Web Designers: 5 Steps to Dozens of New Clients

Eddie and I were talking the other day, and he made a very good point. In order to succeed as a web designer you need to think of yourself not as a person who simply designs web sites, but as a marketer who provides profitable solutions to your clients, generating for them a nice return on their investment (i.e. the money they pay you to build the site for them).
Now before you scream through the monitor at me, saying you don’t know anything about marketing, answer this question:
“Why does a business setup a web site?”
99 times out of 100 it’s all about the money – cash, benjamins, moola, loot. Whatever you want to call it, the reason most businesses want a web site or already have one is so it can make them money.
Being a web designer I’m assuming you have a web site and are registered as a corporation or sole proprietor, so guess what – the primary purpose of your web site is to make you money too. No surprises there…
This all ties back in with being a web designer, and from what I’ve heard by talking to some of our customers, the hardest thing for a web designer is getting more clients. The reason for this is simple: you spend all of your time creating websites but when it comes to marketing you either don’t know where to start or don’t really understand the how to put together a simple marketing plan.
Does that sound about right?
If it does then this article is for you. Today I’m going to share with you a simple 5-step marketing plan that you can use to attract as many new clients as you want, whenever you want.
We’ll be using Google AdWords, SendStudio, and will be writing a few pieces of content. You’ll need about 5 hours to implement our 5-step marketing plan. If done right this will be the most profitable 5 hours you’ll ever spend working on your web design business.
I’ll assume that you’re slightly familiar with a few marketing concepts however this article will have a “hand holding” approach to it so even if you’ve never actively marketed your web design business before you should be able to follow along. Of course if you have any questions just email me: mitch [AT] interspire [DOT] com.
Sound good? OK, let’s get into it…

Step 1: Google AdWords
If you don’t have an AdWords account you can sign up for one here. We’re going to create a series of Google AdWords ads to advertise your web design business right alongside Google’s search results.
When people click through from Google they will be taken to a special landing page on your site where you will capture their contact details, including their phone number and email address.
You will then send them a series of emails about your company and what you can do for them, stressing the benefits of working with you over someone else. These will be sent over a 7 day period.
At the end of the 7 days you will call each prospect to determine their “warmness” – that is, how likely they are to hire you. You will also determine which stage of the buying cycle they are at (I will explain this later) and will class them as a hot, cold or warm prospect.
First up you need a way to reach people searching for a web designer. That’s where Google AdWords comes in. We’re going to create some ads that will appear alongside Google’s natural search results when someone searches for keywords relating to you and your web design business.
How do you know which keywords to advertise for? That’s where Overture’s search suggestion tool comes in. The search suggestion tool tells you approximately how many times people are searching for different keywords on Yahoo. It’s a good place to start with some basic keyword research, which is all we will be doing for this article. You can access it here and it looks like this:

If it doesn’t load up right away then don’t be alarmed – it’s slow even at the best of times but it’s a good free way to find keywords that people are using to search for web designers in your area.
So, what now? Well, you need to come up with a list of keywords that people might use to find you. In this example let’s assume I’m a web designer from Chicago. Here’s a list of keywords I might use as my starting point:

  • chicago web designer
  • chicago web site designer
  • chicago web designer
  • web designer in chicago
  • ecommerce web designer chicago

As you can see I make sure I include Chicago in all of my keywords. Web design is a very people-orientated business and as you know you have to go out and meet with your clients eventually, so there’s no point bidding on generic keywords such as “web designer” because people from other states or cities aren’t your target – unless you do all of your work over the phone or have access to a private plane to whiz around the country.
If I type “chicago web designer” into the Overture search suggestion box I can see that 228 people searched for this term last month on Overture. Generally to workout how many people searched for the same term on Google you multiply that number by 10 – so that’s 2,280 potential clients in the last month:

