There are more SEO agencies than minion costumes in a Halloween party. So the only way your agency can get clients is to learn how to sell SEO services.
As there are hardly any articles that provide with tested tips, we decided to question two of the top SEO experts and ask them – How to sell SEO services.
To crack this nut, we emailed Robert Lovell and Elena Tahora
- Robert is a writer, editor and digital marketer working in the UK. He creates marketing and PPC campaigns at JTC Consultants.
- Elena is part of the SEO team at Keen.com.mt. The company specializing in online marketing and SEO tactics.
According to Robert, there are 6 things that you can do already today to improve the way you sell SEO services:
- Polish Your Value Proposition
- Perfect Your Cold Emails
- Use Case Studies
- Gather Client Testimonials
- Get Social Exposure
- Be a Thought Leader
So, let’s dig in to see what Robert means by that.
1. Polish Your Value Proposition
Remember that every sales communication you make should reflect your value proposition. Your value proposition needs to explain WHY your service is useful and HOW your service can benefit the target customer.
This includes explaining how your service can solve a customers’ problems, how it can improve their situation, or how it can provide valuable benefits to them. It’s all about adding value in some way. And your proposition should also show how you differentiate from the competition.
Remember though, your value proposition is not a strapline or positioning statement. It should include the following elements:
- A headline (to describe and summarise the end benefit to the customer)
- A sub headline / short paragraph (a detailed explanation of what you offer)
- Bullet points (list the main benefits and features of your service)
- A visual element (an image or video to enhance your proposition)
When putting your value proposition together, you should also remember the 4 Ps of Marketing; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Or alternatively, for a more in depth branding exercise, the extended 7 Ps of Marketing; Product, Price, Place, People, Physical Evidence, Process, Promotion.
Consider all of the Ps when creating the WHY and HOW of your offering.
2. Perfect Your Cold Emails
Cold emailing can be bothersome for many businesses. And with time being the most valuable commodity for most companies, many sales emails end up being deleted and ignored. So it’s important to perfect your email template and refine your process.
In order to avoid emails being sent directly to the trash, you need to make your email stand out from others. So how do you make your cold email different to everyone else’s?
Your first step is the subject line. You will have just seconds to gain the full attention of your reader. So subject lines really matter when drafting the perfect sales message.
Then you need to find the most suitable template for your emails. Do some research on what works and trial your own A/B testing to see what gets the best response rate for your particular services. This is the best way to learn how to sell SEO services within your own niche.
But before you even consider readability and engagement, it’s important to brush up on ways to avoid the spam filter. These filters are used on many email providers such as Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL.
Misleading subject lines or overly ‘salesy’ emails will not get past a good spam filter. And trigger words and key phrases such as ‘100% free’, ‘This isn’t a scam’, ‘Earn $$$’ or ‘Best price’ will definitely not work.
It’s not always wise to reach out to your entire contact list with one blanket email; tailoring emails for groups and subgroups can give you a much better success rate.
3. Use Case Studies
Successful sales can’t survive on its own. You also need to be able to deliver results in order to retain clients and attract new ones in the future. Using SEO case studies to record and present your project achievements is essential if you want to be able to show your range.
Whether you want to create a diverse portfolio with clients in every industry or you want to focus on niche areas, having case studies to back up your marketing narrative is crucial. And whether you’re a freelancer starting off on your own or a small agency on the rise, proof of the pudding is a must.
In the world of SEO, it’s all about the end result. So showing what you can do is the best way to perfect your way of selling your SEO services.
These measured results can be used to create impressive case studies to display on your website. Having more than one indicator of success is also useful for case studies as each client will be looking for something different.
Additionally, don’t forget to include timescales in your case studies. This will show what can be done in a certain timeframe. It will also give an idea of even more growth potential. And will help you push for extended contracts or service renewals.
4. Gather Client Testimonials
In addition to case studies showing how your services have improved websites over a period of time, it’s also important to get reviews from clients. There are fewer things in the online world more valuable than a positive recommendation from other businesses.
