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How do I generate website design leads locally? 10 proven tips

How do I generate website design leads locally

Lead generation is one of the most challenging yet essential tasks for any digital services business, and web design agencies are no exception. Web design services are always in demand; there's always someone out there who needs a professionally designed website. But with so many web design businesses competing with one another, buyers are spoiled for choice. As such, sourcing new leads is becoming a full-time job in itself for many designers.

website design leads

But instead of expending all their time and energy competing for the same projects as their competitors, many web design agencies can streamline their lead generation by focussing on local leads. Providing web design services to local people and businesses is advantageous to both the client and the agency. The client can show the local community they are eager to partner with other local businesses. At the same time, the agency can pursue leads that their competitors are less likely to know about.

I have been working within the digital marketing industry since 2001. During that time, I grew the biggest white label website design franchise in the UK. The franchisees would generate the sales under their own local brand and my team would design all the websites and get them ranking at the top of Google. As part of their franchise agreement, they all received local based lead generation and sales training directly from myself which I had tweaked and perfected over the years. Below, I will share my top ten tried and tested techniques for generating local website design leads and taking full advantage of the potential of local lead generation.

1 - Develop your own website design agency website first

Before anyone hires you to design their website, they will want to see evidence that you're up to the task. A strong portfolio will go a long way, but it won't count for much if your own website is poorly designed and difficult to use. Your business needs to exude professionalism wherever possible. First impressions count for a lot, especially in a field as competitive as web design. There is plenty of competition out there; individuals and businesses needing a website are spoiled for choice when looking for a professional web design agency. So, it's essential that any prospective clients who come across your website form a positive first impression of you and your own brand.

When you're putting your own website together, you should be asking yourself what a potential client will be looking for. For most businesses, the primary goal of their website is to generate leads or sales. To do this, they need a website tailored to their brand and target audience. Don't fall into the trap of trying to build a website overflowing with irrelevant and unnecessary features. These elements might demonstrate your ability to incorporate a range of functions into your website, but if they're just there for the sake of it, they will detract from your website's overall usability. A prospective client will be looking for evidence that you can design useful websites that serve a purpose, not that you can add superfluous features that have nothing to do with the website's primary function.

Similarly, your website should maintain a consistent theme and style throughout. It's good to be versatile and web design agencies with varied portfolios will find more opportunities than those that use the same templates for every project. However, if your business website is a mess of different styles that clash with one another, it will make you look inexperienced. You can demonstrate your range of skills through a portfolio page on your website. If you haven't yet amassed enough clients to compile an impressive portfolio, take the initiative and create some mock-up websites. For example, if you want to pitch your services to e-commerce businesses but haven't yet had any clients in this area, design an e-commerce website for a fictional business. It will still enable you to demonstrate your understanding of design fundamentals and show e-commerce businesses how you would approach designing a website for them.

When I started my first website design agency, the biggest issue I faced was the fact that I needed businesses to trust me enough that they would pay me to design a website that generated new business for them. However, they all wanted to see examples of websites I had already designed. The catch-22 scenario. With this in mind, I decided to design ten fictitious business websites in different industries and got them ranking high on Google. This allowed me to secure genuine website design clients and when I had a great portfolio of client’s websites, I just sold the ten fictitious business websites as lead generation sites to businesses within each industry.

If your own website isn't up to scratch, it will hamper your lead generation efforts. You don't want to end up in a situation where you're throwing away high-quality leads because of a low-quality business website. A good website can help you stand out from other web design businesses and freelancers in your local area and convince clients to choose your services over your competitors. As well as showcasing your design abilities, your website should also provide potential clients with all the information they could possibly want about you, your experience, and your business.

One good tip is to showcase the before and after impact. By this I mean, what difference did having a new website generate for each business? It might be the case that their new website converted visitors into leads a lot better than their old website. Showcase the benefits and not just the design. This way you will stand out from the crowd when businesses are looking for a local website design agency to design their new website.

