Running a successful digital marketing agency means advertising and selling your services, handling your own marketing and finances, and hiring new team members. But that’s not all. It also entails creating and fulfilling growth strategies and handling dozens of other responsibilities, along with securing enough clients to ensure that your agency grows over time. This can all feel like a lot to handle. But it’s all essential to master if you want your agency to reach its full potential. Plus, once you’re up and running, you’ll want to consider scaling your agency to ensure that you can handle larger projects, win more clients, and expand your profit margins. Want to scale but scared of taking that leap? Explore all the tips and tricks you need to learn how to grow your marketing agency and take its operations to the next level.
The Challenges of Scaling Your Digital Marketing Agency
Nothing good comes easy, and you’re likely to encounter a range of challenges while you work towards scaling your digital agency. Knowing and understanding these challenges is the key to being able to identify them as they arise, and to address them proactively to minimise any possible setbacks as you scale.
Challenge #1: Client Churn
Customer and client churn can be a pressing problem for digital agencies attempting to scale.
When a client – especially a high-profile one – decides to leave your agency in search of services that better align with their needs, your agency may be left to deal with too many team members and not enough cash flow.
Challenge #2: Finding and Hiring Talent
Finding talent is a challenge across dozens of modern industries, and in digital marketing in particular, fierce competition only adds to the battle.
Prospective employees can easily be enticed by your competitors with promises of better pay, improved work-life balance, and opportunities to grow. So, you need to make any benefits you offer clear to capture their attention.
Challenge #3: Slim Profits
If your profit margins leave something to be desired, you may not have enough financial resources to help you scale, hire new team members, and expand your payroll budget as you do so. Data from a Promethean Research survey in 2019 found that the digital marketing industry’s profit margins tend to sit at around 18%. Yet many smaller agencies only have margins of around 11-15%.
Many of these agencies have to secure new clients and upsell to existing customers to earn enough money to sustainably hire new team members and expand their operations. However, if they secure these new clients and projects before they hire new talent, this can strain their existing teams. These teams then have to handle extra work before their agencies can hire new team members to level out the burden.
It’s essential to strike a balance between hiring new team members at the right times to support your agency’s scaling efforts without overburdening your employees.
Build Your Digital Marketing Agency’s Brand
Your agency has probably already helped plenty of clients to build their own brands – but what about building your brand? Have you let your agency get left behind?
Building your brand is crucial for attracting new talent and new leads to your business.
Once you’ve created your ideal buyer persona, use it to tailor your brand in a way that conveys opportunities and benefits within specific niches or in-person businesses eager to take their operations online. Your agency’s brand needs to be visible to new talent and leads, so it should be prominently displayed and reinforced through your website and social pages.
Take time to communicate how your agency works with clients to meet their needs and how your brand manages clients’ expectations and visions. Use the same strategies you employ for your clients to reach as many leads as possible – after all, it’s what you’re good at!
Building your brand includes gathering positive testimonials, creating video case studies, posting informative blogs, and maintaining your social media presence. All these efforts show potential clients that you know what you’re doing, both in the capacity of your own agency and when working with their brands.
Pinpoint Your Buyer Personas
Your buyer persona is a blueprint of what your ideal target customer looks like, and it helps you to target the right audiences with your marketing strategies and campaigns. If you already have a buyer persona in place for your agency, it’s crucial to re-evaluate it regularly. You can do this by taking a close look at your current clients.
Speak to your team about trends they’re noticing in your clients and use metrics from recent campaigns to provide more data that back up these trends. They can offer valuable insights into how your business is growing and shifting, and which people and brands are using your services the most.
If you want to determine or update your buyer persona, ask yourself these questions:
- What are your clients’ current habits and buying behaviours?
- What are your clients’ most pressing priorities?
- What are the prevailing pain points that your clients are looking to address by hiring your agency?
Once you know who your clients are and what they need from you, take informed steps to scale in a direction that meets their demands and keeps them coming back.
Build Case Studies From Successful Clients
Case studies are the perfect secret weapon for boosting sales. Use quality case studies to attract leads on your website, engage potential clients through drip campaigns, and as sales tools to help your team convince prospective customers to sign on with you.
You can start building case studies by approaching your existing clients for testimonials of your work and their experiences with your brand. Use this information to tell these stories in written form, including the strategies and tools you used to achieve impressive results for them. Be sure to back up all your claims with data.
Focus on Building and Improving Client Relationships
The more loyal your clients are to your agency, the less churn you’ll experience, and the more you’ll be able to increase each client’s lifetime value and your sales figures overall. Satisfied clients will continue to return to you, refer new clients to you, and share excellent testimonials of your work.
Our favourite ways to build strong relationships with clients are delivering high-quality, consistent work, and providing outstanding customer service. Make sure that all client-facing team members have great customer service skills and can effectively address your clients’ concerns. They need to build your brand in a way that distinguishes your agency from your competitors and represents your core values.