Testimonials are something that potential customers can relate to. And the vision of success will really help you sell. Testimonials can be as valuable as word of mouth so be sure to ask your clients for written feedback whenever you get the chance.
If you do a good job with clients, most of them are more than happy to back you with a quote about your services.
The best way to ask for client testimonials is by adding the client on Linkedin and asking for recommendations.
If you are building your own website from WordPress or another WYSIWYG editor, use a site wide page widget (one that appears on every page of the site). And feature testimonials there so they are clearly visible to any visitors that land on your website.
When targeting potential businesses via email, it could be good to include a link to your testimonials page. Or select one to paste into the email itself. This is particularly useful if you have a competitor brand or one in the same industry that your recipient can relate to.
5. Get Social Exposure
Getting your name and brand out there requires a good social strategy. Digital marketing and social media go hand in hand, so it’s important to have a presence on multiple platforms.
Setting up an SEO blog on your business website will provide you with a platform to attract new and return traffic, and will also set you up as a key contributor in the sphere of online content.
Having informative articles (such as ‘How to’ articles, list articles, news articles and opinion pieces) to share regularly on your social channels will make you an important social media figure.
Moreover, you never know which social connections may require your services in the future. So treat social interaction as an exercise with long term gains.
You should also link up email marketing with social marketing. Add social links to all email correspondence so that warm leads don’t burn out forever. If a failed business lead ends up following you on social media, there may still be a chance of reviving it in the future.
Remember that the people behind the businesses you target are not stagnant. People move around, change jobs and start new companies all the time. So you never know when obsolete leads can become potentials again.
6. Be a Thought Leader
If you Google ‘How to sell SEO services’, you will find a lot of articles on how not to do it. Plus plenty of articles highlighting all the unethical practices that are putting potential customers off the whole idea of SEO.
You’ll even find a number of experts saying that SEO should be able to sell itself. And whilst avoiding sales altogether simply isn’t feasible for new companies looking to grow, there’s some truth to the concept.
Cold contact marketing is essential for most start-ups and freelancers looking to establish themselves in the industry. And without this age-old sales technique, many SEO experts wouldn’t even be able to get their feet through the door.
But there’s certainly an art to how to sell SEO services in this day and age. In an era when email inboxes are inundated with noise, where devices and technology are constantly connected, and phones are vibrating every five seconds, sales needs to be a sophisticated process.
Avoid the hard-sell and put more energy into building your brand and online reputation over time. Becoming an SEO thought leader really will help your services sell themselves. It just take a lot of time and perseverance.
The long term strategy will help you hone your sales ability in the future. So it really is worth the extra work.
Elena had a lot more to say about how to sell SEO services to local businesses. This will be an interesting read for SMEs.
How to Sell SEO Services to Local Businesses
To penetrate the market and build a strong clientele these are the 6 tips to follow:
1. Identify Your Niche
SEO services are in demand across all industries. Business owners are quick to reach their clients on all platforms.
Your strategies can work for any business in any field.
- If you have been offered SEO services for some time, you can easily identify your niche. Where do you get most of your clients?
- Do they all belong to the same industry?
If all the clients in your portfolio belong to the same industry or field, pay more attention to that industry.
If, on the other hand, you are just starting your business, conduct research on the industries that require SEO services. Some of these include legal, medical, and home services.
2. Focus On Providing Solutions For Your Clients
If you want to sell your local SEO services effectively, become a solution provider.
Many experts in the field go wrong by using the same strategy for all clients. The reality is that most businesses face the same challenges on digital platforms.
For instance, most of them struggle with search engine rankings and building their online presence.
You can easily lose clients by offering the same plan based on your well-researched problems that affect all organisations.
The right approach is to allow the clients to define their problems in SEO.
Before engaging in any discussions with clients, visit their websites and social media pages. Identify issues that are affecting their competitiveness that your business can address.
