Are you excited about the prospect of starting your own digital marketing agency? Do you want to be your own boss and help businesses succeed through effective marketing strategies? Then this article is for you! We’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how to start a digital marketing agency, covering everything from identifying your target market and defining your services to building your team and marketing your agency. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving and successful digital marketing agency. So let’s get started and turn your entrepreneurial dreams into a reality!
What is a Digital Marketing Agency?
A digital marketing agency is a company that assists businesses in promoting their products and services through the use of digital channels such as the internet, social media, email, and mobile apps. The agency aims to help its clients reach their target audience and achieve their marketing and sales objectives through effective digital strategies and tactics.
For example, Neil Patel is a digital marketing expert and the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. Matt Diggity is the CEO and founder of Matt Diggity Marketing, an agency that provides SEO, PPC, and social media marketing services. Gary Vaynerchuk is a digital marketing expert, speaker, and author who is the CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service digital agency.
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Is Starting a Digital Worth It?
Starting a marketing agency can be profitable, as there is a high demand for digital marketing services such as web design, SEO, content creation, and social media marketing. A marketing agency can generate revenue and profits by offering these services to businesses.
However, planning and managing the agency to maximize profitability is important. This might include identifying a target market, pricing services appropriately, managing expenses, and continuously seeking new clients. As with any business, a marketing agency’s profitability will depend on various factors, including the demand for its services, the competition in the market, and the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.
Services Offered by a Digital Marketing Agency
A digital marketing agency helps businesses to promote their products or services using digital channels such as social media, email, search engines, and websites. Digital marketing channels are the means through which businesses can reach and engage with customers online. Some common digital marketing channels include:
1) Website Maintenance and Growth
A business’s website is a key channel for providing information about products and services, generating leads, and making sales. A marketing agency can help a business with managing its website in a number of ways, including:
- Developing and designing a website that is visually appealing, user-friendly, and optimized for search engines
- Conducting website audits to identify areas for improvement and make recommendations for changes
- Implementing on-page SEO strategies to improve the website’s ranking in search engine results
- Creating and managing online advertising campaigns to drive traffic to the website
- Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy to generate leads and sales through the website
- Analyzing website traffic and performance data to understand user behavior and identify opportunities for optimization
- Providing ongoing maintenance and updates to ensure the website is up-to-date and functioning properly.
2) Email marketing
Email marketing involves sending promotional or informational messages to a list of subscribers via email. Services could include:
- Email list management: manage an email list, including collecting email addresses, segmenting the list into different groups, and maintaining the list in accordance with privacy laws.
- Email template design: design professional and engaging email templates consistent with the brand’s style and messaging.
- Email content creation: help a business create compelling and relevant email content, including developing a content strategy, writing and editing emails, and sourcing images and other media.
- Email campaign planning and execution: plan and execute campaigns, including setting goals, identifying target audiences, and creating a schedule for sending emails.
- Email analytics: track and analyze the performance of email campaigns using tools such as email responder software. This can help the business understand how email campaigns are performing and identify areas for improvement.
3) Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing services might involve:
- Social media account setup and management: set up and manage its social media accounts, including creating profiles and bios, designing cover photos and profile pictures, and connecting the accounts to the business’s website and other online assets.
- Social media content creation and curation: create and curate social media content, including developing a content calendar, writing and scheduling posts, and sourcing images and other media.
- Social media advertising: create and manage social media advertising campaigns, including setting goals, identifying target audiences, and creating ad creatives.
- Social media analytics: track and analyze the performance of its social media efforts using tools such as social media analytics platforms. This can help the business understand how its social media activity drives engagement and conversions.
- Social media customer service: manage customer inquiries and complaints on social media by responding to comments and messages promptly and professionally.
4) Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
Marketing agencies can help a business with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in a number of ways, including:
- PPC account setup and management: set up and manage PPC accounts on platforms such as Google Ads and Bing Ads. This might include creating campaigns, ad groups, and ads and setting up tracking and conversion tracking.
- Keyword research: identify relevant keywords to target in its PPC campaigns using keyword research tools and the Google Ads Keyword Planner.
