Between providing excellent service, exercising creative direction, and generating profit, you know just how challenging - and exhilarating - running a digital agency can be. The powerful engine behind it all, of course, is your clients. It’s this base that keeps your agency moving forward and growing.
So, how do you ensure that you’re continually finding new clients? If you’ve spent enough time in the industry, you probably have the basics down: a website, a carefully formulated brand identity, and at least one marketing channel that’s directing a decent number of new leads your way. (Side note: If you’re still exclusively depending on referrals for new business, it’s time to change that. Trust us - you’ll thank us later.)
This article is for those agencies looking to accelerate their lead generation and tap into new markets. Guided by the collective experience of thousands of agencies that are providing web services with Wix, we present practical tips for how to get new web design and marketing clients.
Before you start: Shift away from the global marketing trend
Before we introduce some of the more practical suggestions, we want to present one idea that is fundamental to lead generation. Even though today it seems like everyone’s focusing on the global market, we strongly recommend prioritizing your local market instead - as counterintuitive as it may sound.
Yes, the global arena can be tempting with its seemingly endless demand for web services, but having an international clientele comes with its own set of risks: pricing challenges that eat up your margins, language barriers that complicate communication, and awkward mishaps caused by cultural differences. And don’t get us started on how tough it is to work with different time zones.
Instead, focus on your immediate surroundings. This is where you can create stronger, long-term relationships - at higher price points. Plus, every satisfied client becomes another voice solidifying your place in the market. It’s here that you can easily establish yourself as a subject matter expert and offer impeccable service to people who trust you, for years to come. To make this vision a reality, the following eight best practices are here to guide you through the process.
01. Approach your SEO in a new way
First things first, you’ve got to have your basics covered. For easy reference, we’ve included a checklist here:
Indexing your site.
Optimizing your page titles and site content with relevant keywords.
Choosing simple, descriptive site page URLs.
Adding alt text to images.
Developing content or an FAQ page to answer the most common questions prospects ask.
Once your SEO groundwork is laid, it’s time to implement a more advanced strategy. Primarily, one that articulates a precise match between your web presence and your average searcher’s intent. To begin, assess how many visitors convert into leads - and ultimately into clients - and if you can identify any patterns or points of commonality amongst them. That intel will lead you to your most profitable audience. Once you have that answer, begin tailoring your SEO efforts to attract this type of traffic.
These are some areas you can cover in your web presence to zero in on your target audience:
Location: Many clients would prefer working with a local agency, and search accordingly. Establish yourself in the local market by incorporating names of cities, counties and even states in your page titles and site content. We also recommend spending time crafting content that’s meaningful from a local perspective. What are the unique challenges and opportunities for clients operating in your city or state? Demonstrating your awareness of these factors - as well as the particular skill set you possess for addressing them - will reassure visitors that your agency is a reputable choice. We strongly recommend investing some time into this. Good, quality content keeps potential clients happy and helps your search engine ranking. It’s a win-win.
Services: Figure out what kinds of services your customers are searching for. This will give you a good indication as to what interests them. And if you don’t offer a specific service, don’t worry. You can still position yourself as relevant to these clients by creating engaging, educational blog posts that speak to related topics. Using keywords naturally within the body of these posts will help draw your audience in and bring you traffic.
Clientele: You’ll also want to think about the types of clients you serve. Is there one type that turns to you more frequently? For example, you may build websites primarily for restaurants or law firms. If so, be sure to include this in your website. One option includes creating separate pages on your website for those two types of clients. Fill out each section with unique keywords, terminology, and blog content that are familiar to those client profiles and signal that you know what you’re talking about. This is another great way to establish yourself in the market, and it will help these types of clients feel more confident choosing you.
02. Invest in paid advertising
Paid advertising is the most predictable and dependable source of leads - once you figure it out. Its inherent cost means more is at stake, though, so it means approaching this investment with a wisely-crafted plan. Your goal is to reach a point where your ROI is positive and the amount you make exceeds the amount you spend by a big enough margin.
If you’re just starting out, prepare for it to take a little time as you experiment with different avenues until you find the one (or ones) that are financially worthwhile. Whether it’s Google, Facebook or LinkedIn, just start by jumping in and creating campaigns on each to find your niche. Remember that when it comes to generating leads, you shouldn’t focus on increasing your reach. Instead, aim for precision, targeting exactly the right audience with the right message - even if it means consequently decreasing your reach.
Finally, be careful about how you measure success. At the end of the day, your campaign works depending on the amount you earn - not views, clicks, leads or projects.
