The Definitive Guide to Starting Your Own SEO Agency
If you’ve ever dreamt up the idea of running your own SEO company, then you’re at the right place. The general rule of thumb when it comes to starting any business is simple: you have to give it your best shot. Take this mantra to heart: “25 hours a day, 8 days a week”. You’ve got to get your head in the game every step of the way, every minute of your waking hours (maybe not too literally) – but you get the point.
The question you should be asking yourself now is simple: are ready and willing to give it your 100%?
Since you’re starting with a small budget, you probably won’t have access to a team. And that’s okay. During the initial phase, you’ll have to do everything solo. Think of it as a DIY project where you get to wear many hats. You are the accountant, the receptionist, the sales rep, the writer, the marketers, etc.
Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of not putting in enough effort into core areas of their business. For example, they don’t get into web design (easy peasy given how WordPress and Magento have reduced web design to a bunch of drag and drop builders). The internet has digitized everything, and that includes difficult areas of business.
So to manage your accounts, you don’t have to be an accountant. To set up and run your own website, you don’t have to be a web developer. Not to mention the fact that there are always professionals out there (read: freelancers) who will take the burden off your shoulders so you can focus on core areas of your SEO business.
With this out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the matter: how to set up your own successful SEO business.
Table of Content & Quick Links
- 1.Chapter 1: Getting Done with the Basics
- 2.You will have to quit your job
- 3.Improve your business acumen
- 4.Learn the Fundamentals of SEO and Digital Marketing
- 5.Legal Jargon
- 6.Incorporating a Business
- 7.1 LLC for US Businesses
- 7.2 Financial Matters
- 8.Create an Invoice template
- 8.1 Brand Name Matters
- 9.Create Detailed Buyer Personas
- 10.Learn What Clients Are Searching For
- 11.Choosing Your Niche
- 12.What Services Will You Offer
- 13.Building a Website
- 14.You will need the following
- 15.Checklist: Things You Need to Accomplish
- 16.Chapter #2: Getting Ranked on Google and Bing
- 17.Go for Long Form Content
- 18.Use the Keyword in the URL
- 19.Page Optimization
- 21.Social Media
- 22.Paid Ads
- 23.Outbound Marketing
- 24.Attend Conferences and Trade Shows
- 25.Create Email Lists
- 26.Checklist: Things You Need to Accomplish
- 27.Chapter 3: Develop the Modus Operandi for Your Business
- 28.Will You Hire Employees or Outsource?
- 29.Pick up Project Management Skills
- 30.Make Sure You Know Your Competition Inside Out
- 31.Utilizing SEO tools
- 32.Checklist: Things You Need to Do
- 33.Chapter 4: Selling Your SEO Services
- 34.Establish Your SEO Pricing Structure
- 35.Finding Clients
- 36.Give Free SEO Audits
- 37.Give Away Free Resources
- 37.1 Social Locker
- 37.2 Paywithatweet
- 38.Build Strategic Partnerships
- 39.Cold Call Clients
- 40.Properly Qualify Potential Customers
- 41.So how do you qualify leads?
- 42.Properly Pitch Your SEO Services
- 43.Create an Effective SEO Proposal Template
- 44.Tips for Building Rapport with Customers
- 45.Closing SEO Deals like a Pro
- 46.Client Retention
- 47.Checklist: Things You Should Accomplish
- 48.Chapter #5: Continue to Refine Your Business Structure
- 49.Give Everyone in Your Team a Chance
- 50.Create a Process Driven Agency
- 50.1 Examples include
- 51.Get Ready to Scale in the Future
- 52.Be Willing to Outsource Work
- 53.Add Live Chat to Your Website
- 54.Checklist: Things You Need to Accomplish
Chapter 1: Getting Done with the Basics
Before you can get started, you’ll need to set up a few basics to prepare for the long (but ultimately rewarding) journey ahead. In this chapter, we’ll discuss the requirements for starting your own SEO business.
While starting your business isn’t an excuse to quit your day job – after all, you’ll need to get cash flowing in one way or another – your ultimate goal is to get to the point where you become independent. This means properly doing your day job and then working on your business in the wee hours of the night.
