Have you gone through the hard work of setting up an exciting new agency, only to run into the challenge how to actually generate SEO leads? You’re not alone.
The SEO industry is competitive, and this is true across the globe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re based in the US, Canada, or even Shanghai; chances are that you have tens of thousands of other SEO agencies competing with you, and fighting for a slice of the pie.
The good news? There are certain tried-and-tested strategies that you can use to generate more SEO leads for your company, and these strategies are actually pretty straightforward once you get the hang of them.
If you want to learn to close more SEO clients, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through:
- SEO lead generation: How to get SEO leads and clients
- Researching your lead and their company
- Best practices for getting in touch and what NOT to do with your leads
- How to get more leads with your very own SEO Audit Tool
By the time you get to the end of our guide, you’ll be an expert on generating and closing SEO leads. Promise!
SEO lead generation: How to get SEO leads and clients
There are plenty of ways in which you can get leads for your SEO agency, including:
- Conducting outreach on LinkedIn, Facebook, business directories.
- Attending SEO, web design or general business meetups.
- Finding poorly designed / badly created websites online, and reaching out to them.
- Buying leads or emails if necessary.
- Creating high quality content to attract leads
We’ll walk you through each tactic in detail, and discuss the specific steps that you can take to uncover potential clients for your agency.
Conducting outreach on social media platforms
First, one great way of generating SEO leads is to join LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups that are relevant to website performance, business growth and SEO. Make sure you participate actively in these groups, and share your expertise.
While you’re doing this, keep in mind that most groups do not allow members to outrightly plug their businesses (eg: “If you need to improve your website’s SEO, please get in touch with me”). However, what you can do is to mention your experience handling SEO projects when you’re interacting with other members, and talk about the results that you (or your colleagues) have helped your previous clients achieve.
In time to come, you might get members messaging you and asking you for your help or opinion, and that’s when you can upsell them, and convert them into a paying customer.
Attending Web and SEO-related meetups
Next, attending relevant meetups is also a tried-and-tested technique that many agencies fall back on. Get to chatting to the folks at these events, and see if they’re in need of any SEO services.
Now, be sure to tailor your pitch to each person you meet here. If a particular lead is working with a tight deadline, and wants to confirm their SEO vendor ASAP, then there’s no harm in telling them more about your agency. But if you’re speaking to someone who’s still learning about how SEO works, then pitching to them right off the bat is likely to turn them off.
So, what’s the best way to reach out to leads who aren’t ready to buy? Simple — offer to send them an eBook or other lead magnet about SEO, so that you can get their email address. From there, it’s a matter of staying in touch and adding value to your lead, so that you’re the first person that they think of when they’re ready to buy.
Finding poorly designed or optimized websites online
Say that most of the clients you serve are in the healthcare industry, and you’re looking to generate more leads who are healthcare companies. Here, you can simply do a Google search, and navigate to the 10th page or so. Now, take a look at all the websites listed on this page; you’ll probably find that most of them are either poorly designed or poorly optimized, which means that they could benefit from your agency’s services.
From here, it’s simply a matter of getting in touch with the relevant companies, and pitching your agency’s services to them. If you can identify a few things that they can do to improve their website in your email to them, this will make for a pretty convincing pitch:
Purchasing leads from a database
If you’re really struggling to generate more leads for your agency, you can always fall back on purchasing leads from a database. Now, we know that most agencies prefer to generate their own leads (more on this in a bit!) rather than to purchase leads. That said, our take is that it’s perfectly fine to buy leads, as long as you:
- Purchase these from a reputable vendor, and
- Purchase selectively (ie: only buy leads that are a good fit for you, instead of buying 1,000 email addresses and spamming them with cold emails).
First and foremost, make sure you’re buying your leads from a reputable vendor that guarantees a certain level of accuracy. For instance, LeadCandy guarantees that no more than 5% of the verified emails they charge their customers for will bounce, and should a customer’s bounce rate exceed 5%, they’ll gladly refund the credits charged for those emails. Another tool we like is UpLead, which verifies its leads’ email addresses on the spot, before releasing the information to its customers.
