The 8 Steps of How To Start a Digital Marketing Agency


12 min read

The 8 Steps of How To Start a Digital Marketing Agency

Digital Marketing Agencies are taking over the traditional form of Advertising agencies by utilizing the newest technology and mixing the engineering capabilities of IT with the art and science of marketing. This type of agency has taken advantage of the huge potential reach of the online market and it is a rapidly growing market, as businesses realize that an online strategy is vital to success. As such they want the experts to create the strategy, the online branding, and the actual output. In this pocket guide, we will walk you through the basic steps of how to start a digital marketing agency so you do not leap into the dark.


Digital Marketing Agency Services

Digital Marketing can offer a number of services,  separately or in combination with the aim of increasing your profit by the long-term investment in this form of advertising.

  • Websites: One of the most common services required and therefore offered is that of Website design and development. Here we can include data-driven analytics, SEO, improving user experience but also content creation, etc.
  • Branding: Digital Marketing Agencies are experts at creating your overall digital brand and tailoring it to the latest trends and fashions.
  • Apps: The creation of apps is another Digital Marketing Agency possibility.
  • Photography/Video: An increasing number of Digital Marketing Agencies are adding video and photography to their portfolios.
  • Social Media: Creation and direction of a business’s Social Media presence including online ads on Social Media platforms.


How To Start a Digital Marketing Agency Agency?

Digital Marketing will typically include specialists in the Creative industries – Art & Design, Marketing, Developers, and Strategists to combine to create a targeted direction for a business.

Whilst growing industries often make for a healthy business environment to start sowing your seeds, taking the set of how to start a digital marketing agency needs careful thought.


1. The Decision

The biggest and most important decision is right at the very outset. Why? It’s certainly not an easy option, and there will be difficult times.

Presumably, you are not coming at this completely cold, and you have at least some experience in the design world – otherwise, forget it. So what is the reason for taking the big leap into setting up your own business? There are, of course, plenty of good reasons, control of your own destiny, ambition, control over creative direction, the chance to make a great financial success, etc. But there are plenty of bad ones too.

Falling out with your boss, anger at having clients forced on you by others, feeling in a rut – if that’s the best you can do perhaps it’s worth saving you the stress of setting up your own business and just trying to get a new job. Because without serious commitment you are going to be questioning yourself for a long time to come.


2. The Timing

Another essential part of how to start a digital marketing agency process is timing. You may well have had a long-term ambition to set up a digital agency or it could be something that’s been at the back of your mind for a while.  So what makes now the right time to make the jump? Look at the market conditions, and your own personal circumstances, and discuss your project with other specialists in the field.


3. Your Experience

What experience have you gained along the way? Not only in design but in the different areas and services you want to offer. What can you do yourself and what will you need others for, a digital agency is not a one-man-band. What kind of management skills have you got, you are going to be dealing with staff and clients so you are going to need to be able to adapt to the situations that arise.

If you feel you’re not quite up to something, either make an effort to learn it, do a course, try to get some experience, or find someone who is up to the task. If you want to get up and running quickly and make a success, then you don’t have a lot of time to learn on the job.


4. Organize Your Vision

Before you get the ball rolling, you need to consider various factors and get some sense of organization.

Research the market, research the competition. Look around at what the agencies that you envisage to be your most direct rivals are doing. What service are they offering? Where are they based? What kind of branding and advertising they are using? And what is their target audience? Then get into your mind what you want to copy and how you want to be different, this is a plan that can and will change but it’s best to at least have the outline of what you want to achieve from the very beginning.
Set yourself some rough goals, and timelines to achieve them. Make a plan for reaching them and the steps you need to hit to get there.


5. Plan the Practicalities

Once you have an organized vision, you need to start looking at the more concrete details, how exactly are you going to put this plan into action?

A business plan is essential if you are seeking financial support, but it’s still a pretty good idea even if you aren’t.

  • Structure your business

When setting up a business you’ll need to be registered. You have options of the structure of ownership and you’ll need a professional to guide you through the alternatives. Also, you will need to register your business name.

  • What do you need to start off?

What technology, equipment, and physical space do you need just to get things going. Even if you start small, you’ll still need something. It may just be a computer, software, and physical space but decisions have to be made. If you need office space, and it certainly helps to legitimize your business and focus your efforts, then where will it be? You absolutely need to take into account the operating costs, rent, overheads, and utilities as a base measure.

  • Finding and Employing Staff

Are you going to set up as a lone wolf and look to build quickly or do you have to employ others from the start? You may need specialists in digital media in order to offer the services you want, you could try going with freelancers, you may need to employ outside services such as external accountants and lawyers, there are decisions to be made. Employing others means you have to find the right people, at the right prices and be able to form a good working relationship with them. Staff will be a major part of your business and also a major cost.

