How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency That Succeeds Where Others Fail

by | Dec 27, 2023 | Agency

How To Start a Digital Marketing Agency

Last week, we were asked to really define how to start a digital marketing agency these days. Specifically, one that succeeds where others fail within a saturated agency market.

First, before we get started, let’s clear the playing field with one key understanding: succeeding in a saturated agency market begins with understanding that the market is not terribly saturated. The truth of this statement will be clear, shortly.

Now, let’s get to it with some clear definitions that outline what it looks like when you start a digital marketing agency that succeeds where other’s fail.

Start a Digital Marketing Agency that is Niche Focused

Focusing on a niche that you’re interested in…or even passionate about provides you clarity in your client acquisition efforts, and allows you to deepen your expertise in a way that separates your brand.

Start a Digital Marketing Agency that is Niche Focused

Equally important, businesses want to feel understood by the people they work with. For this reason, when you start a digital marketing agency that focuses on a narrow niche, you will have a natural competitive advantage when compared to generalist agencies.

Finally, because you are genuinely interested in their industry, your niche, you become entrenched in that world, its vocabulary, challenges, and concerns. You can speak to prospective clients on their level. All of which enables you to grow your client base more quickly.

You Focus On Client Growth, Not Specific Outcomes

When you start a digital marketing agency that is growth focused, you approach prospective clients as a true change agent. You’re not somebody who drives leads or builds a brand. Those are byproducts. You are a strategic partner that establishes a strategy to support the client’s key metrics.

This enables you to have deep conversations about the business itself, rather than a shallow focus on “what’s been working” from a marketing perspective. Through richer, more meaningful conversations about the client’s growth goals, you are able to position your solutions as a conduit to a desired future state. When compared to other agencies that build their practices around specific deliverables (like hitting page one of google) believe me, this approach leads to much more rewarding discussions as campaigns are executed.

You Start a Digital Marketing Agency that is Solution Agnostic

While you carry industry specialization, you start a digital marketing agency that has no allegiance to any particular media. This means you bring no bias to the discussion of tactics, techniques or budget allocation. The marketing channels that most efficiently support the client in achieving their key metrics are the right solutions.

Because you are solution agnostic, your agency supports and provides all relevant marketing channels. Between marketing technology and 3rd party partnerships, it is possible bring any channel to market. This allows you to remain rooted in the needs of the client, always representing the marketing mix that is most likely to achieve their goals.

Again, this is a clear point of differentiation when it comes to competing agencies, who tend to lead with one or two key marketing channels as their area of expertise. As a result, it’s not terribly surprising when a PPC agency thinks that every business should have an active PPC campaign.

You Lead With Marketing Data Transparency

It’s not just that you provide transparency…you start a digital marketing agency in which you personally are transparent. You don’t create a wall between the client and the performance of their campaigns. Too many agencies hijack client data so that they can provide a filtered monthly report that supports their decision-making and justifies their fees.

This is a strategy embraced by some agencies who approach prospective clients with lofty promises and specific deliverables. By keeping the client from seeing the data themselves, they can create a mask that carries the appearance of success. This might help retain clients in the short term, but it is a tactic doomed to fail.

You, on the other hand, are a strategic partner who is focused on long-term growth. And while, yes, your campaigns must perform, you provide real-time access to the data and proactively communicate the good, the bad, the progress. Because you’ve been transparent from the beginning, you didn’t make any bombastic promises for which you’ll need to deliver.

The irony here: this is the kind of relationship your clients would actually rather have anyway. It turns out, nobody wants a promise that can’t be kept.

Marketing Automation SoftwareYou Start a Digital Marketing Agency that Capitalizes on the Latest Technology

It begins with the marketing automation platform and CRM you use to systemize your relationships, enabling you to build your database, maintain robust communications with clients, while also keeping your pipeline full with referrals.

It continues with the machine learning marketing technology you use to execute highly effective campaigns. A.I. tools are able to monitor campaign performance and make thousands of course-corrections each month. This doesn’t just provide better client results, it also reduces expenses, creating a more profitable agency. When your agency is profitable, you don’t cut corners that limit client performance. In other words, it’s a win-win that guarantees long term growth for both parties.

You Remember It’s All About the Client

Ultimately, you understand that it’s critical to start a digital marketing agency that establishes customer service as the only thing that really matters. The data, campaign performance, client results, all of that is incidental and will follow a dedication to serving your clients.

As a result you are generous and open to sharing your experiences. You regularly document your journey, sharing content that will enable others to make informed and intelligent decisions when faced with the challenges you have already overcome. Remember, you’re trying to grow your business, in the same way they are trying to grow theirs.

A SIDE NOTE: For this reason, you’re reading an article titled “How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency”. We wrote it, because we’ve done it, and we have helped many other marketing professionals launch their own. A happy byproduct? Creating content that answers in-demand questions plays well with Google and supports your SEO. It’s another win-win.

Wrapping Up

These are the characteristics of a forward-thinking, high value marketing agency. It is the description of an organization that truly separates itself from others in the marketplace. If we are willing to be bold (and we are) it is also the only definition of a marketing agency that matters, today. Anything short will always become a mere vendor that provides some selection of disparate services. This is how you build an agency that succeeds where others fail. It’s not easy to check every box, but it’s easier than ever before. And of course, SaaSQL can help.

If you’re somebody who’s been thinking about how to start a marketing agency, let’s wrap things up by taking it back to the beginning of this article. For all of the reasons detailed above, don’t let competitive saturation hold you back. The truth is, most of your competition is not terribly competitive and they hardly saturate anything.

J.W. Martin

About the Author

J.W. Martin is a marketing expert with 25 years experience developing marketing strategy for local businesses. He can be reached at

NOTE: While all articles are written by our team, to provide the most robust and useful reader experience,  SaaSQL uses A.I. / large language models to assist with various aspects of content development. This includes research, sourcing and other content improvements.  

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