We decided to build an agency site according to the Marketing Inc. strategy to show off as a case study. The site is at http://www.serpshake.com and at the time of putting this together, our agency site is only 2 months young but has already landed us a $1500/m client and dozens of more leads that paid us a small sum (we’ll explain the offer in detail in this module) that could eventually turn into $1000+/m clients.
Whatever style of agency you are planning on building up, it’s always advisable to have a professional website for your agency. Your website has a variety of purposes like being able to do SEO on it and rank it for keywords that will send targeted traffic to you on a daily basis. You’ll also need it when you start running ads and buying traffic. Additionally, your website will also come in handy when you meet people and they want to learn more about what you do and which services you offer.
When you choose a domain name, we highly recommend choosing something brandable rather than ‘SEO Agency + City.com’. There isn’t a ranking benefit of choosing a brandable name like ‘Serpshake’ (although it gives you more freedom in terms of anchor text diversification), but you’re in this for the long haul, and branding is important. People associate with a brand. Coca Cola doesn’t have ‘sweetgassysoftdrink.com’ as their domain do they? When you have a brand you can build up the value and recognition of your brand and in the long run, it should benefit you more than an exact match domain name.
When it comes to the design of your website, it should be simple but professional. There are plenty of highly-customizable themes on Themeforest that you can setup and make it look really good if you put the time in to figure it out or if you already have some experience with building a website. The theme used on Serpshake.com initially was BEtheme. However, we’ve since had a custom design coded up by Naresh from UIkreative.com. Personally, I’m not very good at web design, nor do I enjoy it, so often I’ll just outsource the site creation to a professional (there are hundreds of designers available on freelance sites like Upwork.com). Depending on what you want and who you know, a custom design should cost between $500-$1500. (Tip: if you know any web designers, you may be able to barter for it and get a free site setup in exchange for performing SEO on the designer’s company site).
The Strategy With Serpshake
1 – Optimize website for SEO
Make sure you follow all the basics of site structure, topic pages, internal linking, content, alt tags on images etc.
One thing that made a difference with this site in terms of ranking was increasing the loading speed. Initially I made the mistake of assuming that the theme we used would be optimized for loading speed but in fact, t was taking up to 10 seconds to load a page. Loading time of a site plays a role in Google’s algorithm and ideally the quicker you can load the site, the more it will benefit you for ranking purposes. Google does not want slow-loading sites in the search results if it can help it.
A good way to check your load speed is by using the free tools.pingdom.com. This will then give you an indication of how fast your site loads, as well as which elements of your site are taking the most time to load. This will help you decide what you need to improve on to speed up your site if it’s necessary.
Here is a screenshot of some of the terms we are targeting and how it’s ranking:
2 – Create individual landing pages for as many high-end niches as you want.
This is a strategy for the type of agency that we decided to use and may not be relevant to the type of agency that you want to build. We chose to not focus on a specific niche but rather on multiple high-end niches with a single site. If you wanted to focus exclusively on a single industry then you should build your entire site around that industry. However, even if you are targeting a single industry, it’s still possible to build many individual landing pages. For example, if you decide to focus your marketing efforts exclusively on surgeons, you could build a landing page for each kind of surgeon (neuro surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon, etc.).
The benefit of these specific landing pages is that they are ultra-targeted for the prospect you want to close. In general, people respond better to someone who understands them than someone who doesn’t. An orthopaedic surgeon would like most likely choose a surgeon marketing agency over a generic marketing agency, but they would most likely choose an orthopaedic surgeon marketing agency over a general one. Thus, creating niche-specific landing pages usually works in your favour to close clients.
We chose a number of high-end industries and created individual landing pages for these industries.
In this specific example, the landing page is targeting Realtors. We created a custom video for the offer on the lender (we’ll get into that in a moment) but we created the video in such a way that it can be applied to any niche. We can reuse the video on every lender and it’s still relevant to that specific niche, we just change the headline and some content on the page. This saved some time in not needing to make dozens of individual videos and still worked pretty well, but we suspect that it would likely help conversions if we made a custom video for each niche.
Here is the video we used for the case study:
What should you put on your landing page?
We tested various offers and there are many ways to go about this:
The $20 offer
This is a strategy where you offer some sort of result for a cheap price. In our example, we offered a first page ranking for $20.
