Marketing agencies help others achieve their branding, awareness, and pipeline generation goals. But how can these marketing gurus apply a smart lead qualification strategy to their own businesses? When they have to demonstrate expertise in doing the very thing they are paid to do, agencies do not want to become living examples of the old adage, “Those who cannot do, teach.” Instead, marketing agencies can combine a mix of tried-and-true methods along with new, cutting edge strategies to automate lead generation, optimize their efforts, and create new clients.

As Hubspot has noted, 90 percent of marketing agencies say that their top lead referer is word of mouth. This is a business that is both highly visual (prospects can see portfolios on an agency’s website), and very relationship-driven. It makes sense that a certain amount of client validation, along with the ability to “peek in the window” would drive new business. But in order to grow, agencies have to run other types of marketing campaigns.

Consider the ways that reliance on personal referrals can hurt an agency that’s trying to grow:

  • This approach lacks scalability. You just won’t have big numbers of leads to work with, which can hurt if you can’t close business. 
  • It can inadvertently pigeon-hole you. Your referrers are likely to recommend you to colleagues, most of whom work in the same field they do. Over time, you might find that your clientele is so narrow that you lose appeal to those outside of that circle. 
  • There is no predictability when you’re relying on recommendations.
  • You risk losing your marketing muscle. If an agency can’t test different ways of lead generation, it misses opportunities to deliver insights back to clients.

Smart agencies are not waiting for leads to arrive. Since 2011, there has been a major increase by marketing organizations to invest in lead generation through blogging, paid media, content syndication, email marketing, and social media, but many have been scattered and disorganized in their approaches. While these inbound methods require disciplined effort to initiate, manage, and optimize, they are giving agencies a more deliberate way to pull in new business. They are also helping them learn and become experts in their own field.

To be effective and innovative, marketing agencies need a mix of proven methods, new approaches, and automation. Here’s a list of lead generation components that can help an agency develop a vibrant stream of effective leads:

Lead generation must be a business priority: Creating marketing campaigns for clients is taxing, stressful work. It’s easy to get bogged down with customer demands, and in the iterative process of making something “just right.” Creative people put themselves into a flow state and shut out distractions in order to generate exciting and interesting work. 

But in order to grow, a lead generation system must be operating in parallel with the actual work you’re doing. That said, just having a system won’t be good enough; it has to be a disciplined methodology that is retooled through trial and error, but maintains a focus on generating and converting quality leads. This involves a solid plan, but it also demands investment in the right inbound, outbound, and lead automation tools.

Get the right mix of channels: Determine your marketing budget and then apply a varied mix of paid social media ads, paid search ads, content syndication, and other efforts. User acquisition will come from a variety of sources, but in order to spend wisely, you need to track which sources generate the best leads. A good rule of thumb is to start by distributing across social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Include paid content placement in sites that cater to your target audience. Learn, refine, and double down when you have identified channels that are most effective.

The right calls to action: Start by demonstrating that you’re a customer-first organization. Rather than just offering downloads of PDFs, consider calls to action that actually give you time with a prospect. Perhaps you offer a 30 minute consulting session or an interactive webinar. To do this requires a high-touch, automated model that enables you to collect a lead, schedule a meeting, and then perform immediate follow up.

Make copy creative, engaging, and short: Pretty much every lead gen activity an agency does will have a written component to it: paid ads, blogs, social media. Keep in mind that the goal is not to give a prospect an education; the goal is to get them to engage, whether by filling out a form, making a phone call, or checking out more content. People rarely read every word in front of them, so use skimmable copy that is broken up into small paragraphs, make use of bullet points, and put your creative muscle to work to make it pithy and interesting. 

This will get people to engage with your ads and content, which will get them to act. It will also imprint into their brains that your agency is smart and creative.. Remember, that’s all you need to initiate the lead process.

To most effectively reap the benefits of your marketing strategy, you also need to layer in automation and apply focus. Verse.io provides a comprehensive solution that offloads much of the heavy lifting of lead generation so agencies can focus on the creative efforts that distinguish them from the competition.  

Verse provides marketing agencies with more than just a tool for lead nurturing. It connects to other sales and marketing tools and applies AI to deliver important insights about lead sources and campaign efficacy. 

The collection of data points available to Verse users can help those in the insurance field to quickly do the following:

  • Identify what creates a good lead by understanding what is driving them to the website, and what calls-to-action are most effective at driving them closer to becoming a client.
  • Understand trends by learning what timeframes perform most effectively for prospects.
  • Identify and fix those areas of the process where lead nurturing efforts get stalled. 

By being able to lean on an automated system, agencies can count on Verse to score leads and provide automated follow-up, bookings, and ongoing nurturing. After leads have been captured, Verse also enables agencies to connect with them through texting, phone calls, emails, and other types of communication channels. Prospects can choose how they want to be contacted, which means that their needs are immediately met, courtesy of the agency. 

To be successful in the competitive world of marketing, innovative agencies can demonstrate their creative skills and customer-first approach by working with Verse to build a thriving pipeline of informed, engaged prospects.