How to Generate Leads for Your Marketing Agency

How to Generate Leads for Your Marketing Agency

Eight tactics that you can employ to get marketing leads or generate referrals.

The modern digital marketing landscape is an incredibly competitive one, with more agencies than ever opening their doors and more specialists setting up shop with very niche offerings.

As a backdrop to this, proximity study research suggests that an overwhelming 90% of local consumers will travel a maximum of 20 minutes to purchase a product or service.

Local SEO is therefore increasingly essential for small brick-and-mortar retailers and service suppliers—especially those looking to survive against behemoths like Amazon, Walmart and eBay, who dominate the main organic listings.

Search Engine Land columnist Jayson DeMers summed it up perfectly, noting,

Now that the internet has become the primary source consumers turn to for local business information, not showing up in local search is tantamount to professional suicide.”

Simply put, local SEO can’t be ignored.

The importance of local SEO is not the only reason that agencies and consultants have a huge pool of potential clients to mine for business. As local search has gained traction from a commercial perspective, it’s become harder to successfully carry out local optimization without specialist help. The size of the local pack has slowly reduced over time, too, ramping up competition for the precious regional real estate.

With every company that boasts a physical location more or less compelled to focus on achieving strong local rankings if they hope to attract local consumers, there is an abundance of opportunity for marketing agencies to generate leads and obtain a steady influx of local SEO clients.

Even those marketing agencies with healthy client rosters can’t afford not to generate B2B marketing leads. Regardless of whether or not you have your sights set on growing your agency or consulting business, it’s foolhardy to cease lead generation efforts—an empty pipeline could be fatal if you lose one or two key clients.

If you aren’t sure how to get marketing leads or simply need a few new ways to generate referrals and successfully sell your SEO services to local businesses, read on for eight tactics that you can employ right away, whatever your agency’s own physical location.

Lead Generation Method 1: Deploy Your Happiest Clients

If you’re a regular BrightLocal visitor, you’ll be all too familiar with the power of online reviews and recommendations. Year after year, our annual local consumer review survey charts an increasing trust in online reviews, with almost nine in ten consumers now trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Now imagine the impact of combining the two!

Word-of-mouth recommendation has always been the very best, and most authentic form of marketing, and a great way to generate marketing leads. Use this, and the almost innate trust that most of us now have in online reviews, to use your happiest clients as part of your lead generation efforts.

Take a look through your campaigns, both past and present, and pick out clients you’re on great terms with and have delivered superb results for. Convert those clients into brand advocates by asking them to share their experiences and successes with their peers in the form of a recommendation.

This could be something as simple as a referral when asked or something more formal such as a letter of recommendation or online testimonial. For referrals, you could also sweeten the deal and let your happy customers know that any business they refer to you will be rewarded with a free meal at a local restaurant, a donation to the charity of their choice or a gift card.

Lead Generation Method 2: Advertise and List Your Business

Your marketing agency may well operate nationally but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise locally. When brainstorming how to get local SEO clients, it’s easy to fall into the trap of missing the most obvious approach—to advertise online and offline in local publications.

Whether that’s a banner ad on a local news website or a 30-second slot on the local radio station, advertising in your local area is an easy, accessible way to raise your own local visibility and brand awareness.

You can use this method even when you’re looking to generate leads outside of your own immediate town or city, especially if you want to become more established in a second or third area. Simply follow the same process of identifying local publications and then conducting a local advertising campaign to scale up your local SEO lead generation efforts.

If you can’t stump the cash for advertising, then a great way to get your business more visibility in front of an interested audience is to get your business listed on an agency directory. Heck, you should do this anyway, advertising or no!

Lead Generation Method 3: Network

The idea of attending a network event can send some business owners into a cold sweat. While some entrepreneurs relish the opportunity to get out there and promote their business, others find the prospect of a networking event terrifying.

The Federation of Small Businesses says that, despite this fear, networking is absolutely critical to generating leads:

Networking tends to split business people right down the middle; some relish the opportunity to meet other successful, like-minded individuals who run their own companies, and others shy away from the interaction. One of the key practices to making any business a success, networking allows entrepreneurs to connect with a wealth of customers and suppliers, building a bank of connections. Whether you’re comfortable with networking or not, remember it could be a vital ingredient to your business success.”

If you fall into the non-networker category, the good news is that you can find your footing online before venturing out into the real world.

Try tools like LinkedIn to start to create a local network online, and as you become more comfortable, ask your online connections for the details of any local networking events that they recommend or attend themselves.

