5 Simple Strategies to Get More Client Referrals for Your Agency
The number one question and concern we hear from agency owners is - How can I grow my agency and get more clients?
Reaching new clients is an essential (and often time-consuming) part of running a successful agency.
With the continuous increase in the costs of marketing needed to stay a step ahead of your competitors, every ounce of energy and every hour you put in matters.
But, there is one proven strategy to acquiring new clients that stands apart - referrals.
Recommendations remain the most credible form of advertising, with 83% of people saying they trust the recommendations of friends.
The most important part of this strategy lies in what you are already doing – delivering excellent results.
However, many agencies still fail at actively leveraging a referral network. Perhaps it feels uncomfortable to ask for a referral. Or you simply think that your clients will naturally refer you on their own.
Below are a few suggestions on how to get more client referrals and leverage your existing network.
1. Offer a Referral Reward Program
Dropbox famously got 4 million new users in 15 months from their referral program.
Creating a referral reward program doesn't have to be limited to e-commerce sites and subscription service. It is also a great strategy way to get more referrals for your agency. There are very clear benefits of this strategy that are common to all businesses:
- First, it’s a foolproof way of ensuring that you don’t miss out on showing gratitude for every referral.
- Second, anyone in your company can use it.
- And finally, there would be no confusion on what your clients will get in return for their referrals since expectations are set from the get-go.
In creating a referral reward program, you should design a system that is simple enough to be understood by anyone and sustainable for you to offer it multiple times.
What you offer as an incentive depends on who you reach out to for referrals. If it's an existing client, a discount on their next month of service is a strong incentive to refer your agency. For previous clients, offering gift cards or a catered lunch for their team is a great way to say "thank you."
2. Find Service Partners with the Same Clients
Partnering with people that work with the same client-base as your agency can create a constant stream of client referrals.
Do you offer PPC and SEO but not web design? Give a local design agency a free SEO audit and on-site optimization. Establishing yourself as an expert will generate long-term payoffs. The local design agency will remember your agency when their clients ask for SEO recommendations.
If you are a full-service digital agency in a specific niche, find partners in a completely different industry that work with your client-base.
For example, a digital agency that provides SEO, PPC, and web design for with real estate agents, can partner with real estate photographers or interior designers for referrals. Make a list of all of the other service providers for your niche. Then reach out to those people to begin establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.
3. Cultivate Your Relationship with Top Clients
While the basic rule is to nurture your relationship with all your clients, it’s also a common practice to pay more attention to those who bring in more business to you or to those who are very well connected (the same idea works with local reviews).
This is why a lot of agencies go the extra mile in taking care of these clients. Some efforts include treating them to lunch or even sending one of your executives to play golf with them. Although these may seem frivolous to others, these efforts usually pay off in the form of qualified referrals.
For digital-based agencies, some ideas may include sending personalized “Thank You” cards or gifts. Your tokens of appreciation may be free updates or upgrades to their subscriptions. You can even casually mention them in your content to show them how much you value their presence in your company. Regardless of the nature of your business, the main thing to do is to be more proactive in anticipating the needs of these VIPs.
4. Work on Your Reputation First and the Referrals will Follow
For agencies that are new to the game, it’s important to establish your reputation first.
Remember, referrals are considered social currencies – no one would want to endorse you and put their names on the line without a guarantee that you won’t embarrass them with your service or product. This is why it’s crucial to set a remarkable standard for everyone in your company to follow and stick with them in all your endeavors.
Newcomers, especially those with minimal experience to capitalize on, must constantly monitor their work regardless of how big or small the projects are. It’s also equally important to know how the rest of the world sees your brand, so it would be a good idea to set up alerts on apps like Google Alerts or Mention.
You can also ask your clients for feedback via email, a survey, or phone interviews. Last but not least, social media sites are great platforms to gather information on your customer service and brand reputation as well.
5. Be Specific with Your Target Customer
A major roadblock in obtaining referrals from your clients is that they don’t really know how – they are unsure about how to recommend you and who to recommend your products or services to (once again, this is especially true for agencies). For some, it would appear too risky to blindly vouch for your agency. Eliminate this risk by being specific on what you’re looking for in a customer.
Describe your services or products and explain how these could help your ideal client. Share your pricing plans and point out examples of customers who would most likely be interested in what you have to offer.
Strive to make it clear and simple for a client to recommend your agency to a friend.
Referrals have the potential to become the most reliable source of quality clients for your business. A client who is referred by one of your own customers' avails of your products or services based on trust and confidence in your agency. Add to these your excellent results and you are set to have a long-lasting quality relationship.
Written by Joe Kindness
Joe is the CEO of AgencyAnalytics, but often spends his day programming, designing or executing marketing tasks. And like most Canadians, he can be found playing or watching hockey!