In this article, we will look at how to run a digital marketing agency, including everything you need to know to start out and thrive in the business. As more and more online businesses are created every day, they need someone to guide them to navigate this new world.
That person can be you. All you need to know is how to offer digital marketing as a service and the trends you need to keep in mind. We've covered both of these topics and arm you with all the information you need to get started.
Before we jump into running a digital marketing agency, let's first define what digital marketing is all about.
What Is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is marketing that happens on the internet. To elaborate further, we can say that digital marketing is a combination of strategies that aim to target, acquire, and build relationships with consumers online.
Some forms of digital marketing include search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, content marketing, video marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, display ads, and more.
In addition, engagement is a big part of digital marketing and is what differentiates it from traditional marketing.
What Is A Digital Marketing Agency?
A digital marketing agency is a business that offers the digital marketing services we've mentioned above. In addition, digital marketing agencies employ various tools and techniques to enable businesses to grow and succeed by attaining their marketing goals.
You can start digital marketing agencies without much capital as long as you arm yourself with information and you are determined to succeed.
Let's look at how you can start and run your own digital agency.
Steps to Follow to Start Your Own Digital Marketing Agency
Here are some steps to follow if you are starting your own digital marketing from scratch.
Step 1: Learn As Much As Possible
It's always good to arm yourself with as much information as possible before you embark on any endeavor. After all, information is power. However, when starting a digital marketing agency business, you have to know what's working and what's not and what trends people are currently following.
We'll look at the trends later on in the article. Now, we'd like you to educate yourself on everything you can find about digital marketing, digital marketing services, and running a digital marketing agency.
However, remember that this is only the preliminary learning phase. You have to keep learning every day. The digital marketing landscape follows the Darwinian principles of evolution.
You have to constantly know what's happening because the trends change so fast. If you don't strive to arm yourself with the necessary information every day, you'll be left behind in no time.
You can choose from the numerous freely available resources online or buy an online course. The truth is that you will not regret investing your time and money in learning about how to build an agency before you get started.
Even if you plan to hire more experts down the line, you'll still need to understand the concepts so that you'll know what they're doing and guide them as the work progresses.
Some of the concepts you'll need to understand to run a successful business include SEO, email marketing, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing, social media marketing, creating online funnels, and much more.
Once you feel well-equipped enough to continue the process, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Choose A Niche
This step can easily determine the success of your agency. The digital industry is vast and involves so many concepts and moving parts. Trying to master all of them and offer all these services can quickly cause your digital agency business to fail.
Therefore, instead of catering to everyone's needs, try and specialize in a few key concepts. This is also why the step above is crucial. After you've done your research, you'll be able to know which concepts appeal to you the most.
These are the areas you should focus on. Prospective clients often trust experts who specialize in the service they are looking for. Therefore, by specializing in a few areas, you will stand out in your field and attract the right clients.
Having this competitive edge will help your agency to thrive. Speaking of competitors, let's look at the next step.
step 3: Carry Out Competitor Analysis
Proper competition research will help you understand what you're up against. The world of digital marketing is vast, and you will be competing with several digital marketing agencies for the same clients.
Therefore, you want to stand out. To do this, you must know what your competitors are doing and then do better. By doing competition research, you'll also find out what gaps are in the industry that your agency can fill.
The best way to carry out competition research is to use the keywords you want to target. This will allow you to see who your competitors are because they are the ones who'll be using the same keywords as you.
You'll find about 15 or so other digital marketing agencies ranking and competing for these keywords. Once you've got an idea of who they are, you can then check what services they're offering and how they're making their money.
This can give you some ideas of how to go about your own activities. Some common monetization ideas you'll get include selling digital products such as ebooks and templates, offering digital marketing services to clients, coaching and online classes, and more.
Once you've understood how they monetize their platform, you can then see what in their content marketing strategy will work for you. Go through their website, social media channels, and other platforms they have and learn from them.
Once you've gathered as much information as possible, you can now start working on your own agency.
Step 4: Set Up A Website
Every business that wants to succeed in this digital age must have a website. Your website is your business's home on the web. It is your 24-hour salesperson and must represent your brand and entice prospective clients to want to work with you.
Therefore, launching your website should be the first thing you do before setting up other social media channels. First, choose a domain name that is closest to your brand name if you can't find an exact match.
