Leads are the lifeblood of any B2B service-based business including web design agencies, SEO firms, and other types of digital agencies.
Without a constant stream of qualified web design leads, an agency’s sales pipeline may start to run dry and find itself without clients.
There’s no denying the fact that lead generation is one of the most critical aspects of a marketer’s role. In fact, according to RulerAnalytics, 91% of marketers say that lead generation is their most important goal.
Image source: RulerAnalytics
This statistic doesn’t only apply to B2C businesses, but also to B2B businesses such as web design agencies.
With this being said, we thought it would be useful to create a guide on the top lead generation strategies that web design agencies can implement to generate more leads.
Along the way, we’ll also share feedback from a variety of digital agency founders on how they incorporate these tactics to generate leads within their agency.
Agency Founders Executives Featured in This Post
We’d like to give special thanks to the following agency founders and executives for sharing their valuable feedback and contributions.
- Brenton Thomas, Founder @ Twibi, United States
- Sarah Walters, Marketing Manager @ The Wit Group, United States
- Alex Alexakis, Founder @ PixelChefs, United States
- Chris Stott, Director @ SeverMarketing, United Kingdom
What are Web Design Leads?
Web design leads are pre-qualified individuals or businesses that have shown an interest in web design services. Typically, these individuals or businesses have shown an interest in these services by responding favourably to any outbound or inbound marketing campaigns.
So no, not every business in your town qualifies as a web design lead since they haven’t reflected an interest in having their website redesigned or to have a new site built from scratch.
The types of services adjacent to web design that a prospective client may also be interested in include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing (paid and organic)
When talking about agency lead generation, there’s a distinction that needs to be made between hot and cold leads.
A cold lead is a person or business that fits the customer profile or buyer persona that you’ve arrived at when starting your business. These web design leads haven’t been marketed to yet, and they will be much harder to convert into clients.
A hot web design lead is someone that has positively responded to any marketing campaigns that you’ve set up. These users have shown an interest in your services and as a result, they’re much easier to convert into paying clients.
There are different marketing channels for each phase of the marketing funnel. For instance, PPC marketing is ideal for reaching completely new prospects, this would typically be top of the funnel, cold leads.
Image source: Amazon Ads
Whereas SEO is more intended at reaching middle to bottom of the funnel prospects who are aware of their problems and researching for solutions to their problems.
Should You Buy Web Design Leads?
This depends on a number of factors. Before buying web design leads you should carefully evaluate the source or the seller.
Nowadays, it’s quite easy for anyone to assemble a list of businesses, and try to sell it as a “verified” list of qualified prospects.
For this reason, you have to be very critical of the source and the quality of the leads you buy. In my opinion, you’ll be better off finding your own leads.
Ways to Get Web Design Leads for Your Agency
There are several ways to generate web design leads, from setting up PPC marketing campaigns that show ads to your ideal buyer to utilizing agency directories.
There’s no “best” way to get these leads, however, the methodology you use will largely depend on your skills and budget.
For instance, if you’ve got a large budget for lead generation, then you can probably use paid marketing channels such as PPC and ads on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
However, if you’re strapped for cash, then you’ll probably have to turn to more cost-effective methods such as SEO and content marketing instead.
Have a Content Marketing Strategy in Place
The first tactic for generating web design leads is through the use of content marketing.
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content marketing is about more than just writing blog posts, it can also include publishing YouTube videos, creating PR campaigns about your agency, sending insightful research or information in an email newsletter, etc.
So, how can agencies use content marketing to get web design leads?
The first, and most obvious, answer is by writing and publishing relevant blog content on your agency’s website.
This content should aim to help your ideal buyer solve a problem. For instance, if your ideal client is an eCommerce business, then your blog content should be about how to build an online store, marketing tips for eCommerce, eCommerce software reviews, etc.
An example of an agency using blog content to generate leads is Jamersan. They’re an eCommerce web design and development agency specializing in Magento, BigCommerce, and Adobe Commerce.
They publish loads of blog posts on topics relevant to eCommerce web development.
If your agency has the capacity to produce YouTube videos then this could be another untapped content marketing opportunity for generating web design leads.
The idea is to produce YouTube content that would be relevant to your ideal client. Using Jamersan as an example again, they’ve been able to create their own YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers in the eCommerce space.
They regularly publish videos that an eCommerce site owner and marketer would find relevant, these include:
- 5 reasons you should choose Magento vs Shopify
- How to choose a Million Dollar Dropshipping Niche in 2021
- Choosing an eCommerce platform and print-on-demand provider for our $1,000,000 dropshipping site
- Try these 5 tips to increase your AOV
If you want to use content marketing as a method to generate leads for your agency, you need to first establish what type of content and information your ideal client will find useful.
