7 Ways SEO Agencies Can Increase Revenue Per Customer


SEO, marketing, retail – it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, chasing new business leads is time consuming and costly. An article by Beyond Philosophy CEO Colin Shaw cites the following stat from Marketing Metrics: “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.”

In other words, it’s much more worthwhile, from a business growth point of view, to get more business from the people you’re already working with. That can be a challenge for SEO managers, though. Companies often pay retainers or project fees for SEO services, which doesn’t seem to leave much room for an upsell – or does it? Making some changes to the way you approach your business – and your existing customers could make a difference. Here are seven suggestions for how to do it.

1. Limit the Retainer

Be wary of having an all encompassing retainer. The web optimization landscape changes regularly and what you promise to achieve today may require more costly actions in the future. Your first step with existing clients (and any new ones that come along) is to avoid scope creep with SEO services. Sure, the retainer will cover client site SERPs monitoring, but there’s no reason to cover any follow-up or remedial action in the same retainer.

2. Work with Bundles

Break your work up into chunks to make it clear how many different tasks are involved in delivering an excellent SEO service, then put them together again in ways that make sense. Bundling is a tried and true retail and ecommerce strategy that allows you to sell multiple services instead of just one; include a less popular service with a more popular one to get some sales of the first one; and get the effect of selling larger quantities of services. If customers know they can save money by taking a bundle of services but still have the option to add on other things if they need it, the research shows that this will improve your sales.

3. Include Complementary Services

Are there any services your clients ask for that you could easily offer? Or perhaps there are services that complement your existing service offerings. Cross-selling is another great way to sell more to the people who are already buying from you. You see it on Amazon (who use “recommended products” and “people who bought this also bought” to increase sales) and even on Fiverr, where Gig Extras have the same function. It’s a good way to add value for existing customers, and that always helps with sales.

4. Offer Something for Free

No business manager likes to think of giving something away, but examples from some major players in SEO and marketing show that this can bring benefits. Hubspot regularly releases free reports and it has some free online tools (like the Marketing Grader) that help build its brand. And then there’s Moz, whose Open Site Explorer lets people investigate sites for free. Those companies aren’t hurting so you’d better believe these free tools bring value. If you don’t want to create them yourself, maybe you can partner with another provider to provide a free tool that helps sell your other services.

5. Celebrate Success

Sticking with Moz, their blog provides another tip that helps retain customers so they continue to work with you for longer (and buy more services, it goes without saying). They recommend celebrating successes with clients. If you have set out milestones and KPIs at the start, then make a splash every time you reach one. This reduces buying resistance if you want to suggest a new service later. Your ability to showcase milestones can help you to sell services which might have been a harder sell right at the start.

6. Communicate Often

There are two key kinds of communication to have with existing clients so that they will continue to think of you when they need additional SEO services:

1. Information that will help them to build their business. If they are making more money because of your advice, then they will be more willing to spend more with you. To help with this, Inc. has a great article on asking the right questions of customers.

2. Information about what’s happening with SEO that has implications for the work you do for them.

You can address both types of communication by creating a client newsletter. This isn’t a hard sell, but an easy way to present problems and solutions and to keep your firm top of mind when they need to enhance their SEO strategy.

Use this communication to build trust. According to a recent survey 18% of potential clients think that SEO companies are scammers. You don’t want to be one of those. Be open about what you can achieve and the techniques you’re going to use. An ethically sound approach backed by proven techniques will help you win your clients’ trusts and encourage them to recommend you to others.

7. Just Ask

The people who can sell your services best are those who already know your value, so ask your customers for referrals. Create a referral scheme that incentivizes your existing customers by offering them a reward to making the introduction. A discount on a new service, a time limited premium upgrade or a free service can be a great incentive for existing clients. And if you get the new business, everybody wins.

Sure, you may not make as much on the first sale, but if you impress the new client as much as you impressed the one who was bringing you business then you will get more work from that client too. The Chamber of Commerce says referrals enhance your credibility, pre-sell the new client and result in new clients at least half of the time.

The techniques listed above are proven to work in a wide range of businesses, helping them to increase revenue and have a great reputation with their customers, too. Why not put them to work for your SEO firm today? And if you have other techniques you have used successfully, please share below.

Creative commons image by LendingMemo / Flickr