Step 5: Build A Portfolio
Starting a digital marketing agency resembles starting any other business in many ways. Depending on what part of the world you're in, you may have to offer some free services until you get the trust of your soon-to-be customers.
Once people start to trust your brand and digital marketing agency, you can then start charging for your services and attracting more paying clients. Here's where a portfolio comes in. First, you want your target market to know the services you're offering.
Some of the details you should include in your portfolio include:
- Client testimonials
- Your bio
- Services offered
- Examples of work done for clients
- Case studies
- Call to Action
You can also add anything else you think would increase your conversion rate. The main thing to note is that you want to project confidence in your craft so that clients can believe in you. However, do not embellish the truth because this can cost you in the future.
Step 6: Create A Business Model
This step on our digital marketing agency journey involves determining how you'll bill your clients. You can choose to charge by the hour, charge a retainer, or any other method that suits you and your business.
You can also choose to use the competitor research you collected above to determine what method you'll use. Then, when you're starting out and are mostly dealing with short tasks, you can charge by the hour.
However, as you continue growing and scaling up, you'll need to adopt other methods. Nonetheless, always ensure that you and your client are on the same page regarding the payment plan to avoid complications in the future.
Step 7: Get Social
Here's where you set up your social media channels. First, choose about three relevant social media platforms that align with your brand to connect with your potential clients. Then, you can share relevant content that's entertaining, informative, and offers value to your followers.
This will help you build trust with your followers and make you stand out as an authority in your field. Part of creating a strong online presence is connecting with your clients and followers online.
Another great thing about having social media channels is building strong and lasting relationships with your clients.
You can also use these social platforms to drive traffic to your website, where conversions happen. Ensure that you regularly update your content and keep up with what your followers are most engaged with.
Step 8: Generate Leads
There are several ways to generate leads for your digital marketing company, including using social platforms and other advertising techniques. However, before starting this process, ensure that you have your target market in mind.
This will help you focus on a specific group of people instead of casting your net too wide and not getting any real conversions.
For example, you can use social media campaigns to generate traffic to your website to convert these leads to sales.
Having a blog section on your website can also boost your conversations because people will learn to trust you and come to you for knowledge.
It will be easier to convert your visitors to loyal customers once this happens. You can also opt to use affiliate marketing to generate leads to your digital marketing space. Lead generation through affiliate marketing requires you to partner with affiliates to help you expand your network.
You can also check out what your competitors are doing to generate leads and incorporate what works for you.
Step 8: Build A Marketing Team
As you start an agency, you may choose to hire freelancers instead of getting a whole team together. However, although you may choose to start out on your own initially, you'll soon need more help as your client base expands.
Therefore, when the time comes to put together a marketing team, you should know what specialists you need on your team. Let's look at a few.
a). Social Media Manager
If you decide to offer social media services once you start your own digital marketing agency, you'll need to hire a social media manager. This digital marketing specialist will be in charge of handling the social media platforms of your clients.
Thanks to their digital marketing skills, they'll be able to create social media strategies, campaigns, and more for your clients.
Ensure you choose a social media manager who is competent so that you can attract more clients thanks to their good work.
Some of the responsibilities of your social media manager will include creating and posting content, engaging with the followers online, replying to comments, running ad campaigns, carrying out analytics, and anything else your client will want to be done.
b). Content Writers
If you plan on offering content creation services for your clients' blogs and websites, you'll need a good content writing team. These writers will be in charge of researching and creating high-quality and relevant content to boost your SEO efforts.
Having good writers also applies if you plan on offering SEO services to your clients. A big part of SEO services includes creating high-quality content that is optimized for the web.
Therefore, ensure that you get writers who understand how keyword research and search engine optimization work.
c). Content Editor
A content editor is in charge of quality control. They can edit the work produced by your content creators and content writers.
d) Sales Executives
Every marketing agency should have a couple of sales executives who can go out there and get you some clients. These sales experts will be tasked with getting clients for your digital marketing agencies and negotiating the contract terms.
The sales executives will also negotiate monthly deliverables based on the projects with your clients.
e). Advertising Experts
If your digital marketing business is offering advertising services, you'll need to hire ad experts. Although organic traffic is preferred in today's age, your clients may also want to mix this up with some paid advertising.
Therefore, having an ad expert on your team will allow you to offer paid advertising services and get more business confidently.
