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One of the most daunting parts of running a marketing agency can be the work to generate new clients. What if you’re not able to keep up with client acquisition? What if you’re not bringing in enough and the agency goes under?
All reasonable questions, but we’re here to quell those fears. Yes, customer acquisition is crucial for agencies—we’ll discuss this more in just a moment—but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Throughout this article, we’re going to cover eight essential strategies to help get more clients for your marketing or ecommerce agency in 2023. Let’s dig in.
Why customer acquisition is crucial for agencies
According to HubSpot’s 2018 Agency Growth Research Report, 60% of agencies report that finding new clients is one of their biggest pain points.
And it’s hard. We’re not going to sugarcoat it. However, with a proper client acquisition strategy—and by employing several of the tactics we cover below—you can start to feel more comfortable about consistently bringing in new clients.
As a part of your client acquisition strategy, you also need to consider the best type of clients to bring in: project-based versus retainer.
Project-based clients come to you for a single project (like website design, marketing strategy creation, rebrand, etc.), whereas retainer clients sign a contract with you and pay you a set rate each month for consistent deliverables.
At first glance, it seems like retainer clients are the best type to get because they tend to remain with your agency longer. However, retainers could always be canceled or renegotiated.
So having a healthy top-of-the-funnel ensures that you always have new leads coming in the pipeline, ensuring you have a solid number of project-based clients and retainer clients at the same time, diversifying your client portfolio and helping keep your agency afloat.
Now let’s get into the important part: the eight best ways you can go about finding more agency clients and consistently closing sales.
8 ways to get more agency clients in 2023
Client generation is the backbone of any agency, so having processes in place that consistently bring new leads in through the door is key. Let’s go over a few of these different processes and ideas you might consider setting up to get more agency clients this year.
1. Building your online presence
It’s the universal rule: it’s easier to market anyone else’s company before your own. However, as an agency, you still need to create your own marketing strategy and stay active on social media. This helps to expand your online reach and brand awareness.
A few tactics to include within your agency marketing strategy are:
- Social media marketing: With an emphasis on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Content marketing: Use your website and blog to create SEO content that ranks and increases your reach
- Email marketing: Grow an email list of potential clients and nurture them through educational content
To ensure your agency’s marketing remains consistent, employ a dedicated marketing manager that focuses heavily on your own strategy. Having a consistent online presence helps potential clients know (a) you’re still in business and (b) you practice what you preach.
Plus, through a combined effort of social media, content, and email marketing, you should be able to generate a consistent flow of new leads.
2. Cold outreach
Cold outreach—whether via email, phone, or social media—is no one’s favorite. But it’s effective. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2020 State of Sales Report, 39% of sales professionals plan to leverage more cold outreach for their sales strategy.
Cold calling can be an effective way to reach out to local business owners, but the majority of your cold outreach will likely be through email and social media sites like LinkedIn. We’re going to discuss LinkedIn and its lead generation prowess in more depth shortly, but for now, we’ll focus exclusively on how to use it for cold outreach.
Your first step is to identify a list of people you want to reach out to. Research brands that appear like they could use your agency’s help, or put together a list of companies within a similar industry—bonus points if it’s an industry that your agency has proven results in.
Next, you’ll want to put your outreach email together. A good formula for a professional email is:
- Personalized introduction
- Your pitch/ask
- The evidence/results
Here’s a great template from HubSpot that can help you put together a cold email or LinkedIn message that gets responses:
Subject: 10x [prospect's company's] traction in 10 minutes
Hello [Prospect Name],
I have an idea that I can explain in 10 minutes that can get [company] its next 100 best customers.
I recently used this idea to help our client [SaaS company/competitor] almost triple their monthly run rate.
[First name], let's schedule a quick 10-minute call so I can share the idea with you. When works best for you?
f you plan to conduct your outreach via email, you can use a site like RocketReach or Hunter to help you find contact information. Or you can do a quick LinkedIn search and send your outreach message alongside your connection request or right after they accept your request.
3. Lead magnets
A lead magnet is a piece of valuable, educational, or otherwise useful content that your agency creates and distributes in exchange for an email address. These are helpful for lead generation and building a pipeline of potential clients you can nurture through outreach and email marketing.
A few lead magnet ideas include:
- White papers
- Swipe files
For example, with over 6000 apps in the Shopify app store, it can be difficult to evaluate and pick the best apps to power an online store’s tech stack. This ebook from Alloy Automation teaches readers how to choose the right tools to scale the business with valuable insights from major industry players.
You can also create content upgrades that are additions to your blog content as another way to generate more leads.
Include a signup form alongside your lead magnet with all the information you prefer to gather from leads, like their name, email address, and maybe even their phone number and company information.