On top of purchasing your leads from a reputable vendor, it’s also important to purchase selectively. Bearing this in mind, choose a vendor that allows you to filter their database using various criteria, so that you can hone in on the specific leads who are most likely to convert. For example, UpLead allows its users to filter its database of over 30 million contacts using 50 different criteria, including:
- Industry Category
- Industry Name
- SIC Code
- NAICS Code
- Job Title
- Job Function
- Management Level
- Metro Area
- Zip Code
- Sales Revenue
- Number of Employees
- Type of Company
- Public, Private, Education, Government or Non-Profit
- Fortune Ranking
- Alexa Ranking
- By Company URL
- Technologies Used
- Presence of Social Links
- Year Founded
This makes it easy for you to build highly-targeted lists, and reach out to leads who are a good fit with your company.
Creating high quality content to attract leads
On top of utilizing the techniques we’ve just discussed, we also recommend that you invest time and energy into inbound marketing (ie: creating content to attract leads). While some of the above strategies can limit out, or are unsustainable in the long run, inbound marketing is one of those things that can continuously drive results for you.
For instance, if you produce a high quality blog article today (we’re talking long form, Skyscraper type content), this could bring you traffic and leads for months and even years down the road. Bearing this in mind, you’ll want to work on your inbound strategy, and start investing in producing content. Here are some options to consider:
- Publish blog posts on your own website
- Guest blog on marketing and SEO sites
- Create infographics to publish on social media
- Create a lead magnet and promote it
- Create YouTube videos
- Create PowerPoint presentations for Slideshare
- Create a webinar or a series of webinars
- Launch a podcast
- Answer questions on Quora or Reddit
The simplest way of getting started with content marketing is to start blogging on a regular basis. Once you’ve established your blog, add a Call To Action (CTA) to your blog articles to get readers to join your email newsletter. Once you get your readers’ email addresses, you can start nurturing them, and hopefully sell to them further down the road.
How to generate leads effectively via blogging
Blogging can be exceptionally effective in driving leads — but that’s assuming that you put in the time and energy into producing high quality, valuable content.
Want to maximize the leads that you generate from your blogging and content marketing strategy? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Add a Call To Action at the end of every post
Since you’re looking to generate SEO leads from your blog posts, be sure to add a relevant CTA at the end of each post. CTAs you might use include:
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Sign up for a SEO site audit
- Sign up for a SEO consultation
- Request for a non-obligatory quote
The more specific you are with your CTA, the more effective it’ll be. For instance, instead of simply saying “Sign up for a SEO consultation”, you might say:
- Sign up for a free SEO consultation worth $299
- Sign up for a free 60-minute SEO consultation
Remember: it’s all about the context.
2. Offer PDF downloads for “Ultimate Guide” articles
We all know that long form content is more engaging and shareable than shorter and more generic articles. In fact, here’s an A/B test by Neil Patel that illustrates exactly how much more effective long-form content is in generating social shares:
The solution is obvious: quit writing 500-word articles that are generic, fluffy, and don’t add value to your readers in any way, and start producing more Ultimate Guide type articles that are rigorous and substantial.
Now, other than adding your standard CTA to your Ultimate Guide articles, here’s another genius way that you can use these articles to generate leads: offer a free PDF download of the article, and capture your readers’ email addresses in the process.
For instance, check out UpLead’s Growth Handbook, which outlines 230+ Customer Acquisition Tactics:
At the start of the blog article, UpLead embeds a form that allows readers to input their email addresses in order to receive a free PDF of their Growth Handbook.
It isn’t easy to get through 230+ tips or tactics in a single sitting, so we’re betting that they drove a ton of sign-ups (and leads) using this form!