For most businesses today, their main website is just one component of their online presence. If you're aiming to generate local leads for your web design business, your website should exist alongside your social media profiles. Together, these enable you to engage with your existing audience and provide you with a fruitful avenue for generating new leads. Don't make the mistake of assuming that a social media presence can substitute for a dedicated website; they both serve different purposes, especially when it comes to lead generation. Social media profiles enable you to interact directly with your audience and give you access to local groups. Participating in these local groups will improve your visibility among local users and raise your business' profile.

One final thing to do is be very honest with yourself and gauge your own website against all the other local based website design agencies who rank on the first page of Google. For example, if you are located in the town of Preston, just search Google for the term ‘Website Design Preston’ or even ‘Website Design Agency Preston’. Does your own agency website really stand out from the crowd? If it doesn’t, why should local businesses trust you to design their new website?

2 - Invest in local SEO for your own website design agency website

Building a functioning website has never been easier thanks to the emergence of platforms like Wix. In fact, the high usability of Wix has made it just as popular with professional web designers as it has novices. After building a website for clients using Wix, it's easy for non-tech-savvy clients to manage and update the site themselves. But no matter how good of a Wix website designer you are, your website will still need investment in SEO to raise its profile and make it visible in search engine results within your local area.

Search engine optimisation is a critical process for any website, but it is particularly important to business websites. A website's SEO score for a given keyword or search query determines where it ranks in the search engine results when a user searches for that term. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo drive the majority of today's internet traffic. Therefore, businesses that aren't visible in search engine results have a much harder time growing their userbase and reaching new audiences. Conversely, businesses that invest in their SEO and work to maintain it can continue to generate leads via search engines indefinitely.

When it comes to local lead generation, ranking highly on search engine results pages (SERPs) is a critical factor. However, while local SEO still falls under the umbrella of SEO, ranking highly for local searches is different from ranking highly nationally. Businesses need to make sure they are showcasing their brand locally in the best possible light. Investing in your local SEO is one of the single most effective lead generation methods for attracting local clients. Even if you work from home and do not have a physical office, you can always arrange a meeting in the local hotel lobby.

While there are several big search engines on the market, Google is by far the most popular. In fact, Google's share of the search engine market is so great at a massive 92.47% that most websites focus solely on how Google ranks them and pay little attention to Bing and Yahoo. As well as the eponymous search engine, Google also maintains the Google My Business service. This is an essential component of any local SEO strategy for businesses because it improves their visibility across Google services, including Google Maps and Google Search results.

To improve your website's visibility in local searches, you need to focus on sending the right signals to Google. There are certain things Google looks for when assessing the relevance of websites and content for local search queries. It isn't enough to simply pepper the name of the town or city you're based in throughout your content or append your usual keywords with a few place names. Google's algorithms are smarter than this and they're becoming more sophisticated by the day. There are several signals that Google uses to gather data for local searches, such as localised content, citations from trusted sources, social media profiles, and inbound and outbound links, plus many other things. Here is a full list of the most important local SEO ranking factors so you can get a true understanding of exactly what is involved in getting your website and brand ranking locally.

Ideally, you should work with an SEO professional such as the WiX SEO Guy who also offer a Wix white label SEO service (hint, hint!) to develop both your general and local SEO strategies. An SEO professional will understand the nitty-gritty of search engine optimisation and can ensure that the money you invest in your SEO is spent wisely. However, there are also several simple things that any business or website owner can do themselves without any expert input that will improve their local SEO:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly: This is an important general SEO tip, but it has particular relevance to local SEO. As our browsing habits have changed and mobile internet browsing has become the norm for most people, Google has introduced several algorithm updates that penalise websites that aren't optimised for mobile. If a potential client hears about your business while they're away from their computer, you want them to pull out their phone, search for your business, and find your website. If your website isn't working properly when they try to access it on their phone, they will immediately write you off.

