In case you missed it, inside your Raven Tools dashboard is a nifty new CRM feature which landed early in May. It has proved so useful to us that I asked if I could write a post explaining why we think the feature is so good.
Client collaboration is not a new concept to us. We’ve been working closely with clients and encouraging their involvement for some time now, and Raven’s CRM has just streamlined this process – which is why I love it so much. No longer do we need a shared spreadsheet log or multiple emails just to get our client’s CEO to send a message. Everything is one place.
Why get clients involved?
So why should you care whether your client is involved in your work?
Here are three really good reasons. Client involvement can:
- Augment your efforts: If your client’s budget is limited, perhaps they can do some of the work to give you more time and resources to explore other opportunities for them.
- Provide more value to the client: They take ownership of relationships, meaning they get more out of them in the long term.
- Open doors in the industry: Working collaboratively with your client means you can leverage their position and reputation in the industry for high-value links and to establish fruitful relationships with key websites in the space.
I like the last one best of all.
Of course, this won’t work with all clients. Some want to write the check and not hear from you again until the end of the month, when you tell them how much traffic they’ve had and how much money you’ve made them. These kinds of clients are fine, but there is little point trying to push them into a collaborative relationship when they don’t want one.
If you’re nodding your head at that last paragraph thinking about your clients, then sadly this post probably isn’t for you. But if you’ve got clients that want to be involved in your work, read on.
First, the most common problems with client collaboration:
- Clients are busy
- Clients are paying you, so you need to be adding value
- Technology barriers & confusion
Here’s a step-by-step process we use to solve all these problems, with the help of Raven’s CRM.
1) Create a profile for your client
If you haven’t done so already, it is best to create a profile for your client so that you can customise their dashboard. To set up a new profile, follow these instructions.
2) Configure your client as a Raven Tools user
In essence you will want to:
- Set them up as a user.
- Give them access to their profile.
- Change their roles (or create a new role) to make their life as easy as possible (e.g. remove any features or sections they won’t need).
3) Go to your CRM
Now we get onto the good stuff. Make sure you are in your Profile in Raven Tools (rather than the account you just created for your client). Navigate to the CRM feature within your dashboard. It is the little icon that looks like a contact card.
You will be taken to your CRM dashboard, where you’ll get an overview of your personal activity. (Luckily this screenshot was taken near the end of the month so I’ve nearly finished all my tasks).
From here you will need to click the add contact button:
4) Add a contact
Maybe you’ve just identified a handful of influencers who control the leading blogs and websites in your client’s industry. Maybe you’re helping a client capitalize on their professional network. Maybe your client has a stack of business cards from a recent conference for you to mine for link opportunities.
Whatever the reason, you’ve got contacts to upload. Let’s get their details into your CRM database.
The “add a contact” button brings up a form to add the contact record for the individual you are looking to develop a relationship with.
Adding as much detail here as you possibly can is really worthwhile. When it comes to a CRM, you get out of it what you put in. It can either be a wasteful box-ticking exercise or a goldmine of information – your choice.
Once you’ve completed the various tabs of information, Raven will create an entry in your CRM database which will look something like this:
Set the type to the appropriate entry:
Why? Understanding the individual can help with the pitch. Bloggers may have different motivations than journalists, for example, and need to be pitched differently. An acquaintance or business associate of the client should be approached differently than an individual your client has never met before.
We also use the ‘notes’ tab frequently to include helpful snippets like “They recently covered a competitor,” “They like infographics on …” and so on. You can encourage your client to review these notes so they don’t have to go digging around the website themselves (adding value!).
5) Write a message (save as draft)
Even the smartest, most capable clients sometimes aren’t quite sure how to do “the whole link building thing,” like writing an introductory email to a blogger. That’s why we will often write the email for the client. Raven has thought of this, so there’s no need to write the email in a .txt file and send across to the client.
Just select new message:
This will open a message pane for you to complete…
From here you can select a template to customize, create a new template or just write an email from scratch.
