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Every agency’s #1 concern? Lead generation. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a veteran in the space, getting leads and driving traffic is probably high on your priority list. While it’s easier said than done, there are tried and true ways to ensure your agency gets the traffic and visibility it deserves! We love our agency partners, which is why we put together this guide to lead generation for agencies.

We’ll be covering everything from:

  • Sales-first vs. marketing-first strategies
  • Building inbound and outbound
  • Developing a holistic approach to lead gen
  • Bolstering your messaging and branding
  • How to diversify your lead sources
  • Actionable lead generation strategies
  • And more!
Lead generation for agencies
Lead generation is tough. That’s why we’re here to break it down

What should you prioritize? Sales-first vs. marketing-first strategies explained

Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Depending on how your agency functions, you’ll want to build your lead generation funnel with either a sales-first or a marketing-first strategy. While both are important for long-term success, you should choose one to lead your charges (if you have limited resources). But be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket. Good lead generation is about building diverse lead sources!

To cultivate diverse traffic sources, you’ll need to nurture your inbound (marketing-driven) and outbound (sales-driven) leads. Let’s break it down:

Sales-first lead generation

Sales-first lead generation focuses on outbound communication

Whether you’re getting leads from a partner or cold calling like your life depends on it, sales-first lead gen is all about outbound.

This can be comprised of a few things:

  • Sales calls
  • Cold emails
  • Heavy drip campaigns
  • Referrals
  • And more

Basically, any time you’re actively reaching out to anyone, that’s outbound lead generation. Now, let’s take a look at inbound

Marketing-first lead generation puts customers first

Cold outreach can’t do it alone! You need to nurture, engage, and inform your customers by attracting them with smart marketing strategies. HubSpot said it best with their infamous inbound flywheel:

hubspot's inbound marketing flywheel

To grow your business and generate traffic, you need to attract, engage, and delight your audience. It’s all about building awareness and trust, convincing your target customers that you’re in it for the long haul – and that you’re the right choice.

This could mean:

  • Bringing value with infographics
  • Offering solutions to pain points
  • Targeting your audience with ads
  • Cultivating your social media presence 
  • Creating nurturing email campaigns
  • And more!

Now that you’re clear on the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, let’s dive into the strategy:

Building inbound and outbound marketing channels

Inbound vs. outbound? You’ve got that in the bag. Here are the methods to consider when building out your comprehensive lead gen strategy:

Outbound marketing
Outbound is all about outreach

Building an outbound strategy

When creating an outbound strategy for your agency, it’s all about outreach! From cold emails to display ads and more, outbound will help you reach your target customers directly. Here are some of the main components of a healthy outbound strategy:

  • Paid ads in newsletters, podcasts, and more
  • Trade Shows and In-Person Events
  • Cold Emails: Sending emails to a broader list without segmenting or personalizing for individual recipients’ interests or behaviors.
  • Outbound telemarketing: (On the sales side) Similar to cold calling, but can also include scripted sales pitches delivered over the phone.
  • Direct outreach to partners and clients who would be a good fit to work with you 
  • Display ads catch the viewer’s attention and entice them to click to your website
  • Sponsorships where your product or service is promoted at an event or in someone else’s content

When executing outbound lead generation, always make sure you track investment, ROI, and opportunity cost scrupulously! All those ads can add up fast.

Outbound marketing is effective, but you need to balance it with a healthy inbound strategy. After all, it’s much easier to pitch to someone who’s heard about or seen your brand before. Giving customers a solid base of information gives your sales team a strong foundation to do what they do best. 

Inbound lead gen
Inbound lead gen helps you build your pipeline

The building blocks of inbound lead generation

Inbound is all about awareness and engagement. Your goal should be to gain recognition of your brand and attract your target audience. You want to gear your strategy towards your best potential prospects, catering your materials to your ideal customer so they continue to engage with your brand!

There are so many ways to build a great, effective inbound strategy. Here are some of the many ways to attract your next best client:

  • Your website is essential to any inbound efforts. It’s where any and all leads will end up – so make sure you leave a good impression. Position yourself as a resource and industry leader, and watch the conversions pour in!
  • Content creation and optimization is key to any inbound strategy. From blog posts and white papers to videos and testimonials, great content assures potential clients of your expertise while delivering value
  • SEO is crucial. Ensure that you’re actively optimizing your web pages with targeted keywords, meta descriptions, and high-quality content while also building backlinks from reputable sources to improve your website’s authority. Go get those rankings!
  • Social media can be a beast to master, but it’s an awesome place to engage your audience with informative, entertaining, or engaging content. We could go on about social media marketing for days, but the bottom line is this: consistently deliver value, and the numbers will speak for themselves.
  • Collaborations and events like webinars, panels, or joint offerings help bring value to your audience while reaching new people.
  • Landing pages are essential for informing customers about a particular campaign, product, or service offering. From there, you can convert leads directly from the page!
  • Email marketing is a low-cost way to stay engaged with your contact list. Whether you put out a regular newsletter, do targeted campaign outreach, or put people on drip campaigns, email marketing is as good as gold
  • Tools like surveys, quizzes, calculators, and more can help engage your audience and bring them value before they even engage with your sales reps. Our own scan tool is a perfect example of how we help our agency partners bring value to prospective clients before they close the deal!
  • Paid ads are a great way to expand your reach and target your unique audience by interest, behavior, or demographic
  • Referral programs are a great way to warm up potential leads while rewarding your partners, clients, and industry connections for their help and loyalty 

Inbound marketing is all about value. By creating and promoting content that addresses the needs and interests of your ideal customers, you’ll attract relevant traffic and help drive your leads down your marketing funnel.

