How to Scale a Digital Marketing AgencyJonathan Mast2023-11-09T15:53:27+00:00
How to Scale A Digital Marketing Agency
In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, agencies face a unique challenge: balancing the demands of growth while maintaining exceptional client service. As your business expands, so does the need for streamlined processes, a talented team, and strategic planning. The content on this page will equip you with the tools and insights necessary to navigate the rapids of growth and successfully scale your digital marketing agency.
Digital content agencies face many challenges, from hiring new people to finding more clients. As they grow, many businesses fear scaling before they’re ready. However, not scaling when it’s time has its consequences. You could miss growth opportunities, turn away potential clients, or fail to keep up with the workload you already have.
Even if you think you’re ready, how do you know for sure? You want to continue to deliver consistent, high-quality results and keep your clients happy.
You’ve brought in steady work for a while now, but lately, you’ve noticed your leads changing. You’ve signed clients who pay more, give more consistent work, or you see an influx of work from specific niches. Maybe you landed a high-profile client you never thought your agency could nab.
When you get organic leads like these, it means you’re doing something right with your marketing without overspending. Getting high-quality leads means you’re moving up, and it’s time to adjust your business to meet the new demand.
You Have More Clients Than You Can Manage
Maybe you already generated high-quality leads and accepted the work. However, you’re struggling to juggle your current workload.
If you’re wondering whether you need to scale up, ask yourself questions like these:
Do you have a waiting list?
Are you turning potential clients away?
Do you want to accept more work but don’t have the time or space?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to scale your digital marketing agency. Growing an agency allows you to meet this new demand, take on more clients, and prevent employee burnout.
You Delegate Well
Over the years, you either learn to delegate and grow, or you don’t, and your business stagnates. Many industry experts agree that if you can’t delegate, you shouldn’t scale up, as it will only get more challenging for you to manage your company.
If you have staff that you trust to get things done, and can delegate so that work gets done efficiently, consider scaling your business.
Your Agency Has Stable Earnings
Scaling your business can get expensive, between hiring new people, training them, and stepping up your marketing to suit your size and ambition.
If your agency brings in steady income from high-quality clients, consider using some of it to scale up. Scaling means you’ll need money for marketing, even if you’re already getting leads. You’ll also need new technology, and you may want subscriptions to better software and tools.
You Want to Seize a New Opportunity
You may have started your digital marketing agency in a specific niche. You have employees with expertise in that market, but now you’ve started getting inquiries for new ones.
You need employees who have the expertise to help you grow into new opportunities. You shouldn’t limit yourself to your original target market. Instead, expand to meet demand.
You Want More Time and Freedom
If you have the resources and the business you need to scale up your agency, you might find yourself overwhelmed if you don’t take that step.
Hiring new people means you can focus on other projects. If you have time to devote to the big stuff, you can bring in more leads and leave the day-to-day operations to your team.
You’ll even have more freedom to spend time with your family and friends without putting a hold on growing your business.
You Want to Increase Your Impact
You started your agency to make a difference for other businesses. You can’t do that if you stay small.
You don’t just want growth for yourself—you want it for your clients, too. The best way to do that is to gather the resources you need to meet client demand and advance your services so that you can boost your clients’ businesses with yours.
When you grow your agency, you want to do two things: land clients and retain them. Scaling your digital marketing agency requires you to step things up and organize better, or your efforts will fall apart before you get there.
Before you move forward, make a plan. Then, follow that plan consistently so you can transition into getting better clients, keeping them, and continuing the cycle.
How to Land Clients
Even if you already have high-quality leads, you need to know how to keep landing new clients like them. Start by developing a process to draw in these clients and get them interested in what you have to offer.
Neglecting your marketing efforts now might seem safe, especially if you have plenty of work and organic leads. However, as you scale, you’ll notice traffic trickling away if you don’t put in the effort to maintain it over time.
Use these tips for how to land new clients to keep your income growing.
Set Goals and Timelines
When you’re looking for new clients, whether for the first time as a new business or when you scale a successful one, you need to choose a business model before you start. This model helps with organization and setting achievable goals.
Use the Rule of 1s from Josh Nelson’s book:
Set a goal to reach within one year.
Use one program for your marketing.
Choose one conversion mechanism.
Use one lead generation strategy.
Choose one niche to start in or branch into.
Your model should also involve doing the math to set money goals. How many clients do you want to bring to your business? How much income do you want to make in the coming year?
Set a minimum monthly income, whether that’s $1,000 or $5,000. Avoid taking one-off projects and bring in as many clients with consistent work as possible.
