How To Scale a Digital Marketing Agency

Lauren Oliver


September 28, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

Businessman pointing arrow. Concept of business success, and how to scale a digital marketing agency.

When looking to scale a digital marketing agency, there are a lot more moving parts than simply increasing the number of clients you have. As you scale, the complexity of research, content planning, and production can also increase. Without good structures and a great team, scaling a digital marketing agency is incredibly difficult. To give you a helping hand, we’ve created this useful guide, where we’ll cover topics like:

When’s a Good Time to Scale a Digital Marketing Agency?

Across the world, digital advertising and marketing are consistently one of the largest spending points for businesses. In 2020, over 378 billion USD was spent on digital marketing. By 2026, that number will have grown significantly, reaching nearly 880 billion USD. Digital marketing is no joke, with almost every business around the world needing and using these services.

Image that shows a graph measuring the amounts of digital ad spend in 2021 and 2022.

Image via Oberlo

With that in mind, there is always a continual stream of new clients to pick up when you work in digital marketing. If your agency has been around for a few years, you’ve likely already worked with many clients and delivered fantastic projects. But knowing when you’re ready to scale is a different story. There are several signs that let you know you should scale your digital marketing agency. Most of the time, if you have a range of these in your business, you’re in a good position to scale:

Leads Beyond Your Target Market

If you’re getting inquiries for work that aren’t coming from your target market or industry, you’re clearly doing something right. Inquiries from distinct industries show a level of faith in your business. If you’ve already got some authority in the area, you’re in a great position to masterfully expand your offerings.

Too Much Work

Many agencies reach a point where they get more work requests than they can handle. Even when stretching yourself thin, if more work continues to come knocking at your door, you’ve got a decision to make. You can either reject the work and continue at the same level you’re working at, or you can scale. We prefer the latter approach, allowing you to rise to the challenge and expand your business.

Reliable Profit

If your digital marketing agency has been pulling in a good profit for a few years, then you’re likely in a good financial position. Scaling will take a cash injection, as well as bump up your ongoing maintenance costs. If you’ve been doing well for a few years, then you’re in a great position to scale. Just make sure you have some business funds set aside to withdraw from, as scaling often increases how much money you’ll be using each month.

Team of Skilled Creatives

If your team can cover everything your business needs for scaling digital marketing, then why not do it? If your team can handle it, bringing on new clients can provide additional opportunities to expand brand reach and build brand reputation. Just be sure to hire additional support and adjust workloads if your teams need extra hands.

Growing a digital marketing agency starts with you. Your team, your internal structures, the tools you use, everything comes back to you. If you’re already doing well, then the above signs could be a signal that you’re ready for more. While there’s a lot more work involved, scaling well is also incredibly lucrative. Alongside more clients and income, scaling your digital marketing agency can build brand awareness. If you want to make a name for your business and your clients, scaling is the way to go.

Read more: 7 Steps To Scale Content Using Data

How To Scale a Digital Marketing Agency

Once you’ve identified your agency as a good candidate for scaling, it’s time to put the plan in motion. Scaling a digital marketing agency doesn’t happen overnight. On the contrary, it can take months or even years to properly increase client volume. While getting new clients might not be your problem, dealing with the sheer number of projects at once could be. After all, juggling three balls is fairly easy. Juggling 50… well, not so much. To help you scale as quickly as possible, here are some of our top strategies to follow:

1. Automate Where You Can

Every manual process in your business has to be done by an employee. Whether it’s designing a report or sending an invoice over to the client, everything takes time. The more manual processes that you have to cover, the more time your business will need. If you only have a few clients, this isn’t generally a huge problem.

But, as you begin to scale, the workload equally expands. Any of those manual tasks that took a few hours for three clients now will take all day. Quickly, this becomes unsustainable, meaning you reach a breaking point. At that moment, you either have to hire more employees or cut down on tasks. If they’re essential tasks that clients need, then you can’t do the second. But, hiring new employees also is a costly solution.

Luckily, there’s a third possibility, automating everything you can. Automating any manual tasks you can within your digital marketing agency will allow you to save huge amounts of time. For example, invoicing is something you’re going to have to be doing a lot of. Creating an invoice from scratch only takes around 30 minutes for a new client.

However, if you’re doing that for 30 clients each month, all of a sudden, you’ve lost a huge amount of time. That’s where automation comes in. Instead of manually sitting there and typing out each invoice, you just turn to a tool that does it for you. After setting the tool up, you can generate new invoices in seconds, completely removing this task from your to-do list.

With the availability of SaaS (software as a service) solutions online, you’re almost always able to find a reputable tool to automate marketing processes. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask your team. Finding out where they feel they spend unnecessary amounts of time will point you in the right direction.

2. Remove Inefficient Workflows

Moving off the back of automation, you should attempt to set good systems in place before scaling. While automation will help speed you up, if you don’t have a good structure for clients, you’ll still be wasting time. Any process that is a bit rough around the edges will only become a disaster when you scale it up. Think of your client process in terms of different steps, such as:

  • Discussing goals with the client
  • Signing contracts and paying for services
  • Giving the account to a project or account manager
  • Putting the new client into your client management system
  • Researching and planning with the client
  • Launching digital marketing plans and content production

While this is only a snapshot of the entire process a digital marketing agency will go through, it gets the point across. Simply put, there is a lot to keep track of. If the system you have in place to manage and track clients across this process isn’t efficient, you’ll be running into a lot of problems. Before scaling, review your internal process. Make sure that everything flows well and that each point in the customer journey is well documented. The better your foundations are, the easier it’ll be to scale.

