Quality or Quantity?Or, how much should you focus on either?

A month or so ago, a former client of mine at a law firm asked me to consult for them about their current marketing company. They wanted to make sure that they were getting what they were supposed to be getting. They were mostly asking for SEO stuff, which I couldn’t help them with, but I did go over their PPC reports.

Their PPC report only showed a few keywords, which wasn’t helpful. But, it showed a steady climb the last few months in conversions, and a steady drop in cost per lead. I noted that their budget hadn’t changed from what I had been managing a year ago. I explained that what had likely happened is that their PPC person had discovered a keyword or keywords that got them more conversions. I expressed concern that those keywords may not be the best ones for their business.

One of the lawyers noted that they had been starting to get a number of low-quality calls lately. The lawyers all started getting bothered at the thought that their agency was taking shortcuts or deceiving them – until I pointed out that the PPC person was doing exactly what he was supposed to do. The marketer was supposed to try to increase leads. The root of the problem was client/agency communication.

We all want to drive up the leads, but form-fills and phone calls are only a hair’s breadth above traffic increases. They mean very little if they aren’t quality. My strategy is to race to get an account to profitability by increasing leads everywhere possible. The client loves this part. However, once the law of diminishing returns kicks in, the leads get harder to grow. Rather than looking for lower value leads at higher volume, the next step is to begin finding higher quality keywords that replace the lower quality leads without killing the existing volume.

The funny thing about marketing is that we are supposed to be a results-oriented business, while we are frequently judged based on what our reports look like. A spiffy-looking report can mask weak results for quite a while, and a lame-looking report can make great results appear weak. However, clients rarely get upset when the money is flowing … in, not out. It’s usually when business is down that they begin scrutinizing everything.

Long story short, you still have to present results that look good while simultaneously doing the right thing for the client. Even though the numbers may plateau for a period of time, trust me, the clients will understand quality versus quantity.