How to Grow Revenue as a Web Development Agency | Coding Ninjas
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August 2019
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How to Grow Revenue as a Web Development Agency

Andrey ZagorodniyAndrey Zagorodniy

Revenue growth is what everyone’s up to

Some agency owners might think, “I’m perfectly fine with how profitable my small agency is.” But, the absolute majority of agencies strive to gain more revenues, and so should you. It’s all about increasing their business efficiency – revenue growth means a bunch of good things:    

Increased profitability 

Which automatically leads to other pleasant things such as increasing the value of your business, finding even more sources of revenue, and attracting investors. You want that. 

Attracting new customers 

Generating more revenues and investing in customer acquisition, you will increase your clientele. New customers will spread the word in social media, potentially attracting even more of the new clients. For you, it means revenue.

Satisfied employees

Customers make one side of your business, and your team makes another. If your agency generates increased revenues, you will be able to improve the working conditions of your employees, raise salaries, and attract new specialists.  

So, how can you achieve all that (and much more)? Let’s take a look.

Strategies for revenue growth

Increase the size of your transactions

Offer package deals

First of all, you might want to start selling some of your services in bundles. A bundle is a selection of products designed to work well together. It can also include complementary products. 

E.g. Your agency designed a cloud service for creating and sharing text documents, images, graphs, presentations, and spreadsheets. You can now offer customers to buy each of the apps separately, allowing them to choose what they need. Additionally, you can offer them to buy all of the apps at once, as a bundle, for a lower price. 

It’s a win-win strategy. A customer buys a bunch of items (even those they don’t really need), for a lower price per piece. You earn more by selling in greater volumes. Everyone’s happy.

Upsell

Say, your agency created a nice anti-plagiarism app. Its basic functionality allows users to easily detect copy-pasted text and highlights source fragments which were plagiarized. The subscription costs $10 per month, your customers are satisfied, you earn money.

How to increase revenue growth from that? 

Design a better, more advanced version of the program. Let the program organize check results in a form of well-compiled, convenient reports. Increase the number of available monthly checks or the number of words per uploaded document. Teach your app to scan images and detect plagiarism on them as well (“You can now check printed documents – just take a picture and upload it to our app”). 

Offer your customers to buy the subscription to this upgraded version for $25. If they already like your product, they will want these features. New customers may feel interested too and buy the advanced plagiarism checker right away. 

Along with revenue growth, upselling ensures increased CLV (customer lifetime value) and customer retention rates. 

Provide incentives for purchasing in larger volumes

“Buy three pizzas and get the fourth one 50% cheaper!” “Eat our 5kg burger and get fries for free!” These are the typical examples of how you can encourage customers to buy more from you. 

In the case of package deals, customers cannot decide what they want and what they don’t. By offering incentives you encourage them to form product bundles themselves. A discount for the next purchase, a free add-on, whatsoever – rewards make customers want to buy from you on a regular basis and allow you to increase the average size of your transactions. 

Increase the number of transactions per customer

Start cross-selling

There is a simple difference between cross-selling and upselling:

When your client orders you to build a WordPress website, offer them a custom theme, plugins for SEO and web traffic monitoring, and content writing services. 

Arrange flash sales

A limited offer can often stimulate impulsive purchase by creating a sense of urgency in your customers. For this trick to work, you need to offer highly demanded services for low prices, for a short period of time. Like, announce that your agency is creating landing pages for 50% off, for a week. Make sure to promote the sale in all of your social media channels. Most likely, people won’t think twice when they see something they need being sold with a discount and will rush to buy while the offer is active. 

Increase your customer base

Be active on social media

An obvious, effective, and inexpensive method. Promote yourself on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Whenever you launch a new product or service, let people know about it. Communicate with your existing and potential customers, respond to their comments, initiate polls. Encourage them to be active. 

Provide superb customer service

Both satisfied and unsatisfied clients tend to share their experiences with other people. It takes about 40 positive reviews to negate the damage done by just one review of an unhappy customer. On the other hand, a satisfied client will tell their friends about their positive experience with your company. Which means new clients for you.     

Speak at industry events

Industry-specific events and conferences are a great opportunity for you to grow your network, acquire new contacts, and expand your clientele. 

Do content marketing

High-quality content can generate new leads for you, educate clients about your products or services, engage them to interact with your company more often, increase loyalty to your brand, etc. Besides, a regularly updated website can keep your name on the first page of Google search results, which cannot be bad.  

Raise your prices 

Many agencies hesitate to raise prices for their services because they are afraid it would scare off their customers. At the same time, the benefits of this strategy are undeniable: if the volumes of the work your agency does remain stable, a price rise of just 1% can generate an 8% increase in operating profits.

Secondly, not raising your prices can sometimes have far worse consequences for your business, than losing several clients.

