The Pros and Cons of the 23 BEST Digital Marketing Business Ideas of 2024

November 6, 2023

Considering that approximately 5 billion people around the world use the internet today, starting a digital marketing agency to help companies reach this massive pool of potential customers is one of the best small business opportunities. However, digital marketing is not a single business idea, it is a term that encompasses many business models. Some of the most common options an aspiring business owner can choose from when starting a digital marketing agency include an SEO agency, a local lead generation business, or affiliate marketing. 

Although these are all tried and tested business models, there are many more digital marketing ideas you can make money with. In the following article, we look at 23 marketing ideas that a digital marketer can start a business around, discuss the pros and cons of each model, and help you decide which opportunity is right for your situation so you can start making money online in no time!

1. Local lead generation business

What is local lead generation?

Local lead generation is finding potential clients for local businesses. A local lead generation business creates websites for specific business niches in markets where the population is high enough to get many customers but where the online competition is low enough to get the website to rank on the first page of Google using local SEO tactics. There are many great local lead generation niches to choose from, like a lawn care business. 

Why a local lead generation business?

With just one local lead generation website ranking on Google, you can generate hundreds to thousands every month from selling the leads. Although some local lead generation business models rely on paid advertising to drive customer traffic to the site, the organic local lead generation method emphasizes organic search so that you keep much more of the profits and have a long-lasting, established piece of digital real estate that generates passive income. 

Pros and cons of a local lead generation business

  • Passive income
  • Ability to create 6-figure business with a handful of clients
  • Lower competition than other online business models
  • 1 to 6 months to get a website to rank on Google
  • Some minor recurring overhead costs like hosting and domain
  • Need to create client relationships

2. Email marketing agency

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a direct marketing channel that businesses leverage to promote offers and share brand updates with a list of potential customers. An email marketing agency creates and runs email marketing campaigns for brands.

Why an email marketing agency? 

Email marketing is one of the most popular marketing channels. According to Campaign Monitor, 64% of small businesses use email marketing.

Pros and cons of an email marketing agency

  • Most businesses use it
  • Recurring work available with newsletters
  • Easier to sell than other marketing channels as you reach a targeted list of potential customers
  • Building an email list isn't easy
  • Emails can get marked as spam
  • Emails have low open rate

3. SEO agency

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing a website so that it ranks well on search engines like Google and Bing. An SEO agency specializes in improving a business’s online presence so they rank higher in the search engines and can draw more organic traffic to their website. 

Why an SEO agency?

According to WebFX, 93% of online experiences begin with the search engine. Therefore, SEO is one of the most powerful marketing channels because all brands want to get their website and products in front of customers on the web.

Pros and cons of an SEO agency

  • Many businesses that need and want SEO help
  •  SEO projects take a while, so clients are naturally long term
  • Recurring revenue from monthly services
  • Search engine algorithms change constantly
  • SEO tools like ahrefs can be expensive
  • Can be difficult to sell businesses on the high, ongoing project costs

4. Content marketing agency

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is creating virtual material like blog posts and videos geared towards a specific audience to lead them to a business and promote interest in the product or service being offered. A content marketing agency creates promotional content for a business. 

Why a content marketing agency?

According to Bill Gates, “Content is King”. The ability to create content that captivates and moves a specific audience to take an action that benefits a brand is a sought after skill. For those who are creative, content creation services like graphic design, video production, and copywriting are great avenues to make money online.

Pros and cons of a content marketing agency

  • Easy to get started if you have creative ability
  •  All brands need content
  • Many forms of content in high demand
  • Difficult to outsource, usually you do all the work yourself
  • Not very scalable
  • Need to get niche specific knowledge for every client you take on

5. Social media marketing agency

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is running marketing campaigns through social media channels like Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn to generate interest and brand awareness for a business. A social media marketing agency analyzes the most effective social channels for a particular business, creates relevant content for those channels, and then publishes the content in the timeframe that optimizes audience visibility and interaction. 

Why a social media marketing agency?

According to Oberlo, people spend an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes a day on social media. Therefore, social media platforms are one of the best channels for reaching potential customers. Social media marketing reporting platform, Agency Analytics, highlights that social media agencies charge between $1,500 and $25,000/month for their services.

Pros and cons of a social media agency

  • Scalable, as you can outsource content creation 
  • Low overhead costs and good profit potential
  • Analysis and reporting tools make it easy to show performance
  • Often needs content approval from brand prior to posting
  • Can take a long time to produce results
  • Requires niche specific knowledge for each client

6. Affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a strategy where brands outsource marketing efforts to third party marketers in exchange for a commission. An affiliate marketer earns money by promoting products for brands by using whichever marketing channels they want within the brands’ guidelines. 

Why do affiliate marketing?

According to Zippia, 81% of brands have affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing is based on performance, so it’s an especially efficient form of marketing that brands are emphasizing more. Affiliate marketers can generate passive income from their marketing efforts while working on their own schedule. 

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing

  • Very flexible working arrangement
  • Passive income potential
  • Choose the marketing channels that suit your skills
  • Commission-based so you only earn when you perform
  • Use your own resources to meet marketing objectives
  • Very saturated market with high competition

7. Branding consultancy

What is branding?