3. Focus on quality AND quantity
Like we’ve just discussed, we know it’s important to produce high quality, valuable content. But this doesn’t mean that you can focus on quality at the expense of quantity — both these things have to go hand in hand.
In other words: if you don’t post regularly and consistently, it’ll be tough for you to generate a significant number of leads from your blog (and that’s even if you produce some of the most amazing content that the world has ever seen).
So, how often should you be blogging? The answer is… as much as possible. According to HubSpot, companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get 4.5x more leads than those that publish 0 to 4 monthly posts.
Researching your lead and their company
As you improve upon your blogging and content marketing, you’ll have a long list of leads (and potential SEO clients!) whom you can reach out to. But before you reach out to them, you’ll want to take some time to research your leads and their companies.
More specifically, you should conduct research on your lead’s:
- Company (company structure, decision makers, etc)
- Digital presence (check out their website, social channels, etc)
First and foremost, read up on your lead’s company, and try and find out who the decision makers are. Apart from learning more about your lead’s company and how it’s structured, you should also Google your lead’s company and take a look at their digital presence across the web. For instance:
- Look at their website to see if it’s updated. Are there any design or UX problems with the site? Are there any SEO problems? Is the site mobile-friendly?
- Look at their off-page SEO such as keyword rankings and backlinks, and benchmark them against their competitors to see if there’s room for improvement.
- Look at their social channels and assess their social strategy. Are they posting regularly? Is their tone consistent? Do they have a decent following and engagement level? Are they replying to the comments that they get on their posts?
The goal is to have a solid understanding of your lead’s situation (and the current challenges that they’re facing), so that you’re well-equipped to provide them with valuable insights when you speak to them.
Best practices for getting in touch with your leads
Once you’re done researching your lead and their company, the next step is to reach out to them. In this section, we’ll walk you through the best practices for emailing and getting in touch with your leads.
1. Keep your subject line casual
Most marketers and sales reps employ formal language when writing sales emails — so an easy way of standing out is to keep your tone casual.
For instance, instead of using a subject line such as: “Want to improve your SEO and rank on page one of Google?”
You could do something along the lines of:
- I’m going to help you get on page one of Google (for real)
- If you want to rank on Google, here’s what you should do
- I just Googled you, and here’s what I found…
As a general rule of thumb, the more your subject line sounds like it was written spontaneously and by an actual human, the higher your open rate will be.
If possible, try and incorporate urgency and curiosity in your subject lines, and personalize your subject lines as well. This video does a great job at explaining each of these components, and discussing how they can improve your subject lines:
2. Make it easy for your lead to take the next step
Say you’re hoping to land a face-to-face meeting with your lead. When you’re asking for this meeting, it’s important to frame your request in a way that makes things easy for your lead.
Here’s a negative example: I’d love to set up a meeting so that I can explain our SEO services to you in detail. Could you propose a couple of dates and timings in which you’re available, and let me know what location works best for you?
And a positive example: I’d love to explain our SEO services to you in person. Shall we meet at your office some time this week? You can choose a date/time that suits you best using this link.
See the difference? The easier it is for your SEO clients to follow through, the higher your chances of converting your clients.
3. Keep your email short and sweet
According to statistics, if you want to get a reply with your email, you should aim to have your email be between 50 to 125 words.
Remember: you’re not actually selling to your lead in your very first email to them — so you don’t need to ramble on and on about the advantages of working with your agency. You’re just trying to hook them and get them intrigued, so keep it short and sweet.
Following up with your lead: the art of being persistent
Marketers and sales reps dislike doing follow-ups for a number of reasons. Some folks find it difficult to remember to follow up. Others might be afraid of coming across as too pushy or aggressive, and yet others might (mistakenly) believe that follow-ups aren’t effective.
Well, here’s the thing: follow-up emails can actually get better response rates than your first email. According to this study, first emails get an 18% response rate on average, fourth emails get a 13% response rate, and sixth emails get an impressive 27% response rate.
