How to Scale Your Digital Marketing Agency
Scaling a digital marketing agency or social media management agency is no easy task. Algorithms change, promotions change and trending topics change. Sprinkle in last minute client requests and it’s easy to see how scaling your agency can feel so hard.
The good news is, it IS possible. Scaling your agency takes work but it doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, over time (if you’re doing right) things should get easier and easier.
In my 10 years working in agencies and 5 years of consulting, the one thing I consistently see that makes or breaks a digital marketing agency is tools.
Tools are where all the agency backend magic happens. It’s where you automate onboarding, streamline projects and how team members (and you!) know what’s going on in the agency and with your clients. Your tools are the support beams of your agency and until you can get a handle on them, scaling is going to feel like an uphill battle.
Tools are the softwares and platforms you use to manage your workload. Common tools among agencies are ClickUp, Monday.com, ActiveCampaign and Dubsado, in addition to your basics such as Google Suite, Zoom or an online scheduler.
Finding tools is easy – too easy in fact. Finding the RIGHT tool? That’s the tricky part.
I get tons of questions from clients about which tools to use and how best to use them. And these are great questions because tools only help you scale your agency IF you’re using the correct ones and you’re using them effectively. The right tools save you time, maximize your team and increase your capacity, i.e. helps you scale.
So, how do you start finding the right tool to scale your agency?
Start by knowing what kind of tool you need.
Not all tools are created equal. Some are really great for automating onboarding but aren’t so great at managing due dates and team tasks. Others help you crush due dates but lack the capacity to effectively send out contracts and get calls scheduled. And that’s ok! Where agency owners get frustrated is when they are expecting a tool to do what it isn’t designed to do.
Below are the 6 types of tools you need to scale your agency.
By now you probably know what this is and have one, but it’s worth mentioning because I occasionally work with a digital marketing agency that hasn’t taken the plunge (often because they scaled so quickly they never took the time). Acuity and Calendly are both popular options.
An online scheduler makes scheduling calls a breeze saving you time and money.
Whether it’s Google Drive or Dropbox getting your files organized and tidy is a gamechanger for you and your agency. When your team can quickly find the files they need to get their job done, they don’t have to ask you! This frees you up to work on the agency and not play Where’s Waldo with your documents.
To scale your digital marketing agency, you are going to need to promote it! And one of the ways you will likely do this is with email marketing and there are plenty of tools out there to choose from. The key here is to stick with what you need. I often see agency owners using advanced email marketing tools that are equipped to power massive sales funnels with sophisticated automations – to send their weekly newsletters. This can be done with a much simpler email service provider at a fraction of the cost and learning curve.
To make things more confusing, some email marketing tools are also CRMs (more about CRMs in a minute). And this is where I tend to see overlap (i.e. wasted money) in agencies. Many agency owners end up using an email marketing tool that can also be a CRM BUT are using a different CRM. Confusing, I know, but stay me.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
With all the leads your email marketing is bringing in, you need a way to manage them. Scaling your agency involves nurturing and converting leads – and this is where your CRM comes into play.
Your CRM is where you are going to nurture and track the leads that have “bubbled to the top” of your email marketing efforts (among other marketing efforts of course). These are the leads that not only read your emails, but have also booked a discovery call, engaged in back and forth emails or extended some other form or outreach or inquiry.
Tracking calls, follow-ups and proposals are what CRMs are all about. Additionally, you will use your CRM for client onboarding and if you’ve picked the right CRM – it will be automated!
As I alluded to earlier, some tools work as an email marketing tool as well as a CRM and some only serve one purpose. It isn’t right or wrong which route you go (one tool for both or a separate one for marketing and onboarding) the point is to make sure you don’t have duplication and you’re only paying for what you need.
The number of apps, softwares and tools that proudly wear the “I’m a project management tool!” badge is big. And between you and me, many of these “project management tools” are really just fancy productivity apps which is a whole different blog post.
Here’s what you need to know about project management tools – they aren’t to do lists. Your project management tool should be well equipped to assign tasks, monitor timelines, identify project milestones and improve team communication.
Scaling means knowing what your capacity is, how long projects take and being able to delegate effectively – all of this is only possible with a properly set up PM tool.
Last but not least is invoicing. Since you’ve made it this far you’ve obviously found a way to get paid – yay! But, if you’ve got scaling on your mind, you may need to consider automating payments, adjusting payment plans or start collecting deposits from a waitlist. Getting paid is one thing, but streamlining and automating payments is a whole different story and finding the right tool for the job eliminates client frustrations and missed payments.
There you have it. The 6 tools you need to scale your digital marketing or social media agency.
Wondering how your tools stack up?