The demand for internet marketing companies, and marketers, have been on the rise in the 21st century. Businesses are looking for more interactive and creative ways to interact with clients digitally. Thus, with the scope of digital marketing growing too fast, you can start an advertising agency and turn it into a sustainable business. This guide has everything you need.
Gartner’s annual CMO Spend and Strategy Survey showed that the average marketing spending increased from 6.4% in 2021 to 9.5% of company revenue across almost all industries in 2022. The most important channels include social media, writing content, SEO, and videos.
What does a digital marketing agency do? Well, it is an enterprise that clients hire to outsource their marketing functions instead of handling them in-house. The agency offers different digital solutions, helping clients promote their products and services, meet marketing goals and grow their businesses. It is a promising online business idea for 2022.
You can build a digital agency focusing more on marketing strategy and execution. Alternatively, you may create a creative agency that focuses on brand design, logo design, content strategy and writing, and everything that revolves around building a brand image.
This article presents to you some of the digital marketing businesses you can start, how to promote your agency online, and how to continuously improve it for more earnings.
Types of Digital Marketing Agencies
Digital marketing businesses are broadly categorized into three types:
- Full-Service Digital Agency is a one-stop shop for internet marketing or advertising services, helping clients manage all aspects of their online presence. It has different departments for different functions like design, web development, content writing, and SEO.
- Single-Channel Agency helps its clients reach their target customers through only one distribution channel. For instance, an SEO agency can specialize in on-page or off-page SEO services. Such a business is less costly to start and less complex to manage.
- Multi-Channel Agency helps businesses interact with customers through online and offline, direct and indirect channels like emails and catalogs. However, NG Data shows that 23% of marketers lack resources or time to sustain multi-channel campaigns. But such a business can devote time and resources without compromising on quality.
So, which of the three types of business is the most suitable for you? If you have fewer resources or want to start a digital marketing agency with no money, I suggest you settle with a single-channel agency. And focus on a specific type of digital marketing like PPC.
But if you have a higher budget and can afford to hire staff, you may settle for a full-service digital marketing or multi-channel agency. And help client increase reach through online and offline means. Either way, follow these 13 steps to start your agency.
Start A Digital Marketing Agency in 13 Steps
Starting a digital agency, whether full-service, single-channel, or multi-channel, isn’t that complicated. Follow these 13 simple steps and eventually be a leader in the industry.
Step 1: Acquire Digital Marketing Skills
To start a successful digital agency, you must master basic marketing skills unless you want to offer half-baked services. Some top skills you’ll need to become an expert in this field include SEO, communication skills, social media, blogging, and data analysis.
Some of the strategies you can adopt to learn these and more digital skills include:
- Enrolling in paid digital marketing courses
- Reading marketing books
- Following digital marketing blogs like mine 🙂
- Watching tutorials on YouTube or other websites
- Doing an internship to get practical skills
- Starting a blog and learning through experience
- Listening to marketing podcasts
- Watching webinars
- Finding a mentor and following their tips
Is digital marketing easy or hard to learn? Most experts agree that learning foundational marketing skills isn’t that hard. However, mastering the skills and putting them into practice can be challenging. So you can make work easier by focusing on a particular type like SEM or SEO and then creating a practical strategy to advance your marketing skills with time.
Step 2: Select the Services to Offer
There’re different types of digital services your agency can offer online. The most profitable ones include SEO, social media, content marketing, PPC, and affiliate marketing services.
You can select any of these services or email and phone marketing to build a single-channel marketing agency. But if you intend to create a full-service or multiple-channel marketing agency, research and select the most appropriate ones for your business.
The choice of services depends on many factors. For instance, if you’re creating a business on your own, it would depend on your skills and interests. But if you’re to form a team from the start, the choice of services can rely on the level of competition and opportunity gap in the market. So, conducting extensive market research before making decisions is fundamental.
Be sure to identify what type of agency you want to create, the problems or challenges your target audience may be experiencing, their budget, and where to find them. Doing so will enable you to make informed decisions across all aspects and create a digital company.
Step 3: Plan Business Processes & Set Goals
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. These words were arguably said by Benjamin Franklin and have maintained relevance since the 1790s. The quote implies that you must be ready and plan for all possibilities, positive or negative. If not, you’ll fail terribly.