- Ad copywriting: write compelling and relevant ad copy that will help to attract and convert potential customers.
- Bid management: optimize its bids to ensure that its ads are being shown to the right audiences at the right times and that the business is getting the best possible return on investment.
- PPC analytics: track and analyze the performance of its PPC campaigns using tools such as Google Analytics. This can help the business understand how its PPC activity is driving engagement and conversions and identify opportunities for improvement.
Pay Per Click Services
Pay-per-click is a way to connect with your ideal audience when searching for your specific products and services.
5) Influencer marketing
Digital marketing agency owners can help a business with influencer marketing in a number of ways, including:
- Identifying and evaluating potential influencers: A marketing agency can help a business identify influencers who are a good fit for the business’s brand and products and who have a relevant and engaged following. The agency can also help the business evaluate different influencers’ potential reach and impact.
- Negotiating and managing partnerships: A digital marketing company can help a business negotiate and manage partnerships with influencers, including drafting and reviewing contracts, setting clear expectations and deliverables, and handling any issues that may arise.
- Developing and implementing influencer campaigns: develop and implement influencer campaigns by creating a plan for the content and messaging of the campaigns, coordinating the creation of content with influencers, and tracking the results of the campaigns.
- Measuring and analyzing the results of influencer campaigns: measure and analyze the results using tools such as social media analytics platforms and customer tracking software. This can help the business understand the impact of the campaigns and identify areas for improvement.
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6) Content Marketing
A digital marketing service provider would likely offer content marketing services such as:
- Content strategy development: develop a content strategy that aligns with the business’s marketing goals and target audience. This might involve identifying topics and formats that will be most effective at reaching and engaging the target audience and creating a content calendar to schedule the creation and distribution of content.
- Content creation: A company can help a business create various content, including blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and videos. The agency can also help with editing and proofreading content to ensure that it is high-quality and free of errors.
- Content distribution: distribute its client’s content through various channels, including the business’s website, social media accounts, email campaigns, and third-party websites.
- Content optimization: optimize content for search engines and for the user experience, including by conducting keyword research, optimizing titles and meta descriptions, and using formatting and structure techniques to improve readability.
- Content analytics: A digital marketing businesscan helps a business track and analyze the performance of its content using tools such as Google Analytics and social media analytics platforms. This can help the business understand how its content is performing and identify opportunities for improvement.
Defining the Right Model
A business model is a framework for generating revenue and profits. It outlines how a company plans to make money and defines the elements necessary for the business to be successful.
Some common elements of a business model include the target audience the value proposition (the unique benefits that the business offers to its customers), the revenue streams (the sources of income for the business), and the cost structure (the expenses associated with running the business).
A digital marketing agency might set up its business model in a number of ways, depending on the services it offers, the market it serves, and its goals and resources. Here are a few examples of business models that a digital marketing agency might consider:
Retainer-based Business Model
In this model, the agency works with clients on a retainer basis, charging a fixed fee for a set period of time. The agency may offer various services, including website design and development, SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and content marketing.
Project-based Pricing Model
In this model, the agency works with clients on a project-by-project basis, charging a fee for each project. The agency may offer various services, including website design and development, branding and identity design, and marketing campaigns.
In this model, the agency combines elements of the retainer and project-based models. The agency may offer various services, including website design and development, SEO, PPC advertising, and social media. Depending on the client’s needs, it may work with clients on a retainer or project basis.
The digital marketing industry is constantly evolving. By staying attuned to the latest developments, an agency can better support its clients by suggesting the most appropriate digital marketing services for their businesses
1) Identify your Target Market
Identifying potential customers for your own digital marketing agency business involves considering several factors, including the needs and characteristics of potential clients, the agency’s services and expertise, and the market’s competition. Here are some steps you can follow to identify a target market:
- Consider the needs and characteristics of potential clients: Start by identifying the types of businesses or organizations that are likely to benefit from your agency’s services. For example, if you specialize in social media marketing, you may want to target small businesses in a particular industry, such as retail or hospitality.
