For any SEO agency to thrive, it needs a steady flow of customers. Recently Rad Basta, CEO of Four Dots, contacted our team at Woodpecker to share his ideas on what SEO agencies can do to get high-quality clients.
Here’s what his process looks like.
How to Land High-Quality SEO Clients with Cold Emails
Any SEO agency trying to get more high-quality clients must know that customer acquisition is a process that has a lot of moving parts. It requires a lot of planning, prospecting and pursuing a target market but, even if you generate interest, your whole campaign may crumble like a house of cards if you fail to generate leads that can be cultivated.
Each and every step of your workflow should be well-thought-out and executed in a proper and timely manner. This is especially true when it comes to your outreach strategy, outreach automation, and lead generation. If you want to win SEO clients you have to know:
- whom to target
- how to contact them the right way
- how to craft a custom pitch that’s hard to ignore
I come from the world of SEO and have a heavy link-building background.
This means that I’ve sent A LOT of SEO cold emails during my career, which is a unique and extremely valuable experience that is now of great help with my user acquisition endeavors. Working in this field of digital marketing taught me that sending out cold emails to a potential SEO client should never be an arbitrary, random process. You should never resort to taking random shots in the dark.
There is a method to turning qualified leads into an SEO contract and following a structured approach is the key to success.
Instead of being led by guesswork, you should know exactly:
- to whom you are sending your cold email regarding SEO services
- why that particular contact is relevant to SEO performance
- what would be the best way to approach that person/company
- what their main SEO audit flaw is and how you could help them fix it
Not all clients are created equal, and oftentimes (much like it is the case with backlinks themselves) it is not about quantity, but quality. Sending out properly written cold emails is the best fit for those looking to win fresh SEO clients, and your success in this area largely depends on the following steps:
- Determining who your ICPs (Ideal Customer Personas) are
- Filtering through them and targeting highly-qualified prospects
- Knowing how to write effective SEO cold emails that will gain traction
- Using proper outreach automation and showing that your SEO expertise is the perfect fit for the prospect’s organic traffic goals
Here’s how to land, not just more, but better clients for your business using these simple lead generation steps and potent (spam-free) outreach hacks.
#1. Defining/Finding Your ICPs
This is perhaps THE most overlooked lead generation step, and yet it is so crucial. Most companies tend to skip the process of defining their ideal customer persona and move right down to sending their pitch to, well, anyone. This is never a good tactic and a huge waste of time and resources.
But which would you rather have, more SEO leads or better SEO leads?
Let’s say you want to make fish paste. You must first find out which type of fish is perfect for making a fish paste (it’s mackerel, btw), why this type of fish is optimal for this type of food, and then where and how to catch it.
Simply going to a random dock, with a random fishing equipment, and pulling out whatever bites your bait, won’t exactly help you make the best fish paste in the world.
This is why you need to do some profiling work and determine what type of person best fits your target audience/ICP template image. Knowing who your ICPs are and being able to recognize those who have the potential to turn into long-term deals is the most important part of the equation.
Once you’re positive you have a clear image of your target audience, it is time to gather some relevant info about them. Here’s what you want to do:
- Do some background research on their direct competitors
- Find out with whom, if anyone, they have been working in terms of SEO consultations
- Learn what type of content marketing or inbound marketing strategies they use
- Find out where their SEO efforts are underperforming
This info is priceless and will come in handy later on.
More on this topic here: Freelancer’s Playbook: How to Land “Perfect” Clients for your Service >>
#2. Targeting the “Goldilocks Zone” SEO prospects
Also known as highly qualified SEO prospects, the Goldilocks Zone clients are those business owners who have success in organic search to some extent, but there’s room for improvement. So, ideally, they are not yet among the top-ranked websites in the SERPs, but have the potential to reach the crest of the Google wave.
In my opinion, this is the best kind of potential client — informed enough to understand the value of good SEO service, but still far from expert level. Not too cold, yet not too hot either.
The prospects who are not in search engine results pages at all, along with the ones who are at the top of SERPs, are not the ones you should be targeting. Those who are already killing it in organic search probably don’t need your help, while those who don’t rank at all for their relevant keywords are probably not yet ready to plow their money into SEO.
Or, worse yet, they have to be educated on the role and value of SEO lead generation. Sorry, but starting from zero takes too much time — better to land SEO clients who are already aware of the basics.