Remember, these stand-out features and values need to be reflected in the way you interact with clients to create a memorable experience for them and build trust over time.
Improving Your Internal Marketing and Sales
There are so many ways to enhance your internal marketing and sales processes in a way that supports your goal to scale. One of the most effective strategies for creating a digital agency that stands out is to focus on serving a sole, highly specific niche – like the food and beverage industry, fitness industry, or legal industry, for instance.
Choosing a niche will enable you to brand your agency as an authority in this industry. Plus, it ensures that you set yourself apart from competitors that are focusing on broader markets.
You can also position yourself as an expert in a particular advertising vertical, like marketing for eCommerce stores or SEO for regional service providers. Lead magnets, sleek web designs, brief lead response times, and outbound sales will also supercharge your sales figures, as we’ll discuss below…
Create a Lead Magnet for Your Site
Most of the visitors you your agency website won’t be converted into leads or customers. This is perfectly normal. They might not be ready to take the plunge yet. They may not know which services they need. Or, they might not trust your brand enough to reach out.
If you want to preserve your chances of converting these visitors, you need to offer them a way to explore your services that doesn’t include direct mail or phone call. Tools like website grading tools and SEO audits of their websites allow you to obtain these visitors’ business data and move them toward your conversion funnel in a non-invasive way.
Your website also needs to be fast, clean, neat, and professional to attract clients. Your website is the online face of your agency. If it’s messy or hard to use, your clients will expect the same qualities from your work.
Reduce Your Lead Response Time
Are you gathering leads from your agency website? The quicker you can get back to your leads, the better your chances of converting them into paying clients.
The average response time for leads is around 47 hours, but this isn’t nearly good enough to keep potential clients interested. Remember, your website visitors are probably looking around for the best deal. So, the sooner you reach out, the better. If you can reach out within an hour, you’ll be far more likely to close that deal.
Systemise Proposals and Contracts
Using software like Jotform Sign to systemise your contracts and proposals allow to you speed up the usually tedious process of customising each document sent to clients. It will slash your sales proposal turnaround time frames and allow you to create templates that all parties involved can collaborate on for edits, signatures, and approval.
Learning how to scale your marketing agency involves automating and simplifying processes wherever possible to free up your time, resources, and team for more important tasks!
Growing Your Team
We’ve got two key tips for expanding your team effectively as you scale your agency:
- Outsource work to freelancers to whatever extent possible
- Use internships to your advantage
Outsourcing provides quality, reliable work at a reasonable price – and if you have more work than you can outsource, you can then hire talent to take over.
Internships provide you with excellent work at a nominal fee, while allowing you to scout talent and share your skills with passionate interns at the same time.
Finding Quality Talent
The trick to finding and hiring the talent you need to scale is to position your agency as transparently as you can.
Communicate your unique work culture and any ongoing strategies to provide your team members with benefits that they genuinely want. These can include post-work benefits, mental and physical health programs, and other perks that make their decision to work for you as easy as possible.
Track Your Team’s Time and Productivity
When learning how to scale your marketing agency, you also need to learn how to track the productivity and time usage of your team. This frees you from having to keep track of each team member’s progress individually while enabling you to spot project bottlenecks and address them before they become problematic.
Create your own custom time sheets for your team to fill out. Or capitalize on that wonderful thing called technology and use an online time tracking template or automated time management software like Clockify or Toggl to keep time and productivity tracking simple.
Increase Your Rates
The more money you earn, the more money you can invest in your agency. Additionally, increasing your profit margins minimises risk during scaling, as a few clients leaving you won’t make or break your success.
You might lose a couple of clients when you first raise your rates. But you can reduce this impact by updating prices for new clients and leaving current clients at the prior rates until you are ready to increase them across the board.
Organic marketing has the power to position your agency as a trusted authority. You need to be producing frequent, value-packed, expertly written or created (think: video) content to ensure that your brand gets noticed by the right target groups at the right times.
Informative blogs can provide qualified leads for weeks, months, or even years, and referrals from clients are another brilliant source of advertising when posted on social media channels. High-quality content that provides value can market your business effectively, As long as you post regularly and keep your online audience engaged!
Partner With Other Agencies
Forging strong working relationships with other agencies allows you to offer full packages to your clients while drawing on the expertise of other renowned marketing companies.
Set up these partnerships by white labeling the services of other agencies, and by passing leads that you can’t serve over to other agencies to help them out (with a finder’s fee, of course!)
Step Up To Grow Up
Now that you know how to scale your marketing agency in a sustainable way, it’s time to take your operations to the next level.
Use our tips to boost your visibility and recognition, win more clients and sales, and find talent to drive you toward your expansion goals.