Once you have enough cash flowing in your business, that’s when you are ready to quit your day job – that’s a no brainer right? So get ready to focus on your business. Tiredness is not an excuse!
Your journey to becoming an entrepreneur is paved with a few difficulties. To ensure a smooth ride for the long ring, you’ll need to build the right business acumen. What does it mean to build the right business acumen? It means learning how to organize cash flow, knowing basic stuff such as profit and loss statements. You have to take charge of your finances like a boss, otherwise, the money will leak out of your coffers sooner than you can make more, and that’s a sure-fire way of getting bankrupt.
Learn the Fundamentals of SEO and Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a relatively new marketing tool (even though it’s been around for well over 20 years). Keep abreast of changes in the market to stay ahead of the curve. It’s not difficult to do this. All you need to do is keep tabs on news sites to see the latest algorithmic changes that Google (or any other platforms) have rolled out. When it comes to SEO, change is the name of the game – and that’s the ultimate truth.
Something that we would like to stress at this point is that you don’t and shouldn’t have to buy any courses on digital marketing. It’s pointless. All the information that you need is on your fingertips. Use tools such as YouTube to find helpful tutorials (or you can read this guide), visit the SEO subreddit on Reddit for the latest news, check out SEMrush for competitor analysis, and keep tabs on Google’s Webmasters Help Community to know the latest trends.
Just because your company is based online doesn’t mean you can skimp out on the legal matters. Where there’s money involved, there are taxes, and by extension of that, you’re also getting the CRA (or IRS) involved too. Plus, there’s always a pesky lawsuit or two that you’ll have to maneuver through. There’s no telling what a disgruntled customer may end up doing – so make sure to protect yourself by incorporating.
In Canada, you can incorporate federally and provincially. There are a few differences between the two that we won’t be getting in to (you can check out a guide here). You can file online for $200 or in person for $250. Incorporating helps you create a legal entity that is separate from your person. This means you won’t be personally liable for any debts, obligations, and actions of your business.
Choose the name for your company carefully since this will be what goes on in the receipts.
If you’ve got a partner or two willing to come along for the ride, then entering into a partnership makes strategic sense. Do keep in mind that there won’t be any difference between you and your business. Always draw up a formal partnership agreement in the presence of a lawyer to protect your interests. You will also need to set up a plan for the dissolution of the business should either partner decide to move on.
If you would rather open a limited liability company in the US, you can do that too and operate the business from your home in Canada. LLCs remove many risks from your business such as keeping your personal assets from your business taxes. LLCs are highly recommended for SEO businesses.
Have you decided how you’re going to collect money? The simplest solution is setting up a PayPal account, but there are other payment methods that you should integrate your business with. This will help you get the most out of your SEO business since not all clients have or are willing to work with you through any one payment platform.
If you’ve decided to incorporate your business, you will need to set up a bank account separately for that business. You can’t collect money in your personal bank from any sales proceeds unless you’re operating as a sole proprietor.
Automated Clearing House (ACH) Transfers: Clients transfer money electronically through their bank account to your business bank account. This can be both debit and credit transactions.
Credit Card Payment: The most common payment method that is accepted by businesses and individuals globally is the use of a credit card. The most common credit card networks are Visa and Mastercard. Most people prefer this method since all they have to do is enter their details (name, pin code, address, etc.) over a secure connection to make payments.
Digital Wallets: There are a ton of digital wallets out there, with PayPal being the most popular of them. Other services include Apple Pay, Google Pay, Ali Pay, G2A Pay, and more.
Do keep in mind that in order to process any payments, you will have to partner up with a payment processor such as Stripe, PayPal, Square, 2Checkout, and more.
Create an Invoice template
Invoices are basically proof of transactions between your SEO business and a client. They help you track and organize accounts, so you know your business gets paid within the stipulated terms.
Each invoice will contain a detailed description of the product or service that has been charged. The payment method used and its due date should be clearly stated in the invoice. Your payment processing partner will usually take care of this aspect for you. You may be able to customize some aspects of the invoice.
