Often in business, you hear the term “scalable”. It can apply to a business model. It could also mean how a business grows. Scalable can refer to a product or to a relationship with a partner or vendor. Overall, it’s very flexible. However, scalability in digital marketing (and any business for that matter) is crucial to achieve lasting growth and sustainability for customers.
Balancing your marketing agency to be scalable and successful can provide many benefits as well as challenges along the way. Scalability can sometimes be best described as a balancing act. On one end you want to keep a personal touch with your customers for them to rely on your agency. You’re also learning to compromise value by bringing on more staff members while not trying to modify your brand if you grow too quickly. On the other end, when your product or service steadily grows, it’s hard to figure out the best way to scale your digital marketing and take on those opportunities.
Boostability built the biggest full-service SEO company in the world through a 100% scalable fulfillment model. This enables us to service over 30,000 active clients. And we give the same level of high-quality SEO tasks and services to every single one of them. In this article, we will share the differences between growing and scaling your marketing agency, some of its challenges, and how to scale your digital marketing agency. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Scaling too quickly and failing
- New technology comes with a learning curve and expenses
- Risk for increased client or customer churn
- Difficulty in finding proper talent or partnerships
- Possibility for low profit margins
- You’re Getting Inquiries from Other Markets
- Leads Are Rising
- Cohesive Team
- Turning People Away
- Having the Money
- Identify what your customers want
- Does it complement your existing service or product?
- Hire experts on the subject matter
- Optimize your workflow
- Update your customer persona
- Consider making remote work a possibility
What’s the Difference Between Growth and Scaling Up?
Some marketing agencies may think scalability and growing your digital marketing go hand in hand. While they do share some similarities, there is a difference between the two that your agency should be aware of. Growth is based mainly around the focus of our efforts. When an agency adds a new resource (such as people, technology, or capital) to help improve the business, we see growth when revenue increases as a result. Scalability, by contrast, is successful when revenue increases without any effort or increase in resources. Or scalability can be based on a process that helps eliminate using additional effort. Let’s dive more into their differences.
Like we already mentioned, growth is based around increasing revenue as a result of digital marketing. Other factors can also contribute to the growth of a marketing agency. These could include the number of employees, the amount of offices and the number of clients it serves, and the number of resources available to them. Growth involves increasing manpower and upping production levels. That generally leads to increased cost and can raise the cost of the production which then gets passed to consumers. But not always. This model can work very well for some, but doesn’t normally achieve the level of exponential growth seen for a scalable model.
The biggest challenge behind growth is having to constantly support and sustain it through adding constant resources. For example, picture a well standing marketing agency that currently holds 6 clients. Soon they will be taking on 6 more clients. While this brings in more revenue for the marketing agency, it also adds more work for its employees. As a result, it may not get done as quickly or be as valuable as it could be with adding more employees to help with the extra workload. Overall in this situation, taking on more clients helps increase revenue, but it also leads to hiring more people which also has to increase costs at the same time. Balancing these challenges can be a huge challenge for growth in digital marketing.
Essentially scalability for a business means a business or a system can easily adapt to increased workload or demand. It means that when more people start coming to a business, they can take on the work without slowing down production or activity level. It also means that you don’t have to broaden the scope of your business just to take on additional clients. It’s essentially adding more resources to your business that doesn’t increase the overhead cost more than the additional revenue you will bring in.
The key difference with growth is that scaling is achieved by increasing revenue without acquiring significant costs. While adding customers and revenue exponentially, costs should only increase incrementally, if at all. Google is a great example at scaling digital marketing successfully. They continue to add customers (whether this be through a business client or ad-supported free user) while being able to keep costs at a minimum.
The difference between scaling and growth becomes more apparent when your marketing agency isn’t a small startup, but also when it isn’t a larger agency. When you get to that stage, your agency will then decide between growing at a regular rate or switching to a faster scaling company. Unfortunately, there is no step to skip forward to successful scaling. Successful scaling is part planning, part effort, and lots of luck.
Overall, both growth and scaling are important aspects to your marketing agency. They both help your marketing agency achieve success and progression in your industry and they have a lot to do with luck and patience. However, preparing for both of them is key to advancing your digital marketing.
