Seo agency

How to (re) build an SEO agency today: changing business models

Accelerate agile planning

Digital transformation has been placed at the forefront of many businesses as online consumption increases out of necessity. Because of this, business operations have had to adopt agile planning, moving from monthly cycles to weekly cycles, as Wilsdon pointed out at a Circle meeting.

This is probably another trend that’s here to stay, opening the door for agencies turning their implementation-only status into a more advisory role – helping companies accelerate their digital systems with know-how and skills. specific research data.

There is an interesting second-order effect that could occur as SEO agencies take a more strategic and consultative role. Strong competition between traditional consulting firms and transformed agencies across the market could ensue.

Exploit research data

Another trend that has accelerated throughout the pandemic, which Google has also highlighted for businesses, is the importance of research data in determining booming markets or important consumer behaviors.

Likely here to stay, the leverage of research data can go beyond the strategic level and indicate how companies are transforming their operations.

For example, as Wilsdon pointed out, analyzing research data to understand the customer journey and what people are asking about a given business can inform customer support and their new frequently asked questions.

Again, the SEO agency’s supporting role at the general business level may continue to develop.

Yet a second-order effect can see the rise of a new type of business that only exploits research data for sophisticated research – consulting firms using research data for business analysis, without any direct relationship with SEO.

Here are some of the top trends we discovered.

You can continue this exercise of analyzing current trends with what you have discovered and what the consequences might be, until you find 3 to 5 trends that are significant for the context of your agency.

Actionable business trends and a new business model canvas

With your actionable business trends explored, it’s time to create a new business model canvas, guided by the idea of ​​how an SEO agency with significant resources can be shaped in today’s world.

In short, the Business Model Canvas (BMC) designed by Alex Osterwalder is a strategic tool that helps you present an existing business model and make it practical for all agency stakeholders. It is also a tool that allows you to think ahead and build models between its building blocks of customers, channels, activities, revenue, etc.

Think about the business trends you discovered

This middle step is one that we at SEOmonitor have introduced to help you be aware of the external forces that influence your choices.

So which ones are relevant in shaping a better business model for the agency?

For example, during our discussion with TitanGrowth CEO Luke Lauer, he mentioned hedging as an interesting trend in risk management. In investing, hedging means protecting your portfolio by taking an opposite position in a related asset.

If you see a negative impact on your current X share, you don’t sell but invest in a different Y share which will reduce your risk of loss.

As an agency, hedging can involve diversifying your client portfolio – because you never know which sectors might be affected in the future, you can treat your portfolio as an index of multiple sectors to target.

Choose customer segments and connect them to your value proposition

Find out how a big trend like remote working can affect both the SEO agency and a potential client who had to embrace it.

Would they like to work with an agency that has a customer service team spanning all time zones?

You can perhaps highlight your distributed team and your know-how in multiple markets as a key proposition, and even target brands that have international coverage.

If you choose coverage as your goal, there are a couple of ways to go about it: getting more customers, likely from tech and e-commerce backgrounds, or targeting brands that need to make that transition.

Attack more verticals than before, to have a diversified portfolio in this regard, and offer them your data know-how. Or, diversify your services which may become a transition to a more advisory role or integrated digital marketing positioning – another potential differentiator in today’s global marketplace.

Think about new channels and customer relationships

Once you’ve established the targeted customer segments and the key proposition that differentiates you in solving their particular problem, it’s time to figure out how you want to build relationships with them and what channels you can use to reach them.

The pandemic has made Zoom one of the most sought-after channels – weekly video calls are the norm for taking the customer’s pulse and managing their projects.

With agile planning in sight, that means a closer relationship between the agency and the business, while also coordinating in sprints and becoming more strategic when it comes to SEO.

Maybe even consider having a project manager working directly with the client or an SEO specialist on hand for quick decision making from both sides.

The pandemic also suppressed offline events for some time, which was an important business development channel for agencies and businesses. Radu Marcusu explained how they’ve moved their Upswing Power sessions online since the lockdown began, successfully bringing together over 350 qualified attendees who had never had contact with their agency before – a better method of targeting, too.

Now is a good opportunity to take advantage of data-driven outbound marketing for the agency, and even think about experimenting with the sales funnel and automation to qualify your leads.

Data-driven outbound traffic would take a lot more variables into account when you think about potential customers and your lead generation efforts.

Traditionally, agencies have targeted on the basis of revenue.

However, you now have access to things like the technology that powers the client’s entire website (e.g. Drupal), the year-to-year changes in their keywords or their monthly market share (YoY Trends). This can be used for highly targeted messaging, better choice of your marketing channels, and presenting specific offers up front.

Connect your new key activities with resources and partners

Once you know how to reach your designated target and what you want your key messages to be, you need to think about changes in your agency’s activities, resources and key partners.

Again, consider covering yourself, in terms of new services, therefore new key activities for your SEO agency – you can incorporate paid research, digital public relations, or training and consulting. Or even expand your agency with an Analytics department for your clients, as well as internal research and development.

This implies different resources to be taken into account (new hires, new software, etc.) or the extension of your partnerships with software publishers, freelancers or other specialized agencies.

In addition, remote working comes into play and poses new challenges for your key resources – on the one hand, good specialists can now be reached from anywhere in the world, but on the other hand, recruitment and training are available on the other. integration become more difficult.

Juniors, for example, need more direct contact with their seniors and their teams in order to develop in their position. Also, how do you hire to fit the culture?

You can consider longer onboarding periods, hire a human resources consultant, or develop new online tactics for people management (informal Zoom rooms, virtual mentoring programs, etc.). Or you can direct your recruiting efforts to experts and project managers who have the experience and autonomy required in today’s environment.

Analyze your costs and revenue streams

With your other building blocks in order, it’s finally time to take a look at cost structures and revenue streams.

Working remotely lowers the costs of office space and commuting, but can mean new types of plans for your employees. For example, a budget to set up the team’s home office or to cover a percentage of utility bills (electricity, IT infrastructure, etc.).

If you choose coverage, then new resources and new partnerships developed as your agency expands become new costs in terms of salaries, software subscriptions, or contractors. In turn, diversifying your services with monthly offerings and / or your customer or vertical profiles means new revenue that supports your growth in MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue).

Leveraging your data and analytics skills can in itself become a new source of income, if you decide to offer consulting and training services to SMEs and businesses.

Or maybe you are developing a proprietary tool. At first, it’s an investment that changes your cost structure, but at the same time can turn into a new sales channel.

Applying BMC to Your Branch – Changing Business Models

The point of doing this strategic exercise is, ultimately, to see how they’re all connected – macro trends affecting the world, business trends relevant to the SEO industry and every segment of a business model. agency that can undergo unexpected changes and transformations.

Osterwalder continues to document the evolution of business models, as the BMC is a tool to use many times in the life of your agency. You can take your leadership team and think of it as an exercise in change management – understanding how each part of your agency’s business can transform and what that means for the business as a whole.

As the market has changed dramatically over the past few months, this is an opportunity to understand how your business model may evolve and what is the next step for the SEO industry after COVID-19.

At SEOmonitor, we are committed to helping SEO agencies navigate uncertainty, so we adapt our solutions to the current context.

Search Trends, Client Health Tracker or Reporting board are just a part of our specialized tools and resources.

We are also continuing these reflective experiences with more agency founders and senior Circle executives, to help agencies focus on what matters now. You can read more about the selection process and topics in the following material.