Brand Name Matters
Your brand name is your greatest asset that will need constant nurturing and development. It’s an ongoing process that requires all your attention. The power of your brand will ultimately play a huge role in search engine rankings and how clients perceive you. This is what you use to differentiate yourself from the rest. Think Google and Bing, Pepsi and Coca Cola, KFC and Burger King. The product and service they sell are more of the same, but the influence of the brand name creates a clear distinction.
This brings us to an important point: your brand’s name and logo
Your agency’s name and logo are the most important parts of your brand. Both of these will be integrated into your other assets such as the website, online ads, business cards, promo campaigns, and even invoices.
Take time with your brand name and logo. Use the following pointers to help you create the most eye-catching and recognizable brand:
- What differentiates you?
- Who are your clients?
- What emotions do you wish to evoke from your clients?
Create Detailed Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are a representation of the ideal clients you want to attract for your business. Once you have defined your buyer persona, it becomes easier to understand who your clients are, what are their needs, goals, pain points, the solutions they need, and where your business comes in all of this.
The two main components of the buyer persona are demographics and psychographics. The former refers to their physical traits such as gender, age, spending power, location, etc. The latter pertains to behaviors that influence their buying patterns, including goals, brand affinities, and motivations.
A detailed buyer persona will help you position your marketing campaigns in the right direction. For instance, if you know your audiences are married, then your content will reflect their concerns such as “how to keep a relationship healthy”, “couple counseling”, etc.
And if you know your audiences are local SEO businesses looking to outsource services, then your content will reflect their concerns such as, “how to write an effective blog post”, “how to create powerful backlinks”, etc.
Learn What Clients Are Searching For
Unless you know what your audiences are actively searching for, you won’t get very far with SEO – that much is certain. So how do you understand what intrigues them and what turns them off? The answer to this question is almost always pretty much obvious.
For instance, if you want to sell SEO services in Alberta, then your customers are searching for things like “SEO companies in Alberta”, “Best SEO company in Alberta”, and “Web design in Alberta”, among others.
Before you work on anything else, think about what your potential customers are searching for, and note down your ideas as and when they come to you. It’s also advisable to ask your clients directly. Just a few handfuls of ideas will do, so don’t go too overboard.
Choosing Your Niche
This is where most businesses fail. It is extremely vital to have the vision to guide you along the tough road ahead. Otherwise, you’d be shooting in the dark with no aim in sight. Most startups try to cast a wide net in the hopes of getting as many clients as possible, but this business model is unrealistic because it doesn’t work.
This is because you only have enough resources to win over one niche. So one niche at a time it is. Choosing a niche requires a lot of deliberation because it can make a big difference to how your business scales.
When you are first starting out, consider the following:
- Choose a niche that you are comfortable with. The more you are aware of the industry and its needs, the easier it gets to connect with prospects.
- Try starting out with your own social circles. Your LinkedIn contacts may prove useful here.
- Do plenty of market research. It will become easier to find and target leads later on.
What Services Will You Offer
Just because you are starting an SEO agency doesn’t mean you are restricted to SEO per-se. SEO itself is unanimously used to refer to an entire suite of services such as social media, web design, PPC, content marketing, and SEO (search engine optimization). This is what makes SEO so lucrative; clients usually have multiple areas of their business handled.
Consider getting into SEO since it is an ongoing service that will always require updating to new changes along the way. Compared to this, web design is usually a more one-off thing. Once you’ve got a whole bunch of SEO clients, you may try to cross-sell a host of other digital marketing services. But for now, it is in your best interest to stick to just one solution. That’s all the resources you can muster up anyway.
Building a Website
Building a website is super important when it comes to SEO. No, you can’t just set up a Facebook page and spam your user base with social media posts filled with hashtags. You will need a carefully designed website. The difference between a good website and a bad website is winning over clients and losing them to the competition.
You don’t need a web developer to create a website, although that does speed things up by quite a bit, if you want to save money, you can do this yourself.
You will need the following:
Domain and hosting: Choose a domain name that ideally reflects what your agency is all about. Our recommendation is to go with .ca and .com extensions instead of more obscure TLDs like .online. Next, you will need to have your website hosted by a third party site such as Bluehost, Hostgator, Godaddy, and more. There are many different packages to choose from that offer different features. For now, stick with the most basic ones (with a loading speed of at least 3 seconds).
