An SEO Client Asked For guarantee What if you do not achieve the ROI or Sales within the expected timeframe?

Hello, I have a potential client that is asking me. "What if you do not achieve them or any sales within the expected timeframe?" I don't know what timeframe he is talking about. We do advertising no sales. I don't know how to answer this in a nice way. Obviously, we will do everything to provide results but looks like he is confused about services. I thought about telling him that he may also need to hire a conversion company so they can add a layer of testing on top of our Pay-Per-Click (PPC) services but I don't know if I should say that. Any advice on how to deal with this. I will really appreciate it. Thank you!


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These things should be proactively in the charter when you sign the contract. At this point an education session may help.
Think of the other side as a business owner that pays for Advetising and Marketing- there's the concept of ROI and for every let's say $1000 you spend on marketing, it's nice to expect a ratio of return (return on investment ROI), and depending on the marketing format – some have a higher ROI than others. Like a local print campaign in a newspaper for a sale weekend should provide a pretty decent ROI for the money spent (one time spend)… when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), business owners consider it a marketing expense and ingrained in the mind is how do I get the ROI from this. The challenge has been it doesn't happen right away and the time it takes to get there is the litmus test of how well a SEO firm can share growth reports and analytics with the client while also retaining the client. SEO does like to defend itself on the "no guarantee" of results and again from a business owners POV, the idea of paying for marketing with no measurable results that can be somewhat predictable is a little bit challenging for a business owner.. i've suggested in the past that if you're working with a prospect and at this impasse this is a possible peace offering-> if a firm is confident in what they may achieve, most business owners would appreciate a tiered pay structure where the first three months of payments are lower and then the next three months are higher because ideally the traffic and conversions are growing and so is revenue…

Andre » Wick
Or offer a money back guarantee
Wick » Andre
Ohhhh, now that would be impressive 👀

Tell them you don't guarantee sales just targeted exposure and your providing one ingredient in the recipe of success the others come from them or their employees
Karina, jumping in here when I don't know much about what your services are. But it always comes down to framing. If I were doing the sales on this, my answer would be something like, "If we don't get any sales using this strategy, then we know at least one marketing strategy that doesn't work. We scratch it off and move down the list." They are probably wondering if you have some kind of money back guarantee, if they want you to have a money back guarantee it might be better off for you to say no to this client.

Karina » Arthur
Money back, no way, We have to invest days to set up all these campaigns. I think the same that they want a money-back guarantee. I don't know any agency that offers that.
I've never heard of a money back guarantee either. Don't forget about the 80/20 rule!
I agree that it has to do with Framing. At my agency, we do marketing and marketing can take time to get optimized.
At the same time, we should have clear signals that we are headed in the correct directions — or if a marketing channel is not a good fit for that client — within xx days.


As someone on the other side, I find it disturbing that nobody is willing to stand by their expertise and offer a guarantee of some sort.
There should be a measurable goal somewhere, how else will you improve things?
Maybe it is organic traffic? Maybe it is sales? Maybe it is contact requests? I.e. if it is online web-sales then there is an existing conversion rate for the segment you are looking to improve. So you should be able to increase sales in that segment by increasing traffic and maintaining CR.
Either way, you are doing work with would result in some objective.
I don't know any profession where I can just do stuff without any accountability.

Karina » Nijhof
I can provide PPC Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s such as clicks, impressions, conversions but no sales. They will need a conversion agency to work as an extra layer over PPC services. Conversion can be such as people that put the OTC product in the cart, Many people do that and they abandon the cart, We can remarket this audience with a coupon, but we can't guarantee sales,
Nijhof » Karina
Why can't you guarantee sales?
Or let me say that differently, why can't you say; you either get more sales or you get your money back.
– an existing CR for certain audiences.
– they sell products people want to buy.
– you control the website stays the same.
Lori » Karina
As an agency, if we don't believe the site is set up to convert sales, we don't take them on as a marketing client. Why would we take money if we aren't certain we can help them grow? There should always be an achievable goal of a positive ROI. We do Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) in house, but many times the client doesn't believe they need to fix the site first. We decline to work with this type of client.
Lori » Nijhof
In all fairness, unless the agency controls the whole funnel, we can't guarantee you'll make more money. What if your prices aren't competitive or your products aren't good? We do vet for these issues in advance, but given that even campaigns must be approved, there is too much a site owner can do to screw up sales. Our guarantee though, which is uncommon, is that we hold our clients to no contract. You can leave if you don't find we bring enough value. No hard feelings.
Mawji » Nijhof
Simply because the agency isn't in charge of all the areas that would drive sales.
If you want to use sales as a KPI then hire a sales team. Marketing agencies are there to drive exposure and targeted traffic to your website. You shouldn't be judging them purely based on sales.
Yes majority of the time you'll see increase in sales but that's not the actual function of a marketing team. I think many clients misunderstand this and that leads to the confusion that marketing agencies should be judged based on sales figures.
Of course the bottom line will be sales so any campaign an agency creates should be geared to increase the likelihood of a conversion.
Nijhof » Mawji
You don't need a sales team of you have an ecom website, just good marketing. Like you said yourself "targeted traffic" one good way to measure this is to compare it to existing KPI like sales and CR.
Also I don't need the KPI to be sales, I am just saying there should be accountability!
Mawji » Nijhof
Yeah I agree with you there and we always look at sales as our responsibility for e-com clients. In this particular instance though it sounds like the website isn't that great. I've had an e-com client where all the best marketing in the world wasn't gonna help him get sales because the checkout process itself was so laborious that even I didn't want to go through it ��
But that doesn't mean we should provide a money back guarantee either. You're paying for work, if it doesn't work then we move on to the next strategy, you shouldn't just get a refund because you didn't get sales first time out lol
Nijhof » Mawji
It depends, you can say we'll try x strategies and if all don't work we'll refund x.
You dig a 10 meter deep hole and charge me for it. But I don't need a hole. You say still gotta pay as it was work I did.
I am _not_ paying for work, I _am_ paying for your expertise. I expect you to get results, if you say we may have some misses then that should be clear. But if no strategy works then maybe you are not the expert I thought I hired so why shouldn't I get my money back?
Mawji » Nijhof
Because there are other factors beyond the marketing that could result in no sales. At what point would the onus be on the business owner to identify their own shortcomings rather than take the easy way and just blame the marketing company.
I could honestly say that from this convo, we wouldn't bring you on as a client because your expectations wouldn't align with what we would guarantee.
That being said, I'd be upfront with you on that so if the agency can't do that then it's their fault if your expectations don't align with their targets. If you have a clear understanding from the beginning then no, a refund wouldn't be considered because we would never promise x sales from marketing
Nijhof » Mawji
No worries, I wouldn't pick you to do the work based on the same conversation.
Kirsch » Nijhof
There are many good points in this thread. It is more common for relationships to develop into rev share over time. You will be hard pressed to find a company that guarantees your ROAS target at the outset. There is just too much risk on the agency, unless there is a large suite of data to review and obvious low hanging fruit.
Igor » Nijhof
This is why I love the revenue share model. No results/no pay. Huge results/huge pay. Talking SEOterms.
Nijhof » Igor
Not many join you though
Igor » Nijhof
Fine with that. More highly scalable projects for us 🙂 When people will take a single step. forward towards the client, they will, in essence, stand out at once.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about getting people to "walk into the store". Making a sale is a function of having a product people want at a price they're willing to pay. SEO doesn't affect that part of making a sale.

