Setting up a digital marketing agency that sells SEO services takes a ton of time, effort, and money.
Yet, once your agency is up and running, you face the additional challenge of building a robust client base – which means you need to have an airtight system for lead generation.
There’s a significant reason why the salesmen of the famous movie/play Glengarry Glen Ross place so much stock on obtaining high-quality leads.
Why is that?
It’s because, without qualified leads, it’s next to impossible for companies to achieve consistent, sustainable growth.
For the salespeople in the movie, the premium leads are like golden tickets for snagging potential top-tier clients – which means big-time commissions for them and the chance at winning a new car.
For SEO agencies, qualified leads are just as crucial, albeit for the growth of your company & client base, instead of scoring a brand-new Cadillac Eldorado.
In fact, 95% of marketers claim that lead generation is their #1 goal, with 53% allocating half of their marketing budget to it.
However, to find new leads on a consistent basis, you’ll need a lead generation strategy, which is what we’re going to provide you with today.
Learning how to generate qualified leads & potential customers that transform into new clients is an art every SEO agency needs to learn how to master if they want to find continued success in the future – so read on to learn how.
What are SEO Leads?
An SEO lead is an individual or a business that’s shown interest in your SEO services. It may be that they need help building backlinks, making technical SEO adjustments, or they might need a fully managed SEO campaign.
Their needs will vary, as the SEO industry is vast.
Inside the umbrella term search engine optimization, there are many different specialties, including:
And the list goes on and on. For every type of industry or business, there’s an SEO specialty that goes along with it.
Due to how inclusive the term SEO is, it can be challenging to source the right kind of leads for the services you provide.
That’s why there’s great benefit in getting highly specific with the types of SEO services you provide.
Many new SEO agencies make the mistake of going too broad with their approach. They go for the jack-of-all-trades method, where they try to provide every SEO service under the sun for every type of business.
Keyword research, link-building, on-page & off-page SEO, they offer it all to anyone interested in doing business with them.
They wind up not finding very many clients at all due to how all-encompassing & vague their services are.
That leads us to the first rule of thumb with SEO leads; the more specific you can get with your services, the better. That’s because the more well-defined your services are, the easier it will be to find clients in need of what you provide.
Selecting a Niche Focus for Your SEO Services
The first step in learning how to generate SEO leads consistently is to give your agency a concise focus for your services.
It’s crucial to cater to your talents here, so think about what you do best.
Does your team always knock it out of the park when acquiring backlinks for clients? Then you should consider making that your primary focus.
If keyword research is your forte, you can make a considerable living selling that service to agencies & companies.
Or maybe content marketing is what earns you the most accolades. No matter the service, it’s imperative to pinpoint your strongest areas and then focus on them the most.
The point is to make what you provide as specific as possible, as that will make generating leads easier down the line.
Besides identifying the services you excel at, you should also choose a niche for your SEO agency.
The idea is to carve out a corner of the SEO market for yourself, where you can clearly define what it is you do and why you outshine the competition.
As stated above, there’s a version of SEO for just about every type of business out there, so you should choose one to focus on.
Instead of being the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none SEO agency, you can become the healthcare SEO agency specializing in premium keyword research & link-building.
See the difference?
The second agency has a far clearer idea of what they do, and they seem more convincing and experienced as a result.
How Do You Find SEO Leads?
Now that you know why it’s essential to have a niche focus, how do you start generating SEO leads?
There are many methods for acquiring leads, including using lead generation tools, referrals, Google ads, and inbound & outbound marketing techniques.
Yet, finding SEO leads is only half the battle.
Once you have an extensive list of qualified leads, then the challenge becomes contacting them, convincing them to use your services, and then signing a contract.
For now, let’s focus on the top ways to find SEO leads so you can work on building a list of prospects.
Inbound & Outbound Marketing Tactics for SEO Lead Generation
When it comes to marketing strategies, there are two primary types of techniques – inbound and outbound.
What are those?
Inbound marketing refers to tactics that bring your customers to you instead of seeking them out. Examples include helpful blog posts and videos that solve user pain points and answer common questions.
