7 ways to generate more referrals for agency growth

7 Ways to Generate More Referrals for Agency Growth

Does filling your sales pipeline keep you awake at night? 

Imagine how much less stressed you’d feel if you had a reliable way to get more high-quality leads for your agency every month! 

Many web design agency owners rely heavily on referrals in business and word of mouth to generate new leads. 

When was the last time you reviewed your current referral processes?

Could you do more? 

The good news is, I’ve got 7 easy growth strategies you can apply now to generate a steady stream of high-quality leads for your web design agency! 

You can also watch the vlog that accompanies this post to see the inspiring real-life examples onscreen.

1. Get More Organised With Your Referrals Processes 

Being German, I particularly like this one! 

Get more organised and create pragmatic referral and sales processes that work for you. And I’ve got a real-life example from an agency owner to inspire you. 

Pete Everitt, co-founder of SEO Hive and owner of So Digital Communications, shared his successful approach to proactive selling in the AdminBar Facebook group: 

I have a daily task on my to do list for this, and do 1 thing every day to win a new client. Some days that’s as simple as sending an email, or jumping on a call, and other days it might be my main activity for the day. Regardless, it happens EVERY DAY without fail 👍” 

How can you implement a doable sales process like Pete’s to increase your referrals? 

Upgrade Your Processes For Success 

Revisit your current regular client communications and identify additional opportunities for encouraging referrals. For example, could you: 

  • Add a Bonjoro video message when you send your weekly client reports to add a personal touch? 
  • Chat about the benefits of referring you throughout the project and then again during the final website handover calls? 
  • Create dedicated referral marketing materials like this brilliant PDF created by Yatter?

The referral programme is clearly explained, and it tells you who’s the best fit for the company – it makes word of mouth referrals easier. 

Watch the video to discover why it works so well. 

Start Today By Categorising All Your Referral Contacts

1.   Set up a simple spreadsheet to categorise your contacts and how likely they are to refer you, or do this in your CRM system if you have one

2.  Allocate slots in your diary to keep in touch with people who could send referrals your way – make this part of your routine, just like Pete does

3.  Divide your contacts into 3 categories (more on that below)

4.  Prepare a bespoke messaging strategy to encourage more referrals depending on the category you add them into 

WunderTip: If you’re starting this from scratch, add your contacts from the last 12 months, including clients and people you’ve interacted with, who are in a position to send work your way. 

When creating your categories, think about: 

  • Who are your champions who’ve already sent you referrals? – get in touch with them first. How can you motivate them to refer you again?
  • Who is likely to consider sending work your way because they know people who could benefit from your services? 

Nurture those relationships and regularly let them know about your latest client success stories and new services. Plus, send them your referral marketing materials. 

Finally, identify who in your network you need to get to know better. Make time to uncover new referral and word of mouth opportunities.

Here’s how you can get even better results when you get in touch 

  • Keep a note of the last interaction with everyone on your referral database
  • What did you deliver for them?
  • What was going on in their business and in their lives at the time?
  • Have ideas handy for helping them with their marketing challenges. Offer 2 to 3 quick wins they’d really appreciate
  • Collate links to your own or external content they might find valuable

Next time you get in touch with your key contacts to encourage referrals, you also have something of value to share with them too. 

And, to always keep top of mind with your customers and people who could refer you, create regular helpful content that solves their most burning issues. This popular vlog will give you some ideas. 

2. Make Referrals Easy  

It goes without saying that your work needs to be brilliant to encourage more referrals and word of mouth recommendations, so here’s how you make referring you extra easy: 

Have an email template you can easily top and tail, and let your contacts use it to do the marketing for you. 

Why not create a dedicated landing page for your target sector? Or create a marketing brochure like Yatter’s? Include the most relevant examples and testimonials that show your agency in a great light. 

WunderTip: Having a 5-star digital presence will amplify their willingness to refer you. Watch this vlog for tips on how to do that. Don’t miss out on valuable opportunities because your profiles are out of date! 