  • Engage with social media: No matter how you feel about social media on a personal level, it simply isn't viable for any business operating in 2021 not to maintain some kind of social media presence. Social media profiles provide a point of contact between businesses and their clients that is much more personal than an e-mail or letter. You can engage back and forth with your customers, answer their questions, and respond to any comments they have.

  • Produce local content: One of the most effective techniques for improving a website's local SEO score is to add a blog. You can then populate the blog with relevant content for your business. By including target keywords in the articles and blog posts you upload, you can raise your SEO score for search queries containing those keywords. If you want to boost your local SEO, make sure to add some content focused on your local area.

3 - Get networking in local business groups

In today's digital world, networking might seem like an outdated concept. With social media platforms like LinkedIn, which is geared specifically towards professionals and businesses, available to budding entrepreneurs, in-person networking can seem redundant. However, as useful as sites like LinkedIn can be for online networking, they lack the in-person human contact that is central to conventional networking. The vast, global reach of online networking platforms can actually be detrimental for any business hoping to generate local leads.

The main challenge when it comes to networking effectively is finding suitable events to attend. Needless to say, the number of local networking opportunities has shrunk for most people since the outbreak of the covid pandemic. However, it's still worth keeping an eye on local Facebook groups to see if there are any events planned in your area. There are also several apps, such as Meetup and Eventbrite, which help users find meet-ups, workshops, conferences, and other networking opportunities in their local area.

As a web design business, you should be looking for any opportunities to get some face time with small business owners, marketers, digital specialists, and anyone else who might be in a position to hire you to build a website. Introducing yourself in person is always going to be more effective than cold-calling or e-mailing prospective clients. They are far more likely to remember someone they've actually met than a name attached to an e-mail.

If the thought of wading into a group of strangers, introducing yourself and trying to sell your services to them sounds incredibly daunting to you, don't worry; you aren't alone. For most people, learning to network effectively takes time. However, there are some things you can do to network more effectively from the beginning:

  • Don't try and force your business card on people: You should only give your business card and or contact details to people who ask for them. In fact, it's usually better to ask people to give you their business cards if they seem interested in your business. That way, you can make sure to follow up with them later, and you'll know how to contact them in the future.

  • Get there early: If you can get to events early enough, you will often meet the people who have organised them. These are invaluable contacts to have. Not only can they introduce you to other attendees, but they can also notify you of any future events that might be of interest to you.

  • Build your confidence over time: Confidence comes naturally to some people, but many of us have to work at it. Don't be deterred from attending events and engaging in networking because you lack confidence; the more you do it, the easier it becomes. As you build your confidence and gain networking experience, you will get more out of any events you attend.

4 - Perfect your proposals

Proposals are an essential lead generation tool for freelancers and agencies in any creative industry; web design is no exception. But writing proposals is a nightmarish process for many professionals. If you find writing proposals anxiety-inducing, you aren't alone. There are plenty of creative professionals out there who could benefit enormously from learning how to compose effective and engaging proposals but instead prefer to rely on other methods.

Every time a new business opens in your local area, there are potential opportunities for web designers, marketers, copywriters, and others to land themselves a new client. In fact, you may well learn about these local opportunities before anyone else just by virtue of being in close proximity to them. If you wait until the business owner places an ad online or starts scouting business directories to find a web design agency to build their website, you will have to compete with every other agency that comes across the request. On the other hand, if you can put a professional and persuasive proposal together as soon as you become aware of the opportunity, you can beat your competitors to the punch and save the business the hassle of conducting their own search.

Many businesses will issue requests for proposals when they need to hire people to help with important projects. Every web design agency should keep an eye on sites like the RFP Database, which lists requests for proposals from a range of industries and is accessible for free. There's even a dedicated section for web development which includes web design proposals. In addition, you can set up email alerts, so you're immediately notified of any proposal requests relevant to your business and past experience. You will have to filter then to find the ones who match your local geographical area.

