It can be tough to get new digital agency clients. There are a lot of agencies out there, and it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from the pack. In this article, we’ll outline a comprehensive guide to getting more digital agency clients. We’ll discuss how you market your agency, through to selling and onboarding of clients. We’ll talk about going to events, podcasts, webinars, speaking and the working out the numbers in order to reach the right number of leads, so that you can sell on target and grow your agency. Knowing who your customer is, and where they are is the first thing to consider and from there, you should be where the customer is and talk in terms that they understand, all without being too salesy. Selling digital agency services are often too forceful and the audience don’t relate well. Be there, be always on and be ready for when they come to you.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to get more digital agency clients in no time! So let’s get started…
The first step is to identify your target market. Who are you trying to reach? What kind of clients are you looking for? Once you know your ideal customer, you can start to think about where they are and how you can reach them.
Questions to ask yourself and your agency team:
- What clients do we work with now that are ‘easy’ to get on with and get results?
- What do those clients have in common? Are they in the same industry, a similar size or structure, are they all services, e-commerce or lead-gen? Find the commonalities!
- Where are these clients when they aren’t doing their own work? Are they on LinkedIn? are they on another social platform? Maybe they are the type of client that goes to Chamber of Commerce style events to conferences?
- Do they have obvious year-ends? Do you know when they’re most likely to have budgets to spend? Education will all have similar budgetary years, as will many travel and fashion brands, for example.
Once you know who the audience you want to become your clients are and where they ‘hang out’, you can start to consider how you will reach them. Are you going to use LinkedIn? Twitter? Facebook Advertising (assuming you have the budget)? Or will you sponsor an event that they are likely to attend?
What’s next? How do I know where to start?
Build a list
Knowing the ideal client means you can then build a list of where they are and what marketing they consume. Don’t just consider the basics like social media; some industries still have trade press, and others have associations or member groups that they spend time reading or being a part of.
Do the maths!
Work backward from where you need to be against your current lead-to-sale ratio and then decide what you need to do. For example:
If you need another 10 new clients this year, accounting for client churn rates, and your close rate is 50%, you’ll need at least 20 new sales-qualified leads. There is a BIG difference between marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads.
Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs) = Someone who fits the audience and wants to see what you’re selling. They may complete a lead-gen form or convert to a lead somehow but may not be able to buy from you.
Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs)= Someone who may have completed a form and became a lead but meets your internal criteria to be pitched to. This is usually the budget or delivery ability that decides this.
Let’s say you need twice the number of MQLs to SQLs to get to your magic 10 new clients. This means you must get at least 40 people who fit the previously defined ideal client audience requirements.
To get those 40 MQLs, you need to consider roughly how many people you need to reach or see you over time to generate those MQLs! Let’s pretend that 1% of all touchpoints with a lead source (form, landing page, Calendly link) become an MQL. This means you need 4,000 people to ‘touch’ something you created to generate an MQL.
Again, working backward, you then need to consider that those 4,000 people who ‘touch’ something you created will be maybe, 10% of all the people you’re targeting. Maybe more or less 10%, depending on the audience and how you’re marketing to them.
This means that to get 10 new clients in a year, you need 40,000 people to see you over that year.
Shit, 40,000?! How do I do that?
Well, you go back to your list of where your audience is and map it against the things you know about them to determine what you do next. This bit is very broad and hard to define in a post, but a few examples may be:
Pay to speak at one of the larger industry events your audience attends, and ask the event organiser if you can also email the list of attendees after the event to offer them something (like a small audit or a free ‘something’). Speaking on their turf about something they know they don’t completely understand but know they need is a great way to generate leads. Timing is key, though! Too soon after the event and your email get lost in the emails, they missed when they were there, and too late means you lose the “shine” on them from their positivity after the event. Just think about when you come back from a Digital Industry event and how the positivity wanes over time afterwards. Offer something during your talk on your slides that captures them as a lead or gets them thinking about you.
Trade Press & Associations:
Yes, it feels anachronistic to print things out, but maybe your audience receives a monthly magazine or has an industry association that produces collateral for their members. Consider reaching out to their trade press or member body’s and see if you can write content that shows you know what you’re doing and point them to something on your website that generates a lead. After all, print is not dead yet, but the people in it are still very keen to take your marketing cash to fill their targets!
So this will take some working out, probably on a tax portal. Still, you can potentially work out when a potential client will be thinking about their marketing budget and spending before reaching out 1:1. Let’s say you know that the 15 ‘dream clients’ the agency has on their list have different annual accounting dates and therefore, may think about engaging a digital agency in a particular part of the year, you might want to think about a way to reach out to them 1:1 when they’re more motivated to speak. If they have a budget in January and are of the size that would normally do an RFP, email them in mid-October asking to be put on the RFP list when they send it out to tender. Sending before gets you forgotten; sending after may be too late. Research!
Ok, those are only three things, but they are great ways to win MQLs and SQLs in this industry. Let’s now focus on how you talk to the audience that can generate that lead you’re after!
Speak to their pain, remind them of the itch that you can scratch for them
If your marketing collateral says, “We do X and Y services… Get in touch blah blah blah”, then you’re not going to get very far. People know what you are selling exists; they are also bombarded with emails, social posts, and spammy leaflets saying, “we have this thing you know about to sell to you”…. If they know it exists, and they know they want it, then they will go to someone who sells it! What are the chances that marketing collateral that just shows your services will be right in front of someone at the exact time they think, “Oh yeah, I need an X service… wait! look, these guys sell X’s!!! Winner”? NEVER, or almost never, is the answer!
Instead, you should focus all of your collateral around the outcomes they’re seeking or the pains you know they face. Write blog posts, create guides, and make videos that show you understand the problem they’re facing and how to solve it. Consider content that talks in their language that their boss or manager holds them to account for.
