There’s little to no barriers to entry for a new SEO agency entering the market. All someone needs is a laptop and wifi to service clients.
That means there’s a lot more noise to break through to fill your agency’s pipeline.
If you don’t have a solid lead generation strategy in place, scaling your agency is going to be an uphill battle.
In this article, I’m going to share with you a handful of lead generation strategies you can use to fill your SEO agency’s pipeline.
Watch the video for additional insights
Don’t overthink this…
I love Gary Vee, but he’s given everyone the impression they have to be everywhere at all times.
You really just need 1 source of traffic to build a pipeline.
Any of the tactics I’ve listed out here will suffice, it’s really about committing to mastering that tactic.
Our agency focuses on creating awesome content and promoting it with Facebook Ads.
It currently drives over 40 qualified agency leads every month.
Don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel to generate leads, you just need to do 1 thing and do it extremely well.
1. Create case studies and collect social proof
I know, creating case studies is easier said than done. But it’s amazingly how fast leads seem to drop on your doorstep when you can show results.
The most powerful sales pitch is when your clients pitch for you.
All you need to do is document the process behind your services for the clients you’ve gotten the best results for. I like to format all my case studies the same way:
I also like to put them into a nice Google Slides deck that I send along in every SEO proposal template for clients that I create. This also allows me to push them across:
- Our website
Below is a deck we use at WEBRIS to nurture prospects into leads:
Documenting your work is the first part, collecting reviews is the next.
I’ve spent a lot of energy building positive reviews on Facebook, Clutch, Google My Business and collecting video and written testimonials from clients. These assets provide a tremendous amount of trust to turning traffic into leads.
There’s a number of ways you can generate reviews / testimonials:
- Email your clients with a NPS survey. We like to use Mailchimp for this. Those who score high, ask for a review
- Check your social media for positive comments for potential testimonials
- Look at client feedback in emails, use positive messages to reach out and ask if these can be used
Combining this with your social proof is a great way to stand out to your target audience and shows that you get them.
2. Ask for referrals from happy clients
Referrals are, undoubtedly, the best method for generating new leads for an SEO agency.
They have the highest close rate of any lead type – your happy clients are a great way to drum up referrals.
If they’re on the fence about making a free referral, it’s nearly always worth your while to throw in a discount on their next invoice if it means closing a new client.
Business owners know other business owners, so when you do a good job, they’ll be happy to refer you to their friends.
The simplest way to ask for referrals is sending a simple email to clients you’ve gotten great results for.
See below for the template I’ve used with great success.
3. Use content to become an authority
I’ve built my entire career off the back of content.
Video, podcasting, blogging – these assets generate a ton of interest for our services.
When done right, content has 2 quick impacts on your marketing:
- Allows you to connect with cold audiences without directly selling to them
- Positions yourself as an expert / authority in the space
As impactful as content marketing is, it comes with it’s own set of challenges:
- Content marketing is a skill set (just like Facebook Ads) that times time and practice to master
- Content is saturated in the digital space, meaning you can spend a lot of time creating something that will not get eyeballs
On top of that, it’s not enough to just create regular blog posts – your stuff has to be really, really good.
Content marketing is one of the skills we coach our clients on here at The Blueprint Training (learn more about that here).
4. Speak at niche conferences
I try and do a few speaking engagements a year. While they’re a ton of work, I always walk away with clients. They give me a platform to showcase the work I’ve done and sell directly to an audience.
I try and stay away from the traditional SEO conferences. While they’re good for networking, they’re not great for landing clients. Instead, I focus on “niche” conferences that aren’t overflowing with my competition – it’s much easier to stand out in that environment.
I just give my VA a list of relevant keywords related to the conferences I want to target. I’ve had great success targeting spaces like:
She simply populates a Sheets file with all the information for me to review.
I then assign each opportunity a pitch template and have her submit on my behalf.
Speaking isn’t for everyone though – if you aren’t comfortable getting on stage, don’t pursue this option.
You can still attend these conferences and network. Not only can you land clients, but it’s important to connect and befriend people in the industry. I’ve gotten countless referrals from other marketers who I’ve become close with over the years.