Once you have some local clients under your belt, you will generally find it easier to land others in the future. For some businesses, first-hand experience with the local area is invaluable. Small independent companies are often eager to partner with other local businesses. Not only does this cement their connections with the local area and community, but it also allows them to put their local credentials at the front and centre of their marketing campaigns. Whenever you are writing a proposal for a prospective local client, make sure to talk about your experience with the area and how that experience adds value to your proposal.

5 – LinkedIn is a goldmine

If you are not using LinkedIn to generate leads, why not? It is a pure goldmine just waiting to be dug up. Even though I am an SEO, nobody should ever focus on just one single marketing platform to generate leads for their business. As such, I have been a massive fan of LinkedIn over the years, and I have generated multiple six figures worth of business via LinkedIn.

Before you get excited and jump straight onto LinkedIn, I want to make one thing very clear…

Do NOT sell over LinkedIn. Use the platform to start the right type of conversations with the right people and if there is a mutual benefit, take that conversation off the platform as this makes the sales experience more personal. Ideally, go and visit them at their business premises as that will give you a better understanding of their individual business.

So, how do you actually find the right people on LinkedIn to start the right type of conversations?

Before you start looking for potential local business owners who need your website design service, it is paramount that your own personal LinkedIn profile and your LinkedIn company page is up to scratch. Take a good look at your own profile and ask yourself…

  • Does it explain what I do? I don’t mean something like “I am a website designer and design great websites for businesses.” That is NOT what you do. Are you a little confused? How about rewording it to something like, “I help local based businesses to showcase their brand in the best light, so their customers understand who they are and what they do.” Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better and engaging?

  • Does it explain who I want to work with? You may not think it but not every single business in your local area is a potential client. Work out ‘who’ your ideal clients are. If you want to offer low-end website design services with a low pricing point, then startup and small business owners will be your target market. However, if you are a highly experienced UX focused website designer and demand a high price, you may want to target established companies who need to push their business to the next level, who needs a full consultancy service along with a bespoke website that not only showcases their brand but pushes new business forward. Apart from the type of business, you may want to showcase yourself as a specific industry specialist. The more targeted your ideal client requirements are, the better quality of leads you will generate.

  • Does it explain why they should trust you and your agency? Nobody is going to start a conversation with you unless they fell that they can trust ‘you’ are the person or agency to deliver what they need, on budget and on time. Make sure you detail your experience within the website design industry. A good place to start is by asking yourself the sub-question “Why should businesses work with me rather than my competitors?” If you can’t answer that question yourself, how are local business owners meant to trust you?

  • Does it explain what you want them to do next? It sounds stupid, but if you do not tell people what you want them to do, they are not going to do it. Add a solid call-to-action (CTA) to your profile. By adding your contact details along with ‘what happens next’ means they fully understand what the next steps are.

  • Does it include an up-to-date headshot profile image? LinkedIn is a professional network platform. As such, do not use an image of you sat on the beach drinking cocktails. Uploading a recent headshot image of what you will look like when they meet you in person creates that personal connection. There is nothing worse than using a headshot image that is 10 years out of date.

  • Does it include any industry related qualifications you have, or any industry awards you have won? This provides proof of you can do what you say you can do.

  • Does it include a summary headline? A headline that is going to not only get you included within the LinkedIn search results but is engaging enough for someone to ‘want’ to read your profile. Let’s use the example of you owning a website design agency in Atlanta. A great headline would be something like, “Director at My Website Design Agency Name - Showcasing local brands in Atlanta via professionally website design services”.

That’s your LinkedIn profile sorted! Now, you need to contact all your local based happy existing clients and get them to add a fantastic and honest recommendation (LinkedIn’s version of testimonials).

Now, if anyone on LinkedIn is looking for website design related services in your area, your profile is more likely to appear within the LinkedIn search results, and as your profile is now engaging enough, the chances of them connecting with you and starting a conversation is a lot better than it was before.

