Are you interested in starting a digital marketing agency? If YES, here is a complete guide for starting a digital marketing agency with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample digital marketing agency business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample agency marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for digital marketing agencies. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a digital marketing agency. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Table of Content

  1. Industry Overview
  2. Market Research and Feasibility
  3. Digital Marketing Agency Business Plan
  4. Business Name ideas
  5. Licenses and Permits
  6. Marketing Plan
  7. Cost of Starting a Digital Marketing Agency
  8. Marketing ideas & Strategies

Over the years, loads of stuff has changed especially the way businesses are conducted and the marketing strategies that people employ to market their goods and services. The advent of the computer and later the internet and other related technology gave a whole new definition of how things are supposed to be done in our world.

Digital marketing is one of the fruits of the internet cum advancement in technology and for sure it has enabled loads of entrepreneur to launch multimillion dollars international businesses; businesses with clientele base that cut across geographical boundaries.

Digital marketing in its simplest term is the process leveraging on modern digital technology to market goods or services or the process of pulling website traffic or attention through social media sites; they achieve this by creating content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it across their social network platforms. One of the major purposes of leveraging on Social Media in marketing is that it covers a wide range of target market compared to other marketing tolls.

As a matter of fact, social media marketing is perhaps the only form of marketing that can profile consumers at each and every stage of the consumer decision journey. Marketing through social media is just the way to go if indeed you want to push out your product and services to the entire globe.

Starting a Digital Marketing Agency – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Digital marketing is a general term used for the marketing of products or services using digital technology platforms, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.

Digital marketing activities are search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, influencer marketing, content automation, campaign marketing, and e-commerce marketing, social media marketing, social media optimization, e-mail direct marketing, display advertising, e–books, optical disks and games, and all other form of digital media.

It also extends to non-Internet channels that provide digital media, such as mobile phones (SMS and MMS), callback and on-hold mobile ring tones et al.

Agencies in the digital marketing agencies industry create advertising campaigns and place the advertisements across digital media outlets. Through in-house capabilities or subcontracting, the agencies provide advice, creative services, account management, production of advertising material, and media planning and buying.

The Digital Marketing Agencies Industry is indeed a very large industry and pretty much thriving in all parts of the world especially in developed countries such as United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Italy et al.

Statistics has it that in the united states of America alone, there are about 2,508 licensed and registered digital marketing agencies responsible for employing about 59,271 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $14 billion annually with an annual growth rate projected at 0.6 percent. It is important to state that the establishments with a lion share of the available market in this industry are The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. and WPP.

The Digital Marketing Agencies industry will continue to blossom because more and more organizations are beginning to realize that somehow they would need the services of digital marketing agencies to help them take penetrate their target market and create the required brand awareness that will facilitate business growth and expansion. From all available statistics, it is safer to say that the industry is growing steadily despite the competitive nature of the industry.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own digital marketing agencies could be that the business is easy to set up and the start – capital is indeed affordable; you can actually start your own digital marketing agency business from the comfort of your house.

All you need to do is to create an office somewhere in your house. People usually pay you for the result you can help them achieve as it relates to their marketing and publicity concerns.

When compared to traditional media that are often too expensive for start – ups and even SMEs, a digital marketing approach does not require expensive and out of – reach budgeting. This is why companies make use of modern technology and also platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram et al in order to reach a much wider target market as against making use of main stream marketing tools which are expensive.

Over and above, digital marketing has become an important tool for promoting ones businesses as it relates to products and services all over the world, not only to sell to customers, but also to engage them. It is now easier for organization to expand their market from local level to national and even international markets with minimum capital investment.

Starting a Digital Marketing Agency – Market Research and Feasibility

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographics composition of those who require the services of digital marketing agencies is not restricted to corporate organizations that are into sale of product and services, but also individuals who are also interested in promoting their image cum brand. For instance, you will notice that some celebrities and even politicians pump in money so as to enable them trend on the internet and in the heart of their target audience.

So if you are looking at defining the demographics for your digital marketing agency business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include corporate organizations, political parties cum politicians, government agencies, celebrities, schools, NGOs and even religious organizations et al.

List of Niche ideas Within the digital marketing industry That You Can Specialize in

Although most digital marketing agencies tend to operate a general digital marketing business that involves every business activities or services that a standard digital marketing agency is expected to offer. That is why it seem that there are no niche areas in the industry.

These are some of the area of specialization a start – up digital marketing agency can specialize on within the digital marketing agencies industry;

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Banner advertising
  • Video advertising
  • Rich media advertising
  • Sponsorship advertising
  • Classifieds/directories
  • Lead generation
  • Mobile messaging/email
  • Digital display advertising
  • Mobile advertising
  • Social media management
  • Other related digital marketing advisory and consulting services

The Level of Competition in the Digital Marketing Agencies Industry

Surviving in the business world as a digital marketing agency requires more than, your expertise, knowing how to conduct your business but also how to network with key people that matters; decision makers that can decide who will get a contract or a business deal.

