What can you learn from a hellish SEO client?

SEO hell

We had a really bad client. They own a high end medispa in the North suburbs of Chicago. It is rare for a client to exhibit so many characteristics of being a bad client.

  • They failed to provide necessary information or resources in a timely manner
    • Despite the neglect and damage done to their website by their previous marketing firm they were unable to provide administrative credentials for the website. This means, most outrageously, that their website was displaying the incorrect telephone number for over a month when our engagement began.
    • They claimed that their CRM was unable to show them anything about their business’ performance. Nothing about which were their most profitable services. Nothing about where most of their customers lived.
    • Lesson learned: Be sure to make sure to be clear about how critical credentials are and make acquiring them top priority.
  • They were consistently difficult to communicate with and unresponsive to emails or calls
    • No excuse was given for the delay in giving us admin access to the website.
    • Near daily requests for admin access were not answered
    • Lesson learned: Clearly establish who the decision maker is and interact directly with that person. This gets difficult if this changes during the project which makes it even more important.
  • They made unrealistic demands or have unrealistic expectations about the scope of the project or timeline
    • They were unhappy that they weren’t receiving phone calls and blamed us although there was no way to change the incorrect phone number listed all over their website.
    • They required that we reduce the budget for Google Ads but expected the same response that the higher budget received.
    • They demanded that resources be spent on trying to promote one of their services that is very expensive, has a terrible online reputation and was rarely searched for.
    • They claimed that no SEO was performed on their behalf.
      • Their website performance was an “E” when we started which we improved to an “A.”
      • Their website had well over 300 completely unoptimized images that we corrected.
      • Their WordPress backend had many unused plugins and plugins that were missing activation.
    • Lesson learned: It is never more important to realize that educating the client is part of the engagement process and that it may not take as it did not in this case.
  • They were consistently indecisive and make frequent changes to the project scope or direction
    • They eventually, after many changes, made it apparent that they were only interested in sales despite our providing them with marketing.
    • Their indecisiveness resulted in over a thousand changes to Google Ads in less than two months.
    • Lesson learned: You can never spend too much time making the scope and direction abundantly clear. However, some people will insist on being unreasonable.
  • They blame others for problems instead of taking responsibility for their own actions
    • Their complaints about no phone calls were due to their not discovering that the phone number on their website was incorrect and we couldn’t even change it because they couldn’t provide the proper credentials.
    • Their complaints about no leads was due to their misconfiguration of their email client which had leads skipping the Inbox.
    • Their complaints about leads expiring in a short period of time was their attempt to cover their staff’s inability to respond to leads in a reasonable length of time. Leads that don’t immediately convert to sales can convert after following up. 
    • Lesson learned: Some leads are better than others but no lead is worthless. Your client needs to be very clear about this.
    • They were disrespectful or abusive towards our  team
      • This happened repeatedly to a female team member.
      • Lesson learned: This is intolerable and inexcusable. Time to show the client the door.

A new (and free) emailer for Gmail

Optimizing Gmail with sem[c]Use Gmail to drive traffic to your business’ website

At sem[c] we firmly believe that your business’ website is the nexus of your online presence. You have more control about the content, presentation and resulting data with your website than any flavor of social media or search engine. Email can be a great way to get people to visit your website. Gmail has been sem[c]’s goto email client for many years. We especially like the ease of Contact management.

A new Chrome plug-in lets you use your Contacts for emailing marketing

sem[c] has tested the  Sendtu plug-in which installs easily, gives you a wide variety of templates to modify, has many reporting options and, importantly, let’s you send emails to groups of your contacts in a way that you have already chosen. Other types of email marketing programs can be great but there is always a great deal of maintenance necessary to keep bounced emails and unsubscribes synchronized between any email marketing program and Gmail.