- Evaluate the services and expertise of your agency: Consider the specific skills and services that your agency offers and how they align with the needs of potential clients. This will help you narrow down and focus on the types of businesses most likely to be interested in your services.
- Research the competition: Look at other digital marketing agencies in your area, and consider how your agency’s services and expertise compare to theirs. This will help you identify any gaps in the market that you can fill with your agency’s offerings.
- Define the Characteristics: Once you have a good understanding of the needs and characteristics of potential clients, the services and expertise of your agency, and the competition in the market, you can define your market more specifically. This might include factors such as the size and location of the businesses you want to target and any other relevant characteristics.
2) Develop a Business Plan
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals and objectives of a business, as well as the strategies and actions the business will take to achieve those goals. It’s an important tool for any business, including a digital marketing agency. Here are some steps you can follow to develop a business plan for your agency:
Define your business: Start by outlining the purpose and goals of your digital marketing agency. Consider what sets your agency apart from competitors and what you hope to achieve in the short and long term.
A digital marketing agency might define its business in the following way:
“We are a full-service digital marketing agency that helps businesses of all sizes grow their online presence and reach their marketing goals. Our services include website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media management, sending emails with a sales funnel, and content marketing.
We work with businesses in various industries and pride ourselves on delivering customized, results-driven campaigns tailored to our client’s unique needs and goals.
Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive website traffic, we have the expertise and experience to help you succeed.”
This definition highlights the range of services offered by the agency and the types of businesses and industries it works with. It also emphasizes the agency’s focus on delivering customized, results-driven campaigns.
Research the market: Conduct market research to better understand the industry and the needs of potential clients. This might include researching competitors, analyzing industry trends, and identifying potential target markets.
Outline your services: Clearly define the services your agency will offer and how those services will meet the needs of potential clients. This might include social media management, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and paid advertising.
Develop a marketing plan: Create a plan for marketing your agency and attracting potential clients. This might include tactics such as content marketing, social media, email, and paid advertising.
Create a financial plan: Establish financial goals for your agency, and develop a plan for achieving those goals. This might include forecasting revenue and expenses, identifying funding sources, and creating a budget.
Write your business plan: Organize all the above information into a clear, concise document. Be sure to include an executive summary, a description of your business, a market analysis, a description of your services, a marketing plan, a financial plan, and any other relevant information.
Review and revise: Review your business plan regularly, and make any necessary revisions as your business grows and evolves.
3) Choose a Business Structure
Choosing the right business structure is an important decision that can have legal and financial implications for your business. There are several types of business structures, including sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company (LLC). Here are some factors to consider when choosing a business structure:
Consider how much personal liability you are willing to take on. Some business structures, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships, expose the owner(s) to unlimited liability, meaning that the owner(s) are personally responsible for the debts and legal issues of the business. Other structures, such as corporations and LLCs, offer limited liability, which means the owner(s) are only responsible for the debts and legal issues to the extent of their investment in the business.
Different business structures are taxed differently. For example, sole proprietorships and partnerships are taxed as pass-through entities, which means the business income is passed through to the owner(s) and taxed at the individual level. On the other hand, corporations are taxed as separate entities, and the business and the shareholders are taxed separately. LLCs can be taxed as either pass-through entities or as corporations, depending on how they are set up.
Consider how you want to structure ownership of the business. Some structures, such as corporations, allow for multiple owners (called shareholders) who may or may not be actively involved in the business. Other structures, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships, are owned by one or a few individuals actively involved in the business.
Think about how much paperwork and formality you are willing to deal with. Some structures, such as corporations, require more formalities, such as annual meetings and record keeping. Other structures, such as sole proprietorships and LLCs, have less formal requirements.
It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney or accountant when choosing a business structure to ensure that you choose the right one for your business.
4) Obtain Licenses and Permits
The specific licenses and permits that a digital marketing agency needs will depend on the location of the business and the specific services it offers. Here are a few examples of licenses and permits that a digital marketing agency may need:
- Business license: Most businesses, including digital marketing agencies, must obtain a business license or permit from the local government. This license allows the business to operate within the jurisdiction and is usually required to obtain other licenses and permits.