Platform: Go with drag and drop builders that make it possible to create websites without getting into the nitty-gritty of coding. WordPress is easy to use, reliable, and more importantly, completely free to use. You can choose from an incredibly versatile list of free plugins and themes. You can also buy premium plugins and themes to give your website a more professional look.
Theme: The theme defines the user interface, display, and appearance of your website. The best part is that it can be managed entirely from the WordPress admin area under Appearance. You don’t have to be a professional designer to create visually appealing websites. You could do this yourself or outsource it to someone else (or have SEO Resellers Canada do it for you).
Checklist: Things You Need to Accomplish
Have you done the following?
- Improve your business acumen
- Learn the fundamentals of digital marketing
- Create the business structure of your SEO agency
- Partner up with a payment processor
- Create brand name and logo
- Create buyer persona
- Identify your niche
- Choose your services
- Create a website
Chapter #2: Getting Ranked on Google and Bing
Your ultimate goal is to take the website to the front page of the internet. That will take time and effort. You’ll have to fight tooth and nail every step of the way because the competition demands this. The good news is that getting to the first page of the internet (in this case Google or Bing) isn’t an unusually tall order.
It’s about targeting realistic keywords that are relevant to your demographic. For instance, if you’re starting an SEO company in Alberta, you should target “SEO Alberta”. Try to get creative with keywords if you live in popular cities with lots of competition. Instead of going for extremely competitive keywords, go for easier keywords such as “SEO services in Alberta” or “Best SEO Company in Alberta”.
Now you don’t have to rank for every other keyword related to SEO. Just finding one keyword and grabbing the number one spot should do the trick. This gives credibility to any claims you make to your clients. After all, they want proof that you’re the right person for the job. Reaching the front page of Google is far more effective than paid advertising.
Even less competitive keywords should be enough to convince prospects about your abilities. Make sure to target the bigger keywords like “SEO Alberta” from the get go. You’ll get so many clients; you won’t know how to deal with them. There are many different ways of getting to the first page of Google.
Go for Long Form Content
Most people don’t realize the potential of long form content. It’s what the big leagues in SEO are known for doing. One quick look at Neil Patel’s blog, for instance, will reveal massive blogs that are well over 3000+ words.
This strategy almost always works because there aren’t enough businesses out there committed to writing lengthy and wordy blog posts.
Check out the following graph by serpIQ. It establishes a direct correlation between having more words on a webpage and subsequently, higher rankings on search engines.
Search engines like it when you choose a more straightforward URL for your web page. It cuts to the chase and lets them know what the content is all about. Inserting the right keyword in your URL can significantly boost your ranking. For instance, going from myseoagency.com/seo to myseoagency.com/Alberta-seo will show an improvement in performance.
On page optimization or on-page SEO refers to all the measures that you can take to improve your web page’s position in search rankings. This includes entering relevant title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, and more. If you’re not too sure about these details, you can always check out the MySiteAuditor to run an audit on your webpage. The generated report will give you a checklist of everything you need to do in order to optimize the webpage for a specific keyword.
If you’ve got a few customers on your website, try to review your services on top review sites. Then feature those reviews on your actual website. Always be proactive in asking the client to leave reviews for your SEO agency. Just don’t be pushy towards this because you may end up annoying them! It is important for each review to come from people you can attest to your agency’s work ethic, integrity, quality of work, and reliability.
If you don’t have a social media page, then you are definitely missing out. You will need a page for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn (insert other platforms we may have missed!). This makes sense because social media pages command a massive following that runs well into the billions. You should tap into this huge market base.
Each platform has its own rules when it comes to optimization. Also, try to use as many relevant hashtags in your posts as possible. Hashtags are to social media what keywords are to search engines. In fact, the right hashtag can instantly propel your business to viral status – if only for a few short minutes.
Social media is great for inbound marketing, just make sure to customize the most suitable message according to the most suitable platform and audience.
Try to become a member of social media groups to gain insights and tips on what your clients want. Join Facebook and Reddit groups, both of which are places where people come to discuss things that are relevant.
Try to create engaging content. Don’t just churn out content for the sake of it. This is your chance to show the human side of your business.