Sentu appears in your familiar Gmail interface:

Sendtu by sem[c]


The dropdown menu gives you the choices of Templates, Editor, Emails and Reports:

Sendtu menu by sem[c]

The Themes all support rich media and give the viewer an option to open the email in a browser for email clients that don’t support HTML. After you finish preparing your email, Sendtu allows you to send a test to make sure everything’s working. You add the recipients to your mailing list either from your Gmail Contacts or individually if you prefer. As soon as you press “Send” your email gets added to the Reports:

Sendtu Reports by sem[c]

Clicking on the email title displays a detailed report on clicks generated by the links within your email:

Sendtu detailed report by sem[c]


All in all this represents a very elegant, usable and useful tool to add to your marketing arsenal. It’s powerful and the price is right (free). If you’ve tried other approaches to email marketing and found them to be too much work from the standpoint of contact management or too expensive Sendtu is something that you should take a look at.  If you have any questions or would like some help with implementation please Contact sem[c].

To improve your lead generation you need to talk so that everyone can understand

The DISC model of behavioral types can be a valuable way to help identify how to best communicate with a person to generate the most leads. If you speak in a way that is most accessible to a person they are much more likely to understand your point. The DISC model can be visualized as a set of axis:
This model predicts a dichotomy between “Task oriented” and “People oriented” behaviors. Another popular behavior model, Myers-Briggs, identifies a very similar thinking/feeling axis.

In ZMOT: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth we read: “The truth is that for many shoppers, the single most powerful impetus to buy is someone else’s endorsement.” The DISC model predicts that this would be most especially true for those on the “People Oriented” side. The Target Training International, Inc. DISC manual Chapter 11 shows the overall mean averages for each behavioral group as well as details when comparing gender and other variables. In general, the types of behavior models are fairly evenly distributed across the population.

The statement about endorsements in no way dismisses the probability that for around half of all shoppers the facts pertaining to their buying decision would be “the most powerful impetus to buy” because they are more “Task Oriented”. Equally true.

The point of this discussion is to underscore how important it is for marketing to speak effectively to all pertinent behavioral types.

The actual weighting of how important this dichotomy is for any particular business depends additionally on the type of business. For example the above average up-time stats for an ISP may be just as effective for that business as a Pinterest following is for sales of a particular dress.

The complexity of all this tends to increase over time.  ZMOT shows an ever-increasing number of online influences involved in many types of buying decisions. Yet, confusion still exists in the business community about how this works.

sem[c] had a client who convinced himself that his 4.5/5 overall Yelp average was not valuable to his business because he couldn’t get Yelp to remove the reviews that he found offensive. His sales figures showed that females were an important demographic to his car repair business. He removed all website references to his business’ Yelp rating out of anger and against our very vocal objections. Almost immediately, he began reporting that he was getting fewer prospects from website contact. According to TTI, Inc. data, females are more frequently identified in “People Oriented” behavior patterns and consequently we would predict that endorsements would be particularly effective in influencing their buying decisions. Implementing a new AdWords campaign specifically targeted to a female audience more than doubled traffic to his sites but he reported no change in sales.  Despite the obvious conclusion, he saw no reason to resume using the Yelp reviews as a sales tool.

In another Yelp anecdote, I had a personal response from a restaurant owner who offered me a $100 gift certificate to his place if I would “take down” my Yelp description of an unpleasant evening there because it lowered his average down to 4.5. Both of these examples show the desire of business owners to manipulate endorsements as well as the value to the consumer of a supplier like Yelp who resists being manipulated.  Yelp realizes that impartiality is of the utmost importance to validity of their content. Both car repair and restaurants are types of businesses that are very influenced by Yelp for better or worse.

It remains important to practice the discipline of SEO which is to clearly identify your business NOT in the terms which you think of it but, rather, how others are looking for the benefits that your business offers. This will meld into the social media aspects of your business. A good record at Yelp can be an influential sales tool but you need to visibility from online marketing to build the lead generation that will allow prospects to see your ratings and to discover the facts about what your business offers them.

SEO marketing and its critical role in the buying cycle

Wouldn’t it be great if SEO got you sales the day you started? While that is frequently the expectation, it ain’t gonna happen in the real world. The effect of successful SEO will increase the number of qualified prospects knowing about you. SEO takes time to achieve this level of success that is measured in months… a length of time that is far from instantaneous.

