If you just started your digital agency, we hate to break it to you. The hardest part about running your agency is getting clients, no matter how good you are. But if you've ever been a part of an agency, you probably already know this.
Sure, you are an expert in your field, but now you must also master marketing and sales. Without converting your clients first, you won't even get to the point of delivering your service.
In just a year and a half, we scaled our agency to becoming Webflow Enterprise partners. We work with the world's fastest-growing startups and organizations like Jasper, Kajabi, Riverside, Sequoia Capital, etc.
Could we do it even faster? With the right guidance, yes!
This is why we decided to put together this comprehensive guide to help you get more clients for your agency in 2024. We cover everything from inbound marketing to growing through the search engine rankings.
Use this guide as a reference to scale your agency in 2024.
Disclaimer: This is a transparent guide that led Flowout to its success as a Webflow agency. Following this guide will help you get on the right path to convert more clients, yet you must understand that you might not get the same result - especially if you're in a different niche.
How to use this guide
Lead generation is not a one-time thing. It's quite the opposite.
The more you grow, the more crucial client acquisition becomes. Lead generation is the backbone of your agency. Continuous lead generation brings steady growth and allows your agency to run daily operations and cover all recurring costs.
To help you kickstart the process and help you close your first client or improve the acquisition rate, this guide consists of 2 parts.
First, we will write about outbound sales and marketing strategy. This part consists of cold outreach via email and social media.
Secondly, we will write about inbound sales and marketing strategy. This part consists of:
- Building in public.
- Optimizing your website.
- Networking and building relationships.
- Building free tools for the community.
- Boosting your Google rankings with SEO.
How to create a cold email outreach strategy that converts
Everyone hates to do it, but cold outreach still works. At least if done right.
McKinsey reports that cold email outreach is up to 40 times more effective at securing customers compared to social media. According to the Rain Group, 71% of buyers are actually open to receiving emails when they're looking for new ways to drive better business results. Teams work in intense and highly competitive environments. No one has time to chat on the phone and listen to a blatant sales pitch.
Cold email outreach is an efficient and straightforward lead-generation process. The idea behind it is simple:
- You build a list of prospects (your ideal customers).
- You contact them with personalized messages.
- You get on a quick call and close the deal.
Cold outreach is the quickest and the cheapest way to your potential customers. The only investment you have to make is your time. Another advantage is that you get immediate results. Either you land a client, get ghosted or gain valuable feedback on why you are not the right fit.
Build a list of prospects
Before you start, you must find the right prospects.
Here is a simple checklist we use to find them:
1. Understand your audience
Ask yourself, who are my current customers, and what do they have in common? Do they all work in the same industry and have similar pains, or is every customer completely different?
Understanding your existing clients will help you narrow down your niche and find prospects whose pains you can solve best.
When you are only starting out and yet must land your first client, analyze the competition. Understand the customers of your competitors and try to find clients there.
2. Find your audience
You can find prospects across various different platforms. Search:
- Communities on Facebook, Reddit, and Quora.
- Twitter (X).
- Databases and directories.
- Google search.
3. Build a list
You know who your ideal customers are and where they are. Now it's time to build a list of prospects. Your list will include their contact information, status in the sales pipeline, and additional information.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide for building a list of prospects:
- Identify potential customers.
- Go on LinkedIn to find executives and decision-makers in this company.
- Use tools like Hunter.io or Snov.io to find their contact details.
- Add info about your leads to your CRM (we use Streak for Gmail, but you can use any other CRM like Salesforce, Pipedrive or Hubspot) and start reaching out.
You have built your prospects list and set up your CRM. Now, it's time to start contacting them.
Before you start, remember these three crucial rules of cold outreach: personalization, personalization, and personalization.
Without personalization, you can forget about any success. To secure new clients, you must personalize every email you send with no excuses.
How to send relevant and personalized messages:
- Address the receiver with a personalized intro.
- Establish a connection through an icebreaker.
- Introduce yourself.
- Present the solution you bring to the table.