An agency specializing in local SEO and web development for small businesses will likely not need to create content on eCommerce-related topics since it’s not relevant to that type of business.
Instead, information on how to grow their small business will be of much more value to such a client.
Chris Stott, director of SevenMarketing, a digital agency in Manchester, UK, says that his agency employs a multifaceted approach combining inbound and outbound tactics.
“We focus on optimizing our agency website to attract organic traffic. By crafting compelling content that showcases our expertise, such as informative blog posts, engaging case studies, and a captivating portfolio, we pique the interest of potential clients actively seeking web design services.”
Utilize PPC Marketing
Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing is a great way to get your agency in front of a targeted audience. Unlike with SEO, PPC is an outbound marketing activity since you virtually go out and find users who match your ideal client profile.
There are benefits and drawbacks to using PPC marketing to generate web design leads.
The main drawbacks include:
- Since you pay for each click it costs real marketing dollars to convert cold prospects into leads.
- In order to optimize ads and campaigns to their maximum potential, you need to have expertise in this field of marketing. Furthermore, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might end up spending a lot of time and money without seeing any real benefits.
Of course, PPC offers several benefits, including:
- The ability to directly advertise to clients based on a number of factors including their exact location, keyword, time of day and day of week, and audience interests.
- You only pay for PPC marketing once someone clicks on the ad. So a potential client will see your brand even if they don’t click on your ad.
- PPC marketing can generate fast results. The moment you turn on your PPC campaign it can start generating web design leads for your agency.
- PPC gives advertisers the ability to show their business at the very top of Google SERPs.
Create a Listing on an Agency Directory
Creating a listing in an agency directory is a great way to generate web design since you can get started for free.
Of course, you’ll be dependent on the platform for these leads. So whenever they change their algorithm or ranking rules, you’ll have to change your on-platform strategy or edit your listing.
This lead generation method is a low-hanging fruit since it doesn’t require a lot of time investment.
You simply create your account, complete all the listing fields, and that’s it.
Of course, most of these platforms also give digital agencies the ability to pay in order to have their listings appear first or in the top three listings. If your agency has the marketing budget to invest in such a campaign, it could be worth your while.
The reason why getting listed on agency directories such as those mentioned is because their site visitors are very targeted.
Unlike general business directories such as Yelp, users visiting agency directory websites are already in the market for a digital agency, so these visitors are much more likely to convert to clients.
Build a Following on Social Media
No guide on generating web design leads will be complete without mentioning social media.
Digital agency founders and marketers can utilize both organic and paid social media to generate web design leads. Although, you’ll probably be able to generate a lot more leads using paid social media marketing compared to organic.
Through platforms like Facebook and Instagram offering detailed targeting abilities, agencies can reach new prospects based on their ideal client persona.
There are several ways to generate web design leads on social media.
Firstly, you can create a paid campaign targeting people based on target demographics, interests, and other characteristics. The traditional method of offering a free eBook or guide in exchange for an email address still works.
Or you could offer recipients a free digital marketing strategy session with one of your agency staff members.
Brenton Thomas is the founder of Twibi, a marketing agency based in the United States. He is a strong believer in offering free consultations to generate leads.
“Offering free consultations is a great way to generate leads and build relationships with potential customers. When we offer a free consultation, we ask the potential customer questions about their needs so that we can understand their pain points and how our services can help them.”
Based on your budget, you can also just try to build a large following on social media through paid ads. You could aim to be “the go to creator” for all things web design and development related.
This can be achieved through sharing insightful content, a how to guide, answering frequently asked questions about digital marketing and web design, and whatever else a prospective client may be interested in.
Provide Free SEO Audits
Everyone loves free stuff. A unique way to generate web design leads is by offering a free SEO audit of your prospective client’s current website in exchange for their contact details.
This report should contain all the checks necessary to give the prospect a comprehensive overview of their website and what needs to be done to improve its search engine rankings.
Then, you can pitch your web design and development services, and state how you use SEO best-practices when designing websites for clients.
So, how do you provide free SEO audits without having to manually go over each new lead’s website?
With SEOptimer’s Embeddable Audit Tool, agency founders can put their lead generation on autopilot.
Simply embed an audit form on your website that matches the branding and overall look and feel of your agency. Our audit form is 100% customizable according to your unique requirements.
As soon as someone completes the audit form by adding their details, our software will perform a comprehensive SEO audit of their website, checking more than 100 data points.
Once done, the SEO audit will be sent to the prospect and their contact information along with a copy of the report will be delivered to your email inbox.
