Case Study: Start A New SEO Agency From Scratch
People are fascinated with the idea of seeing someone “start over”.
I’ve wanted to see the same myself. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the approach they take, knowing why they take this approach, and being able to follow along with them?
That is what I would like to share with you in this new case study.
I’m personally going to be starting a new SEO agency, from scratch, and documenting my approach and process for you to see what works, and what doesn’t.
To make it more interesting, this whole business will be built from the opposite side of the world to the country I’m targeting.
I always say that you only need a phone to sell, now let me show you.
Here is the plan…
As I cannot take the approach of becoming a local expert, I’m going to focus on one specific industry.
I will reveal the industry in a later update, but my reasoning for choosing it is that the keywords are not overly competitive, and good customers for them will spend from $8,000, ranging up to the $30,000+ level.
The general recommendation for choosing a niche, is to pick one that has $1,000+ lifetime customer value. For me, $1,000 seems too low, especially when you’re saying over the customer lifetime. I much prefer $5,000+ LCV.
The target country will be the UK. I’m from the UK and have an existing company setup, so this is the easiest for me. The US would probably get quicker results though, with there being more potential clients within any given niche.
I plan on generating all of my leads online, and building an email list.
To do this, there are three strategies I have in mind:
Strategy #1: Facebook Ads Funnel
If I could only run paid ads for clients on one platform, it would be Facebook.
Here is the funnel I’m going to start off by using:
Usually, I would require them to opt in for downloading the book. But I recently came across the concept of giving away valuable content for free, then simply retargeting them with your offer.
The idea here is to get them off Facebook, add trust and value with a free book / report, get them on an automated webinar, and sell them on getting on the phone with you to begin the sales process.
- LeadPages – Landing page creation tool for the book giveaway page, webinar sign up page, and webinar confirmation page
- StealthSeminar – Allows you to create automated webinars
- Facebook Ads – For initial targeting and retargeting
- YouCanBookMe – For booking in the strategy session calls
- Pages – To write the free book and convert it to PDF format
- Keynote – To create the webinar slides
- ScreenFlow – For recording the webinar
- ActiveCampaign – For list building and automated email sequences
A breakdown of each individual element of the funnel…
1. Facebook ads
I’m going to be targeting people that have “liked” association pages, and people that have general interests in the niche.
I’ll test some different targeting options, see how it works, and reveal the details at the end of this case study.
(Already started running the initial ads. Had 9 website clicks costing £3, approximately $4.64)
2. Free book
I copied some content previously created for my old agency, re-purposed it for this, and added some extra content.
This comes to 22 pages, including a pitch at the end for a free strategy session, linking directly to a YouCanBookMe page.
The book is in depth, covering how to rank in Google, optimising your website to convert better, etc.
It would probably convert better if it was shorter, since it’s unlikely someone will read the entire thing. We can test and see what happens.
3. Retargeting for the webinar
Whether they read the book or not, they’ll be retargeted with ads promoting the webinar.
If they did not read the book, the webinar will act as a more interesting way of learning.
If they did, the webinar is a way of expanding on it, and getting their questions answered.
I’m not specifically tracking whether they read the book or not, so these two groups of people will see the same ad.
It’s important that the ad looks similar to the previous ad or landing page, they need to remember downloading the book.
In the ad, I’ll probably include a picture of the book to remind them.
(I have not started retargeting yet as the audience needs to be at least 20 people)
4. Automated webinar
I’ve already recorded a video of about 1 hour and 30 minutes, to use as the automated webinar.
This took a fair bit of time to create.
In total there are 54 slides, 9 of them being the close or transition to the close.
For each slide, I wrote out a script of what to say. Then recorded the entire thing using ScreenFlow.
The close is for a strategy session call.
This is already setup with StealthSeminar to run once every weekday.
I’m using ActiveCampaign to manage the list, and will setup automated follow up emails for this later.
The registration page is powered by LeadPages, and automatically updates to reflect the next webinar date.
5. Strategy Session
Using the free version of YouCanBookMe, people can pick a specific date and time from my calendar that they are available to speak. It also sends them a confirmed booking email.
I will still reach out to them a day before the call, just to remind them.
(I’m using Skype for the calls, with my UK number set as the caller ID)
On the strategy session, we will cover information about their business, some of which I will research prior to the call. Including how they are currently ranking, which competitors are ranking, etc.
But for the most part, the strategy session allows us to discuss the content in the book/webinar, and for me to qualify them to see if they are a good fit for my services.