The level of competitions in the digital marketing agencies industry to some extent depends largely on the location of the business and of course the niche of your digital marketing agency business. If you can successfully create a unique niche for your digital marketing agency, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.

For instance; if you are the only digital marketing agency that specializes in rich media advertising and video advertising in your location, you are sure of monopolizing that aspect of the business; your competitors can even sub – contract jobs to you to help them deliver.

When it comes to digital marketing agencies, distance is never a barrier when competing for clients. What most clients want is result, hence they are ready to hire digital marketing agencies no matter the part of the world they operate from as long as they have good track record and can deliver excellent results.

But over and above, there are several digital marketing agencies scattered all around the United States and in the cyber space.

So, if you choose to start your own digital marketing agency in the United States, you will definitely meet stiffer competitions not only amongst digital marketing agencies in the United States, but also all over the globe. Besides, there are larger digital marketing agencies that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for clients.

List Of Well – Known Brands in the Digital Marketing Industry

These are some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the United States of America;

  • Ruckus
  • Ogilvy & Mather
  • Fuel Online
  • Leo Burnet
  • Wieden & Kennedy
  • McCann and Erickson
  • Britannia Communications
  • HUB09 Brand People
  • Havas Worldwide
  • GroupM North America
  • MediaCom
  • Starcom Mediavest Group

Economic Analysis

If you are looking for a business that requires less stress and perhaps minimal start – up capital to start, you can consider starting a digital marketing agency business. The cost of running a digital marketing agency when compared to the turnover you get can be poles apart (this is applicable when you have been able to establish your feet in the industry).

People that venture into digital marketing business can as a matter of fact start the business from their home and still make headway in the business. One thing is certain when it comes to digital marketing cum consulting related businesses, you are sure of making profits when you successfully produce results that are measurable for an organization.

As a matter of fact, the cost of running the digital marketing process from start to finish could be restricted to the cost of making phone calls, transportation and internet subscriptions and in some cases, materials such as digital billboards et al. With that, it is easier to place a projection on the profits you are likely going to make if you are able to successfully seal a digital marketing cum branding deal from an organization.

Starting Your Digital Marketing Agencies from the Scratch vs Buying a Franchise

When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to start from the scratch as against buying a franchise. First and foremost, before you can secure a digital marketing job, your profile will be scrutinized even if you are operating the franchise of a successful digital marketing brand. Besides it is difficult to come buy a franchise of a digital marketing agency.

Please note that most of the big and successful digital marketing agencies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedications, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own digital marketing brand to become a successful brand in your area of specialization and even go ahead to work for clients both at the national level and global stage.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Digital Marketing Business

If you decide to start your own digital marketing agency business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established digital marketing agencies who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on start – ups who can’t afford the high end fees charge by well – established digital marketing firms.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape, history has it that the consulting industry cum digital marketing line of business usually struggles to maintain their old clients or even win new client. So also, unfavorable government policies can also hamper the growth of your digital marketing agency.

Writing a Business Plan for your Digital Marketing Agency

As an entrepreneur who truly wants to build a successful business from the scratch, nothing but the best will be expected from you when it comes to writing a business plan. The truth is that, if you can successfully pen down your business concept and the strategies you intend working with to achieve your business aims, goals and objectives, then you would have successfully create your business blue – print.

It is not only when you want to set up a conglomerate or multi – million dollars corporations that you are required to write a business plan; ideally if you call what you want to do business, then you would need a business plan to work with.

A business plan is the blue print of your business; it is a business document that can aid you to successfully set up a business and also administer / manage the business. It is not enough to just write a business plan for the sake of writing one, your business plan should be able to pass reality check; you must put relevant facts, figures and statistics into consideration when writing your business plan.

The truth is that, the main aim of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to have a detail guide on how to effectively set – up, run and manage your business. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to operate your digital marketing agency business.

When writing your business plan, ensure that you are moderate when it comes to setting projections on income generation et al. It is better to be on the safer side when you are calculating your future income.

These are some key factors that you should also consider when drafting your business plan;

Executive summary and Company’s descriptions: you are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, and mission statement, where your company will be located, how you intend sourcing for digital marketing contracts, the industry you want to work for and perhaps why people should patronize your services.

Other key components that should not be missing in your digital marketing agency business plan are your service offering, SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, management techniques, expansion strategies, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation et al.

Choosing a Suitable Location for your Digital Marketing Agency

The fact that you can operate your digital marketing agency from your home does not mean that location has little influence on the success of a digital marketing agency. If you have taken your time to study the digital marketing agency cum consulting industry, you will realize that digital marketing agencies are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in a busy business district; a place where business activities is at its peak.

So if you are looking for a location for your digital marketing agency, ensure that it is a place that is located in the hub of business in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible. Of course you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirt of town.

