US digital advertising budgets reached $129.3 billion in 2019 and is predicted to go even higher in the upcoming decade. Ecommerce has been present as early as 1994, but experienced a drastic boom in recent years, especially as more and more businesses adopt online platforms in response to the global pandemic. Traditional businesses are bearing the brunt of physical restrictions brought about by the pandemic, but industries like digital marketing services are experiencing an exponential rise in demand.
Advantages of starting a digital marketing agency
As mentioned earlier, there is a great demand for digital marketing services, so already there is no shortage of clients. Not having prior experience in SEO and digital marketing isn’t a concern either. While it is an advantage, there are many online resources available so you can self-study and familiarize yourself with the current landscape at your own pace.
It also doesn’t require a lot of financial resources to jumpstart. All you need is a stable internet connection, licensing for analytics and metrics tools, and a website. Amassing a large group and putting up a physical office space is also unnecessary when starting a digital marketing agency. In fact, most of the work can be done from home. When hiring employees, consider a small team first, or hire freelancers and white label services.
Getting started and gaining momentum
It may seem tempting to strike while the iron is hot, but running headfirst into a business without the proper preparations is a recipe for disaster. Take some time to read the following tips to give you an idea of what steps you need to take when starting your own digital marketing agency.
- Get educated. Obviously, you can’t start a digital marketing agency if you don’t know anything about digital marketing. Familiarize yourself with what it is, how it works, the trends, and the projections. Build the necessary skills using online courses and books. Reach out to anyone with ample experience in the industry to ask for advice and mentorship. Brush up on business management, leadership, and other skills necessary to run a business.
- Develop a business model. Determine how you will price your services. You may be tempted to go for the most profitable ‘monthly flat rate’ charging scheme that most of your competitors adopt, but without an impressive portfolio, you can’t expect to compete with top agencies. Don’t focus on ROI for now and instead set reasonable and flexible fees to attract clients on a budget. Once you’ve established a strong brand image and a strong portfolio, you can begin to charge more for your services.
- Determine your target market. You may be tempted to accept all clients from any industry, but to stand out, your agency needs to have a clear and unique value proposition. By narrowing down on one industry or client type, you can streamline and strengthen your services and generate leads more efficiently. Put yourself in the client’s shoes for a moment. Would a client in the landscaping industry prefer to work with a digital marketing agency that is a jack-of-all-trades or one that specializes in marketing for landscaping and gardening services? Different industries have different marketing trends and techniques and specializing lends you a unique intuition into what works for this specific market.
- Equip yourself with the right tools. Running a digital marketing agency means you need to invest in software licenses. These aren’t cheap, but you’ll need these tools to help you optimize your digital marketing campaigns, metric tracking, create client reports and invoices, and so on. There are hundreds of thousands of software available, and you need to choose the ones best for the services you plan to offer. Don’t immediately pay for the premium version of the software when the free version covers all your needs just fine. Make sure to go for software with a friendly user interface not just for you but for your potential clients.
- Generate leads. Once you’ve solidified your business and identified your target market, it’s now a matter of trying to snag a client. Make sure to have a high-quality website that showcases your services, value propositions, and other attractive information on your agency. Take advantage of affiliate marketing as well as setting up alerts to contact buyers of domain names relevant to your target market.
- Scale your business as needed. As a budding business, do not be afraid to hire freelancers and white label services to cover any gaps in manpower and expertise required for certain services. However, as your business grows, consider investing in an in-house team. Having your own team of creatives, web developers, analysts, engineers, and tech support will give clients a stronger impression of your agency.
- Build your portfolio and brand image. Gather testimonials and positive reviews from your clients and use any negative feedback to improve your services for the next client. Your portfolio is key in building a positive reputation for your agency, which in turn attracts bigger clients and gives you more leeway when you decide to charge more for your services, which leads to more profit.
Passion and perseverance
It’s easy to get caught up in motivational speeches and ideas of grandeur when you’re thinking of starting a business, but you also have to ground yourself in the reality that this is a long-term commitment, and like any long-term commitment, you must ensure that you’re not rushing into it. Take ample time to deliberate and consider the pros and cons, as well as any worst-case scenarios, and ensure you have a safety net. It is not a pursuit that takes weeks or months, but years, and to create a thriving business, you must take the necessary steps to make that future a reality and keep yourself and your team motivated for the long run. Remember that it is not a straightforward path and that failure is inevitable, but do not let your failures define you or your business. Stay persistent and motivated, and you will surely reap the benefits.