More and more agencies admit to struggling with finding and closing new business. It seems as if every year, the challenge of discovering high-value prospects and turning them into marketing agency leads, grows exponentially.
Unfortunately, we can’t blame it on the size of the competition anymore. Although, I admit that’s often the first reason that comes to mind.
Most SEO agencies or digital marketing firms operate in markets filled with customers ready to part with their cash in return for marketing help, after all.
So, why does the challenge exist in the first place? From the stories our users tell – many of whom are digital agency owners, salespeople and other agency professionals – we’ve uncovered the reason.
It’s the lack of sufficient insights to evaluate opportunities each new lead offers.
The result? For one, targeting people who are too early in their buying process. And as a result, wasting time, effort and resources on deals that would never have come through anyway.
Let me illustrate this with an example.
Why we struggle to find marketing agency leads
I assume that it takes you up to two and a half hours to process a prospect fully, on average. It includes finding those people or companies out first. Then, researching, reaching out, connecting, engaging and everything else that’s involved in the process.
Simple math tells me that, to process just 15 prospects, you’d have to spend almost an entire work week!
Let’s assume further that you, on average, convert 5% prospects into leads. Since most agencies onboard one to three new clients a month, they’d need to process 60 leads a month to reach that number.
(Image from Hubspot’s 2019 State of the Agency Selling report)
But let’s be fair. My (crude, I admit it) calculations assumed that an agency knows very little about their prospects. I presumed that its founder, CEO, the salesperson or whoever else prospects for new business couldn’t tell what these people want. Or what their average budget and current business situation are.
What if they could? What if they knew even the basic information – average budget, their marketplace situation or the competition, for example? Well, I can tell you, it would reduce the time needed for processing by more than a half for a start. And that’s still a modest estimate, I should add.
To reach the same results as above, an agency would have to spend only half of a week per month for prospecting. Its staff could focus on other tasks and still meet an ideal growth quota.
Intrigued? Let’s explore this further.
How do agencies evaluate prospects?
Agency prospects and leads come from two sources, typically – Outbound and Inbound initiatives.
Inbound marketing agency leads are people who have inquired with an agency or engaged with it in another way. These people may have learned about the company from search, social media, referral or any other inbound channel. Intrigued, they’ve emailed, called or connected with the company.
Most agencies would process those leads manually. I’d imagine that many of them turn to LinkedIn, simply. They research the prospect and their company there. Some might also visit the prospect’s company website and conduct a quick online search before responding to the inquiry.
Outbound leads are people the agency has identified as potential business partners and reached out to directly. Again, many agency owners and salespeople would use LinkedIn for outbound prospecting, using the information on the social network as the selection criteria.
Unfortunately, neither of the methods deliver ideal results. Often they result with agencies targeting:
- People or companies who do not need digital services.
- False prospects, people who might need help with digital marketing but aren’t ready to engage in a sales conversation yet.
- Prospects with insufficient budgets.
So, even if an agency does manage to engage those prospects, those people either wouldn’t see the value in hiring the agency or they would struggle with the agency’s price.
Does the above sound like an impossible situation?
Luckily, it’s not. What’s more, to overcome it, you just need to start prospecting with the right information at hand. For example:
- Their market and the competition. Analyzing the marketplace will help prepare a cold call that targets the prospects exact situation.
- Marketing spend and trends. A company that upped its marketing spend might also be ready to invest in digital marketing services.
- Budget gap between channels. For example, analyzing PPC and SEO spend could help an SEO agency to identify the best prospects.
The only problem remaining is where to find that data… And we want to tell you about something truly amazing. It’s called SEMrush Oppty and here’s how it helps your agency grow.
Oppty helps you identify leads who need your marketing services. Using SEMrush’s proprietary data on your target audience, you can:
- Focus your efforts on the most promising opportunities,
- Tailor your outreach and offers to their current situation,
- Make a strong first impression based on a deep understanding of their market.
All to increase your chances of winning their business.
Guest author: Tanya Vasileva is a Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush – a leading digital marketing toolkit for SEO, PPC SMM and content marketing professionals worldwide. She writes about marketing, analyzes SEMrush data and interested in marketing strategy.