Even in times of economic and political uncertainty, the services of digital agencies are still in high demand. Particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, retailers were seeking out top quality services to improve their eCommerce operations and quickly boost their digital presence. From competitive marketing to the improvement of digital channels, your clients are dependent on your services to weather whatever storms come next.
That said, if the focus is on helping your clients stabilise their business — how much focus are you placing on cementing your own position?
As a digital agency, your business is already known for having to move at a faster pace than others. Technology is developing at a rate nobody could have imagined, and if you’re not keeping up with the latest tools and trends, your clients are likely to lose interest.
This is why as a digital agency, it’s vital that you know how to stabilise your own growth, as well as that of your clients. With new agencies cropping up every day, your customers have a wealth of choice when it comes to the services they need. This is why it’s essential to figure out how to maintain consistent growth and stay ahead, without becoming overwhelmed by the challenges of an erratic market.
Wondering how you can do this? Read on!
Tips for growing a digital agency – the right way
Be able to rely on your staff
In any circumstance, reliable staff is essential, but for digital agencies, it’s even more important. Without staff you know you can rely on, there’s always a risk that the agency you’ve built up will suddenly be unable to deliver the services your clients expect.
If you’re lucky enough to have a good network of in-house staff, it’s crucial that you make them feel valued as much as possible. This is where good company culture and open discussions about the future come in. Your staff should know that they’re part of your long-term vision.
However, one of the biggest issues for digital agencies at the moment is the attraction and retention of permanent staff. In lieu of permanent staff, agencies are having to work with freelancers on a project-to-project basis — something that’s not ideal for stabilising the future of your company.
While regularly working with freelancers can sometimes work out, it can also be extremely difficult to spot the good ones.
To recognise a reliable freelancer, ask yourself the following:
● Do they have good references?
● Have they worked with your type of clients before?
● Is their portfolio in line with your agency’s style?
● Do they have a network of people they can recommend if they’re not available?
● Do they have a history of seeing their projects through to the end?
● Are they open to working with you longer-term, or on larger projects?
Sound like a lot of work just to find a good freelancer? The next point might be a better option!
Consider offering white label services
Following on from the previous point, staffing is a general issue across several industries at the moment. With a talent shortage and key industries struggling to keep up, digital agency owners are having to adapt to the struggles of their clients, while also trying to keep their own heads above water.
Even though many digital agencies understand the need to expand their services to keep pace with other agencies, it’s also natural for many agencies to feel hesitant. A large number of digital agencies have been built with a core range of skills in place and deviating from this model can be frightening.
Especially where investment is involved, many agencies don’t want to put time and money into something that then doesn’t work out for them or their customers. The good news? There’s always other avenues to explore!
Instead of depending on freelancers who might ultimately let you down, agency owners are opting for new ways to expand their services. White label services are becoming an increasingly popular option because they allow digital agencies to outsource certain services, without the commitment of hiring staff and changing their business model.
Just some benefits of white label services:
● Increases your return on investment (ROI) by offering existing or new clients the exact services they need, as they need them
● Allows you to offer a wider range of packages that can be built around your current offerings (e.g., social media marketing can be expanded with professional copywriting services)
● There’s no risk or development costs — if it doesn’t work out, you’re not tied to offering these new services!
● It allows you to be more creative with your business and explore new revenue streams, without affecting your current operations
Invest in the right tools
Even for digital agencies who work with new technologies every day, keeping up with the latest releases can be difficult. With investment in these tools also not coming cheap, finding the right ones for your business requires research.
As well as tools that are specific to certain skills, agencies also need to keep track of more general productivity and performance enhancing tools. Especially now with so many remote teams and clients wanting the option of online meetings, knowing what’s out there is essential.
That said, not every digital tool will be the right one for your business. With so many to choose from, finding the right ones can be challenging.
To make things easier, ask yourself:
● Do ‘all-in-one’ or specialised tools suit your business model better?
● Which areas of your business could use better efficiency or optimisation?
● What tools are considered to be industry-standard for your type of agency?
● Which of your current tools are currently working for you and what other products are the same developers offering?
● What tools are your competitors currently using?
● Are there any free trials I can avail of to test tools, without committing?
Tip: For content marketing, Hubspot usually offers up-to-date advice on which tools to opt for, but always do your own research too! What works for one agency might not work for you.
Save it for a rainy day
It’s quite common for digital agencies to struggle with cash flow. After all, large campaigns cost a lot of money and often, unpaid client invoices are a normal part of digital agency life. Without the assurance of new projects being constantly in the pipeline, digital agencies can easily become overwhelmed in times of economic downturn.
This is why good cash flow is key when it comes to maintaining stability, regardless of the circumstance. To do this, we recommend:
● Focusing on recurring income (with additional value being added for the clients you’d like to retain)
● Being more selective with the clients and projects you take on (e.g., which clients drain the most resources and take focus away from more profitable accounts?)
● Rebrand your digital packages to attract new audiences or bring back in clients you’d like to work with again (if you liked working with someone before, letting them know about your new packages is a great excuse to reconnect!)
● Re-evaluating the tools you’re using — the most expensive tools aren’t always the best one for you!
As we’ve already discussed, it’s also possible to outsource services you know would benefit your clients. If you see an opportunity to prevent a client from switching to another agency, adapting your services to suit their needs on the spot is a good trick to have up your sleeve!
As a digital agency, one of your superpowers should be knowing which analytics are important for your customers. So why not apply this same sentiment to trends occurring within your own line of work?
Every day, new trends are emerging that set the tone for how the marketing industry is moving. As a digital agency, being able to get ahead of the ‘next big thing’ (or even just being able to keep up!) is crucial for your stability. If you’re better prepared for change, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the competitors who aren’t.
For example, those who foresaw the movement towards a more sustainable way of living were able to get ahead on advising their clients about environmentally-friendly packaging, social responsibility, and offsetting carbon emissions at checkout.
To help you recognise the next big trends:
- Get more involved in your industry — It’s easier to observe movement when you’re close to where the action is. Attend workshops by industry experts and have discussions with peers about what trends they’re observing
- Talk to your customers and have them do the same with theirs — The best way to find out what people currently care about is to ask!
- Study statistics and read reports — Ever heard of Sitra? They consistently release reports about megatrends and areas to watch in terms of global trends!
Just be an agency that your clients can’t survive without:
The best way to stabilise your growth as a digital agency, even during difficult times, is to just understand what it is that makes your agency better than your competitors.
During uncertain times, your clients will want to latch onto partners they know they can trust. To be this agency for them, make yourself indispensable and always go that extra mile to showcase your value proposition.
How Uprise Digital can help:
We’re a white label web design service, meaning that your clients will never know we’re the ones designing their websites. With this service, you can offer expert web design services to your customers, without any additional workload or investment needed by you.
Avail of our services, whenever you need them! If you’d like to know more about our white label web design services, we’d love to hear from you — Get in touch!