools to communicate. A monthly over-the-phone, Skype w/video or, better yet, a face-to-face meeting has so much impact on keeping a positive relationship with clients, it simply cannot be emphasized enough.

    I don’t care how good of a word-smith you are, you cannot pass facial gestures, tonality and body language in a text-based correspondence. And, these are SO key to human communication.

    Reach out an touch someone, today!

  6. Really good tips. I have same problems as you, need to do screenshots too 🙂

  7. that was nice article too.. i too have some problems relating things like screenshots

  8. “That said, don’t be mistaken and think that you’ll keep clients just cuz you write a good email, are good the phone or dog-gone-it people like you.”

    Thank you for reiterating this. Most people are sensible enough and the customer is the one who truly determines the success of your service. And the customer will only be able to define true value of what they’re paying for with their experiences of the said service.

  9. “That said, don’t be mistaken and think that you’ll keep clients just cuz you write a good email, are good the phone or dog-gone-it people like you.”

    Unfortunately people assume that online communication has replaced personal interaction. The latter actually still guarantees reliable results.

  10. Its really not that difficult but I think once people get stuck at their computer doing the actual work they forget to just pick up the phone and contact them and work on building trust and relationship – it is vital to build loyal customers that reccommend you to others

  11. Useful tips, especially the ‘Bad News Sandwich’ and ‘The Plan’. It doesn’t matter how good you are at the things you do, there will always be times went things don’t work out as intended. It’s best to be prepared for those times so taht you can turn things around when the worst does happen.

  12. Thanks for article, many people write but not many write interestingly, on it I very much like to read you, thanks once again, your sight is close to me, in the future I plan to create the blog, and there to write reviews and articles

  13. Thanks for your expert tips. I think my boss must see this post…


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