September 25, 2023

A Marketing Agency's Guide To Getting Recurring Revenue

Learn what recurring revenue is and why your marketing agency should make an effort to get it.
Time to read: 
15 mins
Dani Luu
Learn what recurring revenue is and why your marketing agency should make an effort to get it.

Make money while you sleep. Have you heard the phrase? Isn’t that everyone’s dream? To make money even when you’re not working. For a marketing agency, you’ll only make money when your employees and consultants are awake and productive. That’s why every agency should have a recurring revenue strategy to keep money coming in.

It’s also good for rainy days when your agency is struggling to find new projects or clients. By getting recurring revenue, you ensure full work capacity for your consultants, reach your revenue goals, and drive steady growth for your agency. 

If you already know what recurring revenue is and why you should make an effort to get it, we suggest you skip Parts 1-2 and go straight to our 9 ways of gaining recurring revenue for marketing agencies!

1. What is recurring revenue?

Recurring revenue is the money you get on a regular basis – like monthly, quarterly, or yearly. There are many types of recurring revenue but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll go through the ones most relevant to you. Here they are with a couple of well-known examples:

  • Product-based: Blue Apron grocery subscription boxes that are sent on a weekly basis.
  • Service-based: Any SaaS app that you need to pay a monthly subscription to use (or other types of business models).
  • Content-based: Netflix subscription.

In a marketing agency context, different types of recurring revenue can be:

  • Product-based: Rare because this is for physical products. An example could be a big agency renting their advertising slot on a billboard. 
  • Service-based: You build your own SaaS product or use a whitelabel product and sell it to your customers. Or, you sell marketing expertise as services on a regular basis instead of a one-off project.
  • Content-based: You give access to an online course or resource library including design templates, elements, videos etc. 

There are also different business models you can use to charge for recurring revenue as well. Think things like freemium, user-based, and usage-based subscriptions, then auto-renewal subscriptions, and more.

How you want to charge your clients is up to you. The ideas we give you to gain recurring revenue are quite flexible and can be changed depending on your marketing agency.

2. Recurring revenue vs. non-recurring revenue 

Non-recurring revenue is the revenue you’ll get from a one-off payment. If a customer does only one marketing project with you and goes away, that’s non-recurring revenue you’ll get. 

This is why running a marketing agency can be stressful. You struggle to find projects after projects to make sure your consultants are busy and your agency has enough revenue to grow.

Instead of trading hours for money, wouldn’t it be great to have money coming in every month without stressing about finding projects?

3. How to get recurring revenue for marketing agencies

  1. Membership programme

If you’re deep into the marketing scene, you’d know that Dave Gerhardt and his DGMG Facebook group are well-known across the B2B marketing community. He has created an amazing network of marketing professionals who are able to share not just their knowledge and experience but also doubts, recommendations, and feedback to whoever might need them.

The cost to join this prestigious group? With only 10 dollars per month, Dave will send you monthly newsletters with the latest marketing tips and tricks, a content vault full of videos, first-hand lessons, and most importantly, access to the Facebook group.

Getting recurring revenue: Modern B2B marketing

Some of us from Serviceform as B2B conversion marketing experts are also in this group and we can tell you that the value you receive for 10 dollars is fantastic. 

Even if you don’t ask questions or actively engage in conversations, you’ll get to hear about other people’s challenges and learn from marketing professionals around the world as they share knowledge to help solve the problems. It is enough to give you some ideas to improve your own marketing strategy (people who are lurking, we see you!).

Of course, Dave Gerhardt has to gain his hard-earned credibility and connections over the years to make this membership programme work. But who doesn’t? As long as you give value to people who need it and build it up consistently, you can receive great results.

For marketing agencies, you can start with free content that brings value to your target audience. It can be done in formats like podcasts, newsletters, videos, or however you feel most comfortable. Once your content starts to gain credibility and a stable number of followers, you can start to test what kind of content people are willing to spend a little money on.

This is actually how YouTubers make money besides running ads, they make videos for everyone to watch on Youtube and then start to charge for premium content on Patreon.

With this membership program, you can gain recurring income from anyone who’s interested, not just your customers.

  1. Coaching

When companies lack resources to train their own staff, they can send them to certified coaches who provide on-demand coaching sessions. For example, leadership training is popular.

Another coaching service you can offer is brand building for entrepreneurs. Business owners have a vision for their business, but they might not know how to promote their brands and communicate to customers through different channels.

A coach is different from a consultant because they provide knowledge based on the subjects requested. For example, if your marketing team needs to learn more about go-to-market strategies, you’ll book a coach to mentor them on this subject matter.

This is a great way to keep your marketing agency profitable and your consultants busy.

  1. Online courses

If your marketing agency is particularly strong in some marketing areas, record your expertise and sell it as evergreen online courses. 