So, does that mean all sales reps should devote 2 hours per day to sending follow-ups to their SEO clients? Nope, that’s not necessary. It’s fairly simple to automate your follow up emails, even if you don’t have access to a fancy marketing automation platform or system. To do this, simply use Mailshake, Quickmail, or a similar tool that plugs directly into Gmail.
How do these tools work? First, you’ll create a Google sheet that lists your leads’ contact information (and any information that you want to use to personalize your emails). Next, import that list into your tool, then configure your tool based on:
- How many follow-ups you want to send, and
- The frequency at which you want to follow up
That’s basically it! If your leads don’t respond to your first email, the tool will trigger your follow-up emails automatically. Once your lead responds to a follow-up, the emails will stop, and you can take it from there.
The importance of reaching out to the right leads
We’ve covered quite a lot of material on how to generate and reach out to your leads, but let’s backtrack for a second to discuss the importance of reaching out to the right leads.
Basically, this is all about working smart. If you make the effort to identify and sift out high quality leads right off the bat, this means that you’ll waste less time talking to people who won’t convert further down the road.
Now, take a second to think about what sort of SEO clients can afford to pay for your agency’s services, and are willing to do so. Ideally, you’ll want to get in touch with clients who:
- Are in an industry with a decent profit margin
- Aren’t a solo entrepreneur
- Are working in an established company that’s been around for a few years
To go one step further in assessing whether a potential client is a good fit, use tools such as Spyfu to identify if their company is spending on PPC. If they are, this is a good indication the company has a sizeable marketing budget, and that they understand the importance of marketing.
What NOT to do when reaching out to leads
We’ve covered the Do’s; now, here are the Don’ts. Make sure you steer clear of these mistakes when you’re pitching your agency’s services!
We all know that there are a ton of factors that influence a company’s SEO ranking (and that these factors are constantly changing). This makes it pretty much impossible for an SEO agency to guarantee rankings — regardless of how capable they are.
Bearing this in mind, don’t rashly promise your lead that they’ll rank within a certain period of time, even if you’re confident that your company can achieve this for them. You don’t want to overpromise, and land your company or colleagues in hot soup!
2. Wait before reaching out
When’s the best time to reach out to your lead? Well, given that most leads do business with the company that contacts them first, the answer is: as soon as they enter your system.
The above infographic says it all — if you want to have the best chances of doing business with your lead, then be sure to contact them within 5 minutes of hearing from them.
3. Pander and grovel
It’s important to be courteous and polite to your leads, but you don’t want to go to the extreme, and bend over backwards to please them.
Why do we say so? Well, if you pander too much when communicating with your leads, they might take this to mean that you’re not confident in your agency’s services, or that you’re desperate for their business. Obviously, that’s a huge turn-off.
Shameless plug: Get more leads with your own SEO Audit Tool
Alright, that’s all we’ve got for you on the topic of generating and closing leads! Before we wrap up, we’re throwing in one awesome hack that you can use to quickly generate more leads for your agency. To do this, simply offer a free SEO Audit on your website.
If you’re keen to try out this method, but you don’t want to go to the hassle of engaging a developer to build a tool for you, you can simply embed SEOptimer’s White Label SEO Audit Tool on your website. (Yep, this is a shameless plug, but honestly — using SEOptimer is the easiest way of setting up an SEO audit tool on your website, and you can have your tool up and running in a matter of minutes.)
How does the tool work? Well, once you embed the tool on your website, you can start offering free SEO audits to your website visitors (and use these audits to capture leads). When someone requests for an audit, the tool will generate a custom report (branded with your logo and colors) for them, and capture their contact information at the same time.
Just to be clear, this is one of those set it and forget it type things. The tool will run on autopilot in the background (without any involvement from you!), and you’ll get new leads delivered straight to your inbox, everyday. Click here to get your White Label SEO Audit Tool, and start upping your lead generation game today!