Lead gen is all about balance

The importance of a holistic approach

Whether you’re taking a sales-first or marketing-first approach, it’s essential to build a strategy with both inbound and outbound tactics in place. Inbound is the metaphorical net you cast out to get leads, while outbound reels the net back in to close the deal. Using the two in tandem is essential for building a sustainable, consistent lead generation process.

As you build out your strategy, be sure to diversify your efforts within inbound and outbound, too. Don’t just focus on one aspect of inbound or outbound lead generation. After all, the best strategies employ a clever mix of tactics to maximize visibility and build a strategy that can withstand change!

Here’s how to do it in practice:

Demand generation
Demand gen is step 1 of a stellar lead generation strategy

Funneling your leads: from demand generation to closing the deal

No matter the specifics of your strategy, you should have one goal in mind: creating demand to funnel your lead generation.

Top-of-funnel demand generation is how you can reach new audiences and get people excited about your brand. It helps to:

  • Increase brand awareness and recognition
  • Build trust
  • Promote thought leadership
  • Position your brand as an industry expert
  • Excite your audience
  • Educate your potential customers

After you nail your demand generation, that’s when you can engage your audience with your lead generation strategies (aka the bottom of the funnel). Once you have your audience’s attention, you can build their interest in your products or services, then work to convert them once they understand how you can meet their needs and solve their problems.

    1. The first step is engaging your audience 
    2. Capture their contact information and start nurturing them through continued engagement
    3. Send them helpful materials or engage them with tools that assert your brand as an industry leader and build your relationship with your prospect
    4. Close the deal!

Of course, this is easier said than done, and how you do it can depend on your business’ specific processes and strategies. But building these strong foundations will help scale your efforts and make your overall lead generation strategy run effectively and efficiently!

Successful branding
Branding goes a long way in cultivating trust and creating demand

It all starts with your brand

Your branding and messaging can make or break your lead generation success. Every business is different, but your branding should:

  • Represent a clear understanding of who you are and what you do
  • Center the customer
  • Understand your audience, including their problems and needs
  • Position your brand as a go-to resource
  • Build credibility and authority
  • Prioritize action (don’t be all talk)

A strong brand will be prominent in a customer’s mind. Whether they need information on the latest industry news or a helpful tip, they should want to come to you. Then, when it’s time for them to make a purchase decision – you’ll be top of mind!

Lead gen strategies
It’s all in the strategy

The top 10 actionable lead generation strategies for agencies

Now that you have the basics down, you’re ready to build a holistic strategy to bring in leads from a diverse array of traffic sources! Here’s a good place to start:

    1. Build a website that exemplifies your brand: who you are and what you do. Your website is your home base. It needs to have a wealth of resources and should encourage your leads to learn more. You need to make the best impression possible!!
    2. Search engine optimization is a must for organic traffic. With the right SEO, you can help customers find your business and drive major traffic to your site. 
    3. Social proof is a surefire way to prove you have what it takes. We’re social creatures, and seeing that someone else liked something makes us want it, too. This can mean reviews, testimonials, or case studies.
    4. Email marketing is a great way to nurture your leads. As soon as you capture an email, make sure to send the lead valuable content and periodic updates so you’ll stay top of mind.
    5. Social media is a great way to find leads. Choose the right platforms and the right tools and find your audience!
    6. Referrals are perfect for spreading the word about your business and cultivating warm leads. Build a program by leveraging your past or current customers, and see what you can build!
    7. Don’t forget about free tools. Whether it’s a quiz, a resource, or a calculator, a free tool goes a long way in making your site a destination for your prospects.
    8. Who doesn’t love a giveaway? Offer incentives, or put your services on sale, and see who you can catch in your marketing funnel.
    9. Don’t underestimate the power of paid ads. You can target your ideal audience and get more exposure, speeding up your path of reaching your future customers!
    10. Content is KING! Create a mix of content (both types and purposes) to bring value to and delight your audience. Whether it’s a shareable resource or a helpful infographic, create content that educates or entertains your ideal customer.
Lead generation
Read to attract prospects?

Building your lead generation strategy as an agency

Ultimately, building a lead generation strategy that works for your business takes time, effort, and lots of experimentation. With these tips, you’ll hopefully be on the path to getting plenty of leads for your digital marketing agency! Just remember to:

  • Diversify your lead sources
  • Nail your branding 
  • Balance inbound and outbound tactics

And you’ll be on your way to success. If you want to learn more about how to drive leads for your digital marketing agency, watch our lead gen 101 webinar on demand here!

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