But even though a prospect is qualified they will be somewhere along the time line in their buying cycle.  This is to say that they may not be at what the Google commissioned study “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” refers to as ZMOT or the point at which the prospects decides to buy. Our friends at the Samurai Business Group teach that it is at this point that the prospect’s apparent reason is re-defined by their compelling reason and they make their purchase.

To better understand this let’s use a real-life example of a car repair shop. It’s easy to see that anyone that owns a car would have an apparent reason to buy car repair at some point. The ZMOT study shows that online research in the Automotive category can be intense months before a purchase. This suggests that there is great benefit in having your marketing make you one of the “usual suspects” for future customers that will buy several months in the future. SEO marketing in this case is an investment in the future success of your business. The ZMOT process also details the increasingly large number of online interactions now involved in many if not all buying decisions. It is no longer enough to simply have a good website. There is an entire virtual landscape in which your digital reputation is recorded. It has become a very good business priority to tend this landscape. Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and others are all little gardens in this landscape.

It is only when a prospect’s compelling reason asserts itself that they will make a purchase. Samurai teaches that those reasons include pain, fear of future pain or the prospect of gain. In our example of car repair the prospect of gain is probably the least persuasive. It could figure in when someone is about to sell a car on their own.  Otherwise, a purchase will be made when the car is broken or likely to break soon. Once again, it’s easy to see that these two options have different degrees of urgency. The worse the problem the more quickly a purchase will be made. With proliferation of smart phones the research at the zero moment of truth may be done from the broken down car. It is only in this last resort that marketing might lead to a quick sale.

SEO marketing is our business.  Contact us to find out more.


How can you get your website to be better at lead generation?

Every business needs to generate leads. Leads become customers and if you don’t have customers you don’t have a business. Consequently we see a lot of material online purporting ways to improve lead generation . However, if we look closely at the advice it is not clear how the recommendations could be supported by results which probably explains why they are not.

A post on LinkedIn claimed to identify the elements of a “great lead gen landing page”. It was posted by a prominent marketing company and cited another online source. Let’s start with their top three:

1. A concise headline. Was A/B testing performed with a concise versus a non-concise heading?  What does that even mean? An example would be fascinating as would the raw numbers in the difference on leads from each. Wouldn’t a headline that addressed what visitors were looking for be more persuasive than something that is simply concise? What process should be followed to identify a concise, or even better, a pertinent headline?

2. An image or video. Was testing performed with and without images for a variety of business types?  What was the difference in raw numbers of leads by business type? This suggestion is a no-brainer for physical products but illustrating services in a way that makes sense to visitors is not so simple.

3. A core benefit statement. Many businesses get tripped up on this because they state what they think is a core benefit rather than doing the research to discover the benefits that most people are searching for. What is the process for crafting an effective statement?

The point of this exercise is that your landing page needs to be customized to the needs of your best prospects. There is no “one-size-fits-all”. A careful search engine optimization (SEO) process can give the direction you need to properly craft your landing pages. By starting with the proper research as we do at sem[c] you will know how people are looking for what you are offering. Only then can you start tailoring your landing page to their needs.

Have we seen the end of the cold call?

When’s the last time that you successfully reached a prospect with a cold call? With today’s sophisticated phone trees and voicemail systems you could make many, many calls before actually speaking to a human being let alone a person that could benefit your business. Then, what’s the odds that the person who you reach actually needs what you have right then?

On the other hand, it’s really nice when business comes your way from an inbound cold call, isn’t it? You can get more of that type of call with Internet marketing.

Internet marketing puts your contact information in a context that lets your self-qualified prospects easily find you. sem[c]’s effective integration of search engine marketing and optimization can get results right away. An attorney recently came to us after being with a large service provider who provided no leads at all in more than four months. The day after we started his campaign he made an appointment to discuss estate planning after receiving a cold call from our campaign.

That’s the kind of response that you can expect from SearchEngineMarketingChicago.com – contact us to start getting leads for you business.

You might never need to make a cold call ever again.