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From Scratch to Success: How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

According to Entrepreneur, digital marketing startups shoot themselves in the foot by over-focusing on one or two services or passing trend. The key to longevity is a fine-tuned set of services that don’t phase in and out of style.

Such services pay for themselves, generating more customers and revenue for your clients as well as your company. There are dozens of articles out there that lay out how to start a digital marketing agency.

If you have previous business experience, you’re already familiar with some of them. However, the fastest way to become a digital marketer depends partly on your approach and primarily on customer acquisition.

Building a customer base is done by delivering results and then scaling your workforce to accommodate a growing client list. Here are some high-level steps for accomplishing that.

How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

The process for starting your own digital marketing agency can’t be packaged into set steps. Each marketing professional has his or her own strengths and principles.

Though, there are some basic tasks you need to accomplish to get from concept to customer. The process involves a ton of work up front, including research and building on the knowledge base you already have.

1. Educate Yourself

You are starting a digital marketing company because you have an eye for this business and already know a thing or two about it, right? So, you’re past the “starting an online business for dummies” point.

Yet, there’s always something more to learn before you venture forth into running your own business. The same applies down the line after your business starts growing.

The more you know, then the more you need to learn. Trust me. This philosophy will take you a long way.

Understand the Digital Marketing Industry

Before you sell your service, be sure you have a solid understanding of this industry. Have a thorough understanding of your basic services. Know the ins and out of email marketing campaigns, for example.

Have a comprehensive definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. Be able to explain concepts and processes like how to create online funnels.

From a practical standpoint, you’ll also need to know how to gather clients, how and when to outsource select services. Of course, you’ll need to set prices and market your services to potential clients.

Take some time to catch up on the latest in the following subcategories of digital marketing. As you know, this industry changes swiftly. It’s easy to fall behind the curve.

Social Media Marketing

In addition to driving traffic to a customer’s website, social media provides incredible insights about customer preferences.

Further, customers who follow a company on social media are more likely to purchase goods or services again than customers who do not. Social media strategy is an integral part of digital marketing.

If you don’t have as much experience in this area as you do in others, take some time to educate yourself. It will pay off down the line when pitching to customers.

Email Marketing

Even though social media seems to be a driving factor in marketing, email is still one of the best ways to grow a business. Businesses can see up to a 122% ROI for each dollar they invest in email marketing. 

To make a successful email campaign, you must know how to make your messages stand out amidst all the other traffic customers see daily.

Search Engine Optimization

Obviously, search engine optimization (SEO) the way to increase brand awareness for your future customers. After all, approximately 93% of all online interactions started on a search engine

SEO as a methodology evolves almost as quickly as the technology that drives it. You should have comprehensive knowledge before you talk to your first customer.

From there, remain a perpetual student to keep up with the technology and trends that make up SEO.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing (Google Ads)

All the money spent on paid advertising does nothing for your clients unless that pay-per-click (PPC) leads to a sharp landing page

The two go hand in hand. Understanding that symbiotic relationship is the first step to becoming a true PPC guru. If you’re not, visitors won’t convert to customers. And you will torpedo your customer’s return on investment (ROI).

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an art that combines creating great content and then getting the max ROI from it. Quality content doesn’t guarantee ROI. You have to promote that content strategically to be effective.

Engaging content should reflect the core of your client company. And whenever possible, your customers should be able to repurpose the same content on different platforms. Easy enough concept, not-so-easy to execute.

Website and Graphic Design

Even if you’re not an artist, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of graphic design as it applies to content marketing. When you hire an artist, you’ll need to be able to communicate your ideas to him or her clearly.

Once you have all these concepts down, you’re ready to take the next steps in starting your digital marketing agency services.

2. Setting Prices for Your Services

Pricing services is no small task. Many new business owners underprice their services and soon feel the impact that causes. One way to set prices is to organize your services into tiers.

For example, Tier 1 would have a formula such as the management fee + Ad spending budget – 25% fee (discount offer) = the total charged to the customer.

Tier 2 would be the same formula but without the discount. For Tier 3, add on additional services and their respective charges. Remember to factor in your time and not just expenses into those numbers.

3. Write Your Business Plan

Once you’ve set your knowledge base and services, it’s time to formalize this all into a business plan. A business plan lays out critical information such as your company name and the niche or industry you will serve.

It also lays out the services you’re offering, from email marketing, SEO analysis, and so on. Formalizing your business plans lets you see your vision in writing. The next logical step is building your website, portfolio, and client testimonials.

4. Gather Clients

You’ve got the skills. You’ve got the plan. Now it’s time to create client relationships. Look for businesses within your niche. Select the best way to approach them and go for it.

Offer a Digital Marketing Audit

Once you get the contact information for your selected businesses, reach out over the phone or by email. Introduce yourself and the services you have to offer.

A great way to show how you can lend value to the company is to offer a digital marketing audit. Companies like Digital Shift provide potential clients a free 30-minute strategy session.

As you can image, that leads often leads to a full audit at the customer’s request. For the audit, review the company’s current marketing.

Compare them to successful competitors’ and provide solutions to help them surpass the competition.

Making the Deal

When it comes to solidifying services for a client, think about what your customer needs. Also, think about what he or she wants to hear.

Also, explain your process and the customer’s role in it. That way, clients know what to expect and what’s expected of them.

5. Document Your Results

Once you have clients who are seeing their projected ROI, you can document your results for your portfolio. You’ll have proven results for future clients.

Tracking your results ensures that your current client sees the results of your services as well. They need to see precisely how you are delivering on your promise.

6. Build Your Team

At some point, you no longer need to be an army of one (or even a few). You’ll eventually be drawing enough income to build a team. Search for people who can create content for you or edit video content.

You’ll need additional copywriters, artist, and web designers, among other talents. The more support you have, the more time you have to connect with new clients for continued growth.

You won’t be able to scale your business unless you at to your team. To succeed is to expand your talent pool.

Getting to Work

Digital marketing is an exciting industry in which to work. Owning your own marketing agency is a massive amount of work upfront. As your business grows, you will be running the agency more so than working it.

Still a lot of work, but with the freedoms that made you want to start your own company in the first place. This article presented broad steps on how to start a digital marketing agency.

You will tailor them to your talent and needs to start your business. Be sure to follow them to scale your business as demand for your services grows.