Therefore, you must set clear business goals and objectives to start and grow a sustainable digital marketing agency. What do you intend to achieve? Who is your target audience, and how will you find and retain them? How will you gain a competitive advantage? These are some things you need to get right before starting your advertising business.
This is a critical stage where you evaluate your business, create a plan, and develop tactics to help your business idea succeed. You also need to create a calendar and make data-based decisions. And even decide on the channels to use and how to evaluate and execute your plan.
Step 4: Deal with Legal Issues
By this stage, you already know what type of digital marketing agency you want to start, the capital sources, and where your business will be located. Now, decide the legal status of your entity; is it a sole proprietorship, partnership, private or public company, and register it.
At this stage, you sort all, or the majority, legal issues like licensing, trademark, health and safety approval, confidentiality, and even terms and policies.
Step 5: Get Your Business Website Ready
You can hire a freelance web designer to design and manage your website and integrate even the payment model. Or do it yourself if you’re familiar with the skills. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a successful website for your online business:
- Determine the primary purpose of the website
- Search and select a domain name
- Buy affordable web hosting from Bluehost
- Create your website pages and write content
- Integrate your payment system if necessary
- Test or hire someone to test your site and launch it
- Market it using these digital marketing strategies
Important: Work on your website structure, and write quality, original and SEO-optimized articles for your website. And target long-tail keywords as they are less competitive and more specific. They tend to drive more targeted traffic to your site, attracting higher conversion rates.
Step 6: Create a Portfolio
Now that your website is ready, it’s time to demonstrate expertise to your potential customers. You can share reviews or video testimonials of the clients you helped. Even samples of articles you’ve written if you offer anything to do with content writing.
Most clients don’t want you to tell them what your services or products can do; they want you to demonstrate them. Create pages displaying your work for other clients with their permission. But first, make your business a perfect example of how you are experienced in the field. You can’t offer link-building services, and your website rarely gets backlinks.
Step 7: Monitor Your Competitors
Whether you’re running internet marketing campaigns for your business or clients, competitive analysis is fundamental. It helps you understand what other brands in your industry are doing to acquire and retain clients, including what pages drive traffic and lead to their company.
At this stage, you should understand what businesses you’re competing against. Learn what they are doing differently to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. What makes their services unique? Find a gap they are not filling in the market and develop a strategy to fill it.
Step 8: Define Your Business Model
You can opt to start and operate your digital marketing agency in many different ways. The packages you offer and how you’ll charge clients is a critical aspect that dictates how effectively your business operates. Here’re the four most common pricing models:
- Hourly Basis – the most basic pricing model that involves charging clients based on the number of hours you have engaged with them. You can charge as little as $20 per hour. However, billing can become muddy if you offer complex and longer service packages. It is effective for businesses focusing on one-to-one consulting as part of their service offerings.
- The flat Retainer is one of the simplest pricing models that involves assessing how much a particular work will cost and the timeline. Then agreeing on how much the client will pay you within a given time, say quarterly or monthly. The agreement terms must be very clear.
- Percentage of Spend is a popular pricing model that factors in the growth potential and scalability of the clients. An agency that has reached the maturity stage may turn down clients with little or no pre-existing spending. But this model is unsuitable for beginners.
- The commission-Based model is where an agency only gets paid when the client makes money. It is one of the most popular approaches agencies use to create a competitive advantage over others. It builds trust and confidence clients have in your services.
The best business model is the one that is most suitable for your target customers.
Step 9: Choose the Right Tools
Depending on the type of digital marketing agency you want to start, find the most suitable tools for your business and clients. Including analytics, writing, email marketing, and SEO analysis tools. They automate repetitive tasks, allowing you to focus on more important tasks. You can even contact such businesses and partner with them to help your clients better.
For instance, if you’re starting an email marketing agency, you can partner with these 9 Email Marketing companies. And help your clients enjoy awesome features like automation, bulk sending, and analytics. Or check these 11 Best SEO Tools if you’re starting an SEO agency.
Knowing what tools to recommend will strengthen the solutions you’re offering to our clients. Not to mention that you can earn passive income through affiliate marketing.