Now, the exciting bit… Generating targeted website design leads from local business owners via the LinkedIn platform.

It is important to say that you will tweak and perfect your own process and that is perfectly fine to do. You need to find the LinkedIn lead generation process that works best for you. I just wanted to give you the process that I have found to be useful throughout the years, so you have a great starting point. Here goes…

Target filtered list

Do some research to find all the businesses in your local area who match your ideal client target. There are many ways to do this. You can simply use Google, look through directory sites such as, or better still, go through all the businesses who are members of your local business networking groups. Make a long list then filter your list and take out any business who does not match your target client.

Establish a need

Now you have a long list of local based businesses, you need to establish if they need the services that you offer. There is no point in investing your time into connecting and chatting to the wrong people. Yes, you may have some great conversations but if they do not ‘need’ the website design services you provide, you are just going to be unproductive. How do you establish a need? Simply, go through their existing website and if you feel that you could add ‘value’ to that business, put them on the good list.

Finding the right person

Depending on the size of the business that you are reaching out to, the business owner, CEO, or company director may not be the ideal person to start a conversation with regarding their website. With this in mind, you need to find the right person within each company who has control over making the key decisions regarding their company website. Obviously, if you are targeting small business owners, then the actual small business owner would be the ideal person to talk to. Here is how to find the right person…

  • Use the search function on LinkedIn and search the company name.

  • Click on their company page.

  • Click the ‘employees’ link just below their headline. There will be a number to the right of this link. This relates to the number of employees connected to their company who have a LinkedIn profile. This will give you a good indication of the size of their company/business.

  • Look through the list of employees to find the right match. Basically, the most senior person within the business who has ‘marketing’ or ‘digital’ within their profile. This will also give you an indication if that specific business has their own in-house website design team. The last thing you want to do is to contact them and tell them that they need a new website when the person you are contacting is the person who designed the existing site.

  • View the persons LinkedIn profile and look for something to start a conversation. If you can’t find anything, look for any mutual connections you have who live in your local area. You want to pick the mutual connection who has the highest standing within your local area.

  • Send them a personal connection message. Never try to just connect without including a personal message as that just looks spammy. You don’t have to go into any great details. It could be as simple as… “Hi Pamela, I see from reading your profile that we both know Brian Hargreaves. If Brian trusts you enough to connect with you, so do I.” Notice I included the emphasis on ‘trust’.

  • Once they accept your connection request (you need to be patient waiting for them to accept your connection request, especially if they are busy people and only look at their LinkedIn account once a week) you can send your first private message. This is more of an introduction message. Something like… “Thank you for accepting my connection request, Pamela. There is no point in connecting if we never start a conversation, so it would be great to hear more about the work you are doing at [COMPANY NAME] as there may just be people I know who would be useful connections for yourself also.” This first point of contact must be all about them.

  • Continue the conversation and once you have built up a certain level of trust for each other, simply ask them… “I hope you don’t mind me asking but do you work with a website design agency at the moment?” If their reply is “yes”, you can always follow-up with “how are you finding working with them?” If they are happy with their existing website design agency, you can always ask them… “Do you mind if I give you five pointers that will bring your brand to life so you can discuss them the next time you speak with your agency partner?” Even if they are not ready to do business with you at that specific moment in time, at least they will remember you for trying to help them even if they are working with another agency. It may just be the case that they are tied into a 12-month contract with them.

  • If they are interested in taking the conversation about you potentially becoming their new website design partner, this is the perfect time to take it offline and arrange an in-person meeting.

There you have it… My LinkedIn lead generation process. For me personally, this is the most valuable section within this website design lead generation article.

If you are serious about using the full power of LinkedIn to drive a constant flow of inbound leads without you having to go hunting for them, I highly recommend that you read LinkedIn Unlocked by Melonie Dodaro. Her previous book The LinkedIn Code is what I read which enabled me to generate six figure sales revenue.

