How to find new clients for a digital marketing agency

Yuriy Boyko
Yuriy Boyko
Reading time:7m

Two decades deep into the millennium, most marketing became digital marketing. Five billion people online won’t sell products to themselves, and there are tens of thousands of digital marketing agencies, not to mention an army of niche freelance marketers, to serve this vast audience. They fight relentlessly for potential customers.

What is worse, luring in people is, by definition, what marketers are good at; so how do you get new clients for your digital marketing services in the fierce competition of 2023?

Read on to find out how to get the upper hand with our tried-and-true methods, backed by 5-year experience in sales outsourcing for marketing and advertising companies.

7 proven methods to get clients for your digital marketing agency

We will not preach basics like setting up your SMM (social media marketing) channels and creating client databases, as you can find this advice anywhere. Instead, for this article we collected practical advice from advanced industry professionals about how to enhance your client search. So here we go.

Craft a multichannel approach

In your outreach efforts, do not limit yourself to just one channel. After creating your ideal customer profile and gathering a database, target potential clients with a multichannel campaign. If your primary medium is cold emailing, then add LinkedIn outreach to the mix, and vice versa.

Here is how we characterize this approach, which has helped Belkins land dozens of new hot leads over three months for Maark, a U.S. marketing agency:

lead gen for marketing agencies

As you create your prospect database, you will inevitably sift through your contacts’ social profiles. Note which social network comes across more often and include it in your outreach strategy. LinkedIn comes to mind first, but it’s not a must.

In some industries, brand leaders and decision-makers are more likely to have Twitter or Instagram presences.

“Share” leads with competitors

Keeping warm relationships with your marketing competition may seem counterintuitive, but it is a great long-term strategy.

You will be surprised how many agencies are ready to share their pieces of the pie occasionally. The reason is simple — for any good businessperson, it is a much more beneficial choice to find a better-fitting team for a craving client than to just tell them no.

When we worked in Vietnam, our small boutique landed a nationwide campaign for the country’s biggest fitness center network through a friend of ours, the owner of a local agency. He was struggling as his in-house staff couldn’t quite get the insights required by the client’s Canadian marketing director. There was a desperate need for a Western team to deliver the campaign, but it was not an option for our friend at the moment to get new hires. So he introduced us, and we got a hefty contract, while our friend managed to keep a great relationship with the client and retain them for later projects. Win-win!

Ümüd, creative director at V&U

Make a habit of checking your connections regularly (preferably at lunch) and reminding them that whenever they have a lead that is not a good fit for them, you will be happy to help out.

Hijack online job boards

Here’s an interesting disruptive technique. Go to job boards and scan the vacancies like digital marketing director, head of SEO, head of content marketing, etc. If a company is looking for these, there’s a high chance that they are looking for changes in their digital marketing, which makes them your potential client.

Fing Clients for a Digital Marketing Agency

Here’s how I landed a few clients. I would go through an interview, get the test task, solve it brilliantly, and turn it in. When the company would get back to me all excited, I would tell them that a full-time position is not quite what I am after, but I’d be delighted to provide them with the same services, just in a different wrapper. They often say yes!

Vera Karimova, marketing specialist

The people who decide to hire top digital marketing managers are often the same decision-makers who can hire a digital marketing agency. They are MQLs looking for what you sell, so you have something to talk about.

Follow through to the interview and use it as a platform to showcase your value and expertise. And then it’s all up to your closing skills.

Be smart with lead databases

Buying thousands of contacts is obviously faster than building a database from scratch. Depending on the range of provided information, it can also give you good company intel, which enables highly personalized outreach.

When you make your first call or send a cold email to a new prospect, demonstrate that you know what’s going on with their business, and have a solution that fits with that current event, your chances of getting a meeting with them skyrocket.

The biggest con is the cost. The better the data quality, the more you will pay, and the prices for better databases start at hundreds of dollars per month.

Cutting corners here brings a risk of getting low-quality, outdated, or faulty leads.