Users will directly seek out this type of content to educate themselves or solve a problem, which is why they’re so effective. With a concise CTA (call to action) at the end of the piece of content, you can convince readers to become customers.
You can also use inbound content to generate leads via acquiring email addresses. You can use a lead magnet, which is a free piece of content you give users in exchange for their contact information.
Lead magnets can be PDFs, videos, eBooks, and other types of content. The only rule of thumb is they have to provide significant value to your audience.
Outbound marketing refers to your efforts to bring your brand to customers, which means using things like PPC ads, YouTube ads, and manual outreach via social media.
While outbound techniques can sometimes be viewed as obstructive by users, they can be just as effective at generating leads and sales as inbound content. Outbound techniques are also best for discovering new leads outside of your current base of SEO clients.
It’s best to use a combination of inbound & outbound techniques to uncover the most SEO leads.
Inbound: listing your website in digital agency directories
We’ll start with the inbound technique of listing your website in essential SEO directories.
What are those?
A digital agency directory is a website containing a list of marketing agencies with varying specialties.
These directories are perfect for generating SEO leads because they attract individuals, businesses, and web admins that are actively looking for marketing partners & agencies.
Here are a few examples of digital agency directories:
Some of these examples, such as Google Partners, are completely free for any agency wanting to get listed on the directory.
Other options, like Marketo, require you to be an existing member of their platform to get listed in their directories.
In addition to digital marketing agency directories, you can also list your SEO agency on traditional directories like Yelp, Craigslist, and Yellow Pages to further expand your reach and online visibility.
These directories are ‘catch-all’ options that provide listings for many different types of businesses, but they still get millions of hits each day, so listing your agency can be worth your while.
Outbound: finding websites in desperate need of your SEO services
Switching to outbound tactics for a moment, there’s no reason why you can’t actively seek out web pages that desperately need your services.
For instance, if your SEO business involves doing stellar keyword research for healthcare agencies, you could look for physician’s websites struggling to rank on page one of the SERPs due to their poor use of keywords.
How do you find these types of websites?
The easiest way is to do what nobody ever thinks to do – venture beyond the first page of Google results.
Dive deep into the SERPs, going to page 10 or so, which is an SEO dead zone. Any healthcare website ranking on this page is definitely in need of your help, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Once you’ve found a few promising leads, do some outreach and get in touch with the web admins. Let them know about a few ways to improve their website to prove you know you’re stuff and to intrigue them to learn more.
How to handle the outreach
Here’s an example of an outreach email you could send to a web admin in need of your outstanding keyword research:
I noticed your website during my research and noticed that despite your excellent design, talented staff, and top-notch services, you’re ranking on page 10 of Google.
My SEO agency specializes in keyword research, where we target specific search queries and optimize our client’s content for them to rank higher. We’ve identified many keywords that we could target and increase your rankings by a significant margin (think page one of Google, generating tons of organic traffic, leads, and sales).
If you’re interested in what we do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a call.
Just like that, you’ve made a convincing case for the prospect to at least hear you out on your offer. To increase your chances of landing a client even further, you can link to your case studies and testimonials to provide proof of your effectiveness.
Inbound: creating high-quality content to attract prospects to your website
A classic inbound technique is to create useful content (blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.) to attract lots of website visitors that are interested in what you do.
This will help you generate qualified leads for your services.
The best part?
While many outbound techniques are unsustainable in the long run (such as spending money and resources on PPC ads), content marketing will continuously generate leads for you.
Once you publish a blog, video, or infographic, it will remain there indefinitely, continuing to attract leads for you well into the future without requiring further investment.
Something as simple as a well-written blog article can generate leads for you for months and years down the line.
Yet, for your content to have the desired impact, it needs to be relevant and valuable to your target audience. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting time and resources creating content.
That means you’ll need to do some research to uncover which types of content your audience values the most. Beyond that, you’ll need to learn their pain points, problems, wants, desires, and needs.
