We hold ourselves to a higher standard than most of our clients do.
That sounds pretty pompous, but it's true. For example:
I think working well with clients in SEM requires these qualities:
Detailed, Valuable SEM Reports
We've probably gone through at least five iterations of PPC reports and same for SEO reports- finding out what we need to communicate, what clients want to know and what account managers want to know has taken time, but we think we've finally got it dialed in.
Some clients are overwhelmed by our reports (but some clients are overwhelmed by new words, too, and some of that can't be avoided). We've tried simplifying the reports. For a time, we did shorter executive SEO reports with results, trends, business intelligence, etc. But sometimes clients or account managers wanted more detail. It really takes less time overall if we standardize a longer report that has everything they'd ever want in it.
For some time, I wasn't happy with our PPC reports because either they were so simple that the clients had no idea what went into managing PPC, or they had some keyword or ad detail, but we didn't have time to show everything- the entire complexity of adgroup level keywords and ads- so clients would make suggestions based on what info they did have, often suggestions that didn't make sense when you saw the bigger picture.
Fortunately, we switched to Acquisio, and their PPC reports are pretty easy- once a long report is set up (and some of them can be 25 pages long), the data just gets repopulated for the new time range next time you do your report. Easy enough.
And I'd rather a client either was overwhelmed and realized that's why they have us doing it for them, or got enough information to participate in a savvy way. Part of our monthly process is communication and taking suggestions or new campaign needs into account.
We have a saying about the reports our senior analytics lady does- "the most valuable part is the comments." These are her insights into the data based on the time she spends in the reports and months or years of knowing a client's data. We do the same with our PPC and SEO reports- we analyze and talk about what's changed, how we're doing compared to last year, what the seasonal trends might be, results of tests we ran and changes we made, and we state what our plans our next for improving the campaign.
Clients have varying needs- some are quite savvy and can collaborate directly with the Search Marketing department- these clients usually need more detailed reports and monthly review meetings. Some account managers like to do something similar with us before they meet with their clients- and sometimes we all meet. Some clients love to challenge you with questions or to try to get you to raise their game. It's nice to be prepared for meetings like that. Some clients don't want to know much and never have questions, or perhaps they look at the reports but never want to talk about them- regardless, for all these cases, comprehensive reports are best.