Here are a few other tips for your outreach messages:
- Aim for a reply first, then for a meeting.
- Don't be salesy.
- Keep your message short and simple.
- Include case studies and the results of your work.
- Be persistent and patient.
Close the deal
Once you get a warm lead, the goal is to convert it into a customer. Invite your prospect to a short video call to establish future collaboration and trust.
Once you have finished your call, send a follow-up email to conclude your meeting and set the stage for further conversation.
Cold outreach best practices on social media
You can extend your cold outreach strategy even beyond email.
One part of analyzing your audience is knowing what communication channels they use in social media. Founders are especially vocal on LinkedIn and Twitter (X), where the #buildinpublic movement is getting more and more momentum. You can also find great outreach opportunities in Facebook groups and Reddit.
But, social media is a bit different than email. When you use LinkedIn and Twitter (X), don't just blast sales pitches to people you have never interacted with before. The goal is to make a connection and then start a conversation.
A great thing about those two platforms is that you can learn a ton about potential prospects first. Interact with them through comments and social posts before sending them a DM.
Again, your cold outreach must be relevant and personalized. Make it short and sweet with a clear CTA at the end.
A personal touch makes all the difference. Here are a few ideas:
- After you comment on their social post, continue the discussion in the DM.
- Refer to one of their old social posts.
- Mention the podcasts they were on and compliment their work.
When using Facebook or Reddit, the story is a bit different. Joining communities in Facebook groups will already lead you to potential customers looking for help.
When it comes to Facebook groups:
- Engage in groups to establish trust and show expertise.
- Monitor group activity to find prospects looking for help.
- Provide clear value.
How to drive sales with inbound leads
We started this guide with an outbound strategy but will continue by explaining how to boost leads with an inbound strategy. With an outbound approach, you use a sales funnel to get in front of as many prospects as possible.
But with an inbound approach, you attract interested customers by providing incomparable value through inbound marketing materials.
Before executing your inbound strategy, you must find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Ask yourself this: "What is my unique value proposition?"
There are two ways to find a unique value proposition:
1. Niche down. Instead of going wide, you focus on being really good at solving 1-2 problems for a select group of clients.
2. Creating a core offering for that niche. Your core offering is the main service you offer.
Next, you must know who your audience is. No matter how good your service or product is, not everyone will need it. To get your answer, we advise you to create a buyer persona to try to understand their buying journey.
Buyer persona example:
Greg, 35 years old, founder of a Data Analytics company:
- Based in Los Angeles.
- 5 employees.
- $300K to $5M annual revenue.
- The company uses advertising to attract clients and needs eye-catching landing pages.
- Willing to spend $3900 per month on web design.
- Mostly spends time on Twitter (X) and Reddit.
After defining your client persona, you must understand how they will find out about your service. The customer journey includes the process from first realizing their pain points to finally purchasing your solution.
Each of their steps will require a different marketing approach for a conversion to happen.
Build in public
Building in public is one of the main acquisition channels for many young agencies and startups. It helped us scale Flowout to almost $1M in recurring revenue in just one year from launching the service.
Building in public on social media like Twitter (X) helps you get momentum and interest from fellow founders and professionals in the field. Their feedback can thus help you improve your products and services. Users and customers can stay up to date with your business news and follow the journey through struggles and wins.
Building in public leads to a series of benefits. The top 5 are:
- Get feedback early.
- Include customer loyalty by listening and taking action on their feedback.
- Build status as an industry expert.
- Build trust and meaningful connections with customers and users.
- Gaining exposure and attracting talent and investors.
Good practices when building in public are sharing:
- Software and tools you use.
- Hitting important milestones.
- Revenue and acquisition results.
- Company culture.
- Struggles and failures.
Your website often serves as a bridge and first point of contact between you and your potential customer. To convert leads, it must communicate your value proposition, convey trust, and show expertise.
1. Make your unique value proposition clear
When visitors land on your homepage, they must immediately understand what problems you solve and why they should work with you. Essentially, you must answer:
- What pains do you solve, and how?