To do so, take to relevant social media groups and forums related to your niche audience, and listen to what they have to say. You can also use keyword research tools (like our free keyword planner from The HOTH) to see which keywords are trending and gaining the most traction – as they can give you content ideas.
For example, if you notice lots of users searching for the keyword ‘back pain remedies,’ you can write a blog post about the most effective ways to relieve back pain.
Content marketing ideas for generating SEO leads
There are many different types of content you can use to generate leads and even boost your sales.
Blogs are extremely popular for content marketing and SEO, primarily due to how easy they are to produce and how effective they can be at generating traffic, leads, and sales. You can choose to write blogs yourself, or you can seek the help of freelancers to knock out the writing for you.
If you want your blog posts to actively generate leads for you, it’s crucial to include CTAs and lead magnets in them.
Videos are another prevalent form of content that can generate leads for you, but they’re a bit more time-consuming and expensive to produce than blogs.
Yet, video content is the way of the future, as video content is expected to account for 82.5% of all web traffic, which will make it the #1 type of content online. So if you aren’t already producing video content, now is the time to start.
If your budget is limited, you can produce inexpensive, high-quality videos by shooting on a smartphone and using basic video editing software. To generate SEO leads with your videos, go over the top reasons why you provide the best SEO services in your niche.
You can also create videos featuring powerful customer testimonials and case studies to encourage your prospects to give you a call or, at the very least, leave their contact information.
Podcasts and webinars are other types of content that are effective at generating leads. For podcasts, do your best to interview lots of relevant guests from the digital marketing and SEO industry. For webinars, let your attendees know how your SEO services can transform their business for the better.
Inbound: using word of mouth and referrals
Referrals are one of the most powerful ways to acquire SEO leads and qualified new customers.
Why is that?
It’s because these leads come from your existing customer base, who can prove to your prospects that you do amazing work that provides real results.
Nothing holds as much merit as a word-of-mouth referral from a close friend or colleague, which is why you should definitely pay attention to referrals.
In fact, referrals are so powerful that there are entire businesses (including SEO companies) that thrive off referrals and word-of-mouth hype as their primary marketing strategies.
How do you get your clients to refer others to you?
The best and most reliable way to do so is to simply provide excellent services for your clients. That alone is enough to get your clients singing your praises to their friends, family, and coworkers.
From there, you can also let your clients know that you’re looking for referrals and that you’d appreciate any they can provide.
To sweeten the pot for your clients, you can offer discounts or special rewards for referrals. You can see this tactic at work with all sorts of companies, such as getting $50 for referring others to your internet provider.
Your clients have the incentive of the reward you provide for the referral, and you benefit by gaining a new, qualified client.
Outbound: outreach using social media marketing
Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are goldmines for lead generation if you know where to look.
In particular, you should take to groups related to the SEO services you provide and then become highly active within them.
If you sell healthcare SEO services, then joining health & wellness groups on Facebook is the way to go. You can also frequent medical forums where physicians and nurses post about their jobs.
Yet, you won’t be able to go for the hard sell approach here, as many social media groups prevent users from outright plugging their products and services.
Instead of creating posts advertising your services, engage with the users in the group instead. Read their posts, and chime in with some relevant advice. If you can, bring up times that you’ve solved similar problems for your clients with your SEO services.
By doing this, you’ll build trust within the group, and they’ll appreciate your insights.
That’s a far better approach than pitching your services without any context, as that will come off as tacky and disingenuous.
After you’ve engaged with the group for a while, members may begin messaging you for help with their SEO-related issues or even actively seek out your services.
Outbound: attending relevant webinars and SEO online meetups
This is a proven effective tactic that many SEO agencies fall back on when they need leads.
It’s a social technique that involves chatting with attendees and seeing if they require your services.
To find the most success, you should come up with several different pitches and then use them accordingly.
Why is that?
It’s because there will be a wide variety of attendees with different needs at each meetup.
For instance, if you’re speaking with a prospect that’s already very familiar with how SEO works, an in-depth explanation of search engine optimization isn’t necessary and will likely lose their interest. A better pitch for this type of client is to be succinct and get straight to the point.