If they are a good fit, then I’ll offer them a proposal.
Strategy #2: Networking in industry relevant forums
This is the part I dislike, but something I know works, it is just boring and time consuming.
There are multiple semi-popular forums within this industry that I can join for free, and start engaging with business owners.
This requires patience, to focus on adding value, not pitching. And will take time to see results from.
I’ll start by responding to any questions about online marketing with highly in-depth answers, this will establish me as an expert, and then hopefully can start some interactions from there.
One thing I can do is send them a message privately after responding, with something like this:
Glad to see you liked the feedback I left for your website!
You are welcome to message me if you have any more questions about it or would like me to expand on it.
You can also send me an email here [email address].
I’ll play around with this on 2-3 of the forums and see what comes of it.
I’ve not signed up for any forums yet, but will begin working on this soon.
Strategy #3: Cold Emailing
For anyone on a budget, this should be a go-to method for you.
I’m not going to specifically try to get leads from this, instead my plan is to find people that are interested in improving their online marketing, without actually offering to do it for them.
To do that, I’ll be using this message:
Do you mind if I do a review of your website for our blog?
I’m looking to add more content to our blog, and came across your website as one we could do a great review of.
Here is an example of one we recently completed:
[link to a blog post]
This isn’t going to cost you anything, I just wanted to make sure you won’t mind. Some businesses only want to hear that they are doing everything perfectly, and if that is you, that isn’t a problem, but you probably don’t want us to do a review.
Let me know if you are happy for us to do this, I can email you it before publishing it if you like.
The ‘morning’ part is irrelevant, it’s only because I’ll be sending it in the morning.
The idea here is to achieve two things.
Firstly, I genuinely want some more blog content, and this is an easy way to establish expertise with anyone that reads the blog.
Secondly, it opens them up to showing their interest in online marketing, without expressing interest in using our services at all.
Once the analysis has been posted, hopefully it will blow them away with value, and then we can push for a call to discuss it further.
I’m currently living in and travelling Asia, which means I’m on a completely different timezone to the UK. And obviously, will be unable to meet any prospects or clients.
This is not an issue in the slightest. I have not met most of my clients, even when I was living in the UK.
Here is how I’ll manage this…
For selling, I’m going to use Skype for making the calls.
One great feature of Skype is the caller ID setting, I’ve currently set mine to my UK mobile number. This means unless I feel the need to say, clients will not even know I’m out of the country.
Also, I have a strict rule that clients cannot call me without pre-scheduling a call. And then when we are pre-scheduling it, I make sure it’s clear that I’ll be the one calling them. My intention was always to travel from day one in this business, so I put these rules in place to allow it when I had the money.
As for the actual selling strategy, I’ll be using a consultive approach. It will be split over two calls, the first is the consultation and qualification call. The second will be to deliver the proposal, using Join.me. This allows us to talk it over as if sitting in the same room.
We covered the basics of how to sell over the phone before, but if you want to see my exact approach to it, including the actual proposal I use, I’m explaining it in a paid webinar shortly, more details here.
Tools / Software:
- LeadPages – $37/month
- ActiveCampaign – $9/month
- StealthSeminar – $97 and then $69.95/month
- Screenflow – I already had this installed, there are free alternatives. Normally $99.
- Pages / Keynote – Free with Mac, plenty of free alternatives
- YouCanBookMe – Using the free version
Total spent on tools so far: $143
Total monthly recurring for tools: $115.95
As for the Facebook advertising, I will release further updates on this later. I’m going to start it small and slowly scale it up while testing different audiences and ads.
This case study will not be one of those “turn $1 into $10,000” examples. If you don’t have at least $1,000 to invest into starting your own agency, I suggest you do some freelancing or get a job to raise the funds. You need to be willing to do what it takes to put yourself in the right position to get started, and that can often be doing something you hate for a little while.
With that said, I will keep track of my expenses for you to follow along with. We may find that the cold email or forum promotions are way more effective than spending money on FB ads.
What would you like to see?
If there is anything specific you would like to see in this case study, or things you think I should try, leave your suggestions in the comments below.
You can follow the case study along and get early snippets in the Facebook mastermind group.
Thanks for checking out this post, let’s see what happens next.
Edit: After wasting some money on ads pointing to wrong landing pages and silly mistakes, I realised I didn’t have time to fully carry out the case study myself without outsourcing, which would ruin the case study aspect. So I decided to train up a total rookie to do it. I’ll update the results later, but he got his first 2 clients within 2-3 months of starting, although not big clients, it’s a start.