The aim here is to make your client’s life as easy as possible while ensuring the outreach has the best chance of being effective. The general rule we work by is that we know outreach and our client knows their business, so we will usually structure a template and have the client fill in specific details. This way we are playing to each other’s strengths.
Add ‘completion hints’ to the email for your client. For example:
- [Explain your proposed guest post on industry change X]
- [See the notes on this contact to complete this section]
- [Add some more detail here]
You provide the structure for the client to add real substance to the email.
Once you have finished, just select the ‘save draft’ option. This will store your message within the CRM database so the client won’t even need to go hunting for the right email.
6) Set it as a task for your client
Now to get the client involved. They need a deadline, and you need to be proactive about making sure they stay on track. Don’t pussyfoot around them just because they pay you. They pay you for results, and they probably won’t take kindly to you blaming the failure of the exercise on them (even if it was their fault), so stay on track.
Click the add task button.
This will open a pane to add the task into your client’s queue:
From here you can add:
- The title: Be really consistent here. We have found it creates a better workflow if you call the task “Send Introductory Email” every time rather than “Pitch this contact” then “Send intro to”. Reduce confusion and frustration and your client is more likely to go along with it.
- The description: Be sure to add a nice, clear set of instructions about what the client needs to do to complete this task. If they need to just send the email then tell them that, if they need to complete the email you’ve structured for them then do so, if they need to read the notes then remind them to.
- Task assignee: From the dropdown, select your client as the person who is responsible for this task.
- Due date: Be realistic but firm and proactive. If you know there is a clear opportunity to make a connection by the end of the week, set an appropriate date. Don’t be overzealous – clients will come to ignore your “urgent” tasks if they don’t believe them to be. Remember they have other things on their plate also.
A few other recommendations:
- I would recommend adding a note within the task description box asking the client to update the relationship status once contact has been made so that everyone stays on the same page.
- It might be a good idea to set a task for yourself to check in on progress so that you can follow up with the client if you need to.
- At this stage you might even want to schedule a follow-up task for your client but be careful that your client isn’t following up with people they’ve already heard back from – that’s kind of an outreach faux pas.
Now the client should have a task to complete – most likely an email. They can click onto the contact and grab the email. If they have their email account synced with Raven, Raven will open their mail client of choice when it’s time to send. Most of our clients just copy and paste the email out of Raven and into their email composer once it is ready to go.
Encourage your client to leave notes where applicable, change statuses where necessary and (once they get the hang of using Raven) add tasks for you to complete like “Find me new opportunities, masterful link prospector”, “Help us develop a relationship with this guy”, “I need your help to make this outreach email better”.
You’ll be surprised at what you get back from some of your more involved clients.
7) Send your client this email
(the first time you add a task for them)…
Hi [FAVORITE CLIENT],
I’m following up from our call yesterday where I mentioned the SEO campaign management software that we use, Raven Tools.
I have now set you up with an account so that we can collaborate, secure some great links and further develop your reputation in the [CLIENT INDUSTRY].
You can login by visiting:
Once inside, please navigate to the CRM dashboard (the address book icon that’s the first of the small icons on the right of the navigational bar).
Select the “tasks” tab and you will see I have added a few tasks and contacts that I would like for us to work together on. There are some really great opportunities in there and I hope we can add more as we go along.
Do you want to set up a quick call to go through the system the first time you login?
All the best,
[YOUR FAVOURITE LINK BUILDER]
You won’t want to push every link opportunity your clients’ way, but often you can add value by facilitating – particularly for the really high-value ones, where they are likely to get the most value out of working with you. You’re cueing it up for the client to knock it out of the park.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of getting good results for your clients, if you have to play back-office assistant rather than rockstar outreacher for some of the link opportunities, then do it.
How do you encourage your clients to work collaboratively with you? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
James Agate is the founder of Skyrocket SEO – the link building and content marketing company. Follow James on Twitter on Twitter @jamesagate). and take a look at the page he put together exclusively for Raven Tools customers.
Not a Raven customer yet? See our CRM for yourself. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today!