Paid ads on Google and other platforms is a great way to target a specific audience that is actively seeking your services. Paid ads can complement your SEO efforts, particularly if you’re nowhere to be seen in search engine rankings and desperately need to find new clients. We’ve even seen established businesses do this to generate more sales even though they’re already doing pretty well on organic results.
There are two ways to achieve this.
Google Ads: These may end up costing you a ton of your marketing budget depending on the keyword you’ve selected. Google ads have evolved from plain text to incorporate videos and images. The ads can get displayed on Search Marketing Platforms and Google’s Display Network of over 11 million sites.
Remarketing Ads: These ads are ideal for businesses who want a second chance at converting prospects that visited their website but for some reason left midway.
In many ways, paid ads help you level the playing field a little and can give you the much-needed boost if you need a helping hand.
Outbound marketing is when you find prospects instead of having them find you. These strategies go a long way in cementing your brand name. There are various strategies you can deploy to create an effective outbound marketing campaign.
Attend Conferences and Trade Shows
Even though conferences and tradeshows sound outdated, they can help your agency gain much-needed visibility when you are first starting out. More importantly, you get the unique opportunity of connecting with prospects.
To start off, you can attend events that are happening in your immediate vicinity. Entice prospects by offering them free trials and services. For instance, you can offer a free SEO audit or content analysis.
Create Email Lists
When a prospect provides you with their contact details (whether through trade shows or the contact form on your site), plug them into your email list.
There is no one size fits all rule when it comes to email lists. Just try to find the best practices to elicit the most positive response. Some of these best practices include the following:
- Send emails with a business domain instead of a generic email address to send more professional tones
- Segment your audience based on their spending behavior
- Personalize the message in your emails by referring to clients with their name
- Send follow up emails to check for their response. At most, send only two follow up emails.
Checklist: Things You Need to Accomplish
- Target long form content
- Learn for clients are searching for
- Use the keyword in the URL
- Use on-site SEO
- Use long form content
- Create email lists
- Encourage clients to leave reviews
- Create social media pages
- Create paid ads to push your business on the front page
- Attend trade shows
Chapter 3: Develop the Modus Operandi for Your Business
Will You Hire Employees or Outsource?
Transitioning from a one-person led business to a full-time SEO agency requires establishing yourself. This doesn’t mean you should go completely solo. Different people are suited to different talents. If you don’t have the budget, it isn’t advisable to hire employees. This is because at this stage you don’t have enough clients who can pay you enough to cover employee salaries, benefits, paid leaves, and more.
If you come across something that you’re not suited to, simply outsource it. That’s how it’s usually done.
Pick up Project Management Skills
SEO is an ongoing process where you will find yourself continuously going back and forth to optimize a client’s website so it ranks higher. The more clients you acquire, the more complicated things start to get. At this point, it is wise to learn project management to help you manage tasks, expectations – and once you’ve acquired an entire team – coordinating each team member individually.
There are to aspects to project management: i) planning and ii) execution.
Planning involves evaluation, strategy, lots of research. Together these develop the framework of your SEO campaigns, giving you clear directions on what things to do and when to do them. Things like competitive analysis, keyword research, content quality, website audit, and more fall under project management.
Once you’ve planned everything, the next phase is execution. This is where you deliver what you’ve promised to customers. You will need to implement a scalable and consistent process to complete projects. It is easier to execute your plans if you’ve properly sequenced them so you know what comes next.
It can become difficult to keep tabs on things when there are so many things to handle. This is where project management tools come in, which include the following:
It is not recommended to use multiple platforms. Just choose the one that fits perfectly with your current setup
Make Sure You Know Your Competition Inside Out
Your competitors are your greatest rivals and also your greatest teachers when it comes to SEO. You can analyze their website, see what tools they are using, what ad campaigns they are running, and how they handle customers. Try to learn as many metrics about your competition as possible, for instance, what are their response time when replying back to clients, what is their pricing structure, how soon does their website load.
The secret sauce to success may well lay hidden in the details.