Step 10: Pitch for Clients Online
By now, you have your website and portfolio ready. So, it’s time to pitch your digital marketing services. You can do so through warm pitching (existing contacts) or cold pitching (emailing strangers), showing your expertise, explaining your services, and offering samples.
You can do a few things to pitch your marketing services to potential clients. First, conduct enough market research and find niches with scope. Then build your brand, and prepare an awesome pitch. You can use lead magnets like ebooks to collect emails from your website visitors. Follow up with them regularly to keep them updated with offers and services.
Step 11: Start a Business Blog
A business blog, if well-targeted, can help you drive more traffic to your business and land sales leads. Statistics show that websites that blog have 434% more indexed pages. That’s why 72% of online marketers consider content creation their most effective SEO tactic. Starting a business blog will help you build your online presence and drive more sales for your business.
Starting one is less complicated than creating a business website since you already have a domain, a brand, and a niche. You can use a hosting company like Bluehost to install a WordPress blog. Then find 30 to 50 blog ideas, plan your publishing strategy and start blogging.
Step 12: Build A Marketing Team
As a small business leader, delegating various responsibilities will help your small business to grow. So, for your agency to expand, you can assemble a team with roles like Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Digital Marketer, Content Marketer, SEO, and Social Media Specialist.
In addition to helping you build a sustainable business, the team will have the technical skills needed to expand your agency. That’s how you serve a wider market and make more money. So, you can hire such experts from day one or recruit them as the need arise.
Step 13: Market Your Digital Agency
As a digital agency, you understand better what type of digital marketing strategy best works for you. You have to research where your target audience or customers are, what they find interesting, the type of products or services they currently use, and more info.
Market your marketing agency using any of these strategies:
- SEO OR SEM (PPC marketing)
- Content Marketing (blogs, videos, guides)
- Influencer and Social Media Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing (commission-based)
- Email Marketing campaigns
The goal is to drive as many qualified buyers as possible to your website or office and convert them into customers. And you can use any of the above strategies or combine a few.
FAQs on Starting a Digital Agency
A digital marketing agency is a business that helps clients’ products and services reach the target audience through digital channels. It includes launching market campaigns on social media, websites through content (blogs and videos), and PPC, among others.
A digital marketing agency helps establish your digital marketing goal and develop and manage innovative strategies to market your business online to increase sales and profits.
The most common examples of digital marketing include Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Email Marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Marketing Automation and Analytics, and Influencer Marketing.
Learn digital marketing skills by enrolling in courses and reading books or blogs. And after deciding the types of services, you’ll offer, plan how your business will operate and create goals. Then register it, build a website, create a portfolio, and market your business.
Digital marketing businesses make money by charging clients for their digital services like SEO, content writing, affiliate marketing, analytics, and social media services.
Creating a business website and blog will help your digital marketing agencies to get clients. That’s not all. You must make great landing pages and articles that will help drive qualified buyers to your business. And market it online through PPC and other means.
Absolutely. Starting a digital agency is worth it as long as you have the skills, drive, and commitment to deliver results. You can build a sustainable marketing agency if you manage a professional team and market your business online.
Conclusion: What Next?
A digital agency is an enterprise that clients (individuals or businesses) hire to outsource their marketing functions instead of handling them in-house. It offers different solutions, helping clients promote their products/services, meet marketing goals and grow their businesses.
It can be Full-Service (all internet marketing solutions), Single-Channel (focus on one type of digital marketing like SEO), or Multi-Channel (online and offline marketing solutions).
Follow these 13 simple steps to start any digital marketing agency today:
- Acquire digital marketing skills – courses, blogs
- Select the services to offer – SEO, SEM
- Plan business processes and set goals
- Deal with legal issues like licensing
- Start a business website and write articles
- Create a portfolio and show your expertise
- Monitor your competitors and learn
- Define your business model
- Choose the right digital tools
- Pitch for clients online
- Start a business blog and write content
- Build a marketing team and delegate responsibilities
- Market your digital agency online and boost sales
Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section. You can also check these 14 unique lead generation strategies and 12 ways to increase traffic to any website. And if you need help with SEO and Content writing, contact me, and I’ll see how we can to do help.