Recent research suggests that, when it comes to attracting new business, many marketing agencies engage in some risky behavior.
The worst part is, they may not even realize it.
A look inside the report reveals an infographic showing that 90% of agencies say their primary source of new business is referrals:
Now, there’s nothing wrong with using referrals to your advantage. They’ve long been a staple of agencies’ new business strategy.
For a few reasons, he adds:
- New business generated via referrals doesn’t always produce the right type of client (they could be the wrong fit, too small, low budget, not the right kind of work).
- They’re not a consistent and scalable source of new business.
- Large agencies are increasingly going after business that strictly small to medium-sized businesses once did, meaning there’s more competition for it than ever before.
But the good news is, numbers show that agencies are getting more aggressive when it comes to including inbound and outbound tactics in their new business strategy. More than 85% of respondents say they’re using channels like social media, blogging, paid marketing, and email to generate leads. That’s up 9% from 2011.
If you’re still relying heavily on referrals, McKnight recommends you look at both outbound and inbound methodologies as your insurance policy. “It’s not the easiest part,” he says, “but it’s absolutely necessary to your success.”
Here’s how those inbound and outbound components can come together to form a well-executed lead generation marketing campaign for new business.
How to create a lead generation campaign for your marketing agency
1. Determine your target audience
There’s no use in generating leads if they’re not going to turn into clients who are a fit for your agency. To make sure they are, you’ll need to start by doing some research to figure out who your targets are.
Look at your current customers. Who are they? Interview your best clients to learn things like their background, goals, where they spend their time online, their biggest challenges, and the process they go through before hiring an agency. But don’t stop there.
Industry research like AMI’s Hiring and Firing Insights Report will clue you into the factors most businesses take into account when deciding whether to contract work out to agencies like yours.
When you’ve learned everything you can about your target prospects, you can mold your marketing campaign — its messaging, traffic channels, etc. — to best suit their preferences.
2. Set campaign goals
Every successful marketing campaign starts with goals — specific ones. “To generate the most leads possible” isn’t a goal. Use past performances as a benchmark to come up with a specific number of visits, leads, conversion rate, etc. that you’ll want to hit in a particular timetable.
If you haven’t kept track (ahem… it’s time to start now), try figuring out what a lead is worth to your agency, then work backward. Determining the value of your average customer will help you determine how many you need from this campaign to hit your sales goals.
From there, calculate how many leads your sales team converts into clients on average, then use industry benchmarks to estimate your conversion rate, along with how many visitors you need to generate to hit those goals.
3. Determine what offer will attract your ideal client
Remember when it was easy to give away free stuff online? Requests for ebooks, tip sheets, and white papers were plentiful, and generating leads was easy.
So easy, in fact, that some marketers got lazy. They started doing less work to generate the same amount of leads, and it worked for a while. Then, prospects caught on, realizing that not every lead magnet was created equal.
As a result, they became more selective with what they claimed online. Today it’s not enough to create a cookie-cutter offer. You need to be original and truly helpful to your prospects if you expect them to redeem your content.
For example, Moz does that by not only creating valuable content, but also tools that people can actually use, like Mozbar and Open Site Explorer, and HubSpot does it with templates like this one for creating buyer personas.
Now, that doesn’t mean content like ebooks and tip sheets aren’t valuable. They position you as a knowledgeable authority on your subject, and they’re great to use at the top of your funnel. The only problem is, not everyone enters your funnel at the top.
A small business owner searching for social media marketing tips is looking for something completely different than one comparing agencies to outsource to. For the first small business owner, your ebook titled “25 Instagram Marketing Hacks From The Experts” would be ideal, whereas for prospect number 2, a case study showcasing your agency’s effectiveness at social media marketing would be more relevant.
To create a great offer, you need to know who’s going to be using it, and where in the buyer’s journey they are. If you need a little help, a survey from Regalix questioned 285 B2B marketers about the best content to offer at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Here’s what they answered:
- Social media: 83%
- Blog posts: 81%
- Infographics: 81%
- White papers: 78%
- Websites: 75%
- Web-based events: 72%
- Website: 56%
- Case studies: 47%
- Research Reports: 39%
- Videos: 39%
Also, an important thing to keep in mind, your offer doesn’t have to be content. Tools and free consultations are also widely used by marketers to generate leads for their agency.
4. Build your landing page
Now that you know what you’re going to offer your prospects, you have to convince them it’s worth downloading. This is where your landing page comes in.
These persuasive, standalone pages, disconnected from your website via navigation links in a menu or footer, are built using elements that have been proven to boost the chances your offer gets claimed.