Some of these advertising platforms include Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads, and more.
f). Graphic Designers
If you want to create a successful agency, you'll need to produce top-notch and high-quality content. Therefore, having a graphic designer on your team will enable you to provide your clients with high-quality images and videos.
Even after your content writers have written amazing content for blogs and websites, you'll still need images to break the monotony of reading. This is where media like images, videos, and infographics come in.
Your graphics designer will do that for you. You can also use these high-quality media to drive website traffic to the clients' websites through social media.
Now that you understand how to start an agency on your own, let's look at the types of digital marketing agencies you can start.
What Are the Types of Digital Marketing Agencies?
Remember how we mentioned specializing in a few areas? We'll now look at some of the types of digital agencies so that you can choose the one that works for you. You can choose to specialize in one field on in a couple of fields.
The type of agency you choose should be one that you're passionate about, fits your budget, aligns with your business goals, and feels right to you. Let's dive in.
1. Digital Marketing Consultant
If you are on a tight budget and only have room for one person, you can choose to become a digital marketing consultant. A digital marketing consultant is a professional who either works independently or works as part of an agency.
You can do this before you start a digital marketing agency. Then, depending on the business models you want to use, you can work as a consultant who offers services to various clients.
For example, you can approach local businesses and tell them what you're doing and the services you offer. You can think of this as a form of outbound marketing.
Once you've identified weaknesses in the strategies of your new clients, you can then work to fix them. You can then create a pricing model that works for the services you are offering.
2. Digital Marketing Agency
If you have the budget to create your own agency, this is a great road to take. You can follow the steps above to know exactly how to go about it. With this type of agency, you will be offering your clients multi-channel marketing.
This means that you will interact with their customers on multiple channels such as social media, blogs, emails, and their website.
To run a successful agency, you'll need to employ several specialists to work well with your target clients.
How much money you charge for your services will be dependent on your monthly costs, marketing budget, services offered, and more. You can also choose to charge a flat monthly fee if that works better for your business model.
3. Full-Service Digital Agency
This agency is bigger than most other agencies because it offers almost all the services in the digital marketing industry.
This established agency often has several employees and works with many clients. You don't have to start with this type of agency.
You can stay as a consultant and move up and land clients. However, having great and competent team members is a must for this type of agency. In addition, it can be a daunting process to run such a large business with revenue targets to hit.
This type of agency also needs office space to run more effectively. However, with the changing times, you don't have to have a physical location.
4. Inbound Marketing Agency
This type of agency focuses on inbound marketing strategies and tactics. If this is your area of expertise, you will thrive here. So what are inbound marketing strategies?
These are strategies that position your client's business in a place where their target market will easily find them. This is the opposite of outbound marketing tactics that seek to go where the customer is.
The advantage of these strategies is that you can get significant results for your efforts. The disadvantage is that it may take a while to see results.
Nonetheless, if this is your field of expertise, you will get the hang of it in no time. The advantage of a specialized type of agency is that you have a specific target audience, and you can easily become a trusted authority in your niche.
6. Web Design Agency
If you are a creative designer or you love programming, this can be a great agency for you to start. You can have more than one creative designer on your team and focus on providing web design services to your clients.
Having a website is the first step to succeeding in the online world. This means that you can attract several clients at a go without much advertising on your end.
In addition, you will offer services such as web design, web redesign, image creation, storage, web hosting, user experience and user interface design, and much more.
7. SEO Agency
Another crucial part of digital marketing is SEO. Once your client makes money through SEO, they'll continue giving you business.
You can help your clients' businesses grow by offering SEO services such as keyword research, backlink audits, link building, website audits, video description optimization, content creation, and more.
Some of the tools you'll need to get familiar with to succeed in this business include SEM Rush, SEO Moz, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and more.
Ensure that you are well-versed in SEO principles and keep up with changing algorithms to succeed in this field.
6. Social Media Agency
If you love the social media marketing world, this is for you. You will create and maintain the social media presence of your client's businesses and ensure that everything is running smoothly.
Some of the activities you'll be involved in include creating content, posting regularly, responding to comments and questions, revamping existing content, undertaking research, and running social media campaigns.
Depending on your budget, preferences, and the type of niche you're interested in, you'll be able to make the right decision on which type of agency you want to start and run.
Now that we got that out of the way let's look at some of the digital marketing trends you should look out for in 2022.
