Startup Success: How to Start a Digital Agency [Case Study]

It is complicated to start a digital agency from scratch. Entrepreneurs need to be versatile, connected, and transparent with their clients. The ideal agency is a one-stop-shop for all digital needs, including but not limited to marketing, reputation management, and website building.

This is a lot to ask of someone and it’s unlikely that most agency owners are a jack of all trades. They might specialize in social media and have no knowledge of websites. They’ll quickly learn that small businesses might demand their agency partners to be website aficionados. 

At this point, a digital agency might decide to hire help in the form of employees, consultants, or contractors, all of which can be expensive and unmanageable for a new business. The other route an agency owner can take is partnering with a business that has an online marketplace. In addition to a large marketplace of products, these types of businesses can provide fulfillment help to agencies.

Fulfillment tasks include writing and posting social media posts, creating digital ads, claiming listing sites, and more. This kind of work is time-consuming and can easily be outsourced leaving room for entrepreneurs to spend more time with their clients and pursuing prospects.

The following is a case study compilation of Vendasta partners who use Vendasta products and solutions to help their customers achieve digital success. Some agency names and locations have been changed to protect the white-label nature of the Vendasta platform.

Can-do Marketing

Background

With 20 years of industry experience, this Canadian digital advertising and marketing media firm specializes in custom ad campaigns for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Can-do Marketing joined Vendasta in July of 2020 on an Essentials subscription tier.

Objectives

Can-do Marketing saw a market gap in quality full-service media providers. SMBs were suffering because of this and Can-do Marketing wanted to fill that gap by expanding its scope.

By signing on with Vendasta, Can-do Marketing hoped to:

  • Offer a wider variety of products and services
  • Better serve current clients
  • Appeal to a larger audience

Approach

Snapshot report

Can-do Marketing uses Vendasta’s Snapshot Report as a health check tool to identify client needs. This is an important part of their process before sending out a digital advertising campaign.

Marketing Services

Can-do Marketing saves time by outsourcing digital advertising fulfillment tasks to Vendasta Marketing Services. They can now use that time to train and educate their sales staff on the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO) in digital ads as well as the power of listing sites in SEO.

Vendasta Marketplace

Marketplace offers 200+ solutions that are tailored to each individual client’s needs. These products helped Can-do Marketing better understand growth opportunities in their market. 

Execution 

The team at Can-do Marketing requested regular training sessions with their Partner Development Manager at Vendasta. This was meant to educate them on the benefits of Marketplace products and the foundational Online Toolkit so that they could provide more value to their clients. With a better grasp of the available products, the Can-do Marketing team is more equipped to tailor solutions to their client’s needs. 

Results

By leaning on Vendasta experts, Can-do Marketing was able to better train their staff and offer a well-rounded stack of solutions to their clients. With Vendasta, Can-do Marketing more than doubled their expansion revenue from July to August.

Ghost Marketing Agency

Background

Frank James is a business consultant from Virginia. He has consulted with SMBs on branding and idea generation, sales training, and financial forecasting. James partnered with Vendasta in 2016 to outsource some marketing functions. 

Objectives

James needed assistance so that he could focus on growing his business and expanding his client network. 

By signing on with Vendasta, Ghost Marketing Agency hoped to:

  • Offer a full array of digital marketing solutions
  • Streamline business processes
  • Outsource time-consuming marketing functions

Approach

By outsourcing to Vendasta, James was able to create a repeatable process for his growing client base. 

Snapshot Report

The Ghost Marketing Agency team uses Snapshot Report for its capability to perform a comprehensive analysis of their client’s online presence. 

Did you know? Vendasta partners who use more than 100 percent of their monthly allotment of snapshot reports achieve 18 times more pipeline revenue than those who use less than 50 percent of their allotment. These high-performing partners also close 2.9 times more business opportunities than partners who are running less than 50 percent of their monthly snapshot reports.

Marketing Services

Fulfillment of marketing functions is always going to be time-consuming. Understanding James’ goal to outsource these tasks, Vendasta was able to offer not only a team for fulfillment but also digital marketing experts to help strategize digital ads sales.  

Business App

James wanted to use Vendasta’s Business App to showcase his clients’ success. This dashboard includes accessible reporting and it is white-labeled under the Ghost Marketing Agency brand. With this reporting tool, James can easily show his clients proof of performance.