- Sales tax license: If the digital marketing agency sells products or services that are subject to sales tax, it will need to obtain a sales tax license and collect and remit sales tax to the appropriate tax authorities.
- Professional licenses: Depending on the services offered by the digital marketing agency, the owner(s) or employees may need professional licenses. For example, if the agency offers social media services, the owner(s) or employees may need to obtain a social media certification.
- Specialty licenses: Some digital marketing agencies may need special licenses or permits depending on their services. For example, if the agency offers email management services, it may need to obtain permission to send bulk emails.
It’s a good idea to check with your local government and professional organizations to determine which licenses and permits your digital marketing agency needs.
5) Set up your Business
Starting a digital marketing business involves several steps, including choosing a name and location and setting up a website. Here are some tips for each of these steps:
- Choosing a name: The name of your digital marketing business should be memorable and convey the services you offer. It’s a good idea to choose a name that is easy to spell and pronounce and not already used by another business. You may also want to consider registering the name as a trademark to protect it from being used by others.
- Choosing a location: The location of your digital marketing business will depend on various factors, including the target market, the availability of talent, and the cost of doing business. If you plan to meet with clients in person, it’s important to choose a location that is convenient and accessible.
- Setting up a website: A website is an essential tool for any digital marketing business, as it allows you to showcase your services and portfolio and to communicate with potential clients. There are several options for setting up a website, including using a website builder or hiring a developer to create a custom site. Choosing a website platform that is easy to use and meets your business’s needs is important.
It’s also a good idea to consider establishing a strong online presence through social media posts and ads and other digital channels to reach potential clients and showcase your expertise.
6) Launch your Marketing Strategy
Here is an example of a marketing plan for a digital marketing agency:
Marketing Goal: Increase brand awareness and generate leads for our digital marketing agency.
Target Audience: Small to medium-sized businesses in the retail and hospitality industries.
Competitive Analysis: Our agency specializes in social media marketing and has a strong track record of helping our clients increase their online presence and drive sales through social media channels. Our main competitors offer a broader range of digital marketing services but do not have as much expertise in social media marketing.
Budget: $5,000 per month
- Develop and publish regular blog content focusing on social media marketing best practices and success stories from our clients.
- Utilize paid social media advertising to target small to medium-sized businesses in the retail and hospitality industries.
- Run an email campaign targeting businesses in the retail and hospitality industries, offering a free social media audit and consultation.
- Attend relevant industry events and conferences to network and build relationships with potential clients.
Plan of Action:
- Create a content calendar and assign tasks for developing and publishing blog content.
- Set up and manage paid social media advertising campaigns targeting small to medium-sized businesses in the retail and hospitality industries.
- Design and send email marketing campaigns to target businesses in the retail and hospitality industries.
- Research and register for relevant industry events and conferences.
Metrics for Tracking Success:
- Increase in website traffic from social media channels
- Increase in website leads
- Number of new clients acquired through marketing efforts
It’s important to regularly review and revise the marketing plan as needed to ensure that it is aligned with the goals and needs of the business.
Building Your Digital Marketing Team
Digital marketing is not a one-man show. It’s a team sport.Neil Patel
A digital marketing agency will typically need to build a team with a range of skills and expertise to deliver a full range of services to its clients. Here are some of the types of roles that a digital marketing agency might need to fill:
- Website designers and developers: These professionals will be responsible for designing and developing professional and user-friendly websites that meet the needs of the business and its target audience.
- SEO specialists: These professionals will be responsible for optimizing websites for search engines, including conducting market research, optimizing titles and meta descriptions, and improving website structure and content.
- PPC advertising specialists: These professionals will create and manage pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns on platforms such as Google Ads and Bing Ads. They will identify relevant keywords, create ad creatives, and optimize bids to ensure the best return on investment.
- Social media management specialists: These professionals will build brand awareness and engage with customers on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They will develop and implement social media campaigns, create and schedule posts, and manage customer interactions.
- Email marketing specialists: These professionals will be responsible for developing and executing email marketing campaigns, including designing email templates, writing and editing email content, and managing email lists.
