How to Start an Online Marketing Business?

by Rosemarie Hardison
how to start an online marketing business

In 2021, businesses spent more than $521 billion on digital advertising worldwide. And considering that projections predict spending to grow to a whopping $876 billion by 2026, it’s clear why starting an online marketing business makes for an excellent business idea.

But the truth about starting your own digital marketing agency is that it’s not as easy as it may seem. Publishing social media posts for your clients requires time and effort. Writing result-oriented content necessitates research, precision, and the willingness to constantly learn. And learning how to run successful PPC campaigns often depends on pushing through a fair share of failure and spending large amounts of money.

Nonetheless, if you’re ready to put in the work, running a digital marketing agency can be profitable as well as incredibly satisfying. So, if you’re interested in learning how to start an online marketing business, these are the key things you need to consider before you register your company and start working with clients.

Choose Your Area of Expertise

Jack of all trades, master of none — an expression as old as time. Yet, thousands of budding entrepreneurs still struggle to understand that doing something with success requires gaining expertise in one skill instead of dispersing their energy and attention on trying to do everything so-so.

So, before you start your online marketing business, ensure you have a clear idea of what you want to do.

There are many areas of digital marketing: search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), email marketing, social media, content, mobile, and affiliate marketing. And all of these areas require you to develop different skills.

So make sure that you know precisely what you want to do. Invest in your education. And make sure your professional focus is on becoming a provider of high-quality digital marketing services.

Are you still unsure about the best area of digital marketing for you to pursue? In that case, the best thing for you to do is explore the different types of digital marketing listed above and figure out which one aligns with your interests and skill set the most.

Focus on a Niche

When you start a business, you have to remember that offering a service — no matter how high-quality — isn’t sufficient to garner success. You also have to have a crystal clear idea about who your target audience is.

So, as you plan to start your digital marketing agency, consider the type of clients you want to attract.

Finding a niche will ensure that you know the industry inside and out. Moreover, it will help you take the right actions to connect with clients who share your vision and whom you can genuinely help promote their business. Plus, it will help you maximize the chances of your customers being satisfied with the results of your work, increasing the probability of them giving you positive reviews and recommending your agency.

Build a Brand Identity & Its Online Presence

Starting a digital marketing business is all about helping your customers reach their business goals through well-thought-out online activities.

But even though the majority of your energy needs to be spent on working towards their objectives, there’s one thing you can’t forget: a successful online marketing business depends, just as much, on how effective you are at promoting your own brand.

So, before you begin seeking out clients, make sure you’ve created a strong brand.

Define your business’ mission, vision, and values. These are essential, seeing that 78% of consumers made purchasing decisions based on values in 2020. They’ll also help you define your unique value proposition, which is crucial for standing out from the competition and attracting new customers.

Moreover, create a powerful online presence for your brand. In addition to building a beautifully-designed website — which will help your audience discover your agency, promote trust, establish your authority and drive conversions — also do your best to invest in your company’s social media presence.

Furthermore, don’t underestimate the importance of being ubiquitously present online, especially if you’re trying to attract as many clients as possible. Build exposure for your business by:

  • seeking out guest posting opportunities
  • sharing your expertise on podcasts and other channels
  • distributing high-quality content that supports your claims of being a marketing expert your audience can rely on to deliver results

Choose a Business Model

The point of running any type of business is to make a profit. However, most first-time business owners struggle with charging for their work, especially when they’re selling a service instead of physical products.

So, as you near the starting point of running a digital marketing business, make sure you’ve chosen a business model that helps you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Generally, online marketing businesses use one of the following three billing methods:

  • Charging by the hour. This is the perfect choice for small businesses, freelancers, and those who are just getting started in the marketing industry.
  • Monthly flat fees. Are you aiming to attract big clients? In this case, a monthly flat fee could give you access to valuable cash flow while ensuring the longevity of your customer relationships, which is essential in allowing you to implement marketing strategies that deliver results.
  • Project-based pricing. Lastly, as a new digital marketing agency, you should expect your first clients to want to test out the waters. This is where a project-based pricing strategy will come in handy, as it will help you charge for your hard work while helping your potential clients compare the cost of your services with the value they receive.

Create Value

Finally, as you explore the tactics that will allow you to start a successful online marketing business, don’t forget that the ultimate goal of running a digital marketing agency isn’t just to make a quick buck.

Much more than that, it’s to build up a strong business that generates a healthy cash flow, inspires customer loyalty, and has the potential of providing you with a comfortable retirement fund down the line.

So, as you work towards creating your brand, make sure that you:

  • Have a business plan that sets out short-term and long-term goals for your company.
  • Invest in your employees and equipment so you can continue delivering exceptional service.
  • Do your best to nurture customer loyalty.
  • Know what valuation drivers are relevant for online businesses so that if you ever decide to exit, you can get the absolute most return on your investment.

Final Thoughts

A new business undertaking is often a risk. And, when starting a digital marketing agency, you can definitely expect to deal with a lot of serious competition and even more hacks trying to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting clients.

However, if you put in the work, you can rest assured that you can develop a business that’s not only profitable but also highly satisfying to work for.

So don’t hesitate to go after your goals. Just make sure you’re well-equipped to deliver high-quality services and that you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve along with a plan for how you’ll do it.

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