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How to Run a Winning Digital Marketing Agency

Over the past few years, digital marketing has been evolving at an astounding rate. This has lead to the rise of numerous digital marketing “experts” and made this industry highly competitive. Precisely because of this, starting an awesome digital marketing agency and rising above your rivals has never been that difficult.

Here is how you should run your digital marketing agency to win over your clients.

Invest in your Online Presence First

Online Presence

Your brand is your most powerful sales pitch. It is what sets you apart from your competitors and boosts your target audience’s loyalty. And, as you already know, in digital marketing, building a brand starts with your website.

Make sure your agency’s site is user-friendly and highly optimized. It should answer your clients’ potential questions and provide them with a highly personalized browsing experience. Don’t forget to create a strong mission statement, craft an impeccable “About” page and include your major clients’ testimonials.  Of course, to show them that you know what you’re doing, you should start blogging. By creating high-quality, industry-specific, and targeted content, you will position yourself as a relevant source of information.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should optimise your site for search engines to boost your rankings and visibility.

Make sure your agency is present on social networks, too. This is where you could share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of your staff. Let your clients meet the people they’re working with and build more personal connections with them.

Why is this important?

For digital marketing agencies, their online presence serves as their online portfolio. If it is superb, your clients will be reassured that you have the experience and the knowledge required to help them take their digital marketing efforts to the same level.

Position Yourself as a Leader

Digital marketing is constantly growing and you cannot afford to lag behind your major rivals. This is why you need to keep pace with the industry trends and make sure you provide your clients with innovative services.

To do so, you need to research your market constantly. Keep track of the secondary surveys done by some imminent people in your niche. You should also collect insights on your own. Listen to your clients on social networks, keep pace with the latest news your industry is talking about, register on business review sites, and set up surveys to see what your target audience actually thinks of you. You should also follow your competitors to see who their clients are and what strategies they use to address their needs.

Based on what you find out, you need to provide your clients with a highly innovative and targeted user experience.

  • Focus on those services that resonate with them and tailor them to their needs.
  • Create content that engages them. If they respond better to podcasts and infographics, then make them the epicentre of your content strategy.
  • Give them multiple payment options. For small businesses, especially those that are just starting off, investing in a digital marketing agency is important, but also expensive. Instead of making them empty their bank accounts to hire you, you could accept accountancy fees and let them pay the costs of your services in instalments.

By testing the market and your clients’ needs constantly, you will be able to see what aspects of your business are golden, as well as identify those that don’t work. Test and tweak your strategy constantly and implement the latest trends, tools, and services before your rivals. This is how you will be recognized for you out-of-the-box approach and become a leader in your niche.

Build Transparent and Honest Relationships with your Clients

Build Transparency

Always keep in mind that the people hiring are probably not sure how digital marketing really works. Those that are new in the industry may have unrealistic expectations. On the other hand, some of your clients have already worked with a digital marketing agency and they will set their goals based on their previous experiences.

This is why you need to be honest with your clients.

Before signing them, make sure you schedule an in-person meeting and have a nice, long talk with them about their objectives, problems, and expectations. It’s important you hear them out and tell them openly how realistic their goals are. They need to know what they can expect of you.

Your clients will want to know what they’re investing in. This is why you need to talk to them regularly and consult them when making changes in their digital marketing strategy. You could schedule weekly catch-ups with each of them and show how important they are to you.

Also, keep in mind that, in digital marketing, things can go upside down in just a few days. And, when this happens, you need to have a document that will prove that these problems aren’t your agency’s fault. This is why you need to send client reports regularly. Don’t limit yourself to monthly or quarterly documents. Send them on a weekly basis. Make sure your reports are visually appealing, branded (add a client’s logo), easy to follow, and that they contain all important metrics and stats. With various reporting tools, this process is made a walk in the park.

Honesty will not only help you validate your action, but also build stronger relationships with your clients, based on trust and understanding. Most importantly, you will manage to keep your clients satisfied and loyal.

Make Sure You Hire the Right People

Hire the right people

To give your young agency a nudge in the right direction, you need to surround yourself with the right people.

There are a few rules you need to keep in mind when hiring talent.

  • Don’t book a huge office and hire 50+ people immediately.

You should start with some roles critical to your agency’ performance. For digital marketing agencies, this is usually a human resources specialist, a project manager, a content marketing manager, a social media marketing specialist, a data analyst, an email marketer, a PPC specialist, a graphic designer, a web developer, and a link building team. Once your business starts growing, then you should expand your team gradually.

  • Mind their soft skills, too.

You need to make sure that your candidates have certain soft skills that will make them a perfect fit for your team. Ensure that they are flexible, cooperative, communicative and that they function well as members of a well-played team. They should also work well in highly stressful situations and be able to solve problems efficiently.

 

  • Don’t hire cheap labor.

 

To provide your clients with highly professional services and the ultimate quality, you need to hire the people who know what they’re doing. It’s always better to hire a few in-house employees than a bunch of freelancers, especially in the first few years. Freelancers can be more expensive than full-stack employees when you take their hourly rates into consideration. Also, as with any young and fragile business, it’s important that you establish a unique and strong corporate culture and this is something you won’t be able to do with contractors.

 

  • Support junior workers.

 

Putting your trust in young, aspiring members and investing in their education pays off more than hiring experienced candidates. You will focus on helping them improve those skills needed at your agency and help them take their performance to the next level. Over time, they may turn out to be your best-performing and loyal employees.

Your Agency should be a Happy Place for your Staff

Working in the digital marketing industry isn’t that simple at all. And, as an owner of a digital agency, you should be aware of that. Your employees work with numerous clients simultaneously and need to answer all their questions in real time. There are also numerous deadlines to meet, various tools to use, and projects to work on. Every step they take could be the difference between success and failure for their clients.

And, in this high-pressure working environment, your office should work like a well-oiled machine, where each of your staff members is a critical cog that ensures that all its pieces are spinning well. Only this way will you be able to deliver your projects at a higher standard.

Of course, to boost your employees’ morale, you need to make your agency a happy and positive place. Use project management and collaboration tools to make their project tracking and communication simpler. You should also invest in different team building opportunities, offer flexible working arrangements, and reward your employees regularly.

Don’t micromanage them. Instead, let them express their thoughts and ask them for opinions. To prove that you have big plans for them in the future, offer various career advancement opportunities.

Even though this may seem expensive to you right now, keep in mind that talent turnover is far more expensive. It impacts the overall workplace productivity and, consequently, takes its toll on your clients’ satisfaction.

Make Rational, Goal-Oriented Decisions

Make the right decisions

I’ve already mentioned how hectic agency life can be. Preoccupied with a bunch of projects and client management techniques, agency owners usually forget how important it is to step back for a second and check how things are going.

Here are a few metrics every agency should track in order to stay profitable:

  • Adjusted gross income
  • Client income
  • Accounts receivable ageing
  • Jobs summary
  • Billable vs. unbillable hours per employee or per team
  • Client acquisition metrics
  • Client retention metrics

You should tailor your business strategy and make rational decisions, based on the data you get.

Good Luck!

Starting a digital marketing agency is not for faint-hearted, for sure. To stay afloat and compete for great clients with the major players in your niche, keep these tips in mind. Have a strong business plan, keep your employees happy, and invest a lot in client satisfaction and retention. Don’t forget to measure your performance and adapt your future decisions to it!