Package and Systematize
When you package multiple services to offer them to your clients, you create a solution that grows your business. As a digital marketing agency coach, you offer services like:
PPC and Facebook Ads
Social media management
Tracking and ROI
Figure out which of these solutions you want to combine before you get bundle requests. When you have a ready answer, clients will know you’ve considered their needs in advance.
You’ll also make it easier for them to choose from your services. For clients running a small business or startup, packaging and systematizing also means helping your clients understand what they need and which services naturally go together.
Packaging your solutions makes your clients feel like they’re getting a deal, especially if you offer those services at a special price when the client buys them together. This tactic makes it easier to provide quick digital marketing quotes.
Creating an opt-in funnel allows you to encourage your clients to enter their email and other information you need to turn them into a warm lead. Marketing funnels are the most effective marketing strategy for digital marketing agency businesses because they give people value in the form of eBooks, newsletters, courses, and other necessary materials. You can even use a digital marketing blog to offer tips and tricks for improving their reach.
To use this strategy, establish a clear niche and target market. Know the clients you want to reach and understand their pain points. From there, you create the tools they need to test your services and see that they work.
Once these people see results with your free or low-cost materials, the next step is a sales appointment. Meet with these clients to talk about their needs, your strategies and solutions, and how you can help them. Ideally, you end the appointment by selling your services to the client.
After the sales appointment, you can move on to the hot lead follow-up. The client has moved from a cold or warm lead because you have now reached the point where you’ve gotten to know them, and they feel more comfortable with you.
It becomes easier to draw them in and put more pressure on their pain points. You can now follow up with an email or phone call after the sales appointment to talk about working together and onboarding them.
Cold outreach, while not always as effective as an opt-in funnel, can yield faster results. Once you establish your niche, you know where to look for your clients.
You can use Lead Kahuna, a lead generation software, to buy or find and reach out to local leads. Once you have these leads, create a mechanism to capture their attention with email, social media, or even a web form.
You need a strategy to help you convert these leads to clients. You can start your cold outreach by getting a list of emails and sending out at least 500 cold emails per week.
How to Retain Clients
Growing your business is about more than getting new clients. If you focus exclusively on bringing people in, you might neglect the clients you already have, and they are the ones who will drive your company forward.
Happy clients boost your reputation and allow you to gain more business through word of mouth. When you retain clients, your business gains stability and creates the opportunity to scale up.
Once you have business coming in, you need to nurture your leads and clients. You can offer content like webinars and online courses on digital marketing YouTube channels, social profiles, and groups to show your niche knowledge.
Invite your database to events monthly or create a schedule that works for you—as long as you keep it consistent. Clients like to know they can expect more, and putting out regular fresh content means they’ll keep coming back for it.
Check out Josh Nelson’s digital marketing podcast to learn what kind of content will make your clients respond as you scale your business.
Get Clients that Match Your Business Goals
As you grow your business, focus on getting clients in your niches. You want your clients to feel like you’re on their team and share their goals.
By sticking to the same niche, your clients will view you as an expert at conjuring business in that field, not only for yourself but for them. When your clients’ goals align with yours, you can better understand what they want from your services.
Connect and Communicate with Clients
Talk to your clients about what they want and need for their businesses. Ask them about their goals and check in frequently to ensure they’re still satisfied with your services. This type of communication allows you both to try new strategies and cultivate more success.
However, communication isn’t just about talking about business. Connect to your clients on a personal level, too.
Connecting more personally shows your clients that you care about them and have committed to your relationship with them. Little things make a difference, like remembering their hobbies and interests or the names of their children.
People are more likely to stick with companies they genuinely like and enjoy working with. Connecting personally and professionally only strengthens your relationship and makes them more likely to recommend you to others.
Get Client Feedback
Ask your clients regularly how they feel about your work. Listen to them, and make changes to problem areas. When you show you care about their thoughts and act upon their feedback, you showcase your commitment to giving them the best service.
If you have trouble remembering this step, or have too many clients to keep track, set a schedule. For example, ask for quarterly feedback and let your clients know that you regularly assess your progress. When a client sees that you want to improve and maintain success, they want to stay with you for that level of attention.
Show Your Numbers
When you see success, share it with your clients. Show them their key performance indicators (KPIs) so that they know how much of a difference your services make to their business.
Proving success is crucial for clients to know that you’re doing your best work for them. Numbers provide hard evidence of how well your model works. Most clients won’t want to fix a system that isn’t broken.
Scale Your Agency by Delivering Results
Scaling your agency must follow a process, just like when you were first getting your business off the ground. However, instead of starting from scratch, you have to make upgrades and show existing clients that you’re still the right choice for them.
