Not scaling your agency as quickly as you’d like? Do you want to grow your agency, but don't know where to find more clients? How do other marketing agencies get their clients? Things have progressed beyond signing up for the best small business phone system and making cold calls (not that there isn't a place for this technique).
In this article, we'll cover 9 proven strategies that will help you consistently grow your agency. These strategies are not only useful for new agencies but are also used by established agencies. If you want to learn about the best ways to get more clients for your agency, read on!
All too many marketing executives mistakenly believe that landing new clients for their agency is relatively easy.
As they see it, they expect their agency to have enough traction on its own to attract new clients. But that’s not always the case. Without an active client acquisition plan, agencies risk stagnating.
And as we've heard from our customers, the reality is quite different. Many agencies struggle to attract new clients. In particular, many of them have told us how the most popular channels have become oversaturated with larger agencies.
Others recalled the challenges they've faced attracting new clients with content marketing. In fact, we've heard terrifying stories from agencies that try to out-publish larger competitors. Needless to say, many end up frustrated with the process and have little to show for their efforts.
The thing is—content marketing, SEO, and PPC are only a few of the channels to find new customers. There are, in fact, many other approaches in order to help you attract your own ideal customers.
In this post, I've outlined some of my favorite strategies for finding new clients. First, let's start by gaining a broader perspective on the growth challenges that agencies face.
Why Do Agencies Struggle with Growth?
Notice that I didn't ask whether marketing agencies face growth challenges above.
Unfortunately, that is a given. For example, a series of interviews with agency owners by Smart Insights made it clear: marketing agencies struggle with maintaining growth.
Many of the interviewed founders admitted to having challenges with finding new clients. Others revealed how much they struggle with ranking for target keywords. Also, a lot of them openly spoke about the difficulties in overcoming the competition.
At the same time, it showed that 79% of agencies felt confident in their ability to close clients. Only 60%, however, said the same about their lead generation efforts.
To me, the data above reveals the root of the problem:
The agencies' inability to reach the target market and engage it with a relevant message.
And if you read the marketing agency case studies I referenced above carefully, you would also discover why.
Many of the founders we interviewed talked about the growing competition, both from larger agencies and freelancers. Some also point at the over-saturation of popular marketing channels.
So, below are some strategies that I believe will help you overcome this challenge. With them, you'll be able to reach your target audience, without having to compete with larger brands at that.
How to Find Clients for Digital Marketing Agency
Sometimes, the struggle at a marketing agency is not figuring out what they can do to attract new clients, it’s about figuring out what they should do. Here are some of our best way to get new clients
Strategy #1 Host Regular Training Events or Workshops
One of the best ways to get new clients is by engaging with them when and where they need you the most. When they are early in the buying cycle, prospective customers tend to seek education above anything else.
They want to learn more about their problem and how a potential solution could help them solve it. However, they may not want to discover it by reading content.
For example, a manager of a thriving business who struggles to generate more inquiries online, might not have enough digital expertise to understand your ideas.
In fact, they might prefer someone to explain it to them first hand.
And here lies your opportunity—hosting regular small business networking events to explain the benefits of your services to potential clients, or to help them solve some of the basic problems they are facing. If you can solve a company’s basic problems through free training, they are far more likely to turn to you to solve their intermediate or advanced problems.
Some agencies run workshops that introduce potential clients to solutions they offer, or that cover the fundamentals of a particular marketing tactic.
Personally, I doubt that anyone would become a topic expert during any of the above workshops. Then again, that's not the point of running them.
Such events help participants get a good understanding of a particular strategy.
And for you, they also:
Help connect your agency with highly-qualified prospects
Present yourself as subject matter experts
Gently reinforce the complexities of the strategy
Subtly pitch your services
And in today’s digitally connected world, you can host these training events virtually using Zoom or a webinar service provider.
PRO TIP: To get even more out of local, in-person events, partner with a local coworking space or a meetup group. Many such places would have extensive networks of contacts that you could tap into.
Alternatively, if you're focused on marketing within a niche, find events within your niche industry to reach potential clients directly. While running your own event gives you more flexibility, you can often reach a larger audience by connecting with an existing event.
Strategy #2: Ask Your Broad Network for Introductions
I admit that this strategy seems almost too obvious.
And yet, I rarely hear of agencies actually using it.
Current and former clients you have a good rapport with, industry connections, and other people you've interacted with can introduce you to companies looking for your services.
And very often, all you need to do is ask.
The problem? I believe many founders do not know how to ask for these introductions. Or, perhaps, they are concerned that asking for introductions will somehow indicate that they are desperate for business.