Bring up these issues and explain to the client how you intend to address the issues. This brings us to another important tip on how to sell SEO services.
3. Avoid SEO Jargon While Talking to Your Clients
Use clear and concise statements when explaining your business plan to clients. You may be tempted to show your clients that you understand SEO by including jargon in your discussions.
Whenever you use an SEO term, explain in the client’s language what the term means. The most important thing is to understand your clients’ problems and describe the viable solutions in a simple language.
4. Brand Your Services
Once you define your niche or target market, you need to make your services visible in that market.
- Create profiles on all social platforms and respond to your followers on these platforms. Share useful content on these platforms.
- Think about the content that would interest your clients. It could be events or trends in the local market or SEO tactics that will boost their business performance.
- Participate in top forums in your niche and share insights on trending topics.
You will need to increase your knowledge in your niche continuously to remain relevant to your clients.
5. Define Your UVP
One way to improve your success in selling your SEO services is defining your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).
The term refers to a statement that clearly states your benefits to your clients, how you meet their needs, and how your services differ from your competitors’ services.
Simply put, you are differentiating your business and giving reasons why clients should buy from you. In this case, you need to define the SEO solutions to your potential clients and the benefits of using your services.
6. Develop and Implement Lead Generation Strategies
Optimise your website and ensure that your call to action is clear on all pages. Utilise social media, blogs, and forums fully to generate more leads.
Choose the conventional methods that will work for your business and niche. Other lead generation strategies that work include cold calls and direct mail campaigns.
Remember to personalise your communication when pursuing cold calls and email campaigns.
The secret about lead generation is to implement, test, and expand winning strategies. Some of the strategies that work for other SEO companies may not work for you.
Hence, you must define a lead generation plan that has proven effective in your business and then scale it over time.
Elena was also eager to share what are the hacks that help your SEO agency to deliver outstanding performance.
How to Deliver Outstanding Performance
You need to deliver exceptional performance to all clients to remain competitive. If you deliver poor results, reviews from unsatisfied clients will soon ruin your reputation in the market.
Remember that satisfied clients are the best ambassadors for your business. Here are some strategies on how to deliver outstanding performance in local SEO services.
1. Stay Focused on Your Niche
One reason why SEO experts tend to work in different niches is the need to diversify their revenues.
You can identify different clients in the same niche and customise the marketing strategies outlined above to suit each client.
The idea here is to allocate your resources, knowledge, and time to a field that you are knowledgeable in for maximum productivity.
2. Partner with Other Professionals
You cannot deliver outstanding performance to all clients on your own. You need help from other professionals to solve all your clients’ problems.
For instance, you need help from content writers and web designers to create optimised websites for your clients. You may need to hire other SEO experts in your company to handle all the clients’ projects.
Working with professionals will help you build a reputable brand and respond to diverse client needs.
3. Seek Advice from Other SEO Experts
Your clients expect you to know everything and apply it to businesses.
You learn faster and find customised solutions when you consult with other experts. Keep up with any SEO forums, events, or meetups in your area.
You are likely to meet and engage experts on such platforms. Be proactive in reaching out and building relationships with other SEO experts that can help you improve your performance.
4. Stay Updated
SEO tactics change every day because of changes in consumer behaviour and search engine regulations.
Stay updated on the latest SEO strategies in your field and in other fields as well.
If you want to outdo your competitors in this field, you must be willing to invest time and effort in learning new strategies.
Do you now know how to sell SEO services?
Many business owners are realising the need to involve experts in implementing the latest SEO strategies.
If you intend to make any impact in your niche, you must build a distinguished brand.
Nevertheless, outstanding performance will always set you apart from your competitors.
Thus, we have outlined some strategies that top SEO companies use to sell their services and maintain top performance. The effectiveness of each strategy will depend on the situation in your company and niche.
Hence, you must test each strategy to determine if it works for your company.