6 - Don't forget local SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) isn't talked about as much or as often as SEO, but it is just as important for generating leads via search engines. SEM consists of various forms of paid advertising that raise a business or website's prominence and visibility in search engine results pages. Rather than battling it out with other businesses for pole position in organic search engine results through SEO, SEM offers a potential shortcut. Essentially, websites can pay to appear in the results for particular search queries, usually at the very top of the page. Placing targeted ads for your business on the results pages for local search queries is a great way of getting your website noticed by local users.

The key to getting the most out of SEM campaigns via Google AdWords or Bing Ads is investing in the right keywords. It might be tempting to use relatively broad terms to try and capture as much traffic as possible, but especially for local lead generation, it's better to target more specific keywords. You might generate fewer pageviews by targeting more specific keywords, but the quality of the traffic coming to your website will be much higher, and you'll get much better value out of the clicks you generate. Ask yourself what keywords and phrases your ideal local customers would search for. For example, if you specialise in building websites for a particular type of client or you have a portfolio that features certain types of websites prominently, you should target search queries that people looking for that type of website would use. So, instead of buying space on the results page for 'website design London', you might get better value from targeting 'bespoke business website design London'.

When you pay for search engine traffic via SEM, you usually have a much greater degree of control over which keywords and search queries will trigger your ad to display. As well as choosing which search terms you want your ad to display for. You can also utilise negative keywords to ensure your ad isn't displayed anywhere you might consider inappropriate. You can also use negative keywords to prevent your ads from appearing to non-local users. Most SEM is pay-per-click, meaning you pay for every click your ads generate. Using negative keywords to prevent your ads from appearing to users who are unlikely to use your services helps to maximise the value of your SEM spending.

The words I would personally add as negative keywords if I was to generate ‘quality’ leads for a local based website design agency, would be:

  • T shirt

  • Cheap

  • Free

  • Software (people who are searching for website design software are looking to do it themselves)

  • Affordable (unless you are specifically targeting this market)

  • WordPress (if you are dedicated to designing websites on the Wix platform)

  • Shopify

  • Fiverr

The type of words I would use as part of the phrase I target are:

  • Best

  • Professional

  • Custom

  • Bespoke

  • Modern

  • Company

So, if you were a website design agency located in Atlanta, your possible keywords would be something like:

  • Professional Website Design Company Atlanta

  • Bespoke Website Design in Atlanta

Be very careful though when selecting the keywords to target as the website design industry is very competitive and if you do not select the right highly targeted keywords, you could end up paying around $25 per click.

To ensure you select the right converting keywords, you can use the Google Keyword Planner built into Google AdWords, or if you want to go one step further you can sign-up to a 7 day trial at just $7 for the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool.

As previously mentioned, I want to just make sure you are 100% aware that when you set your new PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign up, ALWAYS make sure you target ONLY your town or city. The last thing you want to do is forget to setup your geographical target area and waste money trying to generate leads from businesses located in Atlanta when your paid ad is being shown to businesses in London, UK.

If you are new to Pay Per Click platforms, my personal advice would be to start with using Bing Ads (Microsoft Ads). Although the volume of people your advert will be shown to is an awful lot lower than Google AdWords, the type of people who use Bing have a higher average income level and the leads you generate will convert a lot better.

As with any form of marketing, you should always track of your SEM campaigns and monitor them to ascertain how successful they are and what impact they are having. Once you've found an approach that reliably produces the results you're looking for, you can make SEM an ongoing component of your lead generation strategy for acquiring local and general leads.

Even if you only run paid search engine marketing for just a month, at least you will be able to tell how well the pages on your website convert. If the people that you are paying to get to your website are not contacting you, pause the campaign and work on the conversion rate optimisation of your website sales funnel.

