Based on verticals
The positioning of your agency is closely related to the industries in which you operate.
If you only focus on a certain size of company (SME or company) or a certain industry (e.g. lawyers, dentists, car dealerships), this variable is already taken into account.
However, if vertical specificity naturally emerges from your client portfolio, you may want to reevaluate your services. For example, Liberty has just started Foundation, a digital performance spin-off agency that has focused on beauty brands due to its rapid growth during this time.
Or you would like to generate new business in line with industry trends and only concentrate on the exploding companies and their requests for offers:
- You can assess this again based on search trends in a year-on-year comparison and evaluate their growth rate.
- You can research investment trends, VC funds and their portfolios, and gain useful insight into potential leads.
Also, pay attention to the positioning of the lead. As the CEO of Go Up points out, it is a no-go from the start when an “all-rounder” business emerges that wants to play in the specialist field.
Based on the SEO opportunity
Is it a realistic business case?
This is another important and tricky question to ask yourself. The answer is based on your SEO research and the accuracy of the data you are working with.
Edward Coram James talks about the "Profitability Test" using a forecasting tool that will help you gauge the overall potential of the business goal and SEO as the right marketing channel. "This keeps us honest as an agency and allows us to reverse engineer the project so we can be sure that the lead's investment is on the right track," adds James.
By looking at the list of your targeted keywords and the variables that influence them – from search volume to their YoY trends to seasonality, SERP features, device sharing and CTR curves – you can model scenarios and assess the difficulty of that goal .
Of course, an established fashion brand will have high search volume and large margins, so the agency knows it's worth doing the project without a forecast. For a niche business like software automation or cryptocurrency, figuring out the numbers and evaluating the potential additional traffic and conversions (if certain ranks are reached) gives the agency a realistic sense of the potential success of that lead.
If it takes three to four years for the lead's business to reach this point, you need to evaluate their willingness and patience to access this project with you, as James concludes.
Based on the culture of your agency
It's probably not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about qualifying a client, but certainly one of the most critical aspects of keeping the relationship happy and long-term is this: Is there a cultural match between your agency and this lead?
Gareth Morgan of Liberty Marketing calls it the attitude and the ambition. The agency evaluates the communication and growth potential of this relationship:
- Can you work together for many years to come?
- Can you develop a relationship with them?
- Do they trust that you will experiment and take calculated risks for their projects?
This point is also confirmed by the CEO of Go Up, who emphasizes that you can tell a lot about an indication of their willingness to be transparent, a follow-up call, etc. from the first email inquiry. If you just want a price offer with no other contact, it is clear that something is missing. Because of this, the agency always makes a culture-fair call first before moving on to business goals and profiling.
Also, there may be industries that you don't want to get into or industries that you want to get your full attention. Go Up is about their customers being ethical companies. For IO it's only big international brands. For Climb Online, this is initially a common entrepreneurial mindset.
Based on your agency's growth goals
One final important point that we address here is the convergence of your agency's growth strategy with the business model and market position of the lead.
Is there potential to expand the scope of the original project and do more business with this lead in the future? Does this lead have the potential to promote the specialist knowledge and training of your agency?
You should think about the many opportunities that you can share, whether through innovation or by increasing a certain market share. Gareth Morgan wants to make sure his agency is at the forefront of their industry. So they have set up a role as innovation leader to oversee their data analytics capabilities and then review other services to make sure they are all one step ahead. This will also shape the customer portfolio.
Another approach targets established brands, which implies scaling the agency's business development or sales team. Go Up is currently in the process of targeting big names to expand their portfolio while reaffirming their position as the leading SEO agency.
In a nutshell
Choosing the right clients for your SEO agency is critical to the long-term growth of your business. Even if you sometimes feel that you are missing out on something or having to compromise, always think about faulty customers / projects in the past and their costs.
There are different ways to approach this qualification process. However, some of the most important points are:
- Budget and resources: can the client afford the agency's services?
- The business vertical: Is it an industry in which you have experience? Is it a growing market?
- The SEO Opportunity: Is It A Realistic Business Case?
- The agency's culture: does it fit well with the attitude, mentality and communication?
- Agency growth goals: is there potential to expand collaboration or gain prestige?
With the forecast module of SEOmonitor you can identify SEO opportunities and calculate the potential of a business case. You can model different scenarios, looking at the best or moderate growth forecasts while assessing the difficulty of the future SEO campaign.
SEO Forecasting is just one of the many solutions we have developed to help agencies acquire, manage, and retain more clients.
Join us on our journey to bring more transparency to the SEO industry.