Karina » Kevin
It is a PPC campaign. It also works the same. To bring traffic the difference is that they will pay for this traffic. Exactly, it don't guarantee sales.
Lori » Karina
Uh no…not the same. PPC should be well enough targeted to drive a positive ROI.
SEO is often top or middle of funnel and much harder to drive to a direct purchase.
Kevin » Lori
There is a difference between being interested in a type of product and being interested in a specific product. Both SEO and PPC are "type article f product" mechanisms. If the specific product has issues of quality, price, etc, it may not sell.
Lori » Kevin
Both can be either…Buy Brand Widget S230X is both an SEO term and a PPC term. But…clicking through ads is generally higher intent. That specific a term should convert but will never convert 100% of the time. Unlike SEO, an ad can be instantly A/B tested or revised. It's very specific and the ad manager should be "negging" out keywords that don't convert. While it takes a few weeks to optimize an ad account, there is so much more control that it absolutely should deliver sales. If it doesn't, turn it off. Either you have the wrong ad manager or it's the wrong channel for your business. Not everything sells well on Google, Bing, Facebook, etc. This is also the responsibility of the ad manager. They should KNOW up front whether that channel is a likely match. When in question, they should be running a small test before flipping the switch on a full campaign.
You don't really control who comes in via SEO, you absolutely have far more control with an ad. Not apple to apples.
if you're ad ad manager buying general terms for the purposes of branding, that should be known to the site owner, and they should understand THOSE campaigns don't often show adequate immediate sales. Branding is a long game like SEO.
Kevin » Lori
Your points are valid.
I would summarize what you've said as "If the website converts poorly, fix that before spending a lot on ads".
Lori » Kevin
Absolutely. That maximizes the return on all marketing efforts.

Is this SEO or posting Pay-Per-Click (PPC) in an SEO group?
You want agency consulting? Like how to lay out a plan for your client?
Easy 1) step, review their website, get access to GA and ad account and audit. See their conversion rate.
Determine if you can deliver good traffic and potentially get sales.
You scared you cant convert sales? That 100% is on you to make that decision early on. don't waste their time nor yours. If you are not sure how to discuss time frame and a game plan then do not proceed. You should be able to point out conversions issues or concerns early on. Test their website and checkout if concerned.
I would expect a plan from you that laid out what will be expected and a time frame. Example 30 days of testing with x budget. No sales promised if site doesnt perform but data can be used to optimize. We don't provide sales copy but can provide text from ads. We can review data and provide value.
Have them install basic tool like hotjar.
You should be able to tell them why things are failing if no sales conversions in at least 2 weeks or 30 days at most if new site. I would also expect you to set up ad environment and GA ecomm if not setup. This should be an upfront setup fee.
This is all pretty basic.
Maybe you describe sales funnel and its up to their dev team to run split testing and optimizing if you cant provide but that's critical to increase bottom line.

This seems pretty basic stuff. Maybe more was discussed?
Are you new to helping people with PPC?

PPC is conversion based.
Sending paid traffic to an unoptimized conversion page is a waste of $$$$
Many of the clients you engage won't have the in-house expertise to do Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), so if you don't do it, no one else will.
Depending on the client to have in-house CRO, or to engage an external agency reduces the value of your PPC services significantly, and creates a huge, gaping variable that will impact the success of every project you work on.


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» ROI in SEO Goes Down, but the Cost Goes Up? I Consider Shifting to Google PPC
» If a Client Asks for a Money-Back Guarantee in SEO
» What Guarantee can You Afford to Convince Your SEO Client?
» SEO Guarantees Versus Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

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