You’ll also notice that 221 people searched for “chicago web site designer” too. Overture will list similar searches based on what you type into the box. Spend about 10 minutes using the search suggestion tool to find search phrases you’d want your ads to appear for on Google. You should come up with a list of 20 or so keywords.
Now you’re ready to create some AdWords. Login to your AdWords account and create a new keyword-targeted campaign. When you get to the bottom of the page, choose the “Regions and cities” option under the “Target customers by location” section, like this:

On the next step you can choose which regions and cities you want to target. For this example I will only choose Chicago:

Now you get to create your ads. You should create 3 different ads using the pre-defined formats I’ve added below. Replace Chicago with wherever you’re located and replace Ecommerce with your area of expertise (such as Flash, Community, News, Real Estate, etc). Also replace the “200” in the last ad with how many clients you actually have. If you’re just starting out use another headline:

You should set the display URL to be your websites domain name, as in the above example. The actual destination URL should be something different, such as www.FancyDesignsChicago.com/lp, because that’s where we’re going to setup a custom landing page for your AdWords campaign.
Once you create your ads it’s time to tell Google which keywords to show them for. Just paste in the 20 or so keywords you came up with earlier. Don’t be tempted to add any of the keywords suggested by Google. We want to keep your AdWords campaign tight and concise.
Finally, you need to enter the maximum dollar amount you’re willing to pay per click. I personally wouldn’t go more than about $1. Remember this is the maximum amount you’d pay, not the average. The average on a $1 max should be around 50-70 cents. Depending on your budget I’d recommend a spend of around $20 a day just to test the waters.
Once you’ve specified your bid amount and daily budget your campaign will go live, usually within half an hour.

Step 2. The Landing Page
Now’s lets setup what’s commonly called a landing page. This is the page where people will come to after clicking on your AdWords ad, as specified in the destination URL above.
Your landing page is used specifically just for the people who click through from your AdWords ads and no one else. You take them to a landing page instead of your home page because they are already qualified prospects: they have searched for a web designer in your city and are actively pursuing their options.
We don’t yet know which stage of the buying cycle they’re in, but our landing page will cater to people researching for a web designer *and* those ready to get started today.
It’s up to you how you format your landing page, but it absolutely must include all of the following:

  • A compelling, “no hype” headline that entices them to keep reading
  • A list of benefits as to why they should choose you over your competitors
  • The services you offer, especially the ones you specialize in
  • 3-5 websites from your portfolio, including photos and testimonials from the clients talking about how you under-promised and over-delivered in a short time frame (most business owners are time poor)
  • A subscription box to your autoresponder. I’ll talk more about that in step 3.

The main point of your landing page is to capture the contact details of each and every single person that clicks on your AdSense ad. We do this using a subscription box, which we’ll look at now.

Step 3: The Subscription Box
The whole point of your landing page is to bring in warm leads, which bring in more sales, which make you more money. The most important part of your landing page is the subscription box, which you’ll add to the bottom of the page after everything listed in the bullet points above.
The idea behind the subscription box is simple: it’s a way to capture the details of people who arrive on your landing page. We already know that these people need a web designer in your area because they clicked on your ad. What we don’t know is whether they need a web designer now, next week, next month or even next year.
There’s no sales pitch here, but I’ll be using SendStudio to setup our subscription box. It will automatically be linked into an autoresponder I’ll create shortly. Using SendStudio’s custom fields and subscription form wizard, here’s how my subscription form looks:

As you can see it allows me to capture all of the important details about each prospect, including their budget and timeframe. Just before your subscription box you’ll need a compelling reason for them to fill out the form, so I’d recommend using a straight forward, honest approach like this:

    Learn More About Us by Email
    Fill out the no-obligation form below to learn more about us, including work we've done for past clients and also how we can build you a profitable web site that's within your budget requirements.
    If you're in a hurry and need a web designer today, please feel free to call us on 555-0049 anytime.
    Warm regards,
    John Doe
    Founder, Fancy Designs Chicago

When they fill out the form SendStudio will automatically save their details to your mailing list and you can look through each one and rate them based on your needs as a web designer:

  • If they need someone now and have a budget of $10,000+ you might class them as a hot lead and get on the phone to them today
  • If they need someone soon and have a budget over $2,000 you might class them as a warm lead
  • If they’re just researching then the autoresponder we’re about to create will educate them about your web design business so you’re the first one they think of when they’re ready to get started.