And finally, loyal customers will stay with you anyways. If you manage to show them the value of your work, they will pay the price you name. Many agencies estimate their prices by calculating the costs of the time and materials spent on work, then add the markup, and that’s it. This strategy won’t generate significant revenues. 

How is this new landing page useful for your customer? What can a well-designed website do for your customer’s mom-and-pop business? The value of your work can justify almost any price

Give up giveaways

Offering your client’s free stuff is a waste of time. Many agencies think it increases customer loyalty. In fact, it only increases your team’s fatigue. 

Free content or service demand as much effort as those your customer pays for. Your developer spends hours writing a free test app. Your content writer does hours of research and writing to create yet another “free 5-step guide” that a client won’t probably even read.

Your agency could earn money by selling the products your team creates. Instead, you give them away for free. And it does not even guarantee that a customer will make a purchase.   

Focus on your existing customer’s needs

Your existing clients are your valuable assets. Direct a part of your effort on retaining them: offer incentives and rewards, start a loyalty program, whatsoever. What’s the point in attracting new customers, if the old ones leave?

Outsource while you can

Hiring freelancers is a great way to get the job done. There is a bunch of reasons for that. 

You can learn more about the benefits of hiring freelancers in our article, “Why digital agencies should outsource.” What you should know right now is that hiring freelancers can be a great revenue growth strategy, for a time being. 

As for the challenges, the most significant one is to find a reliable and competent freelancer from the first attempt. If you do the search yourself, it might be complicated. If you reach out for Coding Ninjas, a freelance platform for pre-screened developers, you work safely with vetted and tested contractors.    

Possible challenges

Should your agency niche up?

Unfortunately, there is no univocal answer to the question of whether you should or should not niche down (this is why it’s a challenge, after all).

If you are a small web development agency, you might want to niche down for a number of reasons

– It is better to be an expert in one field than a jack-of-all-trades

– It will be easier for you to withstand competition within your small selected niche

– You can position and market your services in a more focused, efficient way

– It is easier for a niched agency to standardize and organize its business processes and workflows

– You will have better scalability. 

On the other hand, niching down means that

– You can lose some (or many) clients

– You can make a mistake and choose the wrong niche

– The word about your success and failures spreads much faster

– Industry turmoils can hit you harder

You are setting yourself some dangerous limits. Web development is an industry that changes rapidly. New technologies appear almost every day. What if the services you provide today will become fully automated tomorrow? What if the economy demands you to change the niche, and you have zero expertise in everything else?  

You should make the decision to niche down (or to do business as a “generalist”) after carefully exploring the opportunities and risks for your particular agency. Your capacities, resources, and expertise, combined with the state of the market, industry trends, and economy condition – this is what dictates one way of doing business, or another.

Should you fire your customers?

Yes, sometimes. Naturally, if you’ve just started, you want to cherish every customer you acquire. You need money, the temptation to take up just any work can seem unbearable – even if the conditions and the requirements are daunting. 

However, the truth is that not every customer is worth fighting for. “The customer is always right” attitude is a myth. 

Customers are people too, and they can be dead wrong sometimes. 

Typically, you might want to consider dumping a client if: 

  1. they delay payments regularly or directly refuse to pay for the work done  
  2. they indulge in scope creeping, micro-management, obsessive control over your workflow, and call you day and night with minor irrelevant requests
  3. they are rude or abusive, and treat your team as servants they bought with their money
  4. they often want to make big changes to the project the day before the deadline
  5. they go off of the radar, staying unavailable for the entire course of the project. Then they reappear and act as described in points 3 and 4.  

There may be other reasons for you to get rid of a customer. It is always a good idea to do your best to clarify the situation. But, if it’s not a misunderstanding but a repeated behavior, you should probably ask yourself why do you keep working for a customer like that. 

Typical problems web agencies face when trying to grow revenue

Revenue gaps

A revenue gap is the difference between your agency’s planned and actual top-line revenues. The challenge here is to analyze the gap: factors causing it and the ways to eliminate them. 

Strategy execution

Supposedly, you figured out which marketing strategy would work best for your agency to grow revenues. The challenge you face now is which steps you should take to turn the strategy into a sequence of specific steps.

Deciding when (and whether) to abandon a strategy

You designed a framework for implementing a strategy, but it does not work. You have two options now: analyze what could go wrong and fix it, or abandon the strategy. The trick here is to make the right choice. Otherwise, you can end up flogging a dead horse. 

Not understanding their customers’ journey

Problems with choosing the right marketing strategy for growing revenue may originate from not knowing the path your customer takes before making (or not making) a purchase. 

Operational efficiency

Optimizing business processes, and channels of distribution and communication can work miracles and boos your revenue within a short period of time. 

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