Find a model that makes it easy to scale your business. The 7 Figure Agency Model is a proven tactic that you can use to scale your business repeatedly.
You need an adaptable model that allows you to continue using it as you grow. Set new goals, branch into new niches, and evaluate your income needs for expansion. When you choose your model, you need to stick to it and follow the process to keep your business growing.
Put Processes and Systems in Place
Scaling up means creating new internal processes, liking hiring new employees and onboarding new clients. Create strategies that allow you to maintain organization and keep everyone in the loop.
Look at any problems you’ve had with your business and work on solutions, so they don’t cause more trouble over time. Document any new processes and use them consistently.
When it comes to client onboarding, develop a streamlined process for efficiency’s sake. Creating a project plan template can be as simple as making a Google Sheet. Add a new client to the plan sheet, and you can program the document specifically to your client after you add their information.
You should also send the client onboarding questions to find out what the client wants from your services. You can communicate and share Google Sheets to allow you and the client to update tasks individually without talking directly.
Grow Your Team
Look for employees whose personalities, goals, and attitudes match those of your company. If you have employees who underperform and aren’t interested in facilitating agency growth, don’t keep them.
As you grow further, hire team managers to supervise the operations of entry-level employees. Adjust employee compensation to suit your growth, too. That can look like achievement and objective bonuses, rather than instantly raising everyone’s pay.
Decide on your ideal client and employee count and strive for that.
Hire and Nurture the Right People
Some companies allow underperforming employees to stay in the company despite repeated problems, while good employees shoulder their extra workload. Neglecting those good employees and focusing on the underperformers will only encourage your hardworking employees to quit in favor of a place that will treat them better.
Spend your time coaching the employees who help you grow, not the ones who hold you back. Make your good employees feel valued, and you’ll scale up faster and more comfortably.
You can also avoid problem employees from the beginning if you look for these characteristics in candidates:
Striving for excellence
Empathy toward clients
Choose the Right Leaders
You want leaders who pull their weight but still know how to delegate appropriately. Choose leaders who pay attention to the employees they manage. Look for grounded people with a clear vision that aligns with your company’s mission statement.
You should trust your leaders and know they will uphold your company’s values, whether they deal with employees or clients.
Work with Topic Experts
You might be an expert in digital marketing, but you can’t know every topic under the sun. Bring in people who have expertise and experience in different niches. If you have weak areas in your business, an expert can work with you to build up that part of your agency.
Working with experts builds trust with clients and shows them you’re committed to their success. Hiring the necessary resources to provide the best services allows you to offer more and market to more niches.
Other Growth Strategies for Digital Marketing Agencies
You can use other methods to supplement the major steps you’re taking to scale your digital marketing agency. Some of them come with risks, but if you’ve already created some success, these tactics will support the steps you’ve already taken to expand.
Increase Your Fees
Many agencies are afraid to increase their fees when they scale for the first time. You may lose some of your clients who don’t want to pay more for your services, but you don’t have to worry if you have an established customer base.
When you increase your fees, most of your clients will stay because you provide high-quality services. These people will continue to recommend you, and you’ll get high-quality leads coming through your funnels.
Because these new, referred clients know the value of your work, you’ll end up with larger profit margins to help you work toward scaling again as needed.
Use the Right Tools
When you scale, you need new equipment, training, and space so that your employees can do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Consider project management software like Trello or Asana. Some are free, while others have paid subscriptions that give you access to more advanced features.
You may also want to invest in time tracking tools like Harvest, or employee communication tools like Slack. Implement these tools early, as waiting and finding out that you need them later will make them harder to execute. More employees mean more people to train and systems to change, which can become an issue with business operations in larger companies.
Partner with Complementary Businesses
Like hiring experts, partnering with businesses that complement yours helps you grow. These people can come in the form of industry leaders, but make sure you don’t always partner with businesses exactly like your own.
It’s okay to partner with other digital content agencies, but don’t forget to consider your niches. If you have clients in the health industry, partner with health facilities. If you provide services to SaaS or IoT companies, partner with other technology experts, and so on.
Consider how new partnerships can open new niches and opportunities for your company and extend your reach.
Track Your Time and KPIs
Tracking time and KPIs ensures that you know how you and your employees spend your time, how much money you bring in, and how each of those factors affects your business. Pinpointing which employees work slowly and which clients demand more than they pay for shows you where you lose or gain income.
Checking your KPIs can tell you if you meet your goals every quarter. That information allows you to investigate where you can make changes, whether getting rid of a demanding client or adjusting your expectations and business model.