Your clients should be able to drive down and locate your office with little or no difficulty. Vendors also should be able to easily locate your office when they have to come submit their bid / proposals, documents or for background checks et al.

Starting a Digital Marketing Agency – Technical & Manpower Details

On the average, there is no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized digital marketing and social media management software applications et al. In the bid of working out sales and marketing monitoring solutions and also lead generations for your clients, you might be required to design a customized software application.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the digital marketing agency you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard digital marketing agency, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning and structuring.

As regards the numbers of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision.

Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Digital Marketing and Social Medial Management Consultants and Associates (Different areas of specializations as it applies to your business), Business Development Executive / marketing Executive, Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer, and Accountant.

Over and above, you would need a minimum of 10 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard digital marketing agency. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to go out of your way to hire experts to help you handle some high profile digital marketing jobs.

If you are just starting out you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you which is why you should make plans to partner with digital marketing experts that operates as freelancers.

  • Service Delivery Process of a Digital Marketing Agency

On the average, the way digital marketing agency works varies from one agency to another agency, but ideally, a digital marketing agency is expected to first and foremost build a robust company’s profile before biding for digital marketing contracts; it will give them edge amongst their competitors.

Basically, when a digital marketing agency secures a digital marketing job, they are expected to follow through all what they listed to achieve for the organization or individual you are working for. Good enough, with the aid of technology, it is now easier to measure the effectiveness of a digital marketing project.

So it is expected a digital marketing agency to deploy all their expertise to produce result for their client. Brainstorming both internally and externally on best practices is common amongst digital marketing experts.

Starting a Digital Marketing Agency – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies for a digital marketing agency

As a digital marketing expert, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before you can be awarded any digital marketing contract. So if you have plans to start your own digital marketing agency, it will pay you to build first build a successful career in the marketing cum digital marketing industry.

People and organizations will hire your services to help them handle all their digital marketing needs and other branding and promotion campaigns role as it relates to digital marketing if they know that they are going to get value for their money.

So when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your digital marketing agency, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile.

Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to digital marketing and the organizations you have worked for in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for digital marketing contracts.

Please note that in most cases, when you bid for digital marketing contracts from organizations, you will be called upon to defend your proposal, and so you must be pretty good with presentations. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your digital marketing services;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the corporate organizations and businesses in the United States ( if you are just starting out, you may want to concentrate on start – ups and smaller businesses)
  • Promptness in bidding for digital marketing contracts
  • Advertise your business in relevant business magazines, radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for digital marketing cum social media management related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radios)
  • List your business on local directories / yellow pages
  • Attend recruitment / HR expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
  • Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your business (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people who consider you an expert in the field)
  • Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing

Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors in the Digital Marketing Industry

The digital marketing agencies industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways of tackling sales and marketing challenges in the industry you service.

Organizations and people will always run to you if they know that you have a better option especially as it relates to producing results for their digital marketing needs. Another strategy that you can adopt is to ensure that your organization is well positioned; key members of your team are highly qualified and certified digital marketing consultants.

Possible Ways to Increase Client Retention for your Digital Marketing Agency

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customers’ retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.

Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider or product is when there is a drop in quality. Another reason is poor customer service. If you can continue to improve on the quality or your digital marketing services and your customer service delivery, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick survey, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

Strategies to boost your brand awareness and Corporate Identity for your Digital Marketing Agency

As a digital marketing expert, boosting brands and creating corporate identity is your forte hence nothing less is expected from you.

If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secret of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

If your intention of starting a digital marketing agency is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.

Another strategy is to sponsor relevant community, TV and radio programs, advertise your business in relevant magazines and newspapers.

Tips for Running your Digital Marketing Agency Successfully

The success of any business is the combination of the daily activities that takes place in the organization. In order to run a successful digital marketing agency business it is important to create standard operating processes that runs on autopilot and your website must always be available and user’s friendly.

Every day’s job should start by reviewing the previous day’s job, reviewing all the set targets and goals before setting a new target or goal for the day. If an organization must succeed, all hands must be on deck; everybody should be involved in promoting the brand of the organization. It should not be left to the PR or marketing and sales department.

The management of the organization should ensure that they review the operating processes from time to time in order to develop better and faster ways of doing things. If it is possible, they can hire the services of business consultants to look into the process and then make recommendations on how best to carry out a job description et al. Recommendation could mean suggesting a customized software for a specific process in the digital marketing processes.

The truth is that, no matter the kind of business you run, your ability to get all the members of your team on same page at all times is one of the keys you need to successfully run the organization.

As the chief executive officer of the business, it is you responsibility to give direction to the business. Part of what you need to do is to ensure that you create time for office meetings; a time where challenges, feedback, projections and relevant issues are discussed. The meetings could be daily, once in a week or once in a month.

Carrying out appraisals on a regular basis and training your employees will help you run your organization effectively. Lastly, you should keep your doors open for suggestions from members of your team and be willing to reward excellent performance as at when due.

Ajaero Tony Martins