- Content marketing specialists: These professionals will create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content that will attract and retain a clearly defined audience. They will develop a content strategy, create blog posts and other content types, and optimize search engine content.
There are pros and cons to using contractors versus employees when building a digital marketing team. Here are some factors to consider:
- Cost: Contractors are more expensive than employees, as they typically charge higher service rates. However, you may save money on health insurance and retirement contributions.
- Flexibility: Using contractors can give you more flexibility in terms of the skills and expertise you have access to, as you can bring in different contractors for specific projects or tasks. However, you may have less control over their work schedule and workload.
- Legal considerations: Employing contractors may be simpler from a legal standpoint, as you are not required to pay employment taxes or provide benefits. However, there are strict rules governing the classification of contractors versus employees, and misclassifying workers can result in legal consequences.
- Loyalty and commitment: Employees may be more loyal and committed to your company as they have a longer-term stake in its success. However, contractors may be more motivated to deliver high-quality work to secure future projects.
Using contractors or employees will ultimately depend on your business needs and resources. It may be a good idea to use a combination of both, depending on the specific skills and expertise you need for each project.
All these services require marketing skills, creativity, and knowledge to be successful. A great digital marketing agency will have the right team with enough experience and skills to deliver profitable campaigns for its clients.
Getting your First Few Clients
In order to grow your startup digital marketing agency, you’ll need to apply a few lead-generation strategies to get your first few clients. Here are some ideas digital marketers can use to attract the first client.
Use Social Media
Use social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to promote your services and build your brand. Share relevant and engaging content, and engage with potential clients and industry professionals.
- Share industry news and insights on your LinkedIn page to demonstrate your expertise and build your brand.
- Use Twitter to engage with potential clients and industry professionals and to promote your services and blog posts.
- Run a Facebook ad campaign targeting businesses in your target market, and use compelling ad copy and eye-catching visuals to promote your services.
Create and distribute relevant, consistent content that will attract and retain a clearly defined audience. This might include blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, and infographics.
Create a blog:
A digital marketing agency specializing in SEO could create a blog that shares tips and best practices for improving website ranking and driving organic traffic. The blog could include keyword research, on-page optimization, and link building.
A digital marketing agency focused on social media marketing could create a blog that shares tips and best practices for building a strong social media presence and engaging with customers. The blog could include topics such as social media strategy, content creation, and customer service on social media.
A digital marketing agency specializing in B2B marketing could develop a content strategy targeting decision-makers at medium to large businesses. The strategy could include creating whitepapers, case studies, and infographics demonstrating the agency’s expertise and the results it has achieved for its clients.
A digital marketing agency focused on eCommerce could develop a content strategy that targets online shoppers and helps the agency’s clients increase sales and conversions. The strategy could include creating product descriptions, buyer’s guides, and how-to videos showcasing the products’ benefits and how to use them.
Optimize your content for search engines
- A digital marketing agency that specialized in local SEO could optimize its blog posts and other content for local search terms, such as “digital marketing agency in [city]” or “SEO services in [region]”. This could help the agency attract potential clients in the local area.
- A digital marketing agency focused on content marketing could optimize its blog posts and other content for long-tail keywords relevant to its target market. For example, an agency focused on B2B marketing could optimize its content for terms such as “B2B content marketing strategy” or “B2B lead generation tactics”.
Share your content on social media.
- An agency specializing in video marketing could share its blog posts, infographics, and other types of content on social platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Instagram and use hashtags and tagging to increase visibility.
- A marketing agency focused on B2C marketing could share its blog posts, infographics, and other types of content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and use hashtags and tagging to increase visibility.
Hopefully, this guide on how to start a digital marketing agency inspired you to create a profitable business. Regardless of the pricing model you choose for your digital agency, having strong and well-defined marketing will help you find prospective clients and build a scalable business.
Do you need digital marketing skills to start an agency?
It is important for someone starting a marketing agency to have a strong understanding of digital marketing principles and strategies. Having experience working in the industry and a well-rounded understanding of various digital marketing activities, such as SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and content marketing, can help you better serve your clients and build your agency.