Here’s an example from the LinkedIn State of Sales 2020 Report referenced earlier:
Gathering all of this information upfront helps you to qualify your leads before wasting any time reaching out to them. And it’s a great way to fill up your pipeline full of sales-ready leads.
4. Build links
Link-building is a great way to build up your website’s authority, making it easier for you to rank for difficult keywords and making it easier for companies to find your agency. And isn’t it always so much nicer when leads come to you rather than you having to reach out to them?
However, there are good link-building tactics and there are sketchy link-building tactics. Some of these tactics to avoid are paying for links (which includes offering discounts or free products in exchange for a link) and spamming backlinks in online forums like Quora and Reddit.
A few link-building tactics that we recommend help build links much more organically and help position your agency as a well-respected thought leader in the industry.
- Use HARO (Help A Reporter Out) or Help a B2B Writer to get notifications when a writer or journalist is looking for quotes or experiences about a topic you have in-depth knowledge in. If the reporter chooses to include your quote, you can get a mention by name and a link back to your website.
- Reach out to marketing companies to guest post for their website. Most sites allow guest writers to include a link back to their website in their author bio.
- Create original data/research, like the reports linked earlier. Because you’ve found real data and numbers, many writers and content marketers will reference and link to your study/survey from their website’s blog.
- Put together a high-quality content marketing strategy. The more content you create—and the better that content is—the more likely it is that other content marketers will link to it as an additional resource for their readers.
- Stay active in online communities (i.e., LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Slack communities) in your industry as many writers will go to those spaces to get insight and quotes for their articles, giving you yet another way to get a link back to your website.
Your customers are your best advocates, so why not use that to your advantage? If you have a happy client, offer them some sort of incentive to refer you to anyone in their network who also needs an agency.
The incentive could be something like X% or $X off their next project or next month’s retainer. It could be a cash gift. Or it could be a physical gift, like an iPad or a TV.
Check out some examples of B2B referral programs to get an idea of how you can put yours together. Enlisting the help of past clients is a great way for new clients to feel good about working with you.
Moreover, recommendations can also come from your partners whom you have close partnerships with. It’s always a two-way street.
6. Online communities and directories
Another great way to get more agency clients is through online communities and agency directories. Online communities like Facebook groups and Slack communities can be a great place to interact with potential leads and offer up your services if anyone is looking for them.
For example, if you run a web design and development agency, joining and having an active presence in groups related to website creation, conversion rate optimization, lead generation, and even general marketing is a smart way to find new leads.
Check-in on these communities daily to see if anyone has a question you can answer. You want to start simply by offering advice. If they ask for additional help, you now have the perfect opportunity to position your agency and its services as the solution.
In another vein, you can also check out online agency directories in an attempt to get your own agency listed. Some examples are:
Getting listed in a directory can be a great way to get free leads. Be sure to fill out your entire profile so interested parties can see if your agency will be a good fit for them or not.
We’ve talked about LinkedIn a bit when it comes to social media marketing and cold outreach. But LinkedIn, as a B2B social media platform, is a great tool in itself for expanding your network and finding new clients.
First, consider running LinkedIn ads to help put your agency in front of your target audience. LinkedIn’s ad targeting parameters are perfect for B2B companies looking to target founders and decision-makers.
Next, make sure to keep an active LinkedIn profile regardless of whether you use the platform for cold outreach or not. Consistent LinkedIn posts—and even articles—can help you show up in the feeds of connections who might be looking for an agency.
Here’s an example of an educational post you could emulate in your own LinkedIn strategy:
Repurpose blog content, share lessons learned, hype up current clients, and more. But make sure you stay consistent in your LinkedIn messaging to increase the chances that a potential client finds you.
Last, but not least, event marketing is yet another fantastic way to get more agency clients. As an agency, you should always be on the lookout for networking events, trade shows, and conferences to attend.
Check out pricing for event sponsors to see if you can get your own booth. This is a great way to meet potential clients and provide upfront information about your services and how you can help other companies grow.
And as your agency grows, you can even start booking speaking engagements to further showcase your knowledge in your industry, the proven results you’ve gotten for your clients, and other expertise.
Get more agency clients today
Don’t make getting more agency clients more stressful and overwhelming than it needs to be. Create a strategy that helps ensure your team can continue to grow, replacing clients whenever a project or retainer has finished.
Plus, we have one more great tip for you: offer special services that your competitors don’t. For example, by becoming a ReferralCandy Agency Partner, you can provide an easy referral program set up for your clients—all with the help of a ReferralCandy representative.
Having these additional options helps sell your services over a competitor’s, so consider signing up today and adding referral program creation and management to your list of offerings.