How To Get Web Design Leads That Convert

Running a successful web design business takes more than just amazing design skills.

Before you can create jaw-dropping websites, you’ve got to get paying clients first.

In this article I’ll show you the most effective ways to grow your web design agency.

Here are 8 lead generation strategies that are perfect for growing your portfolio. And one lead generation strategy you need to avoid at all costs!

Startups Are The Best Web Design Leads  

Your absolute best prospective web design clients need to meet two criteria. 

First, the obvious. They should require web design services.

And second, they need to have a budget for your solutions.

Too often web designers bid on projects that require hundreds of hours of work. But the client’s budget is absurd for the required effort. “I’ll pay you a large pizza for a new website.

Or worse, they offer to pay you in exposure. “When my followers see your amazing website they’ll all want one, too. Maybe you should be paying me!

You want to work with serious companies that can afford your services. And have a meaningful budget to invest in their brand.

Ideally, they’ll also be a source of recurring work.

Every week Sales Higher publishes contact information for decision makers at startups that received funding over the past 7 days.

These companies are your ideal sales targets. You know they have money in the bank, so they can afford your services. Recent funding is the absolute best sales trigger for identifying high value clients.

More importantly, many of them desperately need help with their design and marketing.

Here are some highlights from the week this article was published.

Companies with 10 or fewer employees received an average of $8.25m. They’re loaded.

An AI company received $120,000 in funding. Their website is one page and is less than 40 words in total.

A manufacturing company received over $13m in funding. They have 100+ staff but DON’T HAVE A WEBSITE (no idea how this is even possible).

A healthcare company received $2m in funding. Their website is ONE page and “Powered by GoDaddy“. Seriously…?

The list goes on. Many newly funded startups have low-quality, templated websites that detract from their brand.

Their lack of a quality website was fine when they were barely an entity. But now they’re in the news and expected to grow quickly. Investors and potential clients are watching, so they need to act decisively in all areas of their business – including branding.

Takeaway: Sales Higher publishes contact information for decision makers at startups that received funding over the past few days. They’ve got millions in the bank, and some of them desperately need a new website.

The First Thing Web Design Clients See

You can think of your own website as a sort of landing page. After all, it’s the first thing prospective web design clients see. And it acts as a billboard for your web design services.

Clients will decide whether they want to work with you based on their impression of your website. So it needs to be perfect. And it should reflect the type of work you’ll be doing on your client’s behalf.

Ideally your potential clients will dig into your portfolio to see your wide-ranging projects. But in reality, the majority of warm leads will make a snap decision based on what they see on your homepage.

So make your website perfect. Your future clients will expect no less for themselves.

Niche Value Proposition

When you’re starting out it’s hard to say no to any well-paying project. I get that.

But as you progress in your career, narrow down the niche where you want to focus.

Focusing on a specific industry will help you work faster, while adding more value to your clients. More importantly, it’ll simplify and accelerate your client acquisition process.

Imagine you’re a medical doctor. Would you rather work with:

A) A web designer

B) A web designer that specializes in medical practices.

C) A web designer that helps medical practices save $30K a year on staffing costs with integrated booking. And increases revenues by 15% by optimizing scheduling.

The first option doesn’t look so good, does it?

When you niche down you’ll become an expert in an industry. This will give your prospects confidence in your work. And it enables you to differentiate yourself from all the other web design businesses that offer similar solutions.

Niching down is important for another reason. When you contact prospective clients your communications have a context and purpose. You’re contacting them because you think you can add value. Not because you are looking for your next project.

Consider these two statements:

A) We make websites that will increase your conversion rates from organic traffic. Would you like to discuss?

  1. B) We help medical practices save $30K a year, while increasing annual revenues by 15%. If you’re open to making a few tweaks to your website I can show you how we do that.

Which one would a small medical practice be more likely to respond to?

Probably the second one. The value proposition is more specific and suggests a concrete outcome.

So look at your best clients and look for ways your work has impacted their business. 

Then get out there and replicate those clients!

Niche Content Development

A quick search for “web design” returns about 7.3 BILLION results. I think it’s fair to say the world doesn’t need another article on how to build a website.

With so much competition, how do you make YOUR content stand out enough to get SEO leads? It takes massive website authority to get quality leads from search engines in competitive areas like web design clients.