Utilizing SEO tools
Even the most well refined and experienced professionals are only as good as the tools they’re working with. The same applies to SEO. There’s a reason why the paid version of most SEO tools runs into thousands every month. When you’re just starting out, it is acceptable to use free tools. Among the most popular (and reliable) free tools are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
But they’re not enough. If you’re hoping to create a fool-proof SEO strategy, you will need access to an entire range of SEO tools. Most of these tools accomplish different tasks such as keyword research, competitor analysis, link building, and more. It is a good idea to start using the free version of this software so you can learn how to use them.
Make sure to check out the following search tools:
- Google Search Console
- Google Data Studio
- Google Analytics
Checklist: Things You Need to Do
Before moving forward, make sure you’re familiar with the following:
- Are you going to hire or outsource?
- Learn Project Management Skills
- Learn all there is to know about your competition
- Familiarize yourself with SEO tools
Chapter 4: Selling Your SEO Services
Whether you’re running a successful SEO company or are just starting out, the only way to survive out there is to define your sales process. This chapter will discuss the different ways of selling your SEO to clients through repeatable tactics and processes that result in more revenue.
Establish Your SEO Pricing Structure
The price structure of your services is one of the most important aspects that your customers will be concerned about. Most professionals will give you different answers depending on what worked best for them. The three most popular types of pricing structures for SEO services are the following:
- Fixed: This is ideal for orders that include multiple aspects of SEO, from content writing to graphic designing, to on-page optimization.
- Hourly: Companies use this structure for relatively smaller SEO tasks such as website audits and keyword research. Experts usually get done with this in a few minutes.
- Subscription packages: More established agencies often have subscription packages for repeat clients. The pricing here is scalable and depends on what the clients signed up for.
However, when you’re just starting out, it is ideal to stick with an hourly and fixed pricing structure before moving to the more rewarding subscription packages.
Pricing also depends on the type of industry you are serving and how capable your agency’s services are. We’ve seen younger companies charge $20 for SEO while more experienced companies charge well beyond $2000 for the same services. The difference boils down to the industry, their purchasing power, and their needs.
For now, stick with low prices. You’re still establishing yourself and don’t want to scare clients away with a steep pricing structure. Not to mention the fact that it is entirely possible you may underdeliver, and then comes the bad reviews, and the refunds – and that could send red flags to your payment partner too. So be smart with how you choose your clients and what you charge them!
It is entirely possible that your first few clients will be referrals or prospects who’ve met you in conferences and seminars. Your eventual goal is to expand out of that little niche of people in your social circles. Give your agency more ‘star power’, that is, expose it to as many frontiers as possible to create more opportunities.
Besides referrals, you can do a few things to find clients:
Give Free SEO Audits:
Most people will ignore the contact form on your website unless they are extremely interested. The chances of that happening are next to zilch. So don’t depend on those contact forms. Instead, you can offer free SEO audits that prospects download in exchange for their email. This is an effective way of getting more visitors and potential customers to give you more information about them.
Give Away Free Resources
During web design, try to strategically place free downloads that are relevant to your visitors. For example, create a case study or two on how keyword research boosts website ranking. Now give it away for free on your website with the condition that visitors should share your website with their friends. Just make sure the free download is useful to clients.
There are a few tools that let you give away free downloads in exchange for sharing your website on social media.
A free plugin on WordPress is available for download. You will get a free trial for 7 days. After this, you’ll need to pay a one-time fee of $17 (prices may vary depending on promo campaigns).
Pay With a Tweet is an effective way of giving away free stuff to clients. It’s got both free and paid versions. Installation is free for the most part.
Build Strategic Partnerships
SEO and digital marketing is a huge area that may prove to be too taxing for small start-ups to specialize in. You may be an expert in one area, such as PPC campaigns, but you probably won’t be as good at web design. Most clients (especially the ones with particularly deep pockets) ask for the ‘whole package’ that includes PPC, social media, web design, content marketing, etc.
Don’t get greedy and hoard all these services for yourself. Sharing is caring… at least at this stage. So partner up with other SEO agencies to handle aspects of digital marketing that you’re not an expert in. This strategy proves more useful if you offer them a finder’s fee if they send you any business for services that they don’t offer. In other words, if they refer a client to you for $5,000, you should wire $500 back to them for winning the new client.
