A must-read guide to how to start a digital marketing agency. If you're passionate about marketing and want to start your own business, this is for you.
In today’s fast-paced world, the online market is becoming more and more competitive. And as savvy entrepreneurs continue launching their own businesses, they’re turning to digital marketing agencies for help standing out from the crowd.
If you’re passionate about helping businesses succeed and wondering how to start a digital marketing agency, it starts with understanding what these agencies are and why they’re helpful. From identifying your niche to finding your first clients, these tips will help jumpstart your journey.
What is digital marketing? 💻
The American Marketing Association defines digital marketing (aka digital media marketing) as the practice of conducting marketing activities via electronic devices with internet access, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. Online marketers leverage websites, social media, blogs, email, search engines, and other mediums of digital content to reach out to and engage with potential customers.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy targeting the right audience, at the right time, in the right place, and with the right message. Objectives typically include sales, lead generation, and brand awareness — the best digital marketers help businesses and individuals create meaningful, lasting connections with customers.
What’s the focus of a digital marketing agency? 🔥
Digital marketing agencies focus on helping businesses reach their target audience through various online channels, including social media platforms, blogs, email, and more. The focus of each agency may differ depending on their clients’ goals, but the overall objective is to help businesses promote their products and services, improve their digital presence, and build a loyal customer base.
Here are the different types of digital marketing agencies and what they do:
Full-service agencies 🌝
These agencies offer comprehensive solutions for most (if not all) of their clients' digital marketing needs. Their end-to-end services typically include everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to pay-per-click (PPC), social media marketing, and email marketing, employing a skilled team of designers, developers, analysts, and copywriters to deliver results. Additional offerings might include packaging, branding, web design, and consulting services.
Single-channel agencies ☝️
These agencies pick one thing and do it very well. They hone in on a specific niche of digital marketing, like social media or email marketing, and provide expertise in that area. If a business has a smaller budget, is already working with another agency, or chooses to focus on one specific channel of their business, single-channel agencies can deliver excellent results in their field of specialty.
Multi-channel agencies 🤹
Multi-channel agencies are a hybrid of full-service and single-channel agencies. They excel in providing a comprehensive digital strategy across multiple channels that complement one another. These integrated solutions work together across multiple touchpoints to help businesses engage their target audiences across various platforms.
5 reasons to start a digital marketing agency 💡
In today's digital age, every business, no matter its size, needs a robust online presence to reach its target audience and stay competitive. To that effect, a digital marketing agency can be quite a rewarding business venture. Here are five compelling reasons to consider launching your own:
Marketing services are in high demand ✈️
Demand for digital marketing services is continually expanding, and starting your own digital marketing agency lets you tap into this high-demand market. As society becomes even more reliant on the digital world, you won’t be lacking in clients seeking help improving their digital presence.
You can be your own boss🕴️
Why work for someone else when you can work for yourself? When you start a digital marketing agency, you have the freedom to do what you want and set your own schedule. If you have minimal marketing experience, seek resources to help you develop the skills and knowledge to help you succeed.
It’s scalable 📈
Digital marketing agencies are easy to grow. Initially, you can provide all the services yourself, and as you take on more clients, you can hire more staff. Given that you can work with clients all around the globe, there’s really no limit to how big your business can grow.
Low up-front costs 👛
Starting a digital marketing agency is typically low-cost, especially compared to other businesses. To get going, all you need is a laptop and an internet connection, making it a cost-effective option for people looking to start a business.
You can work from anywhere 🌏
One of the greatest advantages of starting your own digital agency and being your own boss is the ability to work remotely from anywhere, be it from home, in a cafe, or even while traveling. This flexibility allows you to create a comfortable work-life balance and opens up a world of possibilities for growing your business beyond your own geographic boundaries.
Starting a digital marketing agency: a step-by-step guide 🧑🚀
Starting a digital marketing agency requires careful planning and execution, but thankfully, it’s a straightforward process. From defining your services to choosing a niche and building a solid web presence, here’s how to launch a business that attracts and retains clients:
Choose your services and begin training 💪
Pick which services your agency will offer, like SEO, PPC, content marketing, email marketing, web design, web development, or social media marketing. If you need help deciding what kind of designer you need, we've got you covered.
Next, if you need to gain the skills necessary to offer these services, there's no time like the present to develop them. Perfect your craft to effectively deliver your agency’s services to all types of clients.
Find a niche 🧭
Become an expert in your area and stand out by choosing a niche like small businesses or specific industries. Focusing on a smaller target audience allows you to communicate effectively, build processes around your work, and become a market leader.
Find potential clients 🙋
After deciding on a niche, market your agency to build your client base. A few ways to do this include creating a website, building a portfolio, cold calling, cold emailing, promoting on social media, and networking.
Define your service delivery 🛻
Service delivery is an important aspect of running an agency. Decide how you’ll deliver your services and charge your clients — will it be through one-time projects, monthly retainers, or hourly rates? What will your sales funnel look like? What are your pricing and payment terms?
While Independents mainly do client work, agency owners build systems, train employees, and find new clients. You must delegate repetitive tasks to manage client delivery efficiently to grow effectively.
Build your business model and register your business 🧱
Determine how your agency will operate, such as whether you will work solo or hire employees and if you'll work remotely or from a traditional office. Also, be sure to consider the costs and location of your potential clients. Operating remotely helps keep costs low and allows you to hire employees and serve clients worldwide.
Next, register your business and obtain any necessary licenses or permits according to the laws in your state.
Create your team and establish a web presence 🖥️
When you're ready to expand but first need to build your dream marketing team, consider enlisting the talents of other Independents like growth marketers, copywriters, community managers, or social media marketers. They can be vital to growing a solid web presence through social media networks like Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn, content marketing, and search engine optimization. They can also help showcase your expertise by gathering case studies and client testimonials.
Scale your freelance business 🧨
Although launching your own agency from scratch has its challenges, the effort is often worth it in the end. Offering freelance digital marketing services to businesses allows you to expand your service offerings, broaden your client base, and increase your revenue potential, all with a low initial cost. It’s an intelligent way to invest in the future of your own business.
The digital marketing business is exciting, dynamic, flexible, and creative. Need help? Join Contra today! Our commission-free platform for Independents features numerous tips and tricks to help you along your freelance journey. To discuss your business plans and goals with like-minded individuals, visit our Slack community.