So, here's a simple approach a friend of mine uses. Whenever he's low on new leads, he reaches out to connections with this simple message.
Notice how the message suggests one recommendation only. This way, it doesn't seem as intimidating as asking for many introductions would. Plus, it creates a sense of urgency because the availability is scarce.
Strategy #3: Retarget Website Visitors to a Lead Generation Asset
Instead of finding clients, take a look at your current website traffic. Not all website visitors are ready to inquire during their first visit.
Most need to come back more than once to make a buying decision.
And so, if you focus only on increasing conversions but forgo enticing visitors to come back, then you're leaving money on the table.
One way to overcome this is retargeting. Ideally, by positioning relevant information while prospects continue their research.
And I admit, this strategy incorporates many others -- content, lead generation, etc. But by combining those efforts, you increase your chances for new inquiries greatly.
First, map your content to the entire customer's journey. By doing so, you'll understand what information to present, depending on a person's interests.
Next, establish exit points relating to the buying cycle. For example, customers who only read your blog posts are, most likely, at the awareness stage.
Those who reviewed your about page or service pages could be evaluating your agency.
And you can consider anyone who drops off from the contact page as a potential customer.
Now, the above is just an example. You'll have to analyze your data and establish how this process looks for your agency.
Finally, set up retargeting ads to present those people with relevant content:
Blog posts for people in the awareness stage,
White papers or other lead magnets for the second, and
Case studies or other proof for those already looking to hire an agency.
Strategy #4: Use Strategic Guest Posting
I'm sure you've already heard how effective guest posting can be. Countless success stories confirm how sharing your expertise builds trust, authority, and grows your business.
But many agencies still shy away from this strategy. And I believe it's because they don't know where to guest post for the biggest exposure.
In fact, a joint report by the Content Marketing Institute and SEMrush, called "The Invisible Key to Content Success" identified this as one of the major content marketing challenges:
How do you overcome this? My suggestion–by being strategic in your selection.
Let me explain.
When publishing guest posts, you want to achieve two things. You want to gain the greatest possible exposure for your agency. At the same time, you also want to raise its authority level.
When evaluating guest posting opportunities, focus only on sites that promise exposure and authority.
Sites like Social Media Examiner or Moz, for example, immediately deliver on both objectives. Those sites have ginormous readerships. And, being featured there immediately raises the author's industry status.
Another strategy, reach out to your best customers, asking what publications they read often. This way, you can uncover opportunities you could possibly miss otherwise.
PRO TIP: Feature where you've written on your website too. This adds credibility when a visitor sees that you are a published expert in your field.
Strategy #5: Join Relevant Slack Groups
Slack is slowly becoming a much better alternative to forums and other online communities.
For one, it's where many of us spend a lot of our time. As a remote team, for example, most of our team interactions happen on Slack.
Slack is also incredibly intuitive to use. Not to mention that its UX truly helps bring people together.
But this goes beyond engaging with teammates. Slack communities encourage like-minded people to connect, engage with, and help one another out.
However, a little-known fact is that becoming part of a Slack community could lead to new business opportunities.
That's because, often, members will ask for or refer work to others. Here's one proof from a Slack community, a friend of mine frequents.
Here's a list of Business-oriented Slack communities to help you get started.
Can’t find a Slack community that is relevant for your target audience? Create one!
Strategy #6: Create a Mastermind Group on Facebook
Joining an existing small business community offers an incredible lead generation opportunity to expand your network and grow.
But building your network can deliver far greater benefits. That's particularly if your community helps solve problems relevant to your agency's specialization.
(That said, building a community requires significantly more work than joining one. But as I'll show you shortly, it's well worth it.)
Think about it. Many local businesses around you feel overwhelmed by marketing.
And some of them will want to gain as much knowledge as possible about it first. Moreover, they might prefer to do it by interacting with the industry professionals, rather than reading content.
And that's why building a mastermind group is a good idea, particularly on Facebook.
For one, it makes engaging with you much simpler. After all, many of your potential clients could be on Facebook already. Using the social network to host your group makes joining and interacting with others effortless. A person can log in to check updates or post comments whenever they check their Facebook feed.
At the same, running it allows you to position yourself as the expert and great source of advice. And that's even better if your potential clients interact with other members instead of you. You are also nurturing potential clients to become ideal clients at the same time. Feeding them your knowledge compared to them receiving information from various sources will most likely convert these clients that understand your methods.
LionZeal is an example of a vibrant Facebook SEO Mastermind group set up by an agency.
