5 Stages to Grow Your Agency Digital Marketing Capabilities


With over 56% of budgets in digital, agencies are doing […]

With over 56% of budgets in digital, agencies are doing more and more work in digital. Agencies must keep their skills sharp and up to date to succeed in the growing digital marketing world.

Digital is constantly changing and evolving. This means agencies must stay on the leading edge to guide clients in digital and earn more digital business. It isn’t just the digital marketers or implementation teams that need to really understand digital. The entire agency needs to get on the same page, speaking the same language to deliver breakthrough digital solutions to clients successfully.

There are five stages to building a digital capability plan to position your agency to lead in digital.

Stage 1: Evaluation

Start with an evaluation of where your skills are now and where you want them to be. This evaluation should consider the needs of your clients and the areas of digital that they prioritize. Also, look at the agency’s growth plan. Focus on the areas where the agency wants to grow in the next 3 – 5 years.

At the end of this stage, you should have a clear vision of the existing skills and desired skills of the organization.

Stage 2: Level Set the Agency

The next step is to get everyone on the same page and speaking the same language. Across the organization, there are likely different levels of knowledge on core digital topics. A digital expert may have in-depth knowledge of SEO; however, an account manager may only have a surface-level understanding.

Getting the entire organization on the same page, using the same terms, and understanding how core digital elements work is vital to success. This can help teams work together more seamlessly, set appropriate client expectations, pitch appropriate strategic ideas and ultimately earn more business.

This level set can be completed by an online digital marketing certification or an in-person boot camp. It is important that new hires also go through the training to maintain the organization’s knowledge.

At the end of this stage, your organization should have a consistent understanding of the foundations of digital marketing, key terms and how they fit into client strategies.

Stage 3: Mastery and Depth

Foundations usually aren’t enough to provide outstanding digital marketing to clients. Clients expect agencies to apply best practices consistently, understand digital channels and bring best-in-class marketing.

Mastery and depth in key topics should be a part of your ongoing capability plan. Core topics include:

  • digital strategy
  • digital measurement
  • content optimization,
  • digital marketing trends
  • channel optimization
  • digital media planning and strategy
  • digital channel strategy

You should also provide in-depth direction on topics that matter most for clients such as SEO, Facebook marketing, LinkedIn marketing, website optimization, AI, AR and more.

This stage is likely ongoing to elevate knowledge in specific areas. It should involve deeper digital workshops to really solidify knowledge.

Stage 4: Maintenance

Digital marketing learning and capability development is an ongoing effort — not a one-time workshop. It is important to continuously grow skills and challenge thinking. This can be achieved with regular webinars, emails or even short video content.

The idea of maintenance is to continuously keep digital best practices top of mind. While digital knowledge is a first step, the continuous application of best practices is the goal. Build digital learning opportunities into regular touchpoints to create a continuous learning culture. This stage is ongoing to elevate the organization over time.

Stage 5: Innovation and Leading Edge

Digital is always changing and evolving. Clients expect their agency to deliver leading-edge guidance and be on top of the latest trends. Continuously elevate the knowledge in your agency with innovation training and education.

Bring them the latest updates with continuous learning opportunities on innovation topics like AI, AR, VR, privacy legislation, evolving ads targeting and more. These can be delivered via webinars, short videos, podcast or audio format, articles or newsletters. This stage is ongoing and can involve monthly or quarterly updates.

Final Thoughts

Getting your organization up to date and staying up to date is a continual effort. Clients expect their agencies to understand digital foundations and trends and provide them with solutions that are best in class and use the latest best practices.

Agencies need to invest in the education and learning of their teams to deliver to clients. Following these five stages of capability building can put and keep your agency on the leading edge of digital and grow your client base.