7 - Make sure your landing pages are up to scratch

Landing pages are integral to any local lead generation strategy. These are the first web pages that visitors to your site will see if they click on one of your ads. Low-quality landing pages can undermine an otherwise strong marketing campaign and will be detrimental to your lead generation efforts. Ideally, any ads you place online should link to a landing page tailored to that specific ad and its target audience. For any marketing you use as part of your local lead generation strategy, the landing page should make it easy for prospective clients to contact you and make it obvious what services you can provide.

There are several things you can do to increase the likelihood of a visitor who ends up on your landing page converting into a paying client. For example, you can use special offers and discounts to entice them into at least reaching out to find out more about your services. Once they've made contact with you and you can engage with them one-on-one, your chances of successfully converting them increase significantly.

The offers you make on your landing pages don't necessarily have to involve discounts to your usual rates; all that matters is that you are providing some kind of added value to your visitor and giving them an incentive to reach out and engage with you. For a web design agency, offering a free consultation to anyone who shares their contact details with you can be an effective incentive, even if you already offer them via your main website. Giving local users the option of meeting with you face-to-face to discuss their needs and how your services can help them achieve their objectives adds further value to the proposition.

Well-constructed landing pages are key to maintaining a high conversion rate and maximising the impact of your marketing and lead generation campaigns. Make sure they are clear and concise; they should provide visitors with all the information they need to decide whether to hire your agency or not and encourage them to reach out and make contact with you, but it's important to make sure that every word on the page serves a purpose. Culling unnecessary elements from your landing pages will make it far more likely that a visitor will take everything in and increase the likelihood of converting them.

A great little tip I have always used when it comes to the information you need to add to your landing pages is for you to search the phrase you are trying to target, click on all the paid ads on the first results page, then make sure that your landing page is 10x better than any of the competitors whist integrating all the best bits. Your competitors who are targeting (via paid ads) the same phrases as you, have probably already wasted a lot of money tweaking their sales funnel and landing page until it becomes optimal. Instead of you having to waste all that money only to find that your landing pages do not convert as well as you thought they would, just look at those who have already been through the process. Makes obvious sense, doesn’t it?

8 – Social media must be part of your local lead generation strategy

Love them or hate them, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram are part of our every-day lives. One of the first places business owners go when they are looking to find a new website design partner is their own social media accounts. Why? They trust the recommendations their existing audience (followers and friends) are providing.

To find the people on social media who are asking for local recommendations, use the following search criteria. Basically, type the following into the search box…

  • “Website Design” AND “Location”

  • “Website Design Agency” AND “Locations”

  • “Web Design” AND “Location”

  • “Recommend” AND “Website” AND “Location”

Obviously, change the word Location with your actual town or city name.

Get creative with your search criteria as the more specific you are, the less filtering you will have to do as these results will also include other website design agencies in your local area trying to sell their services.

By specific, I mean a search criteria like…

  • “I’m looking for a website designer” AND “Location”

  • “Recommendations” AND “Website Design Agency” AND “Location”

Just like with LinkedIn, make sure your social media profiles look amazing and you are sharing some valuable tips. Don’t fill your social feed with promotional type messages. Use the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of everything you post can be sales related. The 80% needs to be posts that give free valuable tips. Personally, if I run my own website design agency, I would post a series of small tweaks people could do to their website that will result in driving more business. After all, a great looking website is no good if it doesn’t increase new business.

9 - Encourage referrals

Referrals are another example of an analogue marketing technique that many businesses overlook. It's hard to overstate just how effective referrals can be at generating local leads for any business, they are arguably the most effective and reliable way of finding local clients. Nothing beats the power and persuasiveness of a personal recommendation from someone we know. If your clients are happy with the work you do for them and recommend you to someone they know personally, there's a very good chance that person will at least check your business out. Many creative agencies sustain themselves on the back of referrals from previous clients. Referrals don't cost you anything and indicate a certain level of trust between you and the referrer.