03. Create shareable content for social media
You probably already have pages on social media, yet are you utilizing them to their full business potential? These pages function as a great resource for web searchers to see that you’re active and credible when they look you up online. Even if a particular post of yours has a low engagement rate, it still becomes part of a record that curious clients-to-be can review when making a decision about your brand.
But if you want to generate leads from social media, you’ll need to take it a step further. Beyond informative social media profiles, create engaging social content and measure what works. It could be contests, polls, sharing blog posts you’ve written or liked, visuals, and so much more. See which forms of content people share, and if it has a noticeable impact on your business performance.
Keep in mind, only about 10% of your followers see your content - and it’s not because 90% aren’t interested. Social media algorithms have changed dramatically, making it difficult for you to spread your content.
So, how do you work around this? Develop content that’s compelling enough that your followers will want to share with others of their own accord. This grants you access to their networks - and, now, potential new clients.
Here are our top tips for developing a stellar social media presence:
Don’t copy what corporate accounts are doing. A lot of social media content is generic, developed for a huge audience. Remember, your target audience is much smaller. You understand your client base so speak to these people and you’ll create posts that are highly relevant.
Be clear and action-oriented. Give readers a reason to share - and the specific audience they should share with. And yes, it’s okay to ask directly! For example, let’s say you wrote a piece about the three biggest mistakes you can make when building your website. Tell readers to share with people they know who need or are building a website. The clear direction actually makes it easier for your followers to complete the task.
04. Build your PR network
We’re just going to say it: PR is hard! If you already have journalists and bloggers in your network, consider yourself lucky and treat these contacts well.
If you’re starting from scratch, don’t worry. To start developing a presence in the communications world, you’ll need to create relationships with journalists and bloggers. These connections are made easier when you produce content that their readers will find meaningful.
So, how do you do that?
Stay relevant. Find things that are happening right now and connect yourself to them in some way. For example, is there an upcoming industry conference happening in your city? Think about how it’s relevant to what you do. That way, the local news or reporter will find it interesting.
Look for follow up opportunities. Check out the articles a journalist has previously written. Maybe there’s an opportunity for them to create a follow up article. For example, if they wrote about trends six months ago, you may have something that goes against or builds upon what they wrote then. Reach out and let them know.
Keep in mind, PR is a process and sometimes it feels like it won’t pay off. If you don’t have an edge right now, you can always save this step for further down the road.
05. Join an online marketplace
You want to be where the high-intent clients are. That’s why it’s a good idea to join an online marketplace. Marketplaces usually have a ranking and review system, so consistently delivering great work will give you a competitive edge. Make sure to completely fill out your profile, so interested parties can get a sense of your professional capabilities and determine whether you might be a good fit for their budget and specific web needs.
06. Host and attend industry events
Hosting a meetup is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader and professional in your market. As a digital agency, you have lots of expertise to share with your community and clients. If you’re not sure what topic to pick, website creation basics may be a good place to start.
It’s also a good idea to pursue opportunities to speak at local events or conferences. You want to start branding yourself in a subject matter expert, so focus on smaller events where you’re more likely to have a competitive edge. Remember, you don’t have to go at this alone. If breaking into this scene by yourself feels daunting, assemble a panel that includes your own agency alongside complementary businesses. For example, if you specialize in web creation, recruit some SEO experts so you can present together on digital marketing best practices for small business owners. This kind of collaboration brings us right to our next point.
07. Treat networking as a process
You don’t have an endless amount of time, so prioritize impact. Networking is a great way to expand your reach to prospective customers. Start by setting goals for yourself. For example, decide you want to meet a certain amount of people who have the potential to refer you to clients. The larger your circle, the greater the potential for new leads. Find people who can help you expand your reach to possible partners.
Here are our top tips:
Find meetups happening near you through avenues like meetup.com.
Attend local conferences.
Connect with friends of friends.
Search on LinkedIn and ask mutual connections to make introductions.
Find partners that offer complementary services.
Track each of these efforts and notice what results they each produce. Does one route seem to generate more leads than another? Gathering this information will help you manage your time and energy more wisely in the future.
08. Partner with others
Start by looking for organizations that serve the same clientele, to check whether or not they offer complementary services. Your goal is to create partnerships that produce mutual referrals. For example, if you build websites for restaurants, you may want to partner with a food supplier or kitchenware supplier. These companies tend to give a lot of referrals. As a bonus, you can generate additional revenue streams by setting up revenue sharing, commission agreements, or affiliate marketing so these referrals can also function as a source of income for your agency.
To summarize, shifting your focus from a global perspective to a local one will help you identify and reach out to a high-intent audience. Orienting your outreach efforts around this target demographic, then, will be your key to meeting your lead generation goals.