The answer again is to niche down by industry.

For example, focus your solutions on a single industry like medical practices, or legal websites, etc. 

This means all your content will be focused around creating a better user experience for users in that industry. 

You won’t get a lot of clicks. But the ones you receive will be focused on solving a problem where you’re the expert.

Niche Social Selling

When you have absolute clarity about who you are selling to, it makes social selling a very high ROI activity.

Instead of trying to connect with anyone that needs a website, you can spend time connecting with prospects that are a perfect fit for your ideal client.

This also makes content creation dead easy. Your target audience is defined, so you can craft content around their goals, concerns and activities.

It won’t take long for you to become a recognized expert in your field. Even if all you are doing is creating websites for a single industry.

Compete At A Local Level

One of the best ways to niche down is to focus your services around your geographical location. This will earn you local leads. 

Focusing on local businesses works especially well in mid-sized cities where there’s a big local community. But it’s still small enough that the large agencies aren’t focused on getting business from your area, specifically.

Web design local lead generation

To compete effectively at a local level you’ll need to focus on doing 3 things really well.

Connect your solutions to your town. For example, your H1 tag might be “web design services in Springfield“. Anyone looking at your site will immediately understand what you do and where your clients are based.

Get lots of positive reviews on Google My Business. This generates trust signals so Google can feel confident about placing you in the ‘map pack’

Build your local website authority. Remember the joke about the 2 men running away from a bear? One man says, “We can’t outrun a bear.” The second one replies, “I only need to run faster than you!” It’s the same with local services. You don’t need to have a website with massive authority. You just need to have more authority than other web design businesses in your area. In some cases, a few high-value backlinks earned by guest posting on authority websites are enough to put you on top.

Grow Your Web Design Business With Partnerships

One of the best ways to get web design leads is to seek out partners that are well positioned to send you business.

Consider a Google Adwords specialist. The success of their campaigns often comes down to the quality score Google assigns to their copy vs their competitors. 

One component of the quality score relates to the landing page where searchers are being directed. Some Adwords specialists need to create lots of creatives that fit a wide-range of ad copy.

That’s where you come in!

Other partners might include accountants or incorporation experts. As soon as the company is created, the first thing they’ll need is a website.

Keep in mind that as a web designer you’re perfectly positioned as a potential partner for other businesses.

Websites need hosting. They need marketing and SEO. They may even need legal guidance for disclaimers and such. 

You can transform your web design leads into multiple streams of revenue without too much difficulty.

Bid on RFP’s / RFQ’s

One way to get new business is to frequently bid on ‘Request For Proposal’ or ‘Request For Quotation.’

Governments or large companies ask companies to bid on a project. This helps them get lots of quotes to keep the process open and competitive. And also enables them understand the scope of the work.

Personally, I HATE RFP’s. We get requests to bid from time to time and our policy is to ignore them.

The process is inefficient (for both sides). And I’m not sure anyone is served by this approach to business.

With that caveat established…

RFP’s make sense when you do them in bulk. Tools like FindRFP can help you identify opportunities to pursue. And tools like Loopio help you automate the bidding process. 

Even with automation it’s still a lot of work. But if you bid on enough projects then some of them will trickl your way.

And after a while you’ll become expert at bidding to maximize your chances of landing the deal at a fair price.

How NOT To Get Web Design Leads

I’ll leave you with a quick note on how NOT to get web design leads.

Don’t buy them –  ever.

 There are sites that bid on Google Adword searches and capture contact information from people that are interested in web design services.

So far so good!

Even better, you can buy these web design leads at a price that’s the same or lower if you’d developed them yourself.

So what’s the catch? Why isn’t everyone jumping all over this lead generation strategy?

Yeah, you probably guessed it. They re-sell the web design leads to as many people as they can.

So when you call the potential client you’re automatically competing against everyone else who purchased the same lead.

The extra competition isn’t worth the limited savings you’ll enjoy using this lead generation strategy.

How Do You Get Web Design Leads?

A powerful sales prospecting plan drives your web design business’ growth and success.

Use these 8 lead generation strategies to get new design queries and stand out as an expert in your field.

Do you have any tips for getting web design leads? Are there any questions you’d like me to answer? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can contact me on LinkedIn or send me a note on our contact page.



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Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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