Here’s what those elements are:
A benefit-oriented headline
It’s long been known that headlines attract more attention than body copy on a written page. Decades ago, the father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy, found that 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, while only 2 will read the body copy. Make sure the big, bold words at the top of your page give prospects a reason to read the rest of it by communicating the benefit of claiming your offer. If you can’t explain what’s in it for your audience immediately, they won’t continue on.
For even better results, take some lessons from well-known ad man, John Caples, and convey scarcity, share news, and invoke curiosity with your headline.
Here’s one from Mindy McHorse that combines storytelling (the true life story…), curiosity (what’s the secret to making 6 figures from home?), and a benefit (learn how to make 6 figures working from home):
From the moment we’re born, humans begin processing the world visually. That’s why using images and videos in advertising is the most effective way to capture attention and convey information. Hero shots, infographics, explainer videos, video case studies, and video testimonials all help your prospects understand the benefits of your offer and why they should claim it.
Today using video on a landing page has been shown to boost conversion rate by as much as 80%. It’s no wonder 93% of marketers incorporate them into their digital strategy.
In a letter sent more than 350 years ago, French Philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “I have made this letter longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
Today, many landing pages should close with the same sentence. It takes a lot of time to make one word do the work of two — time that many marketers don’t take.
Instead, they stuff their landing page with long-form block text about their product and its benefits without giving any thought to the reader’s situation, which is this: They’re busy, and they’re not reading for pleasure. They want to know why they should claim your offer in as little time as possible.
It’s for that reason you should break up block text into small paragraphs, use bullet points, and keep text to a minimum the way Handy does below. On the whole, people don’t like to read, so the easier you make it for them to do, the better.
Why tell people your offer is worth claiming when you can show them? Positive reviews, testimonials, authority badges, and case studies all do that by showcasing customers and partners that trust your business, like this page from Infusionsoft does with badges from publications they’ve been featured in:
If brands like the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and Entrepreneur trust your brand, then it’s likely the prospects visiting your landing page will, too.
A well-designed form
To capture leads, your landing page will need to feature a well-designed form. So what’s that mean?
For starters, you’ll need to determine what kind of information you need from your prospects. First, try coming up with the best-case scenario — all the things you’d have from a lead in an ideal world. Let’s say you and your team have decided that includes name, email, work phone, company size, and annual revenue.
Next, figure out which you could do without. Do you really need to know company size, or will just annual revenue do? Is work phone necessary, or will email address suffice?
Remember, the less information you ask your prospects to submit, the more likely they are to convert. Try to get your form down to the minimum amount of fields you need to effectively follow up with your leads.
Something else to consider is your offer. The more valuable it is to your audience, the more you can ask them to hand over in exchange for it. If you’ve put together a short tip sheet, then ten fields might be too big an ask. On the other hand, if you’ve compiled an industry report filled with valuable insights from leading experts, your prospects might be totally fine with completing a 10-field form.
Once you’ve decided how many fields to use, make sure you make your form easy to fill out. Include labels above your fields, not ones within them that disappear when the prospect starts typing – this has the potential to confuse and frustrate them, research shows. Consider enabling social autofill so visitors can convert by importing personal information from sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook with the click of a button.
And if your conversion process is unusually long, try breaking it up into multiple steps to shorten its perceived length. One long form is intimidating, while a few short ones seem like less work.
A strong call-to-action button
The job of your call-to-action button is to compel your visitors to click — to convert — so it has to be persuasive and attention-grabbing.
Firstly, if they can’t find it, they can’t click it. So your button should be an accent color that stands out on your page, and visual cues like arrows or the gaze of models in a photo (see Hillary Clinton’s campaign landing pages) should guide visitors toward it.
Secondly, even if they can find it, they won’t click it unless you get them excited to. Traditional button copy like “Sign Up,” “Subscribe,” and “Submit” won’t do that. Like everything else on your landing page, it’s important your call-to-action be benefit-focused. If you’re offering your prospects membership to a newsletter filled with expert insight, instead of “Submit,” use something like “Send Me Expert Tips!” instead. Put the emphasis on what your prospects will get by converting, not what they have to do to get it.
5. Design your “thank you” page
In your lead generation campaign, the page that appears after a visitor claims your offer is your “thank you” page, and its purpose is to do more than you think. Instead of simply to say “thanks for downloading,” its goal should also be to continue the conversation with that new lead.
So how do you do that?
First, let them know where they’ll find their resource now that they’ve filled out your form. Will they download it right then and there, or will it be sent to their email?
Second, it should attempt to drive them to another resource they might find useful — preferably one related to the offer they just claimed. If you offer a template to go with that “How To Create Buyer Personas” ebook, then on your “thank you” page is the where to direct leads to it.