Conversely, if you’re speaking to a potential client that has no clue what SEO is, a more in-depth explanation is perfectly acceptable and even necessary.
That’s why it’s crucial to adapt your pitch to each client, as it will help you acquire as many SEO leads as possible while attending meetups.
Inbound: generating leads with your website
Last but not least, you can transform your website into a powerful lead-generation tool with the right tweaks.
This is where it pays off to have invested in your own website’s SEO.
If you’re ranking in top spots for keywords like ‘healthcare SEO agencies near me,’ you can turn the traffic you generate into viable leads with the right types of landing pages.
For the service pages users land on, don’t just offer your services.
Instead, use a lead generator like a free tool to use in exchange for the user’s email address. You could offer an SEO audit, keyword research, or other types of freebies like PDFs or eBooks.
These are useful because not every visitor to your website will be ready to enlist your services.
However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t need your SEO services eventually.
If you’re able to salvage their email address, you can send them follow-up content and offers. That way, whenever the time comes that they do need healthcare SEO services, your agency will be the first one that comes to mind.
They already know you, and they regularly receive emails containing helpful and relevant content. As a result, going with your agency will be a no-brainer. That’s why you should always include a lead generator on your landing pages.
Qualifying SEO Leads
Now that you have a long list of SEO leads, it’s time to whittle it down to only the most qualified prospects.
In particular, you need to pay close attention to the company’s structure and any key stakeholders that will be involved in the SEO process.
You should also examine their online presence, including their current performance on search engines. This will help you not only determine if they’re a qualified prospect, but it will also help you start forming your SEO strategy for their website.
Include a qualifying form on your website or through email
A no-nonsense way to qualify your leads is to include an inquiry form on your website or through email.
This form should contain all the important information you need to determine a qualified lead from an unqualified one.
While it’s entirely up to you to create this form, here are some suggestions for what it should include:
- What types of SEO services do they want or need
- Their current budget level and how much they’re willing to allocate toward SEO
- When they want to get started
If they provide satisfactory answers to all three questions, that’s a great sign that they’ll make a valuable client for your agency.
If the answers aren’t satisfactory, you can ask them to sign up for your newsletter instead of booking a consulting call. That way, if they ever do become a qualified client, they’ll already be in your database, and they’ll know about your services.
Contacting Your Qualified SEO Leads
Once you’ve separated the wheat from the chaff in terms of qualified leads, it’s time to get in touch and start to seal the deal.
Whether you choose to contact your prospects by email or over the phone, here are some pointers you won’t want to forget to include.
Keep things concise
You’re not here to talk your prospect’s ear off or to send them an email the size of an eBook. Instead, include just enough to hook them and generate interest in your services.
In other words, you don’t need to harp on and on about the benefits of working with your agency, especially at this stage.
If you’re typing an email, the sweet spot is to keep it between 50 to 125 words to heighten the chances of receiving a response.
Make it effortless for clients to take the next step
Before you pick up the phone or type a word in an email to your client, first think about what you want them to do.
Do you want them to schedule a consulting call, or would you prefer a face-to-face meeting?
Either way, make what you want explicitly clear in your call or email. If you want them to schedule a meeting with you, make that apparent by saying something along the lines of:
We’d love to meet with you to discuss our SEO services in more detail. Can you please provide a few dates when you’re available?
Just as with CTAs for blog posts, you can’t expect prospects to read your mind when it comes to what you want them to do, so be clear and direct about it.
Concluding Thoughts: SEO Leads
If you want your SEO agency to grow and expand in the future, then you need a way to generate a consistent pipeline of leads.
Referrals, creating content, attending meetups, and finding existing websites in need of your services are all great ways to acquire SEO leads.
Beyond that, you need to carefully qualify and contact your leads to heighten the chances of them converting into clients.
Do you need help obtaining leads for your business?
Then don’t wait to check out our white-label digital marketing services at The HOTH. Our team comprises link-building, SEO, and digital marketing experts, so don’t wait to book a call today to revolutionize the way you approach your marketing.