The psychology behind this is the following: When you receive cold traffic (a prospect you don’t know), you have zero trust and credibility. If you’re lucky then your prospect knows how much marketing costs and what is involved, but more than likely, you still need references. Someone who has never heard of you or met you in person is not likely to hand you thousands of dollars upfront for marketing results that you may or may not be able to get for them. Thus, offering a first page ranking for $20 is something that minimizes risk (even if the prospect loses $20 it won’t affect them in any way), it allows you to build trust by delivering on your promise and it allows you to build credibility by proving that you can actually get them the results they are looking for. Additionally, the $20 offer establishes a business-client relationship where they make a monetary transaction with you in exchange for a service. It’s proven that when you’ve had a pleasurable buying experience, you are much more likely to buy from that person or entity again. Thus, once you deliver results on the $20 offer you are able to discuss further marketing for a higher or monthly fee, and then paying you e.g. $2000 a month will be much easier than it was before they knew you or transacted with you.
And to sweeten the offer, what you can do is offer a double money back guarantee if you don’t get results. This reduces the risk for the prospect to zero and he is guaranteed to be paid $20 if you don’t deliver. How can they refuse? Worst case for you is that you lose $20. Best case is that you get a client that potentially pays you thousands of dollars per month.
When it comes to choosing the keyword that you rank on the first page, you want to choose a keyword that is not super competitive. So, you’re not going to rank your prospect for ‘Realtor California’, but instead for a term like ‘Realtor Adelanto California 92301″. This is a keyword relevant to the prospect and usually, you can rank the prospect with a few links and in a matter of a couple of weeks if not a few days. If you own some PBN domains you just add the links on there, but otherwise,
you can purchase a few high DA blogroll links on Fiverr.com with the exact match keyword and that usually does the trick.
Here is an example of a prospect that we took to the first page in just a week (long tail keyword, very uncompetitive):
Then once you’ve delivered on your promise of ranking them, you can show them what you’ve achieved and discussed further marketing options for a variety of keywords.
The Free Consultation
This is a different angle where you offer a free consultation/website audit/marketing strategy to your prospects. There are many variations of this, but we decided to allow prospects to book a call with us (using a free service like https://youcanbook.me). They can choose a time that suits both of you (even with different time-zones you can set the time slots when you are free and the service automatically converts times to the user’s local time), enter details you need (like website URL) and then you can follow up on the call with them. If you do some homework you before the call you can plan the call and points to discuss and what needs to be done, and you can close the deal right there and then. It will take some practice to close over the phone, but it’s absolutely possible. If you need to build up your confidence and can’t close large amounts over the phone, offer the $20 marketing deal first and then start working your way up to close bigger deals.
You can customize your pages, offers and videos as you wish. There is no obligation to do it exactly as we have, our case study is purely for educational and inspirational purposes. The more you tweak and test different angles, layouts and offers, the more likely you are to find a winning combination that converts very highly.
3 – Drive traffic to these landing pages via paid traffic
SEO and top Google rankings are a great way of sending targeted, free traffic to your site on a daily basis. However, obtaining these rankings can take weeks or months so during that time you are not getting traffic to your site. Paid traffic is fantastic because it allows you to target your ideal prospect and get instant results. While you are waiting for your SEO to kick in, we advise running ads so that you can start landing clients.
There are many platforms that you can use to advertise online but we advise using Facebook ads as they have a wide variety of targeting options, literally hundreds of millions of people who have an account with them, clicks are still relatively cheap and the interface is very easy to use. Linkedin, for example, is very nice for a business to business marketing since it’s more of a professional and career oriented site. Unfortunately, when advertising on Linkedin you need a very big budget because you easily start paying $5-$8 per click! You can run through hundreds of dollars very quickly and not get enough data to test your campaigns, so we recommend sticking with Facebook for that reason.
With the Facebook advertising platform, it is very easy to create a campaign to start landing local clients. You can literally create a campaign in under 15 minutes if you wanted to, but it’s always better not to rush it and think carefully about your angle and targeting.
For this specific example, we’ll stick with the realtor campaign we mentioned earlier in this module. You really do not need to spend a lot of money every day, sometimes $5-$10 per day is enough to land you lots of paying leads.