A super cliche example: How about a social media post with a creative that shows a marketing manager on a beach and another stuck in a cubicle office copy that says “which one would you prefer?” and the hashtag #outsource #digitalmarketing #winwin
You’re not selling a service; you’re making them realise that they are the other person, not on a beach….and they’d prefer that. They then see more interesting content alongside things that show you know your stuff, and they get in touch when they are in need.
Be always on, be consistent and be everywhere they’ll look
Marketing your digital agency should not have a calendar that has an end. Marketing for your digital agency should not have an on and off switch. You should not be planning to ‘do a bit of marketing for your digital agency when you have some free time. It should be an always-on process because, as we’ve mentioned, people will want to use your services at different times and in different circumstances.
Your job is to make sure that they think of you when they want to use your services. You do this by being consistent in how you show up and where you show up. If you’re not everywhere, then you’re nowhere.
Some obvious but sometimes missed places to focus on:
- Your website: make sure it’s optimised for SEO, mobile friendly and tells visitors what they need to know
- Social media: be active on the platforms your audience is using and make sure you’re consistent with your branding
- PR: get yourself and your agency featured in relevant publications
- Events: attend or sponsor industry events that your target clients will be attending
- Content marketing: create helpful, informative blog posts, guides, infographics and videos that show you know your stuff
By being active in these areas, you’ll ensure that you’re always in front of your target clients and that they think of you when they need digital marketing services.
Consistency of tone of voice and language is absolutely imperative. If you sound like a used car salesman in one post and then like a hippy surfer dude in the next, people will get confused and won’t take you seriously. Be yourself, but make sure that you’re always talking in a way that is respectful, helpful, and informative.
Sell without selling… if that makes sense!
Make it easy to become a lead!
You’ve put all the effort into getting them to the point at which they are ready to become an MQL or SQL, and you then make life hard for them to reach you!
How often have you gone to a website or seen a CTA that interests you but can’t work out how to get in touch with the company? It’s so frustrating!
Ensure that your contact information is easy to find on your website and that it’s in a prominent position. If you’re running ads, make sure the CTA is clear and links through to a landing page with a form for them to fill in or a chatbot that can take their details.
The easier you make it for someone to become a lead, the more likely they are to do it!
Easy but missed don’ts:
- Don’t ask for too much information for an MQL – Less is more and will get higher completion rates.
- Don’t cookie banner, pop-up, and video auto-play scare them – They’ll bounce!
Easy but missed do’s:
- Keep your landing page messaging consistent with any Ads or posts that lead people to them.
- Keep your pages clear of clutter – A confused mind doesn’t buy
When they become an MQL or SQL, don’t sit on it! Act fast!
When a prospective client becomes a new lead, activity speed is key in converting them. For example, sending out a proposal in 5 minutes without speaking to them is bad, but on a small delay (a few minutes during office hours), sending out a questionnaire that asks for more information leads them into a flow to book a call is great. From their perspective, you are acting on their contact but from yours, you’re getting more information and slowing things down.
If your next action after getting in a lead is to send them a qualification questionnaire, spend time building in some conditional automation, it’s not that hard these days!
Some automation examples:
- The lead answers a question that prevents them from becoming a SQL (like low budget) = After the form is completed, you add a short delay and then send them an automated email that says you’re unable to take them on at this stage. Still, you’re happy to recommend them to someone else (who you sell the lead to).
- The lead answers a question that may mean they are maybe not SQL material (budget or expectations) = Add a delay and send them an email with a link to book a shorter discovery call with you or someone who can be sure how they qualify.
- The lead answers all your questions and is definitely an SQL = Thank them for doing the questionnaire, and invite them to book a call at their earliest convenience.
Speed is key, what you do is more important on balance. The average digital marketing agency sale takes 90 days from the initial contact to becoming a paying client. That’s a long time! And it can be even longer for larger projects or if you’re selling to enterprise clients. That being said, a lead will go quite cold if you leave it for more than 24hrs!
Make your pitch irresistible.
Once you reach the point that you’re ready to pitch to the prospect, you need to make sure the pitch speaks their language and sells you well.
Your pitch needs to be:
- Short – no one wants to hear a long, drawn-out sales pitch!
- Relevant – focus on their specific needs and how your agency can help them engaging – keep them interested by using language that they’ll understand and care about
- Tailored – make sure it’s not a generic pitch that you’ve sent to everyone, but something that’s been written with them in mind
- Believable – don’t make promises that you can’t keep!
Once you’ve got all of that sorted, it’s time to deliver the pitch. You can do this in person, over the phone, or via video call. If you’re doing it in person, make sure you’re well-prepared and have all the materials you need to hand in. If you’re doing it over the phone or via video call, ensure you’ve got a good internet connection and that your surroundings are suitable for a business meeting.
When you’re ready to deliver the pitch, remember to:
- Be confident – if you don’t believe in what you’re saying, they won’t either
- Be friendly – build a rapport with them from the start
- Listen to their concerns and address them directly
- Be prepared to answer any questions they have
If all goes well, you should come away from the pitch with a new client, ready to sign!
Make it easy to get a client’s signature!
What’s the point in making all the cash and effort to market to all these people and spend time and money pitching to them only for you to lose them at the last bit. The legals!
Contracts with loads of depth, tonnes of pages and lots of clauses can be confusing and also cause a client to lose a little bit of trust. Yes, you need to protect yourself and your client but you shouldn’t need more than a 3 page document. A decent lawyer can help you draw this up. If a client is really keen to have something longer, that’s fine but make sure it’s not going to cost you the deal as this is an easy way for them to back out.
The end… 🙂
These are just a few things to consider when trying to get more digital agency clients. By taking the time to understand your target market and how to reach them, you’ll be well on your way to growing your agency.