Important note: Target SEO prospects that come from the market segments you know very well and in which you already have experience and/or success. This way you will gain more SEO clients and the opportunity to use some of your successful past SEO work as case studies, which will help you convince your potential clients to opt for your agency.
So, the plan is to develop a surefire strategy that will help you focus on prospects who have already recognized the value and the potential impact of SEO. These are the ideal ICPs you should be searching for.
And here are some ways to get SEO do that in 2 easy and actionable steps:
1. Identify the keyword(s) you want to target
These keywords should be killing it in the niche and the industry you want to target. Find a keyword research tool that best suits your needs and opt for, let’s say, 3 keywords (or keyword phrases) that work best for the industry from which you want to attract clients.
Here are some of the best keyword research tools currently in the business that we recommend:
2. Use a quality link prospecting tool to track down quality prospects
(This step almost always proves to be the crucial one, yet far too many SEO and marketing agencies fail to spot its significance.)
Once you have the keywords you want to focus on, it is time to do something tangible with them. This is where link prospecting tools really shine.
With a potent link prospecting tool, you will be able to get a useful list of potential SEO clients through which you will be able to find the ones who are truly a match.
In just a couple of steps, you will be able to the following with the SEO prospects that you think have potential:
…the SEO prospects you think have potential.
Client prospecting is the best fit for those looking to gather valuable information on their future SEO clients and filter out those that are not worthy of your time and efforts. Ideally, you will be looking for prospective clients who have a clear potential to improve their SEO, not the ones who are already lost causes.
Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true — a company that is still a long way from leveraging SEO services into better online visibility probably isn’t one you want to work with. If they haven’t started by now, they probably never will. Let them continue to think that traditional marketing will be enough for them and go on your way.
#3. Outreach automation and the perfect pitch
When you feel like you’ve found the right doors to knock on, it is time to make sure your message is strong enough to get through. In other words, after you’ve used the client prospecting process to target the Goldilocks zone clients, it is time to reach out to them with something specific.
This is when outreach automation comes into play. Putting together potent, informative yet concise outreach emails is what will ultimately close a client.
Your pitch should contain:
- relevant SEO insights that illustrate and explain your client’s current SEO situation
- use some of the client’s own content, like a blog post, to show that you’ve done personalized research on their site
- actionable steps and graphics that portray what you can do to improve their rankings
- your past case studies that show how you’ve helped your old clients (similar to the one you are reaching out to) rank better
- an offer of a free SEO audit is a great idea if you can make that work on your end
Also, make sure your outreach emails are:
- straight to the point
- easy to read
You want to show them that you have the experience and the know-how to do wonders for their organic reach.
How to assemble perfect, data-driven pitches
Remember, every SEO prospect has room for improvement. Every potential client has holes in their SEO strategy, otherwise, they would rank better. The trick here is to prove to your potential client that you know exactly:
- what their main problem areas are
- what the solution is
So, no beating around the bush, no irrelevant data, just straightforward problem-solving that is specific to their scenario.
Here are 3 ways you can approach your outreach emails:
1. Explain how they can improve on certain keyword opportunities
Track down terms that are crucial for the prospect’s website and find out why they are not ranking well for them. Explain what you can do to attract more traffic for those important keywords or propose alternate keyword ideas that may be easy for them to capture and still attract the traffic they want.
2. Point out their keyword gaps and explain how you can help them fill those missed opportunities
Find the keywords that look like slam-dunks for the prospect’s website, but for which their pages are not getting enough traffic. Make sure to also track down some less conspicuous keywords that will get the job done but your potential client managed to overlook.
3. Show them why the competition is more successful and explain how you can help them catch up
Untapped link-building opportunities are often a golden opportunity just waiting to be put to use. Try to emphasize how you can help them boost their inbound link profile by tracking down influential and powerful backlinks that your prospect’s competitors are using, but your prospect’s website isn’t.
The process of client acquisition, in the SEO landscape or otherwise, basically comes down to the following 3 steps:
- Know whom to target (defining your ICPs)
- Cherry-pick the best prospects among those ICPs
- Come up with a potent outreach strategy and SEO cold email pitches that are hard to ignore
Also, make sure you don’t give up if your attempts don’t gain traction right away. Trial and error is sometimes an inevitable part of the process, so you should learn how to embrace it and use it to your advantage.
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