When it comes to landing local clients, we decided to target English-speaking countries like Singapore, the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We chose the age range to be 30-50 since that is an age where people are expected to be serious about their careers and are willing to spend money on their marketing. We selected desktop-only news feed because from tests it’s shown that mobile doesn’t convert very well for this campaign (always test your targeting and demographics). For honing in on our target market we chose to run our ads only to people who have put their job title as Real Estate Broker. (You can target many things like interests, fields of study, etc. The more targeted your audience, the higher the chance that you will be able to reach them with an ultra-relevant message which should increase your conversions.)
As for the actual ad images and copy, here is one of our better performing ads:
You should play around with professional images, plain text, hand-drawn images or text, doodles etc. You never know what works until you test. The same goes for testing headlines and ad copy.
Tip: Be careful not to use more than 20% text in your images or they will be disapproved and you risk getting banned. Facebook is very quick on the trigger to ban accounts these days, so if you are not sure about the amount of text in your image, use Facebook’s grid tool.
We like to use the conversion ad type because it allows us to know how much we are paying for a certain conversion (in this case how much we are paying to make a $20 sale). Clicks to website or Claim Offer are two other ad types that can also work, you’ll have to play around a bit with it to decide which one is best for the purpose you intend to use it for.
When choosing the conversion ad type, you receive a custom tracking pixel that you would place on the page where you want to track the conversion. In this specific example, we placed it on the checkout page to which paying customers get automatically redirected to after the make the payment through Paypal.
For this specific campaign, we spent $94.81 and made 3 conversions (sales of $20). The average cost per conversion is $31.60 but since we make $20 per conversion, the real cost is only $11.60 per lead. This is a very promising lead since they are interested enough in our services to make an initial transaction and is worth far more than a leader who is interested in something ‘free’. We expect to sell services ranging starting at a minimum of $1000 per month so it would be worth spending even up to $1000 to get that first client.
Assuming a ‘real’ cost of $11.60 per lead, we could buy 82 of these paying leads with $1000 and we’d only need to convert 1 out of 82 people to make that money back (and then the consecutive months would be much more profitable).
A closer look at the ads shows that only two of the ads gave us the conversions (and for just a couple of dollars per conversion), while the other ads just cost money and yielded no results. When optimizing the campaigns, we’d turn off the ads that are not delivering results and we’d try more variations of the ads that delivered the results. This way we would try to get to as high converting an ad as possible and keep running that until it stops working for us.
Facebook is really a fantastic tool for advertising to your ideal prospects. You don’t need a large budget and you don’t need to be a computer genius to use the ad platform successfully. $5 per day and an hour per day creating and optimizing your campaigns can be enough to start sending you leads and landing you clients.
4 – Rank the individual landing pages for the industry specific terms + SEO
There is a lot of money to be made when you are ranking for industry terms and works like ‘SEO’, ‘marketing’ etc. For example, if you were to rank for ‘lawyer SEO’, you may very well end up getting a lot of clicks from lawyers who are interested in getting SEO for their business. How much more targeted leads can you get than actual industry business owners or professionals who land on your website because you are ranking for the term that is incredibly relevant to them? In fact, many of our members are making a lot of money from doing this and getting new leads almost daily as a result of this strategy.
Ranking for these kinds of phrases is usually not too difficult, especially when you choose less obvious (but still highly profitable) niches. All that you need to do is apply the on-site SEO principles you learned from Marketing Inc and then build enough backlinks from the right sources with relevant anchor text and you can start ranking.
Once you rank for these kinds of keywords you can expect a steady stream of free, targeted leads on a daily or weekly basis.
5 – Register and rank on Google maps and the local map pack
The last couple of years Google My Business (or Google Maps / Local Map Pack) has become a popular feature and a desired item for business owners. The idea behind it is to serve local searches with real businesses in that area, for example:
In the example above, you can see that there are 7 local map listing results. Typically there are 7 results, but sometimes there are 3 or only 1 (depending on the volume of the keyword and the size of the city). These map results work very differently from the organic search results and require a different city. It is entirely possible to rank in only the organic results and not the map and vice verse. It is also possible to rank for both the organic and the map results, which is the goal for businesses since that means they occupy two listings on the home page and get more clicks and traffic as a result.