- How do you stand out from the competition?
- What is the benefit of working with you?
Here is a great example of BirdBuddy, a smart camera bird feeder:
2. Build trust with past work and social proof
Social proof is evidence that other customers have purchased and found value in your services. Once customers land on your site, they will immediately look for your past references to validate if you are legit.
The motivation behind social proof is a social psychology concept that states that people are more likely to engage in action if other people are doing it as well.
Think about it, how likely are you going to buy from someone that has 0 references or examples of past work?
Best practices to add social proof to your website:
- Create video testimonials.
- Write case studies with the project backstory and results.
- Display the client's and partners' logos.
- Create a portfolio of your work.
3. Test and iterate call-to-action
Never stop working on your call-to-action. Create, test, and iterate to improve the click-through rate on your website. CTAs are one of the most important parts of your website, guiding users to conversions.
Best practices to optimize your CTAs:
- Keep it short while urging quick action.
- Create a state of urgency.
- Make it relevant and personal.
- Use buttons instead of text and form.
- Add compelling copy that supports your CTA.
If your digital agency is new and must first establish itself on the market, Neil Patel suggests adding:
- Behind-the-scenes video of your company your operations.
- Banner at the top with customer testimonials.
- Customer satisfaction rate.
- A number of completed orders.
Best practices to start landing new leads:
- Email form to collect new email subscribers.
- Chatbot to answer customer questions.
- Free demo call to establish trust.
- A free ebook that proves your industry expertise.
4. Write a compelling copy
Copy should go hand in hand with your website design. A compelling copy helps you create a superior customer experience and evoke your customer's emotions. A crisp and concise copy will help you build a loyal following leading to a boost in sales.
5 tips for an effective copy that will help convert your audience into customers:
- Be direct and don't waste the visitor's time with unnecessary words.
- Be clear, not smart. Write as you would to a 5-year-old.
- Put all your effort into the headlines. Most visitors decide there.
- Create a personalized experience with storytelling.
- Write for the person reading, not for a large audience.
Grow your network in online communities
Looking at our Google Analytics, investing time in social media paid us great dividends! Being active in Webflow communities since day 1 helped us scale Flowout and connect with our ideal clients faster than we could imagine.
1. Join niche Facebook groups
Remember how we talked about finding your niche? Once you find the niche, finding the right Facebook group is easy.
Connect with ideal clients without dealing with white noise in random communities. If you run a Webflow agency and support marketing companies, just search for the marketing companies groups or groups for web design / development, where clients are looking for partners. Facebook will give you a ton of group results.
2. Learn about your clients
Being active in Facebook groups will help you understand your clients from the inside out. Identify the pains, challenges, and concerns your clients face. Adjust your offerings to their pains and offer personalized services.
3. Create benefit-driven posts
Although you use Facebook for lead generation, the platform is still a social media platform. You shouldn't just fire as many sales pitches as you can. That will usually get you removed from the groups.
Your first and direct goal is to create value through benefit-driven posts. Dropping knowledge will help you establish trust, and motivate others to engage. The more exposure you get, the more prospects will reach out.
- Introduction posts.
- Milestone posts.
- Learning posts.
- Resource posts.
- Launch posts.
- Freebies posts.
1. Build a personal brand
LinkedIn is a professional network that has become a hangout spot for high achievers and founders. When we try to meet someone professionally, we are most likely to find them on LinkedIn.
Building a personal brand on LinkedIn is one of the most efficient ways to build a reputation and indirectly market your digital agency. If others see you as an industry expert, they will more likely engage and work with you:
- Take control of how you are perceived.
- Grow your professional network and presence.
- Engage in conversations with relevant people.
- Build authority and trust.
2. Drop knowledge consistently
Writing benefit-driven content will help you build authority and your personal brand.
Follow these best practices to boost your exposure and grow your network fast:
- Find a niche and understand your audience.
- Be consistent to gain momentum.
- Don't post only for the sake of posting.
- Center your posts around providing value.