Getting networking right and making it fruitful for your lead generation campaign can take time—not every local event you come across will be right for you, so a process of trial-and-error is often needed.

Inc contributor, Nicolas Cole says that traditional networking events often don’t work and it’s better to seek out something a bit different:

The reason big networking events fail is because everyone who attends tends to operate from the same script. Meaningful conversations aren’t taking place—just two people with business cards in their hands, giving their pitches back and forth. And then what happens? Both parties nod, smile, say, “Well, it was great connecting with you. I’ll shoot you an email and let’s go from there. And then nothing happens… When you’re building your network, look for the situations that are going to allow you to make friends—even if they’re business friends. Small settings do well. Friends of friends and e-mail introductions go a long way. Whatever you do, just keep the focus on making meaningful connections, instead of throwing your business cards all over the floor and hoping someone with a name tag picks one up.”

Lead Generation Method 4: Build Your Own Local Profile

Influencer marketing can teach us a thing or two when it comes to obtaining new local SEO clients. Influencers make a living out of being well known—simply by being someone lots of people know, they’re able to charge vast amounts to promote a product or service.

While we’re not suggesting you start looking for brand endorsements, this philosophy can be leveraged to grow your own business.

Building your profile within your local community means you suddenly become a much more natural choice when businesses in the area are looking for a marketing agency. Sponsoring a local sports team, helping out local charities or contributing to popular local events all make you more visible.

This isn’t just a way to stay front-of-mind via indirect advertising, it’s also a great way to build up your local network in a holistic manner.

Lead Generation Method 5: Use the Better Business Bureau

If you’ve carried out link building for any of your existing local SEO clients, you’ll be familiar with the value of outreach. You’ll probably also have a good idea as to how to write an outreach pitch or conduct an outreach call. You can transfer these skills to your ‘how to generate leads’ brainstorming board. Use them to reach out to businesses listed with the Better Business Bureau.

Simply head to the marketplace and start to create a database of businesses in your local area. Just input a keyword, such as ‘garden center’, ‘plumber’ or even ‘italian food’ and your zip code.

You’ll get a list of local businesses in the area, with a phone number, postal address, business information and website link. From there, you can begin to reach out to introduce your company and its services to each of the local businesses you have found.

Lead Generation Method 6: Use Google

When you begin thinking about how to get local SEO clients, using Google itself will probably be near the top of the list. To add leads to your pipeline, perform Google searches to find those local businesses that should be ranking higher—such as those on page two and beyond.

As you have already identified that there is an opportunity for them to do much better, you can contact with the emotional pull of helping them climb above local competitors and do better than their rivals by using your services.

Lead Generation Method 7: Use Google Maps

Much like method 6, Google Maps should be an intrinsic part of your process to generate leads. Maps are rich pickings for savvy marketing agency owners—all you need to find is perform a local search, shortlist businesses with low star ratings or poor local rankings (even though they’re close to your search location), and reach out.

Your ability to offer help is a natural conversation starter and, coupled with testimonials from your happiest clients (method 1) and an audit (method 8) should result in warm leads with almost no effort at all.

Lead Generation Method 8: Audits

It might sound like a false economy to give would-be clients the tools to perform their own SEO audits but it’s actually a great way to show them exactly how much work there is to be done.

In addition to giving your website visitors a useful tool to conduct a local website audit, you can use BrightLocal’s Lead Generation tool to capture their contact details and contact them later.

Follow up with your insights into their audit, offering advice and support rather than a cold sales pitch, to move the conversation along.

Those without access to lead generation tools like this can still perform a pre-outreach on-site audit and deliver it to a potential client, but the time and effort it takes might not offset the opportunity presented by the lead, and you certainly couldn’t do this manually at scale.

How Can BrightLocal Help Me Generate Leads for My Marketing Agency?

BrightLocal offers a completely unique and highly sophisticated way to generate leads from your agency website without you having to lift a finger.

Our ‘Lead Generation Widget’ allows your website visitors to request an automated Local Search Audit via data capture, after which you can follow up with the potential client, audit in hand, to offer your services.

In the back end, you can fully manage the leads generated through this tool, building a process pipeline that delivers results immediately. Learn more about BrightLocal’s Lead Generation Widget.

Be even more awesome at local SEO

Jamie Pitman
About the author
Jamie heads up BrightLocal's content team, ensuring we produce insightful articles, research and resources that enable businesses and SEOs to get even better results in local search.