Buying cheap databases affects quality a lot. Typically, 50%-70% of the data they deliver usually results in a high email bounce rate. But the opposite is also true: When a salesperson can trust their information source and have direct contact info ready, they can spend all that time selling. The number of meetings increases fourfold with quality data versus a cheap list or data-aggregation vendor.

So if you are looking for business leads for sale, keep in mind that this is just the first step. The data is useless as long as there’s no sales team or targeted content marketing strategy.

Prioritize video content

Video content is the most popular format among top managers as it helps them get out condensed information in the least amount of time. Whichever platforms you use for generating outbound leads, aim for about 80% of your content to be video.

But where do you get the video material? It’s easy when you don’t overthink it.

One way is producing new footage.

  • An event speech can bring at least 10-15 minutes of material.
  • Moving into a new office can make a lovely meet-the-team video.
  • A completed project will look best as a video case study.
  • Brainstorming sessions make sweet background videos.
  • A work in progress can showcase important industry tips.
  • Happy clients make great short testimonial interviews.

Lead Generation Tips for Digital Marketing Agencies

The other way is to recycle whatever you have.

  • Cut your old interviews into educational snippets.
  • Make animated slideshows from white papers.
  • Recycle blog content into educational infographics.
  • Turn old case studies into step-by-step tutorials.

Don’t chase long formats. Shorts between 1 and 3 minutes are best for top-of-funnel content. And don’t overthink the production — your phone and a tripod will do. Send the raw footage to a freelance video editor to polish it up, and make sure that the storyline ends with a clear CTA to steer your leads in the right direction. Now post!

Engage in meaningful guest appearances

If your agency is an expert in a distinctive area, a good strategy is to land a series of interviews on a popular podcast or relevant YouTube channel. Think of it as an intersection of guest blogging, brand personification, and KOL leverage.

For the best conversions:

  • Bring up a topic that is hot at the moment.
  • Give one solution to a broad pain point of a larger audience, then to a very niche one to show your practical knowledge.
  • Back your words with examples or success stories.
  • Pitch your services at the beginning and the end of your speech.
  • Sweeten the deal for the potential leads — for example, offer free consultations to the first three callers.

If interviews aren’t yet doable, reach out to the podcasters with an interesting “expert comment” or “expert opinion” on their subject.

Repeated appearances are key to growing your reputation exponentially. So do your best to establish an ongoing relationship with the opinion leaders in your audience field.

Give out free money

Buy your client’s attention! This strategy is so simple that no one takes it seriously, yet it works like a charm. Very few people say no to free money. Even if they do, they will remember the bold agency that approached them with this proposal.

This technique comes in different forms, depending on your goals.

Send a gift. For the SQLs in the bottom of the funnel, offer $50 certificates in return for 30 minutes of their time. This way you’ll show respect for their busy schedule, and they will see that you have serious intentions to bring them value.

Buy lunch. Zoom and Uber Eats have opened the door for business executives to mull opportunities over while eating desserts. Let your prospect order from their favorite restaurant, and set up a call to sell to a happy, relaxed buyer with a full belly. The cost is $50 to $80 — you often pay more for one ad click.

Put a nickel in them. What if you can’t afford $50 per lead yet? Here’s a mind-blowing hack. Send each of your potential leads $0.05 via PayPal with an invitation to your online conference or podcast. You are guaranteed to get their full attention on this uncluttered channel. And how high are the chances they will tell someone about this? Pretty high!

Related article: How to get new bookkeeping clients?

It’s a wrap!

How do you stand out among digital marketing agencies and win leads in such a crowded market? Look for unexpected ways to attract clients. Aside from content and SMM, put extra effort into nurturing partnerships and putting a face to your brand through recognizable outlets.

As for the tactics, fighting for clients is easier with a good database and a sales department. We provide lead generation for advertising companies for over 5 years, so you can rely on our team of sales experts to start driving only qualified deals.

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Yuriy Boyko
Yuriy Boyko
Head of Account Management at Belkins
Yuriy has been working in the B2B sales sector for more than a decade. His approach is the integration of scientific methods combined with thinking out of the box, allowing to achieve the highest results in any industry.