Here’s a good example from Flywheel:
This “thank you” page works for three reasons:
- “Keep watch on your inbox…” lets leads know where they’ll find their resource.
- “Head over to The Layout for daily articles…” drives them to the blog where they can consume more of Flywheel’s content.
- The image of the ebook forms good message match with the previous landing page, making prospects say “Ah, good! That’s the ebook I ordered!”
The only way this page could be better is if it showed some real gratitude to the new lead. “Yipee” might relate to the prospect’s emotion, but it doesn’t convey thanks on behalf of the brand. While your “thank you” page has a number of goals to accomplish, the first thing it should do is right in the name — say “thank you,” and make the lead feel like an invaluable part of the brand.
6. Integrate with technology
In marketing, “technology stacks” are groupings of software that allow you to better accomplish key marketing goals, and in this case, they can be used to help you more effectively generate and manage leads. Lead generation software can include…
Remarketing tools like Adroll and Google Dynamic Remarketing used on your visitors who don’t convert immediately. It’ll serve them ads on websites of your choosing, aimed at drawing them back to your landing page to reconsider your offer.
Then, CRM software like Salesforce or Zoho will score and sort your leads into categories when they do convert so that you and your team can follow up more effectively.
After that, email marketing software like MailChimp and GetResponse will help you nurture those leads to conversion again. There’s no right number of tools to use, or “best” software for the job. It all depends on your agency (size, industry, revenue, etc.) and what it’s trying to accomplish.
7. Test your campaign
This step is crucial before driving any traffic. You need to test the front end and the back end of your campaign.
First, act as though you’re a prospect making their way to your business’s landing page. Start by ensuring that the links to your landing page are working, wherever they may be — email, PPC networks, sponsored social media posts, etc. Are they driving you to the landing page that they’re supposed to? Does everything look the way you intended on every browser?
The last thing you want to end up with is something like this:
If links and looks are set, begin interacting with the page. Abandon it, adjust the window size, convert. Are error messages appearing when they’re supposed to (if, for example, you don’t input all the form’s required info)? Is your CTA button working? If you abandon the page, are you retargeted with ads? When you resize the window, does your landing page respond accordingly?
After that, evaluate your “thank you” page. Do the links on it work? If you’re sending an email with your content offer, does it end up in your inbox?
Answer all these questions, then check out the back end of your campaign. Make sure your conversion pixels are firing, that your tags are working, and your leads are being sorted and scored correctly so that your team can effectively follow up. To run a successful campaign, the process on both ends should be running smoothly.
8. Drive traffic
There’s no right way to drive traffic — how you do it is entirely dependent on your agency and its audience.
Use your buyer personas to figure out where your prospective clients hang out online, then cross-reference those locations with your agency’s most profitable channels. Here, it’s important to focus less on top-of-funnel metrics and more on bottom-funnel ones.
For example, you may find you normally generate more leads via Facebook at a cheaper cost, but they don’t convert into the big-money clients your agency needs to retain to stay profitable.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve generated fewer leads in the past from LinkedIn at a higher cost, but those leads are the ones with deep pockets you’ve been looking for — and converting just a few will keep your agency comfortably in the black.
Remember to consider all channels, and as always, test, test, test. Through countless Google Ads audits with clients, Jacob Baadsgaard from Disruptive Advertising found that his average client wastes 76% of their PPC budget on traffic. Don’t be that guy.
Learn to recognize the signs of bad traffic, invest in channels your prospects use, and be wary of unproven PPC networks. Some lesser-known ones don’t have your best interest at heart.
Most of all, keep your eye on key campaign metrics to determine where to allocate or shift your budget if need be.
9. Analyze, optimize
Even top marketers don’t get everything right the first time — and that’s why, when it comes to technology, the biggest separator of leading performers from average ones is the adoption of analytics software. According to a report from Aberdeen, best-in-class marketers are 58% more likely to incorporate analytics tools into their stack.
These are tools like the free and powerful Google Analytics, used together with others like Instapage’s A/B testing platform, Crazy Egg’s heat map software, Kissmetrics customer journey analyzer, and many more.
With insights gained from those tools, you’ll be able to quickly make optimizations to your campaign — whether it be a different form, a new headline, or an alternate source of traffic. The only way to know how to improve your campaign is to know how it’s performing in the first place.
What does your lead generation process look like?
Have you created lead generation campaigns to generate clients before? What tactics do you find most effective?
Let us know in the comments, then use Instapage to create a professional landing page that generates maximum leads for your marketing agency.