Strategy #7: Develop Strategic Partnerships with Non-Competing Companies
For many business owners, strategic partnerships are an absolute no-go.
They fear how a partnership could affect their client relations.
But building a strategic partnership doesn't mean giving another party access to your clients.
Instead, it allows you to:
Take managing Adwords campaigns, for example. To deliver results, a PPC campaign requires more than just keywords and bid management. Content, landing page design, and other factors contribute to higher conversions and lower spending.
However, not every PPC agency can offer those services. At the same time, it shouldn't rely on a client to provide assets necessary for their success.
But those services are in synergy.
A copywriting firm might service clients who need help with growing website traffic. Many PPC agency customers would need a better copy for their landing pages, and so on.
By forming a strategic partnership, both agencies could service their clients better, while helping each other grow.
Strategy #8: Use Agency Marketplaces like Credo
(Full disclaimer, neither AgencyAnalytics nor I are affiliated with Credo. We don't even know those guys. But their service seems like a great opportunity for agencies to expand their customer base.)
Many agency owners I know associate marketplaces with low rates and cheap labor. Not a great place to get your ideal clients.
And perhaps they are right with some of them.
But recently, a friend told me about a service that seems to combat that negative perception. It's called Credo, and instead of allowing agencies to pitch for jobs, it manually introduces clients to high-quality, vetted, and verified vendors.
As the company states on their website:
"Credo started in 2013 to solve the problem of businesses not knowing which SEO or digital marketing agency to hire."
As said, I have never had any interactions with Credo. I also don't know anyone who has used the service. But judging by their testimonials, and the fact that it's run by an agency veteran, John Doherty, it might be the marketplace to consider to get more clients.
Strategy #9: Drink Your Own Champaign
Do what you do best for your own agency, not just for your clients.
Far too often, agencies forget to utilize their expert capabilities on their own properties. If, for example, you run an SEO agency, but your website is poorly optimized with a domain authority of 1, it does not put your agency in the best light.
During my career, the first thing I have always done when evaluating a potential SEO agency is to run an SEO audit on their website. If they are not able to efficiently optimize their own site, there’s no reason for me to believe they could do so for mine.
Make sure that everything you put in front of your clients, including SEO proposals, your website, business cards, and more reflect the quality of service that you would provide to any new client.
You may not be able to rank in the #1 position for “SEO Agency” but that doesn’t mean you should not bother optimizing your own website.
In Summary: What To Do Next To Get More Clients?
It’s one thing to find more clients, but the other important part of the lead generation process is what you could do to convert new leads into paying clients.
And it's a fair concern. The strategies I outlined above would help connect with potential clients for your agency.
But you still need to convince them to become clients.
And my recommendation is to use data to present them with the biggest wins of working with you.
Let me explain this further.
When companies reach out to you, it's not because they want to have a particular desire to work with a marketing agency. They face challenges they believe your agency can help them overcome.
And most likely, they'll choose an agency that shows how well they understand those concerns.
So, here's a simple trick you can do to make it happen.
Research the new client's industry and market before the sales call or send a well-crafted proposal.
Read More: How to Create a Winning SEO Proposal
Next, collect various data illustrating the situation now. For example, research what estimated traffic their domain might receive. Or the most popular keywords their competitors use (including those your new client doesn't target), the cost of acquiring more traffic, and so on.
Then, create a marketing dashboard showing sample results companies receive with the service you provide.
Read More: 15 Marketing Dashboards To Help Your Marketing Agency Scale
Here are some sample dashboards we created with AgencyAnalytics for your inspiration:
The PPC dashboard:
Create your own PPC dashboard in minutes. Try it free for 14 days.
SEO Conversions Dashboard:
Set up an SEO Dashboard in minutes using our template, and include a site audit to impress your prospective clients.
As the last step, merge those results with the data from your initial research. Then, use the results to illustrate the ROI a new client could expect from working with you.
For example, when pitching SEO services, show how growing the number of ranking keywords will affect conversions and revenue.
Calculate the difference between attracting a certain number of visitors to a much bigger one. Using the average conversion rates for SERPs positions, combined with the client's avg. sales amount, work out the actual earnings increasing visibility would deliver.
For PPC, discuss the effect of improving campaigns and reducing spending would have on their sales growth and so on.
By a.) presenting the data in context, and b.) outlining the ROI using visual cues, you make it not only more relevant but also, easier to comprehend.
Providing all the information they need to make an informed decision will simplify their decision about whom to hire - and, of course, that should be your agency.