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CTRL+ALT Digital: Scaling a Small Agency Team

July 26, 2019

Although running a business of any kind requires overcoming a variety of obstacles, you’ll find in most industries a single challenge that pretty much everyone agrees is the biggest one.

For ecommerce businesses, it’s finding a way to succeed in a landscape increasingly dominated by Amazon and Walmart. For professional sports teams based in Los Angeles, it’s getting people to care that they exist. And for digital marketing agencies, it’s winning new clients.

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More specifically, the predominant challenge faced by digital agencies today is winning new clients at scale—growing the number of clients you serve at a higher rate than the number of people you employ. Whether you offer a full suite of services or focus solely on SEM, any agency that’s unable to scale is doomed to either starve (succumb to insufficient revenue) or drown (succumb to unbearable costs).

None of this is lost on Jen Stafford, co-founder and CEO of the full-service, Jacksonville-based shop known as CTRL+ALT Digital. She sat down with WordStream’s Kim Castings to talk about the work her company does and the challenges that come with building it from the ground up.

Let’s take a closer look at CTRL+ALT Digital and their approach to scaling successfully.

Small team, immense value

When you sign a contract with CTRL+ALT Digital, you’re not simply buying a run-of-the-mill service. You’re investing in a partnership with a tight-knit group of digital marketing experts.

Although the company is young—Jen and Chief of Technology Tina Bobango founded it together in early 2018—the aggregate experience among its ranks is nothing short of remarkable. Jen and Tina each bring over a decade of digital marketing experience to the table and now employ a small number of senior-level team members.

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This is Jen.

That’s right—the CTRL+ALT Digital team is small. Considering they offer everything from search engine marketing to mobile app development, it’s a pretty impressive machine they’ve got running down there in Jacksonville.

The breadth of the services they provide their clients speaks to what I said earlier about investing in a partnership. If Jen and company dedicated themselves solely to PPC, they could collectively crank out a lot of projects in a short period of time. But that’s not what they’re interested in doing. Instead, CTRL+ALT Digital is built to make long-term, mutually beneficial investments in their clients. Whatever you need—whether it’s custom software application or website development, graphic design, long-form videos, SEO, copywriting—they’ll work with you every step of the way.

The question looms: How do you juggle so many offerings and scale your PPC services?

Growth mode

When asked how much time she and her team spend on prospecting new PPC clients, Jen’s initial response was laughter.

“A lot,” she said. “We’re in growth mode. We’ve grown really fast over the past year or so. Prospecting new clients and putting together proposals is a full-time job unto itself.”

That’s something we hear from our agency customers pretty often. And it’s not just about finding businesses that need help with their digital marketing, either. It’s about finding the right businesses that need help with their digital marketing. You can’t forge healthy, lasting relationships with businesses that demand something you can’t supply.

That’s why Jen decided to partner with WordStream in the fall of 2018—to enable her team to streamline the prospecting process and spend more time delivering value to their clients.

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Our New Business Center enables you to glean insights from prospects’ PPC accounts.

“Using WordStream Advisor for Agencies allows us to bring on more PPC clients without hiring extra employees,” Jen told Kim. “The Advisor UI is so easy to use—much easier to use than the native Google Ads interface, anyway. It also makes reporting really easy and enables us to optimize our clients’ campaigns in a fraction of the time.”

What optimizations, exactly? Jen pointed out two metrics in particular that she and her employees keep an eye on to ensure they’re doing the best work possible for their clients: Quality Score and search impression share.

“We’re always trying to find ways to improve our clients’ Quality Scores so they can see better returns and spend less money on clicks,” Jen explained. “Impression share is crucial, too, because a lot of the businesses we work with depend on winning the top ad positions on relatively small mobile device screens.”

Without the right tools, these optimizations are pretty time-consuming. Plus, it’s hard to tell whether a certain tweak is going to make a positive difference in advance. As a WordStream customer, however, Jen has access to the 20-Minute Work Week—which, among other things, lets her know when there’s an opportunity to improve Quality Score or implement a mobile device bid adjustment.

Let’s take a look at how features like these have helped CTRL+ALT Digital in recent months.

Scaling successfully

Around the time she launched CTRL+ALT Digital, Jen signed up for our email newsletter. Six months later, she became a customer.

Within the first 30 days of their relationship with us, CTRL+ALT Digital did such phenomenal work that their first PPC client doubled their paid search budget. Plus, without the burden of hiring new employees and taking on overhead, Jen and company were able to bring four more PPC clients on board.

Overall, Jen estimates that WordStream Advisor for Agencies has given her team a 30% boost in work capacity. Plus, she said the efforts of her dedicated WordStream representative, Lauren Gentile, makes it feel as if she’s got an extra player on her team.

Of course, the feeling is mutual. “Jen is absolutely fantastic,” says Lauren. “The most important thing to know about her is that she’s passionate about her work and wants nothing more than to help her clients succeed. You don’t often encounter someone so fervently trying to move the needle for their clients.”

Jen, Tina, and the rest of the CTRL+ALT Digital crew pride themselves on their capacity to be the partners that businesses need to grow over the long term. Now that’s something we can get behind.

Conor Bond Profile Pic

Conor Bond

Conor Bond writes words about stuff on the WordStream blog. He likes to drink coffee, play basketball, and pretend he doesn't care about his inadequate facial hair.

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