Many companies as they’re scaling up, don’t hesitate to give employees development training. The most popular online course providers are Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Hubspot Academy, and Google Digital Garage.

Hubspot Academy and Google Digital Garage’s courses are free, so it wouldn’t give recurring revenue. However, these courses make a significant contribution to building Hubspot’s brand authority. For Google, it encourages more marketing professionals to use their tools. 

Getting recurring revenue: Online courses

Eventually, when you have built a strong brand authority, you can start to charge for your classes. You should never give out your knowledge for free (or at least, just to some extend).

  1. Conversion optimisation

The most common marketing services that companies get from marketing agencies are marketing strategy, communication, and creativity. The end result is to get more customers and the last step to complete this mission usually happens on the website.

Your consultants can perform tremendously well in boosting brand awareness or driving a huge amount of traffic to the website. But all their hard work could be washed away if your clients have a bad website.

There are many reasons why website visitors might not convert. Find out why and how to solve them here. You can offer conversion optimisation services that help your clients get more subscribers, leads, and customers.

Getting recurring revenue: Encouraging website conversion with a chatbot

Actually, there’s a lot of work to be done for conversion optimisation. As your clients grow and launch new marketing campaigns, there will always be websites, landing pages, email campaigns, and social media campaigns to be optimised for conversions. You can make a recurring package to help them cover all the conversion points across different channels.

  1. Whitelabel product or service

If there’s a high-demand service request from your clients but you don’t have enough resources to meet their demands, outsource a whitelabel service to sell as your own.

Whitelabelling allows you to put your brand name on another company’s product or service and sell it as your own. You get to take the credits for the work done and have enough time to finish other tasks. You can expand your service area and take on more projects. Customers will pay you a recurring fee for using your service.

For example, big marketing agencies in Finland are using Serviceform’s whitelabelled conversion tools to add more value to their customers. They have more services to offer and sell, increase the brand professionalism, and gain recurring revenue.

Whitelabelling is quite flexible, in the sense that anything can be whitelabelled. If your clients need copywriting service but you don’t have anyone in-house to send to them, use a whitelabelled service. The same can be done for any marketing service like SEO, social media management, PPC, email marketing, content creation, etc. Whitelabelling services work well for projects that need constant development and long-term investment like SEO.

But you’ve got to be careful if you try to satisfy all your client's demands without having a strong foundation in something, which service really represents your own marketing agency? What’s left is yours?

Before forming a whitelabelling partnership, make sure that your partner is reliable and their products and services are up-to-par. That’s because while you can take credits for the success, you’ll also need to take responsibility if it turns out that their products or services fail to execute.

Another thing you should keep in mind is keeping the whitelabelling cost-effective so that you’ll still earn some revenue after selling the product or service.

  1. Data management platform (DMP)

A data management platform is where you collect, manage, and turn your data into insights. Depending on the types of data you get, you can predict patterns, personalise content, reach new audiences, and increase your accuracy when targeting and buying media. 

More and more data is being used for media buying, so why not make a deal with a trusted data provider(s) to add to your agency’s own data management platform? If your agency doesn’t have a DMP yet, you can also make a whitelabelled solution with a trusted partner.

We have consulted one of our friends at a marketing agency and confirmed that this is a great way to add more income from client campaigns. 

In case you’re new to this concept, let’s learn more about the different types of data and why it’s worth it to have a data management platform for your clients. There are 3 types of data: first-, second, and third-party data.

  • First-party data is the data that you get directly from your audience. It can be from your website traffic, social media, mobile app traffic, CRM, customer surveys, and more. Because it’s from your existing audience, you know them and you own them. 

If you only have a small audience (as do most companies when they first started), your scale-up process can be slow and limited. With first-party data, you can only predict future patterns based on your small audience and personalise content for them.

  • Second-party data is someone’s first-party data that you’ve purchased directly from a private data marketplace. Even though you don’t own this data, you can still be confident in its accuracy because you’ve bought it directly from the source and there’s no middle-man.

With second-party data, you can do all that you can with first-party data PLUS discover new audiences and scale up your campaigns. However, it does need an introduction and warm-up because these are not your own audiences. 

  • Third-party data is the data you buy from large data collectors who have purchased first-party data from various sources. Once collected, the data is segmented into different categories based on industry, demographics, user behaviour, interest, and so on.

Third-party data is valuable because once you’ve had a good understanding of your first-party data, you can build and scale up with third-party data. It’s been segmented and you can buy from whichever categories fit your needs. 

While you can massively scale up your campaigns, you should know what kind of data you’re buying and where it comes from. In addition, since large data collectors sell publicly, there’s a high chance that your competitors might also have the same data you’ve purchased.