Growing a community and forming a network with fellow Redditors can be tricky. Branded content usually doesn't perform well on Reddit, because the platform is a gathering space for people to connect with people. Meaning you will have to humanize your brand.
1. Find the right subreddits
Reddit consists of multiple small and large communities called subreddits. Each subreddit is a niche forum dedicated to a specific topic. Some of the most popular subreddits are r/announcements, r/funny, r/AskReddit, r/sports, r/gaming, etc.
Find the subreddits where your audience hangs out and become active Redditors. Engaging in relevant subreddits will help you get an insight into understanding your audience and their pains.
2. Post on Reddit
Remember to be a Redditor first and an agency second. Even if you are using it for business, engage as you are here to hang out. Focus on generating value and not directly selling your services. Before people will care about your brand, you have to become a trusted part of the Reddit community.
Become a valuable member of the community by:
- Posting general knowledge.
- Helping fellow Redditors with their concerns.
- Posting news from the industry.
- Opening discussions.
- Always offering value.
3. Understand your customers
Reddit is a great place to find out what your existing or potential customers are saying. There are many subreddits dedicated just to specific brands and industries. Reddit is a popular place for comparing brands and products or writing rants about the products. You can get all the feedback you need about yourself and your competition without ever having to engage in a conversation.
Embrace the freebie philosophy
How can giving away free marketing tools and other valuable assets grow your revenue? First of all, freebies are not exactly free. Price usually hides in collecting clients' contact information that you can later use in your marketing strategy.
Everybody loves free stuff. Freebies create a positive impression of your brand and encourage prospects to engage with you and your products.
Freebies allow your customer to test your products without any risk of wasting money. They encourage them to go more in-depth with your brand, explore other things you offer, and build a meaningful relationship with you.
Top reasons to create freebies:
- Create a positive buzz for your brand.
- Encourage customers to explore everything you offer.
- Improve customer relationships.
- Encourage buying habits.
Offering freebies resulted as one of our main acquisition channels so far!
For example, our Webflow template library is today the most visited page on our website.
We created a complete SEO checklist to guide companies in boosting their Google rankings. We also have an all-in-one checklist for creating a high-converting landing page with actionable tips, best practices and examples.
The ebooks helped us get more than 2K emails from prospective clients.
Good practices from other brands:
- Veed.io: As a video editing tool, they offer more than 100 free tools available for everyone at any time.
- Buffer: As a social media management software, they offer a free image editor to help you level up your social media game.
- HubSpot: HubSpot's Website Grader is a free tool that scores your website based on factors like speed performance, SEO, mobile-friendliness, and security.
Grow organic traffic
Growing organic traffic is not a sprint but a marathon. Yet creating content and ranking high on Google is one the most powerful ways to generate leads.
Imagine that every time someone types "digital agency" in Google, your business pops up in the first place. Backlinko conducted research across 1.3M pages to find out that:
- The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 27.6%.
- The #1 organic result is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a page in the #10 spot.
- On average, moving up 1 spot in the search results will increase CTR by 2.8%.
To boost your Google rankings, follow these steps:
- Pick the right keywords.
- Add SEO titles and meta descriptions to all pages.
- Write SEO-optimized content constantly.
- Design responsive and with a clean code.
- Improve web speed.
- Take care of your 301 redirects.
- Build a helpful 404 page.
- Add alt tags to all visual elements.
- Optimize your URLs.
Need an in-depth guide? We created a comprehensive Webflow SEO checklist to help you get discovered and rank #1 on Google.
Your next steps to agency success
We’re wrapping up this guide, packed with tips to help your digital agency grow. It's not just about getting clients. It's about building relationships that last. Use what you've learned here to reach out, connect, and seal the deal with confidence.
Remember, it's about the right moves in marketing and sales, plus a dash of your unique touch. Stay persistent, personalize your approach, and offer value that stands out. And when it comes to questions, we're just an email away.
Take these strategies, put them to work, and watch your client list expand. Here's to a year of new partnerships and success.