Search engine optimization (SEO) has long been considered the most effective way to drive traffic and generate leads.
In 2016, companies globally spent $613 billion on SEO and digital marketing, three times what was spent in 2008.
In the US alone, companies spent as much as $65.26 billion on search engine optimization in 2016, and this spending is expected to increase to $79.27 billion by 2020.
Two-third of the spending came from small companies and startups.
SEO is Growing Fast mainly because of the prevalence of smartphones, which has lowered the cost of using the internet, increased user base, and consequently increased the number of searches per user.
There are Over 100 Billion Searches on Google in a month. Also, traditional ads are now dying and are expected to fade away eventually. Once that happens, businesses will turn to unconventional ways of advertising.
More companies are now trying to grab a bigger share of the pie. Hence, the only way to survive this battle is to generate more revenue.
While SEO companies are experts at generating leads for their clients, here are some ways they can generate leads for themselves.
1. Referral Program
When Neil Patel, the New York Times’ Best-Selling Author and the owner of a 7-figure SEO company, started his SEO venture, referrals were his primary source of revenue.
“The best clients you will ever get as an agency is from previous customers, friends, or even family members.”
According to him, the chances of you scoring a deal get higher when someone refers you. He also believes that you need to work with the referred client with diligence and care even when it is challenging because this where you’ll make the most of your revenues from.
Your business is like a web of relationships; every person can connect you with another person. However, referrals don’t just happen.
Having a referral strategy in place is the best way to go forward. First things first, you need to make sure that you ask for referrals.
Often people think asking for referrals would make them look desperate. However, that is not the case.
If you have provided great service to your client, you should feel proud of asking about other people you could help.
Also, you need to help your clients refer you. Your existing clientele should know how to communicate your value proposition to potential clients.
You can give your clients some printed newsletters with information about your company, or you could give them your business card and ask them to share it with others.
Your job doesn’t end here. You need to keep in touch with your existing clients and remind them about referrals. Moreover, once they refer someone to you, you can do something for them in return, like giving them a referral.
You can also start guest blogging on relevant industry websites. It’s a very effective strategy that has generated millions of dollars for businesses globally. This article outlines how you can build effective links via guest posting.
2. Partnership with other companies
Today, more companies are looking to outsource some of their functions to other companies so that they can focus on their core functions and expand.
According to research conducted by Hubshout, 68% of agencies outsourced SEO to a White Label SEO Provider, while 48% outsourced PPC services and 28% outsourced content marketing services.
The quickest way, perhaps to generate more leads, is to partner with related companies. You can call up other big and established ad agencies and propose them to outsource their SEO departments to your company.
There are many large and agencies that you can cold call and offer help. If you’re only just starting, you can provide your services for free to your first few clients.
You might lose out a bit by doing it for free in the short run, but it would help you in the longer run.
Bigger agencies are mostly looking for smaller agencies since the latter are willing to handle everything on their own.
While pitching to companies, you can show them how you’ll help them reduce costs by outsourcing SEO to your company.
3. Market your company
You can only rely on referrals only till the time your marketing efforts are established because, after that, you need to start generating leads on your own.
There are two ways you can do that. One is inbound marketing, and the other is outbound marketing.
While outbound marketing is more traditional and focuses on email blasts, trade shows, and cold calling, inbound marketing is when customers find you through blogging, social media, or search engines.
Email marketing can be a great way to generate leads. While sending emails, you need to ensure that the subject line is enticing, the content is short and engaging and that a call-to-action button is present.
Another effective way is to develop product videos. MailChimp is a great software to create and send out personalized, effective emails.
According to the Social Science Research Network, 65 Percent of us are visual learners, which means that videos are a better way to explain your product. Also, product videos keep users engaged, thereby increasing the chances of conversion.
You can always harness the power of social media to entice users. Twitter can prove to be a useful tool in this regard.
Kellog’s study found that customers are 12 percent more likely to convert if they are exposed to tweet promotions. You need to ensure that your tweets are engaging and add value and do not just come off as the advertisement.
Also, you need to link your relevant tweets to your website, which increases the chances of conversion.
Blogging can also help you considerably in generating leads. You can blog specifically about social media and SEO.
Try to share as much information as possible to keep your potential customers engaged. Neil Patel observed that content marketing costs 62% Less than Traditional Marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads for your business.
It is a long-term strategy that doesn’t immediately yield results but is essential for your business. You can look out for networking events such as conferences of your interest and go there equipped with a pitch and business cards to build future business relationships.
Always be on the lookout to speak at industry conferences. These conferences have a significant impact and help you generate qualified leads for your business.
Neil Patel used to speak at conferences, and within a matter of two years, he, along with co-founders, was able to generate over 100,000 new leads.
Trade shows are another example of offline events that can help you get more business. Well-established companies prefer networking with their customers and partners via trade shows instead of just relying on advertising.
Even if you don’t get leads immediately, you get a chance to learn from the leaders in the industry.
Remember that face-to-face interaction helps your customers associate a face with your product or service, which makes your offering more credible.
Networking is not about selling your service or product, and it is more about cultivating lasting relationships that you can capitalize on in the future.
The success of your business ultimately depends on how profitable and sustainable it is. You could have a great product, but if you are unable to sell it, then your business will suffer.
In a competitive market, businesses are fighting tooth and nail for their share. The most effective way is to stand out from the crowd and tell your customers how your offering is different from that of others in the market.
If you are a startup, initially, you will have to rely on your contacts and referrals to get your first few clients.
While you cater to your initial clients, make sure that you develop your marketing efforts to the extent that they can generate business for you. Advertising your product effectively to the right audience will yield results.
However, you cannot solely rely on that. You need to invest in long-term lead generation methods and strategies
such as networking and building relationships.
Also, you need to make sure that you remain in touch with your previous clients. They will not only help you regarding referrals but also in the form of repeat purchases.
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