In May last year IWG, a Swiss-based serviced office provider, released a study that showed more than two-thirds of the world’s employees work remotely at least one day a week, with over 50% of professionals working away from the office half the week.
Are we surprised? Not really. Remote working is becoming increasingly popular, offering environmental benefits, operational cost-savings, and work/life balance.
Launching a remote digital marketing agency has never been cheaper or easier, with the market ripe for such businesses to blossom.
The Secrets to Success
Of course, if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it! But for the experienced marketer looking to take the next step into business ownership, it shouldn’t be a huge stretch. We’ve put together some key pointers.
Don’t be a generalist
You need to know who your target audience is. You should know this, it’s what you do! Figure out your USP. Do you have in-depth knowledge of the optometry sector? Are you passionate about vegan or paleo food? Use your skills and interests to inform your business direction.
Knowing what type of clients you want is essential to writing your business plan, the visual design of your website, and even what strategies you employ when hunting for your clients. Build this information into your business plan and let it inform your exit strategy.
Yes, I know, you’ve not even started trading yet and already you have to think about leaving! But you aren’t freelancing. This isn’t you taking on bits of work to pay the bills. You are growing an entity, and when you are ready to move on to the next challenge you need a business you can sell.
Remote working allows your business to respond to growth and client needs in a fast and appropriate fashion. You could choose to manage your client-load yourself to start with, employing people as the business grows. That’s quite an old-fashioned strategy. Many successful agencies use freelancers with flexible schedules and a variety of specialisms you can draw on.
Make sure you have a range of freelancers you can call on right from the start, whether it’s for design, copy or social media management. This will help you respond to your clients’ needs seamlessly, and free you up to spend time working ON the business, not IN the business. Your job as a business owner is growth and strategy, not the nuts and bolts.
Remote, not removed
You might be working from your backroom, the local coffee bar, or a camper van in Azerbaijan; your client doesn’t care where you are, as long as they can get hold of you.
- Be visible with a fantastic website that is easy to find. Optimize your Google rankings with all the digital tricks you know from SEO to backlinks to header tags.
- Have a phone number, email address, Twitter handle, Facebook page, and Skype name visible on your homepage.
- Get a remote office manager. Don’t rely on your clients to leave answerphone messages. Remote officer managers are affordable and add a level of credibility.
- Follow up inquiries quickly. Again, you aren’t a freelancer. You can’t afford to check out for a week and accept a lower turnover. Always acknowledge the same day.
Get to know your clients. Build a personal relationship with them. It helps with client retention and makes them more likely to refer your service to their business contacts.
You might have a great website but you can’t sit around and wait for people to come to you. Get your name out there with blog articles. Be active on social media. Post on LinkedIn. Connect with your target business community. Cold calling isn’t the most sophisticated marketing tool in your box these days, but it does still work.
Identify the companies you would like to work for, get in touch, and show them what you can do for them. When you’ve completed a successful piece of work, shout about it. Get a testimonial on your site, and incentivize your client into recommending you to others. Actively seek out and engage with your target audience.
Be aware of the bottom line
One major benefit of running a remote agency is reduced business outgoings, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore what you are spending. If you focus too much on what is coming in, and not enough on what is going out, you may find your bottom line is bottoming out.
Utilize all the free promotional tools you can get your hands on. Use internet-based calling companies, shop around for the cheapest ISP deal. Don’t travel unless you need to, and make sure you factor that into the quote for your client, that’s not an expense you should take on the chin. Get money-saving business tips from reliable sources.
Most importantly, don’t undersell yourself for the sake of getting work. Charge what you are worth and add value, don’t reduce value by underquoting.
Three top tricks of successful digital marketers
Do it with data
Your results need to be tangible, measurable and repeatable. I know you see yourself as a creative, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the facts. Use data to track your success, make tweaks and report back to clients. Whether it is social media metrics or analytics on a client website relating to a specific campaign, you have to connect their return on investment (ROI) with concrete results.
Value add with small details. Talk to clients about what worked well, tell them what age group seems most interested, discuss regional variations, and use that as a springboard for an honest discussion about where to go next.
Invest in ads
Yes, you have just persuaded your client to spend money on your skills, it may feel a bit rich to ask them for an advertising budget. However, part of your skillset they’re paying for is knowing who to target and how.
Facebook ads are affordable, targeted and measurable, with spending on Facebook and Instagram ads is expected to grow in the US from $67bn to $95bn in the next two years. In addition, geofencing is becoming an increasingly powerful tool. If your client has a specific physical location, you may want to suggest a geofencing campaign. Push notifications are also useful here.
Integrate to accentuate
Consistency of messaging is essential to effective audience engagement. Make sure that ads and earned brand messaging opportunities are integrated across all your platforms. Of course, that doesn’t mean use the same words and images – you can adapt your design elements to the specific platform or sub-section of audience you are seeking to engage.
But make sure messages on one platform are backed up by messages on other platforms, such as push notifications off the back of social media ads, or email marketing opportunities offered off the back of engaging content. This will maximize your measurable customer conversion rate for your client.
One final thing, take time to take care of yourself. A 2017 United Nations survey reported 41% of remote workers had high-stress levels compared to 25% of office workers. Staying switched on, being accessible, and having no clear differentiation between work and home life can take its toll, so take time off occasionally to encourage a good balance.
Not ready to start your own agency yet? Talk to the experts at Spiralytics to learn how we’ll approach designing a customized digital campaign that grows your brand!