Instead, keep your social media channels fresh with new content, and make sure that your website shows the transformation you can achieve for your clients.

You’ll find lots of videos on my YouTube channel to help you with this. 

3. Try This Referrals Growth Hack

I regularly interview super successful digital agency owners to find out how they grew their businesses. 

One agency founder told me that he reaches out to well established business and marketing coaches because building relationships with people who could refer business really drives his agency growth. 

How does he go about it? He starts off by commenting on their social media posts, or participates when they are interviewed. 

And, he regularly publishes expert content himself. When the time is right, he approaches the coaches and entrepreneurs about working together. And he’s very organised with this – all contacts are in a referral database which is regularly updated.  

He also applies another super clever tactic – he actively includes the coaches in the website design process so that the new design and messaging aligns with their teachings. 

Watch this vlog for more Agency Growth Tips.

4. Be Intentional About Building Your Network for more referrals in business

I know – it’s nice to hang out with people who do what you do! 

But if you want to fill your pipeline with more juicy referrals, you need to be super intentional about building the right kind of network. 

You need to move beyond your usual group of peers to make sure you’re in the place where your clients hang out. Attend events or actively contribute to the right Facebook groups to build relationships with people who could give you work. 

5. Personalise Rewards to Motivate Your Contacts

Satisfied clients will simply be so happy with your work that they feel good about referring you to their network. 

When those organic referrals come in, I like to show my appreciation by arranging a personalized reward. And it always goes down a treat!

This will make your contacts feel super appreciated and encourage them to refer you time and time again. 

Here’re some of my favorite ways to reward my network for referrals:

  • Flowers
  • Amazon gift cards
  • Money off vouchers from their favourite store
  • Chocolates – they always go down a treat! 

And you can use systems like Thrive Card for arranging commissions for digital products.

But when it comes to website or digital marketing agency word of mouth referrals, the old-fashioned way of arranging a personalized follow-up to show your appreciation really does go a long way. 

It’s so easy to do! One of my Wunderstars clients even had a special thank you card designed – another way to be more memorable. 

6. Be Specific When You Ask For Referrals

  • Tell people what you do – it doesn’t matter whether you’re at a local chamber networking event, the school gate or at a local co-working space
  • Tell them who you like working with
  • And be specific about who you can help the most 

Here’s a real-life example: 

Don’t just say you’re looking to work with businesses who want to grow their income online. Instead, saying you want to be introduced to e-commerce business owners with less than 5 members of staff is much more specific. 

When you send your clients their regular website performance reports, and your client’s statistics are all moving in the right direction, record an additional video message to ask if they know someone who could also benefit from achieving such brilliant results with their website. 

And, when you complete a project, schedule a handover meeting with your clients. Add a question which prompts referrals: “Do you know anyone in your network who needs support with their website?”

If they say yes, follow up with an email sharing an introduction to you – this makes it even easier for them to refer you! 

7. Get your Marketing and Sales Done! 

I know you’re a time-starved agency owner and you’re really busy with client work.

How can you work on your business more rather than being stuck working in it? 

There’s always room and opportunities to change things. 

Can you remove yourself from some of the work and client management processes?

For example, can you outsource some of the web development and project management tasks that are more on an operational level so that you can drive business development more proactively? 

To better manage the feast and famine lifestyle, and attract the right types of clients, you need to find ways to generate leads every month. 

How can you make time for your own marketing and business development efforts?

One big mindset change is to treat yourself like a client. 

Plan your marketing and sales activities. 

Schedule time in your diary to make these happen, every week. 

That way, you can balance out when you’re running low on referrals. 

What’s Next? 

If you want to stay top of mind with everyone, get active with your content marketing. Pick one social media channel where your clients hang out and build up a 5-star presence. 

That makes you so much easier to refer to. Download my 30 days of content inspiration for digital agency owners to help you get started!

And I’d love to hear how you encourage referrals. Please share your tips in the comments below.

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