All you need to register on Google My Business is a physical address for your business. This is not always easy to do when you are running a virtual agency, especially when you want to be listed in a country or city where you do not have a residence or business address. Most of the time this can be solved by purchasing a virtual office (just Google ‘Virtual Office + your city and there should be quite a few providers who offer this service, it typically costs between $50 and $100 per month). This is simply a service that allows you to have an address in the city and country of your choosing (and often you can have a local phone number with forwarding to your mobile also). This virtual office should have mail forwarding to a postal address you can access so that you can receive the verification letter that Google sends to you (which is needed to list your business on Google My Business).
We didn’t cover local map pack rankings in Marketing Inc to date because it’s an entirely different animal, but usually it is actually a lot easier to rank in the local map pack than it is to rank organically.
There is a lot more to local map rankings when you really want to become an expert at it, but to simplify it as much as possible for you, this is how it works:
The most important thing is to have a consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). This has to be the same NAP as you used on your listing for Google My Business, and this NAP should be consistent on your website and all your reviews and listings on the web. Any inconsistencies in the spelling can result in not being able to appear on the map pack results, which can be very frustrating if you get it wrong. (if you do get it wrong, it can be fixed by correcting all incorrect versions of your NAP around the web).
The main ranking factors of the Google Map Pack results are citations and reviews. Typically, when you have more citations and reviews than your competitors, you can outrank them.
Citations can be built manually (either do it yourself or train an assistant to do it for you) and this is something you can do if you want to save some money. However, for a few hundred bucks (sometimes just $100), you can buy enough of these citations from services like Whitespark, Hothlocal or Brightlocal to appear and rank in the local map pack.
If you plan on offering local map SEO to your clients (which is a great upsell to the organic SEO) then it’s a good idea to rank your own agency in the local map pack because it serves as proof that you know what you are doing when it comes to this type of ranking. It’s not that difficult to achieve and it can even send you quite a bit more additional traffic.
What can you offer and how much can you charge for it?
If you are still wondering about what you can and should offer when it comes to your agency, the answer is simply: anything and everything that is profitable.
There is much more to offer than just SEO or rankings. You learned how to create ads on Facebook and target specific audiences. That is something that you can offer as a service. You could suggest something like running the client’s FB ads for them, where the client pays the ad spend and a 10-20% commission of the adspend for your service. And then set a minimum spend of $500 as part of the agreement.
Another service ad spend offer and charge highly for is reputation management. Businesses regularly receive bad reviews from customers or competitors that hurt their brand and take away from their traffic and sales. What you can do is offer to bump that negative listing to the second page so the impact is minimal if not non-existent. This is done simply by boosting the rankings of all other results to bump them above the negative listing.
Due to the fact that business names are often not competitive, it’s usually a matter of sending a few PBN links to each of the other listings to be able to outrank the negative listing. You could also use tools like GSA or Magicsubmitter to get the job done.
We typically charge $1500 per month for up to 6 months, or a once-off fee of $5000. The profit margins on this are really big, and it helps businesses in a big way. (It helps when you offer this to high end businesses where the average customer is worth a few hundred if not a few thousand dollars because this makes your service fee a no-brainer).
There are so many things you can offer. Be creative, think outside the box. See what other media companies are offering. Video creation for example is a big one. Whiteboard animation. If you can make some contacts or find a way to make a deal that you can get this cheaper than normal if you buy larger quantities, you can start selling video ads and animation to businesses.
You could even have a complete one-stop solution where you offer all the above ideas as one service and you take care of the entire marketing side of the business so that the owner can focus on running and improving his business while you send them more traffic and leads.
Network and be social
To end this module, we’d like to leave you with another tip to get you more business. This is one of the oldest and most simple ways to get business: talk to as many people (and specifically business owners) as possible.
In the last month we had dinner at 2 new restaurants, chatted with the owners (without any intentions of selling, just genuinely making conversation and asking about how they got started, how business is going etc.) and both of them eagerly gave us their cards to do their marketing for them after learning that what we do for a living.
People do business with people they know and they trust.
If you are friendly and get to know someone without being pushy or selling, there is a good chance they want you to help them. And if they don’t need help, they might refer you to someone that does need help. Get out there and make it a habit of getting to know business owners. You don’t need to go out your way to do this, even just speaking to the staff and owners of regular businesses you personally use: your gym, yoga class, restaurants, hair salon, beauty clinic, psychologist, dentist etc.
If you want to purposefully get in touch with more business owners you could also use sites like Meetup.com or find local marketing events that you can attend.
There is so much money out there to be made! Go and get it. Work hard, work smart and do whatever it takes for as long as it takes!