3. Streamline Employee Onboarding

When you scale a digital marketing agency, you’re going to be taking on a lot more work. While automating processes can cover a portion of this, you’re going to need to bring in extra hands. Streamlining employee onboarding as part of your scaling efforts can help you cut the time it takes to add new members to your team. According to LinkedIn, hiring a new employee can take anywhere from 33 to 49 days, depending on the industry and role. And if you need someone ASAP, this time frame isn’t going to cut it.

Start by reviewing your hiring and employee onboarding processes. Look at job postings and the application process. Job descriptions should be clear and list exactly what you’re looking for, including specific roles and expectations. If you can, automate the application review cycle to cut the time it takes to evaluate potential team members. Then, look at the onboarding process, including training, and make sure new team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Ultimately, streamlining the onboarding process can save you time and ensure new team members can fulfill core expectations.

4. Outsource Content

While bringing on new team members is ultimately the goal, you can always outsource parts of content production. Outsourcing is common, with people all over the world offering their services. According to Statista Research Department, there are over 60 million people freelancing in the US alone. Turning to freelancers is great because you can search for specific skills. With sites like Upwork, you can find users and get them working for you within the very same day.

When scaling a digital marketing agency, there will be times when you have way too much work to get done. Instead of turning things down, you can always fall back on a team of freelancers. Although it’s better to hire for the long run, freelancers can provide support in a time crunch. Even when you’ve hired an established team, outsourcing work can keep everything running smoothly.

5. Use the Right Tools

As we discussed above, automation is absolutely key. Beyond automation, build a portfolio of tools that help your digital marketing agency succeed. The more clients you have, the more organization you’ll need. To ensure your success, you need customer relationship management platforms, research platforms, project management systems, and accounting tools in place.

Much like having all your processes in place, scaling with great tools improves the whole workflow. Instead of scrabbling to create contracts or losing track of where each client is in their journey, these tools can help keep everything in order. Digital marketing tools save time, help your team stay on track, and provide a flawless experience for your customers.

Read more: How To Scale Content for Financial Services

Tips to Scale a Digital Marketing Agency

Along the road toward scaling your digital marketing agency, you’re likely to hit some bumps. Sometimes you’ll have explosive growth, and things will seem easy. Equally, you might go through a few phases where you either have too much work or nothing at all. Scaling a business is a learning process and doesn’t come instantly. To help you along the way, here are some of our best tips. Each of these will help you scale a digital marketing agency effectively, generating new clients and avoiding burnout along the way:

Prioritize Your Agency’s Marketing

Digital marketing agencies are all about helping other companies exceed in online marketing. If you’re helping others, you’re probably off to a great start. But, just because you’ve brought on a new range of clients doesn’t mean you should forget about your own site. Your business, as an online agency, also needs to continuously generate new leads.

Forgetting about your own digital marketing is one of the biggest mistakes we come across in this area. When a digital marketing agency scales its services, they normally spend all its time on other clients. Yes, this helps to bring in money. But it also means lead generation could slow down.

Because of this, it’s essential to focus on your agency’s digital marketing success. At CopyPress, we help digital marketing agencies scale content production. With resources like SEO content analysis, we help you cover the content gaps so you know what areas to target when scaling your digital marketing agency.

Support Team Development

When scaling a digital marketing agency, it’s easy to look outward for new employees. While hiring some new hands can go a long way, don’t forget to leverage all of your team’s talents. Internal education is a fantastic way of supporting your team and learning new skills in digital marketing. This is a great way to use any downtime that your business has between larger contracts, too. Your team can carry these new skills forward, continuously improving. Not only does this help your team grow, but it also means your clients get more out of a partnership with you.

Scale to New Areas

Growing a digital marketing business is often about increasing the number of clients that you take on. While this is almost always true, it’s not the only way to scale. You can also scale out by offering more services.

Let’s say you currently focus on content marketing and creation. You could improve your offering by expanding into technical SEO. While this might mean you need to hire a new person, you’ll often find a few team members that could cover this. Expanding what you offer can bring in more clients. Equally, it pushes you further in terms of the industries in which you can offer services.

Focusing on several services allows you to also create a new content marketing strategy for your business. If you’ve been focusing on on-page SEO for many years, expanding out will breathe new life into your own keyword strategy. Scaling doesn’t just mean more quantity. It can also relate to what you can offer to potential clients.

Measure All Progress

Measure absolutely everything, including agency KPIs, lead generation, conversion rates, and click-through rates. From internal metrics to client-based ROIs, you need to have constant access to data. Creating a central database where you can see everything that’s going on is invaluable. With this, you can clearly see the progress. You’re also able to pass higher quality reports to your clients.

Measuring your progress also supports better forecasts for the future. When scaling a digital marketing agency, knowing what you can handle is vital. You can always monitor and use your current data to see where you’re heading. Remember: failing to plan is like planning to fail.

Scale Your Digital Marketing Agency with CopyPress

When starting to scale a digital marketing agency, you’re starting down a long road. There’s no real endpoint to scaling, as you can always continue to grow. That said, there are tools and resources you can use to make the process easier. At CopyPress, we have you covered with our free analysis tool that gives you insight into the content topics you should be targeting to boost rankings and increase traffic.

Find out how your agency’s content stacks up against top competitors and discover possible syndication partners to start building your outreach plans. Want to know more? Get in touch with us to find out how you can use this data to support your strategies and achieve goals.

Author Image - Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver

Content Manager at CopyPress

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