What is Scaling in Digital Marketing?
Essentially scalability for a marketing agency means an agency or a system can easily adapt to increased workload or demand. It means that when more people start coming to digital marketing, they can take on the work without slowing down production or activity level. It also means that you don’t have to broaden the scope of your agency just to take on additional clients. It’s essentially adding more resources to your business that doesn’t increase the overhead cost more than the additional revenue you will bring in. This applies to any industry or business, including digital marketing agencies.
What are the Challenges of Scaling a Digital Marketing Agency?
True scalability isn’t always easy to accomplish because not all businesses have that kind of a flexible business model. For example, all products come from one warehouse. But to start to move in that direction, businesses must remove redundancies and cut out things that might not be helping the big picture. Often this is part of production or implementation within a business.
While this may be one example, here are 5 challenges of scaling a digital marketing agency that you may face.
Scaling too quickly and failing
Did you know that two-thirds of the fastest growing companies fail. It may seem like reaching hypergrowth status puts you on the right path to success. However, that’s not always the case! Most of the time it’s the slow growing companies that tend to do better in the long run compared to their fast growth counterparts. This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t want to grow quickly. You just need to do it smartly and be efficient about it.
New technology comes with a learning curve and expenses
When your agency becomes more scalable, sometimes that includes updates and changes in technology. While your agency receives new technology it means it’s time to learn and adapt to it even when it seems intimidating. Don’t worry! Technology can ultimately help scale your agency in a big way.
Risk for increased client or customer churn
One recent challenge has been businesses reevaluating their priorities due to the changes that came from the pandemic. When businesses changed their priorities, it resulted in them letting go of contracts with their marketing agencies. Customer churn is a huge difficulty for digital marketing agencies. Especially when they are trying to scale in ways of work loads for the company and it’s employees.
Difficulty in finding proper talent or partnerships
Amid tough competition, it can be hard finding quality talent for a digital marketing agency. Employers have started to deal with this challenge by focusing on being transparent, highlighting work culture, and promoting relevant benefits to make their tenure more comfortable despite being fast paced.
Possibility for low profit margins
Agencies will often have to find new clients or upsell existing ones before they can justify the cost of hiring new employees to contribute to the team. However, this also becomes a dilemma since existing teams and employees have to handle extra projects before they can get new members to even out the load.
Some processes just don’t need to happen in order to accomplish the work. Or if your agency is more service oriented, figure out ways to automate the process without adding labor hours. Sometimes this is just supplemental revenue generated through looking at alternative ways of doing business. Trying new things you might not previously have thought about can completely change your business model. It’s important to always try new things that could help impact your agency for good when challenges such as these come into play.
Signs You Should Scale Your Digital Marketing Agency
For any business or agency, especially when they’re first starting out, scalability is always a constant thought on their minds. They start with a product or service and immediately think about how they can grow exponentially. In digital marketing, it’s important to establish a market with their product or service before thinking about hypergrowth. Your marketing agency should be in a solid standing position when considering working on scalability factors. Here are 5 signs you might want to consider before scaling your digital marketing agency.
You’re Getting Inquiries from Other Markets
This is most likely the most common sign for when you know your agency should scale. When you get lots of inquiries from people outside of your normal audience, this could be a sign for a reason to expand. This opportunity will cast a wider net to bring in more potential clients.
Leads Are Rising
Along with an increase in inquiries, maybe you have a skyrocket in leads for your marketing agency. If this spike seems to be more organic than paid, chances are you’re ready to scale your business to the next level.
Having a great company is one thing, but having a great team is another. Assembling and having a hard working cohesive team helps run your agency and create more potential opportunities to scale in the future. When looking at the group’s skills and strengths, consider if they could take them to the next level and have the ability to scale the marketing agency.
Turning People Away
You never want to get to the point of turning customers away, but sometimes that means it’s time to scale your business. Having a waitlist of potential customers puts your marketing agency in a great position to scale.
