| Mar 18, 2021 | | 6 min read

Proof of performance: Proving marketing ROI to your local business clients


Proof of performance is a big part of demonstrating the value of your work with local business clients, whether they are gunning for that top spot in a Google search or simply looking to streamline digital marketing efforts to save time and maximize ROI. 

Customers need to understand the importance of different tactics you’re recommending, and by setting appropriate expectations for results, proving marketing ROI goes a long way towards strengthening your relationship with them. Proof of performance, done right, builds trust in your ability to help clients reach their goals.  

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Starting the Conversation

Local businesses looking to you for advice may ask general and open-ended questions about digital marketing, including. 

“Should I try doing google ads - what do you think?”

“Do I need to hire someone to tackle my SEO?”

These are great conversation starters that usually mean the business owner recognizes digital marketing is important, but doesn’t know enough about it in order to determine where to focus efforts. Vendasta Product Manager Josh Baker explains how the most successful Vendasta partners begin those conversations with local business customers, by setting up the value of the solutions from the onset.

“It’s important that our partners explain that digital marketing is not just about advertising. If you have bad reviews, customers will find you through your digital ads and by having that bad rating score you’re essentially paying them to go check out your competition,” Baker says.

“It’s always this lightbulb moment like, ‘oh now I get why listings matter, why reviews matter, I get why SEO matters, and I understand how digital advertising can compliment all of that.’”

Product Review Sites modern customer journey

Drilling Down The Numbers 

Explaining to clients how organic traction doesn’t happen overnight is important to set proper proof of performance expectations. The instant gratification of paid ad traffic can be luring, but experts should make the case to also lean on organic avenues. Once those efforts have time to marinate you’ll start to see the growth. 

“It’s a long concerted effort on many fronts to get a business showing up on the first page of Google,” Baker says. “Agencies will typically be able to demonstrate some progress within a few months time, but to really capture those top spots, it can take years -- depending on the taxonomy of the business and how crowded the space is.”

Baker points out that many businesses face seasonality waves, whether it’s a retail store seeing a bump during the holiday shopping season, or a service-based business where calls might peter out during those times when people are busier. 

By inspecting data week-over-week or even month-over-month, in those cases you can’t quite see the progress. Look at data over a year span, compare year-over-year, quarter to a previous quarter. Those are the areas where you can best see the proper context of data.

Joshua Baker

Product Manager , Vendasta

“Looking at SEO performance as an example, it’s evergreen. You do a little bit of work at the beginning and it continues to benefit you years down the road, versus the results of digital advertising. The moment you stop paying for it, it dries up and stops,” Baker says. 

To explore more about the benefits of a strong SEO strategy and how to execute a full website SEO audit visit the Conquer Local Academy.

“It’s important to have a good balance. Rather than investing money in paid ads right in the beginning of your work with a local business, agencies will see better ROI by focusing on the organic efforts first,” Baker says. 

“So that may be blog writing, polishing where the business is at with their reviews, and perfecting those profiles for the business on listing sites like Google and Yelp.”

According to Baker, marketing experts should work with their clients in a simple four-step workflow that considers: 


  1. How are you doing? Analyze how the business’s online marketing is currently performing 
  2. Here’s what you should do about it. Identify the tactics a business could try and strategically select those you think will have the biggest impact on a primary goal 
  3. We can help you! Find the right digital solutions to help fulfill those business needs
  4. Repeat! Here’s how you’re doing now! Circle back to data to see how things are progressing - what’s working? What new strategies should we pivot to?

Key Performance Indicators 

In order to determine which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are most relevant for your client, it’s important to understand what their primary goals are. Depending on the stage a business is in, whether they’re a startup or a long-standing business, there are typically two different goals that can be achieved by bringing you on board to support their digital marketing efforts. These include:


  1. To drum up more business, grow and attract new customers  
  2. To maintain a current revenue level while decreasing overhead 


“Partners might find that the business owners they’re working with aren’t forthcoming with financial data, like revenue or even the number of customers coming in the door,” Baker says. “So it’s up to you to focus on leads, tracking, and identifying where those opportunities come from.” 

Baker recommends using tools like Google Analytics and the Vendasta Executive Report, to call out certain ad campaigns, and efforts on social media or high performing blog posts which may show evidence of conversion through to the other side of the sales funnel. 

Give Your Clients Their Own Dashboard To Manage Their Online Strategy

The Vendasta Business App has evolved into an operating system for online marketing.

“A big ‘wow’ moment for our partners’ local business clients comes after you’ve set them up, hooked up their website, connected to Google Analytics, and linked their advertising,” Baker says. “Partners can then generate a single report, send that off to the client and say. ‘hey, here is your online data and it’s all in one place.’” 

Proving Marketing ROI executive report

Baker says a business owner often has no clue that data was even out there or how it could be accessed.

“The beauty of Business App’s Executive Report is that we’ve put a lot of work into simplifying all of the online marketing analytics and making it so even the average business owner can glance at this report and understand how their business is doing,” Baker says. 

“As an agency or Vendasta partner, it’s your role to approach reporting and proof of performance with context,” Baker says. “Take into account what’s happening in the industry, what’s going on within the businesses itself and call out strategies you’ve tried in the last few months to give that business owner relevant advice backed up by numbers. 

“Business App eliminates a ton of overhead for agencies who, every month or every quarter, need to pull data from a ton of different sources, take screenshots, and cobble it all together into one report for their clients,” Baker says.

“Business App and the Executive Report make it all appear effortless. The reporting, trend lines, and comparisons pull in automatically, making our partners look like heroes in the eyes of their clients.” 

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About the Author

Nicole Lauzon is a Content Marketing Manager at Vendasta and has spent the last decade of her career helping local businesses tell their stories. Kickstarting her professional journey as a writer and producer for a major Canadian television network, Nicole would later spend five years as a PR Agency Creative Director, managing brand journalism, social media, blog and video content for corporate, non-profit and local business clients. Whether Nicole is marinating over her next piece of writing or enjoying some down time with her family, she likes doing it in floral print.

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