Advertising Agencies and SEM, Part 2

worldAgencies Need Search.
We live in a world where organic and paid search marketing outperforms many other channels. If an advertising agency does not have a dedicated search department or a serious strategic relationship, it’s not always possible to do a 100% job for their clients. This post continues a series of articles aimed directly at advertising and PR agencies with the intent of demystifying the SEM process.

Managing Expectations
In the search marketing business keeping clients’ expectations real requires a good deal of clarifying communication. In fact this blog was born out of our need to consolidate myth-busting information in a centralized publication for our clients. Complicating the matter further is the reality that changes occur literally every day in the paid and organic search worlds. When we service advertising agency clients, as a third party subcontractor, managing the extra layer of communication between our SEM work and the client is a process which must be clarified and managed.

Clarify Roles Early and Often
It is often better for the SEM to have direct interactions with the client for the purpose of education. We teach the advertising agencies we work with at the same time as together we educate their clients. However this can be touchy, especially early in the SEM shop’s relationship with an agency. Agencies are usually skilled account managers who have fostered functional and trusting relationships with their clients. They don’t want some subcontractor tinkering with the account relationship dynamics. This is of course reasonable.

Advertising account executives and relationship managers try their best to understand search and usually grasp the most important concepts of search engine optimization. Still it is not realistic to expect them to become overnight experts. Since SEO involves complex interactions between technologies, creative execution, key performance indicator determination and tracking, and the evolving search-landscape there is plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding. We’ve learned the hard way over time that carefully defining roles is crucial when an advertising agency brings us in to help with their clients.

One of the biggest issues is communicating exactly what part the agency will play in managing the clients’ expectations. At the beginning of any project an SEM really needs to evaluate the knowledge of the advertising agency account representative and assertively manage the process of educating both the account rep and the client.

Search is a Moving Target
Search is an evolving science. People say “oh yes search is keywords” and often have little more understanding. We find that when we take time to explain and demonstrate results, both agencies and their clients really open up and partner with our SEM shop.

Our partnerships are rooted in results. There are many different aspects which must be taken into account including analytics, PPC, organic search, social media, and they all need to be brought under the same umbrella. That’s why, to serve the greater good of clients, agencies bring us in to help.

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