Lead generation for web design businesses: 5 tips

It’s no easy task

Find leads, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. If you’ve ever tackled lead generation for web design business, you know this is far from the truth. I remember when I used to think my little “Design by OSC Web Design” link at the bottom of client sites would be my chief lead generator. That didn’t last long.

Take it from me — if you want ongoing work, you need to attack web design lead generation with a diversified arsenal of methods.

Lead generation for web design businesses

When trying to grow a website design business, follow these five tips for finding leads:

  1. Utilize SEO for your website.

  2. Bring in local leads by targeting your region.

  3. Look at your site’s conversion strategy.

  4. Meet people in person.

  5. Keep track of your contacts in a CRM.

1. Apply the acronym you know and love: SEO

Lead generation is all about identifying potential customers for your services or products. In days of old, that usually meant cold calling, print advertising, etc. Lead generation for web design businesses in the 21st century should include search engine optimization. By optimizing your website for the right keywords, you can not only attract visitors, you can attract qualified visitors.

Luckily for us web designers, we don’t have to coax potential customers into a physical location and pitch them on a product. They can search for web designers, land on our site, review our portfolio and schedule a consultation … All from the comfort of their homes.

Pros of using SEO to generate leads:

  • With the right SEO approach, you can attract qualified leads.
  • If you have the time and desire, you can go the DIY route and save money.
  • It’s an even playing field. Sure, your competitors might be able to invest more into SEO, but they can’t buy themselves a No. 1 spot in organic results.

Cons of SEO for lead generation:

  • SEO isn’t exactly known as being a quick process. Depending on the keywords you’re targeting, it could take six to 12 months to see significant progress.
  • Keyword research and content creation can prove to be quite time consuming if you’re managing it yourself.
  • If you opt to hire an SEO specialist instead, it’ll cost something.

2. Don’t forget about local traffic

As a web design business, why limit yourself to local clients when you can design for everyone? That used to be my theory, anyway. Since then, I’ve seen the light and have started targeting Maine businesses and focusing on local SEO.

Pros of targeting a local audience:

  • Increased trust. Google’s priority is to generate trustworthy, accurate search engine results for it’s users. Since OSC Web Design is actually based in Maine, and we’ve verified that with sources like Google My Business, Google is more likely to trust we belong in local searches.
  • Less competition in search engines. Instead of competing with web design firms all over the world, I’m competing with Maine-based ones.
  • More qualified visitors. While distance really isn’t a factor for web design, clients often trust and prefer a local business.

Cons of looking locally:

  • Using website content that speaks to a local audience may deter potential clients who aren’t local.
  • Focusing on local keywords will mean you have fewer opportunities to rank in non-local searches.

3. Look at your site’s conversion strategy

What happens after visitors land on your website? There’s no point in driving leads to your website if they don’t convert.

Web design lead generation is centered around contact information.


First names, last names, phone numbers, emails … You want it all. Get it by offering something they want (a content offer, like a free website evaluation or a PDF guide). They enter in their contact info, grab their download and, voila! You have a new lead.

Perhaps they’re further down the sales funnel and are ready to contact you directly. Make it easy as pie with strategically placed calls-to-action. On our website, we have CTAs on almost every page with copy that encourages the visitor to contact.

Lead Generation For Web Design Businesses Call
This one’s right on our home page.

Pros of conversion optimization:

  • When you build a website around conversion, your website stops being a brochure and starts being a sales funnel.
  • You’ll notice a decrease in bounce rates.

Cons of designing a website for conversion:

  • Outlining your website’s conversion strategy takes time.
  • If you plan on creating content offers, you’ll have to spend time and resources on those as well.

4. Get boots on the ground

We’d like to think we can rely solely on our web-based efforts, but sometimes it’s worth making an in-person appearance. Yes, that means trading your beloved PJ pants for a pair of jeans or slacks. I’ve recently been making a greater effort to connect with other local businesses and have found it to be a great tactic for lead generation for web design businesses.

To start generating leads in person, look for the following opportunities to connect with your community:

  1. Meetups
  2. WordCamps (if you’re a web designer and haven’t attended a WordCamp yet, you’re missing out)
  3. Buy Local/Think Local events (search for one near you — there are groups all over)

In-person networking ends up benefiting your online efforts as well since most events have a buzz on social media and the web. If they list attendees/sponsors online, ask how to join the list and get a link to your website. Link juice from local organizations is like gold for local SEO.

Pros of networking:

  • You build trust right away by speaking to leads in person.
  • Befriending others in your industry can lead to business partnerships and referrals.

Cons of person-to-person lead generation:

  • Attending events takes time and sometimes resources if you are a sponsor.
  • Attendees aren’t necessarily looking for a web designer and you could walk away without a single lead.

5. Keep track of your leads

Once you’ve seen progress in lead generation for your web design business, it’s important to keep your leads organized. You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to upgrade from those Excel spreadsheets — there are actually a number of very reasonably priced CRM platforms.

At OSC Web Design, we use Agile CRM. It’s free for 10 users and includes just about all the basics you’ll need to start tracking leads. For additional options, check out this CRM roundup by Justin Hein.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. With patience, tenacity and a tried-and-true arsenal of methods, you’ll be rewarded with a steady uptick in lead generation for your web design business.

Image by: Parker Byrd onUnsplash