Execution 

James and his team wanted to show clients the value that Marketplace offered. They worked closely with digital experts at Vendasta to strategize how to best provide value to clients with solutions the clients hadn’t yet realized they needed. 

Results

Prior to signing on with Vendasta Ghost Marketing Agency was pulling in $17,000 in quarterly revenue. After partnering with Vendasta they reached more than $30,000 in revenue for that quarter. The partnership resulted in an impressive 77 percent growth rate.

Blank Slate Marketing Agency

Background

Ashley McCall, a marketing consultant from Louisiana with 15 years of experience needed to find a way to grow her monthly recurring revenue. She wanted help with client prospecting and was struggling to make ends meet. 

Objectives

In July of 2021, McCall began working with her Partner Development Manager who offered guidance and assistance in her journey with Vendasta.

By signing on with Vendasta McCall hoped to:

  • Grow her business from the ground up
  • Increase monthly recurring revenue (MRR) 
  • Increase customer retention rates

Approach

Snapshot Report

Blank Slate Marketing Agency used this tool to dig into her sales process and identify areas of improvement.

Vendasta Marketplace

The array of digital solutions in Marketplace gave McCall leverage to customize product bundles for clients. The ability to customize product bundles gave McCall a foot in the door with prospective clients because it conveyed her understanding of their needs. 

Execution 

Developing a repeatable plan

McCall had a time limit due to budget constraints. In order to see success within her proposed time frame, she developed a four-step plan. First, she began to work backward to analyze her process and identify areas of opportunity. Then she identified warmer leads with the help of her Partner Development Manager. Together, they found re-engagement opportunities with previous leads.

Results

With support and guidance from Vendasta experts, McCall has improved her selling strategy, creating more accounts through re-engagement from previous leads. She is also working toward a consistent increase in revenue. In August McCall saw a four times increase from the previous month.

Promoticon LLC

Background

This one-woman digital agency was founded by a recent college graduate in Delaware. CEO and founder, Julia Manaraze specializes in social media management and digital advertising. Manaraze was unfulfilled working only in the real estate vertical and was looking for ways to expand her business outside of that.

Objectives

Manaraze was having some cash flow issues and needed help to make Vendasta work for her. The primary goal of this partnership was to grow her business in a new direction.

By signing on with Vendasta, Promoticon hoped to:

  • Grow their business
  • Get new clients outside of the real estate vertical
  • Offer all clients a variety of digital marketing solutions

Approach

Vendasta Marketplace

Promoticon used Marketplace to build tiered product bundles that are vertical-specific. Manaraze also tested out Marketplace solutions within her own company to better understand the products.

Local Online Toolkit

This toolkit offers small clients the opportunity to test out Vendasta products such as Online Reputation Management for free. Manaraze paired this with other Marketplace solutions to make an impact on her small business clients.

Execution 

Expanding into the beauty services vertical in addition to the real estate vertical she could easily predict what products these businesses would need. Manaraze created tiered product bundles that were specific to the verticals she chose to serve. These bundles were priced as “good, better, and best” and had corresponding pricing and products.

Results

Promoticon’s gross marketplace revenue went from $925 in February when they started with Vendasta to nearly $3500 in October 2021.

"Growing a digital marketing agency in a saturated field with limited resources should be impossible, but with Vendasta it’s a reality. Their team and especially their Partner Development Manager program are game-changers," Manaraze says.

Promoticon also boasts an almost perfect client retention rate.

Conclusion

Throughout all of these case studies, growth is a clear theme. All four of these businesses needed to find a way to increase their monthly recurring revenue without stretching themselves too thin. An online Marketplace with over 200 unique products served them all differently. Where one business might focus on websites, another might focus on search engine optimization. 

The Vendasta Marketplace makes it easy to tailor product bundles to individual client needs. Vendasta Marketing Services saves time that would otherwise be spent on fulfillment tasks and also provides a team of experts that partners can rely on for strategy development. Reporting dashboards and tools help digital marketers paint a proof of performance picture for their clients. All of these tools, products, and services help Vendasta partners to better serve their clients and provide a much needed boost to their own bottom lines.

About the Author

Emily is a Content Marketing Specialist at Vendasta. Over her career, Emily has worked as a Marketing Strategist, freelanced as a Social Media manager, and enjoyed working events for local and national not-for-profit agencies. When she's not researching her next blog topics you can bet she's challenging a friend to a card game or planning a hike in the wilderness.

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