Can you see now that instead of you being turned down, you’re in a position to pick and choose who you work with? That’s one of the benefits of this simple strategy: you’re no longer at the mercy of potential clients.

Step 4: The Autoresponder
Once they fill out form the form you’ll use SendStudio to automatically send them a series of emails about your web design business over the next 7 days. We can do this automatically from SendStudio under the autoresponders tab. Here’s a series of 7 emails I created – each would be sent out 24 hours apart:

You should use the autoresponder subject lines I’ve shown above as the blueprint for your own. For example, in the “Re: Your Web Design Requirements” autoresponder you can thank prospects for filling out your form and let them know that you’ll be sending them emails over the next 7 days, educating them about web design.
In the “I’ll give you a call tomorrow” autoresponder you can ask them if they have any questions about web design and also point them to useful pages on your site. Remember, the main purpose of your autoresponder emails is to educate your prospects. Don’t use a sales pitch in any of the emails.
So I guess that begs the question “Why use autoresponders?”. There are so many benefits, but here are some of the more important ones:

  • Unlike 99.99% of your competitors, you’re taking the time to create a relationship with your prospects via email. People buy from other people they know and trust, and your autoresponder will establish you as a web design expert. Very rarely will you even have to convince prospects to choose you after they read your autoresponder emails.
  • The overwhelming majority of people who visit your web site wont be ready to hire you on the spot, so instead of them leaving your site and never coming back, the subscription form allows you to collect their contact details so you can follow up automatically with the autoresponder, and at any time in the future via email.
  • Autoresponders send the emails to prospects automatically, so it’s like hiring someone who does marketing for you. When you’re busy working with clients, it’s good to know that you’re still actively seeking out new ones. That’s where the AdWords + autoresponder combo plays such a critical role.

Keep in mind that your autoresponder emails must not be focused on you. They must talk aboutyour prospects and the benefits you can offer them. Remember that when writing the content for your autoresponders you always need to be answering the question “what’s in it for me?” from the prospects perspective, not your own.
Once you’ve got your AdWords campaign, landing page, subscription form and autoresponder up and running you’re ready to go.

Step 5: Following Up
At the end of each autoresponder email you should include a call to action. Something like this works well:

If you have any questions about web design or would like a free quote, please don't hesitate to email me at john@fancydesignschicago.com or give me a call on 555-0043.

This will encourage prospects to contact you for more information or for you to put together a quote on their new web site. You’ll also want to keep an eye on people who have completed your SendStudio subscription form.
The last email in your autoresponder should tell them to expect a call from you within the next few days, so at the end of every week you can get the phone numbers of people who filled out your subscription form over 7 days ago and give them a call to follow up. This is not cold calling because they’ve already been hearing from you via your automatic responder emails.
What do you say when you call them? You might start your call like this:

    Hi Jeff,
    This is John from Fancy Design Chicago. I mentioned in my last email that I'd give you a call, so I just wanted to follow up and see what you thought of the emails I've been sending you.
    [Jeff tells you his thoughts and you go from there]

That’s my 5-step system to dozens of new clients for you as a web designer. One thing I strongly believe in is educating your prospects instead of selling to them. If you educate them then they’re more likely to trust you and thus do business with you. We use the AdWords/Autoresponder/Follow up combo for Interspire and it works extremely well.
Try implementing the 5-step system over the next few days. If you take your time and implement everything I’ve mentioned I have no doubt that you’ll generate a steady stream of prospects which you can easily convert to paying clients using the combination of your autoresponder emails and a simple phone call.

Marvin Powell

Marvin is an industry veteran who has been working with dating startups since 2001. In his spare time he loves fishing and writing bad poetry.

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