Try to appear as professional as you can. Create an ‘official’ letter with your business logo and signature on it, this will make your offer appear more legit. If at all possible, try to deliver the letter by hand so you can meet your SEO partners. This creates more legitimacy.
Just make sure to go above and beyond to satisfy these clients since they come from your partners. If they’re not happy, they will complain to the referee. And that’s not a good sign if you want more referrals in the future from the same partner.
Try to send potential clients to your SEO partner as well. This establishes a great two way relationship and shows a sign of good faith between you two. More importantly, you won’t have to exhaust your resources on marketing efforts to earn new clients.
Cold Call Clients
We knew cold calling is a little frowned upon these days. But it works, even in our highly digitized world – cold calling actually works. You just have to prepare a script, pick up the phone, and reach out to prospective customers in your target industry. You can do the same with emails, but there is a chance these will get dumped into the spam folder and no one would read those.
Properly Qualify Potential Customers
Up to 67% of sales are lost by businesses because their sales reps do not properly qualify leads before taking them through the full sales process. A buyer will only make a purchase if they have money to spare and they need something. All your efforts to secure sales will go down the drain if you focus your efforts on just one of the conditions above. You need to ensure that both requirements are met.
Most SEO agencies make the all too common mistake of selling their services to everyone, even those who don’t need them. This is a drain on your resources and time since not all prospects will buy from you.
So how do you qualify leads?
You can create a set of questions to ask your clients to determine if they are indeed in need off your services. Some of these questions include:
- Have you ever worked with an SEO agency in the past
- Are you or were you happy with their services?
- What were your main requirements? How did you get them fulfilled?
- Do you have a certain SEO budget in mind?
Properly Pitch Your SEO Services
Once you’ve qualified leads for your business, it’s time to pitch your SEO services to them. Prepare a pitch that addresses your client’s pain points. The pitch should be less about you, and more about them. What is their industry and business? What are their most common challenges? What are their solutions?
And how do you fit into all of this?
This may require going back to the drawing board to learn what clients what.
Create an Effective SEO Proposal Template
Your proposal should include all the details about the clients, your solution, the timeline of project completion, and any deliverables. Coming up with an effective SEO proposal requires a lot of time and effort.
It is simpler to create a template for your SEO beforehand, all you need to do then is to plug in the right information. This should save you time so you can write better proposals. Most top marketing SEO agencies have their own SEO templates that help them impress clients and close more deals.
You can supplement your SEO proposal with complementary marketing material to look more professional. Send them comprehensive competitor analysis, a pitch deck, case studies, and if you’ve got the resources, white papers. The idea is to demonstrate that you are indeed, the right person (or agency) for the job.
Tips for Building Rapport with Customers
Think of good customer relationships as the lifeline of your agency. The stronger your relationship, the more easily you can create trust. There are many different ways of doing this by learning a few techniques to establish rapport:
- Be humorous
- Create an atmosphere of equal stature – do not intimidate
- Be more personable
- Be more conversational
- Be honest and as transparent as possible
Closing SEO Deals like a Pro
Once you’ve pitched your services to clients, it’s time to close the deal. In sales, it is important to know when to speak and when to listen. Most sales reps keep on talking, preferring to finish their research through to the end without taking any input from the client. Try to become a good listener; this actually shows you care. Listen, respond, and reassure any concerns and expectations clients may have about your service.
When you patiently listen to SEO leads, you can actually learn a thing or two about them that you can then respond appropriately. This is a surefire way of getting clients to become fond of your SEO company.
Make sure that the closing pitch in your sales pitch is strong because it sets the tone for what follows after. There are many YouTube tutorials that will teach you sales closing techniques based on your services, the client’s temperaments, and other factors.
Provide value added services to clients instead of selling something that does little to address their issues. Just because you’ve successfully closed leads doesn’t mean you’ve won their business. The trick is to win them over so they can stay with your SEO agency for the long haul. When you stop building this desire, you automatically lose the trust and credibility that you built just a few moments ago.
Client retention is the key to scaling up your business and growing your reputation. Besides, it’s a proven fact that acquiring new leads is more expensive than working for the same clients.