What Are Some Digital Marketing Trends for 2022?
A great business strategy to keep in mind as you start a digital marketing agency, and run it successfully, is to keep up with the times.
The digital marketing landscape is fueled by competition. Therefore, a great tip on how to run a digital marketing agency is to stay ahead of the trends. You can be sure that your competitors certainly are.
This is why we'll look at some emerging trends for 2022 that will enable your agency to keep thriving. Let's dive in.
1. Conversational Marketing
What is conversational marketing? Conversational marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on talking to consumers. Some good examples of conversational marketing include live chat, voice assistants, chatbots, and more.
The reason why conversational marketing is coming up is that it makes the marketing process interactive. Your customers feel seen and heard in real-time. It also makes the whole process less formal and more friendly.
Therefore, incorporating these marketing strategies into your own agency can improve your own business and the businesses of your potential clients.
Once you make interactions between you and the target audience more friendly, you'll drive more business for your own business and that of your clients.
Nowadays, people don't want to feel like they're talking to strangers. Instead, they want to feel seen and that their needs are being understood. Conversational marketing helps with that.
2. Increased Visualization
People have always preferred visual content to written content. However, more and more people are now focused more on visual content than text. There are several reasons for this change.
For starters, visual content is often easier to remember than written content. It is also more interesting and engaging. If you look at most social media platforms that are booming today, you'll notice that they are mostly image-focused platforms.
Huge companies like Google and Pinterest are also heavily investing in visual search technology as they adjust to this trend. Therefore, you can advise your clients to adjust your marketing budget to accommodate more visuals to get more business.
The use of infographics, videos, images, and data visualizations in your written content will also go a long way in boosting engagement.
3. Social Commerce
This is another trend that marketing agencies should not ignore. Have you scrolled on Instagram and seen an ad that didn't look like an ad? Instead, it flowed with the rest of the content on your feed and was almost unrecognizable as an ad save for the "sponsored" tag.
This is part of social commerce. Although it's not exactly a new trend, it's something that your potential clients will benefit from.
Influencer marketing is also part of social commerce. It plays a huge role in social media marketing and can give your client's business a competitive advantage.
4. Voice Search
Voice search is a trend that has been growing and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. The convenience that it brings to the table is enormous as it gives the user amazing flexibility.
So, what marketing efforts can you focus on to make this trend work to your advantage?
Some of the ways you can make voice search work for you include:
- Creating high-quality content
- Creating content that answers specific questions
- Arranging your content in question and answer format
Incorporating these tips into your marketing strategies will help you optimize for voice search. You can optimize your clients' websites and content to match this new trend.
5. Featured Snippets
Ranking on the first page of Google has always been a challenge. However, as times continue to change and Google continues to change its algorithm, you can find ways to make these changes work for you.
Search engine optimization will always be an important aspect of digital marketing, and learning how to use it will earn you more clients.
However, the growth of mobile search means aiming for the first page is not the only way to rank.
Featured snippets would give many businesses a competitive advantage even if their content were not on page one of the SERPs.
You can tailor your content to be worthy of a featured snippet by being specific in your content and following the tips we mentioned in the voice search section.
Just like in social ecommerce, this trend still centers on the fact that people want to be heard and seen by brands and businesses. This means that you have to aim for the heart.
In addition to giving consumers exactly what they want, you still need to touch their hearts.
Doing this will give your agency a leg up in the competition because you'll be making your clients more money through increasing conversions.
However, this trend requires you to incorporate some psychology into your marketing services.
You'll need to empathize with your client's target audience and know them like you would a friend. This will allow you to target their pain points and give them what their hearts desire.
You can add a little humor to the mix and make them feel like they're talking with a friend.
7. Push Notifications
With the email marketing world becoming more saturated each day, more businesses are turning to push notifications. The fact that most people are often on their phones makes this trend all the more effective.
As you continue to work with local clients and new clients every day, you must ensure that you're helping their businesses grow by increasing brand awareness and conversions.
Advising your clients to incorporate push notifications in the business model will serve them well.
However, ensure that you don't overdo it, because most people don't like annoying pop-ups.
Which type of digital marketing agency would you like to start? We hope that this in-depth piece on how to run a digital marketing agency in 2022 has equipped you with all the information you need to get started.
Remember to arm yourself with information on digital marketing before you set out to start your own digital marketing agency.