5. Start a Meetup
Meetups are a great way to build a local network of prospects. We’ve leveraged free Meetups both at WEBRIS and The Blueprint Training. I prefer using Meetup.com because it provides an organic growth engine – users visit the site regularly looking for new events to attend.
Here are my keys to a successful Meetup:
- Create something that will provide value to your target audience – we host “Technical SEO” Meetups that deep dive into technical SEO issues a lot of our client’s face. It’s an win / win situation to provide value but also display our expertise on the subject
- Provide food and drinks. It’s EASY to reach out to relevant businesses to sponsor food
- Promote your Meetups heavily to get an audience (I suggest Facebook Ads). Over time, if you provide enough value, they will grow on their own
- Commit to doing them regularly (i..e monthly). If yo udon’t, your Meetup will fizzle out quickly
- Record your meet up and post an event summary on your blog. This allows you to leverage your live content and give it a wider audience. SEO Sherpa does a good job of this with their marketing meet up
Hosting a Meetup works well, but it’s also a lot of work. Creating content for each event is a drag on your time – if you can, invite guest speakers to come and present to lighten the load.
6. Join a local networking group
There are plenty of offline networking groups you can join to push leads. These can be a great place to talk to potential clients or people that already serve them but for different offerings.
- Chamber of Commerce. There’s a dozen or so Chamber events each month, generally full of larger businesses. It’s a shark tank for sales (EVERYONE is there to sell shit) but if you’re a sharp networker, you can do damage.
- BNI. Much better for smaller agencies, the goal of BNI is to pass leads to other businesses within your network.BNI meets once a week and if you don’t show up they revoke your membership. If you just show up, you’ll get clients.
- MeetUps. The crowd is much worse than BNI or Chamber, but the events are mostly free and a good way to meet local people.
Try and get yourself to as many local networking events. Most should allow you to visit initially for free so do make sure you take advantage of their free test drive.
7. Paid traffic and funnels
I LOVE social ads – Facebook Ads are the #1 promotion engine for our agency WEBRIS and here at The Blueprint Training.
You can’t just toss up some ads and expect to generate leads…The key to a successful lead generation campaign is having your offer + content dialed in.
I could spend an entire blog post talking just about how to set up funnels and ads properly, there’s just too much content to cover here.
Check out this YouTube Playlist for detailed strategies.
8. White label niche services to other agencies
An easy win is to offer your services out to other agencies on a white label basis. Just pick the services you’re best at, and make sure you price the services so they won’t cut into your profit margins from client work.
This works particularly well if you niche down your offerings to a service you know other agencies have pain points with. For example:
- Keyword research
- Link building
- Social media management
The process is pretty simple:
- Build a list of agencies with their contact email
- Send them a pitch introducing yourself and your service
- Add a link to a sample deliverable or case study as reference
This method is a favorite of a lot of freelancers and budding agencies that are just getting started and trying to drum up revenue in any way possible
9. Cold outreach with video audits
I get pitched 3 to 6 times per week from people I’ve never met before – 99% of these end up in my trash can.
The 1% of emails that make it through are the ones who took the time to do some research and solve my problems.
At our agency, we have a process for doing cold outreach that works well:
- Build a list of relevant prospects via LinkedIn (i.e. qualified companies)
- Review their website to find “top 10” issues (i.e. not using GTM, not responsive, etc)
- Pack these into a slide deck and record a video overview
This is also a core element of how we teach sales to Blueprint members. Here’s a video giving you a deeper overview of the process:
It’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to watch, outreach is an impactful tactic if you’re in a pinch for cash.
10. Build tools that solve problems
However, I purposely left this for last because it’s the most complicated and requires the most resources.
My business partner is an expert in Google Sheets automations – together, we built a suite of marketing automation tools that enabled us to streamline our marketing processes. Then, we rolled that out to consultants and marketing agencies everywhere as a part of Blueprint Training.
At The Blueprint Training, this is what we do best.
We help SEO agencies increase revenue through improved market positioning and service productization.
Part of our system is helping you build build a pipeline and fill it with prospects who are clamoring to hire your agency.
We go over inbound and outbound strategies to give you a complete playbook and answer to every “what-if” scenario. You’ll never worry about where your next client is going to come from again.