Checklist: Things You Should Accomplish
- Create a valid pricing structure
- Find new clients
- Properly pitch your business
- Give way free stuff
- Build partnerships with new SEO agencies
- Learn the techniques of closing deals
- Retain Clients for the Long Haul
Chapter #5: Continue to Refine Your Business Structure
The biggest challenge you will probably face in your journey is properly running. This requires constantly refining your business structure to run operations smoothly and maintaining continuity. The steps below will give you a good idea of what to do next.
Give Everyone in Your Team a Chance
Most new SEO companies are fearful of exploring new opportunities with their local talent. They would prefer to tie up projects loosely around the ‘chosen few’. These are probably the founding members of the team who have proven their mettle throughout the years.
This key issue is known as ‘talent trap’. Most companies that are plagued with talent trap experience high turnover rates because employees often feel unintentionally overlooked due to a lack of awareness. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap and acknowledge everyone in your team. That being said, you should also recognize any limitations your team may have and plan for the future.
What if someone in your team suddenly gets sick or decides to hang up the gloves? If you haven’t fostered talent in your company, then no one will be able to fill up their shoes. Don’t rely on a single Rockstar to bring you success, instead spread projects out evenly and foster talent.
Create a Process Driven Agency
Process driven companies secure themselves from falling into the talent trap by developing processes with clearly defined steps for their team to follow with ease. While it is not easy to develop processes for complex tasks that require constant human input, but you can build processes for tasks that are repetitive (such as admin tasks that take too much time to accomplish and don’t contribute to your bottom line).
- Creating a sales manual
- Writing operations manual
- Preparing a checklist for menial tasks
- Curating a customer service manual
Get Ready to Scale in the Future
Your goal at the end of the day should be to scale up your agency and grow revenue. This means that at a certain point in time you will have to delegate tasks to other team members. You can’t and shouldn’t run solo operations at a certain stage in your agency.
It just doesn’t make sense if you’re the owner because the time you spend working is the time you could have spent on working on growth.
Be Willing to Outsource Work
Don’t shy away from alleviating the burden from your team if all hands are on deck and you just can’t take more work. Do not overwork your staff because fatigue will eventually kick in and productivity levels will plummet as a result. By outsourcing your work, you can focus on the agency’s growth instead of focusing on tasks that get you nowhere.
Furthermore, you can get more things done in a shorter period of time while appearing more credible to the client. You have several options when it comes to outsourcing your work. For instance, you can work with freelancers on Upwork and Fiverr for smaller tasks. However, if you’re looking to please long-term clients with more complex deliverables, consider outsourcing your work to an SEO provider.
Add Live Chat to Your Website
If you’ve suddenly experienced a surge of clients coming to your websites, consider setting up a live chat. This is much more effective than having clients submit contact forms to you. They just don’t have the time and would rather get instant answers from you or your sales rep. Moreover, live chat software instantly alerts you when a new client visits your landing page.
In fact, live chat has a customer satisfaction rate of 92%, which is the highest for any other means of communication. Live chat lets you win over your clients’ confidence who are reassured by your sales rep’s constant and reassuring presence on the website. They know it’s possible to reach to you if anything goes wrong. Besides, customers expect you to answer their questions in as little as 10 minutes.
If you take more than an hour, you will probably end up sending them to competitor websites instead. When it comes to SEO, the early bird always gets the word. As soon as your lead gets into your sales funnel, you should have your sales reps ready and waiting to engage. Customers in SEO are usually looking for several companies before they’re willing to pay.
Communication plays a huge rule in convincing clients. When you answer their queries as soon as their queries come in, you’re able to remain fresh in their minds.
Checklist: Things You Need to Accomplish
Remember, your goal should be to grow in the future.
- Avoid the talent trap by giving all team members a chance
- Develop processes for more menial tasks
- Don’t try to become a one-man army
- Outsource to an SEO agency
- Integrate with Live Chat
Starting an SEO agency doesn’t have to be a hair-raising ordeal. All you need is to set up the right framework. As long as you do all the steps d above, you’re setting yourself up for a win-win situation. If you’re unsure about the outline steps or feel we’ve missed something important, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at SEO Resellers Canada.