The only catch with referrals is that you're relying on other people to make them. However, there are some simple things you can do to encourage your clients to refer you to other people whenever the opportunity arises. A common approach that many businesses utilise is to offer discounts to clients for every lead they refer. This is an effective strategy and the cost of providing the discounts is generally minuscule when compared to the financial benefits of regular referrals. Even if you don't offer any incentives, it's always worth asking clients to refer you if they are happy with the work you do.

Of course, the key to generating referrals is to provide top-quality work on every job you undertake. If you are consistently providing excellent service, people will refer you without any prompting, although it never hurts to remind your clients that you appreciate receiving referrals.

If your local clients refer other people to your business, there's a good chance that the people they refer to you will also be local. So, if you're looking to generate leads locally, you should focus particularly on your local client base. All it takes is a few local referrals to get the ball rolling. Before you know it, your business's local profile and reputation will have grown appreciably.

There is a saying… Everyone knows someone. Ask your local based happy clients if they are part of any local business networking or business groups. All you need to do is give them a gentle nudge in the right direction to create a domino effect. It really does work and before you know it, you will be answering the phone to… “Hi, is that Pamela? I was chatting to John from Great Accountancy, and he was telling me that his phone is constantly ringing because of his new website. I need you to do the same for me. Can we arrange a meeting?”

With referrals, your existing client has already done the hard bit for you.

10 - Form local partnerships

Forming partnerships with other local people and businesses is an excellent way of improving your local brand awareness and solidifying your ties to the local community. Partnerships can take many different forms, so the possibilities are endless. The most fruitful partnerships tend to be with other businesses that provide a complimentary service to yours and aren't direct competitors. Referrals will again be useful here because they help to raise your business' profile and let potential partners know that you are trustworthy and professional.

When they're used the right way, partnerships are mutually beneficial and both participants will be better off for having struck a deal. However, finding partnership opportunities can be difficult. The first place to look for potential partners is your existing network. For example, if you only design and build websites but don't do any SEO for your clients, you could form a partnership with an SEO professional. Such a partnership might involve an agreement that after you complete each website for your clients, you will refer them to your partner for their SEO needs. In return, your partner might offer you a percentage of any business they receive through the partnership. If you can't see any direct partnership opportunities within your current network, ask around and see if anyone in your network knows someone who might be interested in partnering with you.

A partnership with another local business can help your local lead generation enormously. How fruitful it proves to be will depend on exactly who you partner with and the agreement you make with them. But if you do it right, a single partnership can provide you with a continual stream of new local leads indefinitely.

If you are sat wondering where to start when it comes to knowing who to partner, I would start by trying to create partnerships with freelance business consultants as they will advise local businesses that the reason, they cannot get their business to where it needs to be is because their website does not give the right message. Why would the local freelance business consultant refer businesses to you? Because you do a deal with them where they generate 10% or 20% on every sale they refer. I think of it this way… It is better to give a percentage of something away that you would never have in the first place.

The conclusion

Any creative agency, whether they provide web design, content marketing, or even music, needs to constantly generate new leads to stay afloat. The most successful agencies will generate leads effortlessly purely on the strength of their past work and their reputation. But newer businesses that aren't as well established will need to take the initiative and actively work to generate leads and find clients.

Regardless of how desperate you are for leads, you should always have a lead generation strategy in place. In fact, you should have two lead generation strategies; one for global leads and one for local leads. The techniques outlined above have been utilised by businesses of every size and type across multiple industries. If you use them the right way, they can form the central components of your approach to local lead generation. But just knowing these techniques isn't enough. Until you have built your web design business to the point where it's self-sustaining, lead generation is inevitably going to consume a lot of your time. There are no shortcuts here; it takes time for any business to establish itself and you need to be proactive about finding new clients and opportunities. However, by utilising the techniques we've laid out here, you can significantly increase the rate at which you generate new leads in your local area.

All that is left to say is… Good luck and I would love to hear how you get on with any future local based lead generation you do as a result of reading this article.



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