A data management platform helps you collect, analyse, and manage all your data in one place. When you need to perform targeting for client campaigns, you can pull the data from your DMP to help you make smarter and more informed decisions.

A recurring package idea could be selling a whitelabelled DMP that your client pays monthly to access. If your clients aren’t tech-savvy people, you can make an add-on service where you collect and manage all the data for them with your agency’s DMP.

  1. SEO

For most businesses, SEO is still a big mystery. They either don’t know what it is, how to do it and think that even trying to get into SEO is like jumping into a rabbit hole. 

Others can’t be bothered with it because SEO takes a long time to achieve good results and people would rather do something that gets results right away. 

Marketing takes a lot of work and SEO specifically, is a long-term investment. 

There’s so much that goes into SEO. For example, researching relevant keywords that people care about and search for, creating organic content that captures these keywords, backlink building to strengthen your SEO, onsite-SEO to optimise your website pages, technical SEO to ensure that your website meets all the technical requirements of the search engines to rank well, local SEO so local people can discover who you are. 

Not to mention constant tracking of which keywords and content are performing well and making improvements accordingly.

Companies that want to rank well and be found immediately have this much work cut out for them, yet they usually don’t have a designated role to take care of this huge task. 

That’s why SEO is a great service that you can package up as one of your recurring services. 

Keyword research tool-sharing can be one package and it’ll bring a lot of value especially for startups. That’s because keyword research tools such as Ahref and SEMrush are too expensive for small companies. They still want access to the tools but don’t really need to use all of the features, only the keyword research function. 

Your marketing agency is probably already using a keyword research tool, why not get another seat for your clients and share the access?

  1. Website maintenance

For a marketer, website maintenance can be the most bothersome thing they have to deal with. It’s not an exciting job but it is one of the most important jobs you need to do to make sure your website is running smoothly. From small tasks like updating, security patches, backups to more complex tasks like moving to a different host or migrating site. 

These jobs require a few technical skills and knowledge that an average marketer might lack. Your marketing agency can give companies peace of mind by taking website maintenance off their plate. Say you’ve just finished a website-building project with a client, make an offer to make monthly maintenance for their website. 

Instead of just doing a one-off project,  you’ll get to keep your customers around. Once they need help with marketing again, they’ll remember that you’ve done a good job building their website and maintaining it.

If your team doesn’t have anyone with good experience in website maintenance either, you can outsource from another company and sell the whitelabelled service to your customers.

  1. Resource library

A resource library can be filled with design templates, fonts, elements, stock photos, and videos that your clients can access and easily make their own marketing materials.

That’s why Canva is widely used. Their template library is extremely popular with small to medium-sized businesses that have limited time and resources to spend on marketing.

But Canva is too common, everyone uses it. It’s quite similar to a situation where you go to a Halloween party and someone wears the exact same costume as yours,...awkwarddd.

Getting recurring revenue: Resource library

If clients want to retain the individuality and uniqueness of their own brand, besides the standard graphic design service, you can also create a resource library made exclusively for them. In this library, your clients can use any elements, stock photos, or videos that only they have access to. Once in a while, you can update the library so they have more materials to work with and want to continue using it.

This is so that your clients can keep using your services and keep you on top of their minds for any graphic design needs they may have in the future.

Here you can also offer them access to any recorded training workshops, videos, guides, or exclusive webinars that you have.

You can charge for access to this resource library with a monthly fee - there’s another great way to get recurring revenue for your marketing agency.

4. Serviceform whitelabel solution

Throughout our guide, we hope that you have more ideas about how to get recurring revenue and why you should get it for your marketing agency.

If you’d like to have recurring revenue but don’t know where to start, why not try Serviceform whitelabel products?

We are a SaaS company whose expertise is website conversion optimisation. We’ve built a set of conversion tools like chatbots, full-page bots, engagement bots, floating bars, and dynamic forms to help website visitors engage with your content and ultimately convert. Along with these tools, we also have a cookie management tool for GDPR compliance that can very quickly bulk-install thousands of cookie tools. 

While that’s how we started out, our customers are actually requesting more features. As they have found our tools to be so effective in getting more leads and sales, we’ve also made a CRM where they can manage those leads and customer relationships in the same place. 

All of these tools can be neatly packaged into one whitelabel service solution. You can use our toolkit to manage marketing activities for your clients as well as your own marketing agency. 

We know how much time and effort our own marketers spend on managing tools and still, there are so many new tools they have to learn! It can be overwhelming because if you spend all your time learning and managing these tools, when do you have time to do things that matter the most?

From all the feedback we got from our clients, we’ve come to understand what they really want is an easy way to manage all their marketing activities in one place. We’re delivering this for them now and can do it for you too.

Book a free consultation with us if you want to know more about our whitelabel solution and recurring revenue opportunities!

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