  • Legal Requirements

Setting up a business is starting a legal entity, and will involve red tape. It is not the most fun part and probably not the reason you wanted to start your own business but it’s essential that you are covered from day one. You will have to pay taxes, insurance, employed staff has rights, you will need premises that meet certain regulations, accounts, the list is endless. Research what you need – and the costs. Advice on the legalities of starting a business is available, make use of the service provided by local government and NGOs.

  •  Set up your bank account and accounting system

Get your finances in order. Hopefully, money will start flowing in but even before it does you need the bank accounts and the accounting systems to be in the name of the business. You need to record everything, all costs, and expenses, keep receipts, send invoices and keep taxation records.

  • Set your prices

You may well want some flexible price arrangements, especially at first when you are trying to be ultra-competitive to get some money in. That’s fine but you need a baseline. Calculate your costs – include everything, your time, taxes, technology, overheads – the whole lot. Work out what you need to be making in order to survive, pitching yourself any lower will be a disaster. Then work up from there, you’ve researched your competitors so set a realistic valuation on the service you will offer, be competitive but don’t devalue your service.


6. Get the Clients

Once you’ve covered the basic background practicalities of how to start a digital marketing agency, it’s time to get down to the work. You need to find clients, you need to keep clients and you need to get this business moving in all the right directions. Your clients are your bread and butter. As an agency owner, you’ve taken the step and the responsibility for others onto your shoulders, so leaving no stone unturned when actively searching for clients will ultimately make or break your firm.

  • Create Your Website

Any create agency needs a website that will create that wow factor first impressions count. This is your prime showcase, and it needs to be professional and creative. A site that ticks your potential client’s boxes.  The purpose is two-fold to impress and to inform, don’t lose sight of the function – this site is designed to get you to work!

Clear navigation, plenty of calls to action, and crystal clear contact information are the absolute essentials, alongside a cool creative design vibe. Long-term you need to include things that will drive traffic to your site and articles that will keep people there. Start building up testimonials, and have them front and center of your ads, case studies with videos and photos, newsletters, linked social media, and blog articles to make your site into your own personal marketing tool. This is what you are doing for others, so make sure this site represents the best of what you do.

  • Actively Searching for clients

Your website alone will not bring clients flooding to your door, so you need to get out there metaphorically knocking on doors. Areas to consider:

  • Networking

Use any contacts you’ve built up over the years, now is not the time to be shy. Friends and family will spread the word, and hopefully, so will ex-colleagues and businesses you’ve dealt with previously. That’s one way, but it’s not enough. Get out into the community you are working in, physically and virtually. Go to business conferences, join business groups, join and contribute to forums. Get your name known, try to build a reputation for knowledge and helpfulness, offer advice, meet meet meet people wherever and whenever.

  • Marketing

If marketing is what you do, there’s no excuse not to. this is your territory so use it. Target ads, use social media, drive traffic, boost SEO –  if you can’t do it for yourself how can you expect to do it for others.

  • Join and Explore sites

Don’t sit back and expect the clients to come running to you, this is a highly competitive field. Join the design sites, enter competitions, set your work up against others, and offer and bid for work. Even relatively small projects help get the ball rolling. You can use them for testimonials and case studies and there is a least some money coming through the door.

– IF This Then That – a free account or a paid subscription on the software platform can connect your apps. This way you can track any new project listed on many of the sites so you are always on the search for something.


7. Keeping Clients

Once you found some clients, the last thing you want to do is to let them get away. Your satisfied clients are your future clients and your best advertising. The way to keep them and the way to get them singing your praises and spreading the word is very, very simple. Do the job and do it well, provide the service you promised, be professional, add the value they are looking for and make everything flow as smoothly as possible.

Quality in everything you do. Product, Service, and Communication – all matter. These are the factors that bring people back, these are the qualities that get clients excited to work with you, and these are the qualities that make clients proud to recommend you.


8. Scaling

You can’t stand still, so you need to scale. Once the ball is moving, momentum is everything. Being ready to scale is not just about having the clients, it is about your entire structure and organization. If you’ve got the organization in place, the technology, and the means, then scaling is simply a matter of adding the people. So start off with systems in place that can adapt from a couple of starter clients to the potential couple of hundred.


To Sum Up

If you’re thinking of setting up a Digital Marketing agency, you’ve plenty to think about without us needing to confuse things. That’s why these are a basic outline of the tips and things that you need to consider so you do not leap into the dark. These are framework ideas, you’ve got the sense and talent to transform them and take what you wish, our reminders are simply that. The bases on how to start a digital marketing agency should serve as the foundation that makes the house. Start with the basics and build your palace, forget them and everything could easily come tumbling down.

In the meantime, you might be interested to continue with some of the more specialized related articles on the topic of digital agencies and project management:

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