Get Listed on Freelancing Sites
The next tactic for generating web design leads is to get listed on freelancing sites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, etc.
Yes, technically a digital agency isn’t a “freelancer” however, many businesses go to these websites to find vendors for a range of services including web design and development.
Now, you should remember that you’ll likely have to pay a commission or platform fees from the income you generate through projects on a freelancing website such as Upwork.
However, if you optimize your profile on these platforms you’ll be able to generate web design leads for free, practically.
I’d say this tactic is a great option for those agencies just starting out who don’t have a strong web presence or search engine rankings, and who don't have the budget to pay for a lead generation campaign.
Showcase Previous Work
Since web design is a visual endeavor, showcasing your agency’s previous work and design skills is a great way to generate new web design leads.
Most web design and marketing agencies do this through a “Portfolio” section on their website.
Of course, this also means that your agency’s own website should be top-notch and visually appealing. You can’t expect another business to trust you with their website, if your own website looks horrible and functions poorly.
Sarah Walters is the marketing manager at The Wit Group, a digital agency in Mississippi offering web design and SEO services. Sarah says that showcasing their previous work is one of their primary lead generation methods.
“We carefully curate the portfolio of successful projects to showcase our abilities and the impact of the work. Authentic testimonials from our clients are featured on our website as powerful social evidence, attesting to the quality of our service and the satisfaction of our clients.”
Prospective clients will evaluate the quality of your services and your web design skills based on what your website looks like and those sites in your portfolio.
Tip: Add a link to your website in the footer of all your clients’ websites. This is a tactic employed by PixelChefs, a web design and SEO agency in the United States.
“One of the tactics that we use to get more web design clients is to ask our existing customers to write our name on their website as designed by PixelChefs. We do this because it helps us create more exposure and visibility for our web design services.”
- Alex Alexakis, Founder
Optimizing Your Google Business Profile (GMB) for Local Search
One of the best ways to generate web design leads is to rank for local search queries such as “web design agency + [city]”.
For this, you’ll have to follow local SEO best practices for optimizing your Google My Business listing.
This is a powerful strategy for several reasons, but the most beneficial being:
- If your business is able to maintain its rankings in the top spot, you’ll be able to generate web design leads without interruption.
- This is essentially a free way of generating leads. Unlike with paid marketing channels, you’ll be able to generate leads without having to pay for any ad placements.
Here are some high-level tips that you can follow to optimize your GMB listing for local search, but feel free to check out this guide on Google My Business optimization to get more in-depth tips and tactics:
- Ensure that you’ve claimed and verified your Google Business Profile listing. By claiming and verifying your listing, you’ll be able to make the listing visible to users on Google and edit the information accordingly.
- Choose the right business category. You need to be as specific as possible when choosing your business category since this is one of the elements Google takes into consideration when determining which businesses to match to relevant searches.
- Add web design services to your listing. Google gives businesses the ability to add all of the services they provide to their listing.
- Add photos and videos of your agency to your listing. This is the perfect place to add screenshots of previous projects or a video tour of your agency’s offices.
Create Killer Service and Location Pages
If you’re able to rank in the Google snack pack and in the organic search results, you’ll be well on your way to generating more web design leads for your agency.
So, how exactly do you improve your website’s ability to rank for local rankings such as “web design services new mexico”?
By creating SEO-optimized service and location pages.
These are pages on your website that target a specific service (e.g. web design) in a city or town (e.g. New Mexico).
Here’s an example of a location page that targets the keyword “Austin digital marketing agency”.
Top-ranking location pages all share some common characteristics, these being:
- Using location-specific keywords (e.g. Austin Web Design) in important page elements including header tags, page titles, meta descriptions, and all throughout the page’s body content.
- Creating location-specific URLs such as www.youragency.com/austin-web-design.
- Adding location-specific images with appropriate image alt tags. For instance, a web design agency based in New York City could have screenshots of the city skyline with matching image alt tags on their website.
- Using consistent NAP details in the website’s header or footer. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. Your business’ NAP details need to be consistent on your website location pages and all directories over the web, including your GMB listing.
- Embedding a Google Map in the footer of the page. This map should provide directions to your physical offices. It’s quite common to embed a Google Map next to your NAP details.
Many of these lead generation methods should be used in conjunction with one another. This eliminates your reliance on one platform or source for leads.
You’ll also notice that many of these strategies go hand in hand with one another. For example, SEO and blog content (a form of content marketing) is often used together to improve a site’s visibility and search engine rankings.
Of course, there are many other methods to generate web design leads other than those suggested in this post.
Which methods have you implemented in your agency to generate web design leads? Let us know by tweeting to us @seoptimer.