Having the Money
Scaling your marketing agency is no cheap cost. From bringing on new employees to expanding to larger office space, the bills will start to pile up. Even if your marketing agency is a profitable one. If you have the funds readily available to handle expansion with ease, it might be time to go for it and start scaling.
How Do You Scale Digital Marketing Efforts?
Here is a list of 7 tips on how to scale digital marketing efforts:
1) Identify what your customers want
It’s always important to identify your audience’s intention and what they’re seeking. You have to figure out what has the most opportunity and potential and what your clients actually want. That should be the first step you take before deciding to scale your marketing agency. You’ll want an idea of customer satisfaction, external perceptions, and insight from current marketing efforts. Ways you can gain more insight could be through surveys, analyzing marketing results, and asking customers how they’re doing.
2) Does it complement your existing service or product?
Adding new services and products can sometimes be a good thing when it comes to scaling digital marketing efforts. While this isn’t always necessary, it can be helpful and easier to sell a new service or product if it complements existing ones your agency has. Doing this process might not be the first option you choose in scaling your marketing agency, but definitely one to consider.
3) Hire experts on the subject matter
One option for scaling your digital marketing agency is utilizing white label SEO services. Here at Boostability we specialize in white label SEO services. There are a variety of services your agency can utilize including:
- On-site optimizations
- Content optimizations
- Blog writing
- Link Building
- Local SEO
- Keyword research
There are many benefits of outsourcing marketing services that your agency can utilize.
4) Invest in the right tools and softwares
Whether you’re growing or scaling up, investing in new technology is necessary and helpful for any digital marketing agency. You could use applications like project and task management software, instant messaging software (such as Slack) for seamless communication, portals to share your documents or provide transparency into workloads, campaign status, reporting, etc. Launchpad is also a great tool to consider.
5) Optimize your workflow
Scaling will most likely entail hiring new people onboard, so you can start by streamlining your hiring process. Create a step-by-step workflow for HR teams to manage recruitment, interviews, and onboarding—like using a customer relationship management tool to manage candidates and monitor where they currently stand in your recruitment stages. You could also ask your employees for input on how workflow could improve.
6) Update your customer persona
Sometimes client personas change when a company expands and scales up. Fortunately, you can update your buyer persona easily by taking a look at your existing clients. Tap your team leads for new trends they notice about your clients, including notes from meetings or briefs from recent campaigns. These can provide insights about how their business has shifted, which can signal a broader trend. Your buyer persona will then aid you in identifying new ways to deepen your relationship with these existing clients, while also spotting opportunities to pitch to new clients who fit this updated persona.
7) Consider making remote work a possibility
After the pandemic that shook the world, the working landscape has shifted from in the office to working from home. While not every digital marketing agency does this, consider it as a possibility. More individuals seek this opportunity and way of working. If you create a work culture that is remote-first, then you’ll quickly be able to adapt and grow as needed. Scaling remote work can sometimes be a challenge, but as long as there’s trust built into your company you’ll be able to succeed.
How Does Scalability Apply to SEO?
A scalable SEO model means you can take on thousands of clients at a time and still perform the tasks with excellent quality and results. We’re able to do this through teams of SEO specialists who focus on these tasks and become experts at them. Everything from link-building, to keywords, to business directory outreach, and content creation, a scalable model means you have experts at every step of the way working on your SEO campaign.
The scalable SEO model also works throughout the company in customer service, sales, and marketing. When you have specialists in every position, people can take on these extra tasks because they already know how to do it well. In customer service, our SEO experts know how campaigns work. And because we have a proprietary software called LaunchPad, they can go in and see all the steps taken for a campaign and know what needs to be done next. LaunchPad helps us make data-driven decisions that take out the human guesswork faced in many tech companies. We know the strategies we implement will help our customers succeed in their online goals.
Scalability is something that has helped Boostability grow rapidly to serve over 100,000 small businesses across 15 countries over the past 10 years. It’s how we’re able to fulfill SEO tasks for all our clients with the same high-quality service for every single one and continue to grow as a company. Learn more about our SEO Partner Marketing Program today to learn more about ways we can boost and scale your marketing agency to the next level.