Branding is the process of creating and shaping a brand in the minds of customers. Good branding means a business is perceived positively and customers are open to buying from them. For example, Patagonia brands itself as a sustainable company for outdoor clothing and gear. A branding consultancy handles the branding process for brands by analyzing the market and providing expertise on how brands can shape their identify and develop a good reputation. 

Why a branding consultancy?

According to Entrepreneur, companies rebrand every 7-10 years. Therefore, both new businesses and existing businesses can benefit from the expertise of a branding consultancy.

Pros and cons of a branding consultancy

  • Strong demand
  • Payment not based on performance
  • Ability to inspire others 
  • Establishing branding expertise usually requires corporate experience
  • Hard to measure and justify results
  • Brand's own actions can affect your performance

8. Messaging consultancy

What does a messaging consultancy do?

A messaging consultancy leverages digital messaging formats like email, instant messenger chatting, and text messaging to communicate with customers. Messaging can be a very effective marketing method because of the benefit of one-to-one communication, in that you can tailor your message to the needs of a specific person instead of generic communication for a larger audience. 

Why a messaging consultancy?

According to Constant Contact, SMS messaging, email messaging, and conversational marketing are major digital marketing trends right now. These are all aspects of messaging, showing just how in-demand messaging marketing is. Furthermore, as artificial intelligence becomes more widely adopted in digital marketing, a messaging consultancy is well positioned to assist brands in automating chatbot and email marketing efforts.

Pros and cons of a messaging consultancy

  • Relatively low competition
  • Automation ability
  • Positive future outlook because of AI and technology involved 
  • Compliance with country regulators
  • Requires high technical aptitude
  • Uncommon business model may lead to difficulty in selling services

9. Social media influencer

What is a social media influencer?

A social media influencer creates content on a social media channel like Instagram or TikTok to build an audience and then makes money by promoting the products of brands to their audience. 

Why become a social media influencer?

For the right type of person, influencer marketing can be extremely lucrative. For example, Charli D’Amelio used the social media platform, TikTok, to amass over 80 million followers and now has a net worth of over $20 million from working with brands like Hollister, Dunkin Donuts, and Invisalign, according to Stylecaster. Even for nano-influencers with just a small following of 1,000 to 10,000 people, a social media post can be worth up to $195, as highlighted by data from Statista. 

Pros and cons of being a social media influencer

  • Can be extremely lucrative
  • Free merchandise from sponsors
  • Fame can lead to other unexpected opportunities
  • Scrutiny from the public
  • Extreme competition
  • Social media account could be suspended or banned

10. Link building firm

What is link building?

Link building is the process of getting websites to link to your website to improve website ranking on Google. Backlinks from other authoritative websites are a major ranking factor for Google, according to ahrefs. 

Why a link building firm?

Link building is an essential aspect of SEO, but can be very time-consuming. It's also very difficult to convince other site owner to link to external content. According to Siege Media, you can charge anywhere between $100 and $1,500+ per link, depending on the industry.

Pros and cons of a link building firm

  • Able to focus and specialize on a single skill
  • Backlinks are highly valued
  • Scalable as you can outsource to VAs

11. Mobile marketing consultancy

What is mobile marketing? 

Mobile marketing is targeting customers specifically through mobile channels like phone or tablet. A mobile marketing consultancy focuses on achieving marketing objectives, specifically through mobile channels. 

Why a mobile marketing consultancy? 

According to Tech Jury, Americans spend an average of just over 5 hours per day on their smartphones. Most of us are literally glued to our smartphones for nearly half the day, so it doesn’t take much explaining how a mobile-specific digital marketing campaign can be extremely effective.

Pros and cons of a mobile marketing consultancy

  • Large portion of marketing takes place on mobile devices
  • Segment of digital marketing that is well positioned for the future
  • Many mobile channels are available to reach customers
  • Fast changing mobile trends require regular campaign adjustment
  • Various types of smartphones and operating systems to consider
  • Potential legal issues if consumer privacy breached

12. Digital PR agency

What is digital PR?

Digital public relations (PR) is a company’s online presence. A digital PR agency creates strategies for brands to improve their online presence by networking with journalists, bloggers, and influencers to generate high-quality backlinks and get mentions on social media. A digital PR agency can also manage brand crisis like a bad Google review or negative social media comments, to ensure a positive perception of the brand online. For example, a digital PR agency may engage in social listening by using a digital marketing tool like Hootsuite to track brand mentions on Twitter and analyze public perception. 

Why a digital PR agency?

According to Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, digital PR is probably more critical for companies than even technical SEO.

Pros and cons of a digital PR agency

  • Less saturated industry than other digital marketing opportunities
  • More channels are available to drive results than a link building firm
  • Ability to offer multiple digital PR-related services and generate more revenue
  • Longer learning curve than other models 
  • Difficulty in measuring results
  • Unexpected events can negatively impact results

13. PPC consultancy

What is PPC? 

PPC, or pay-per-click, is running paid advertising through digital channels like Google ads or Facebook ads.

Why a PPC consultancy? 

According to Tech Jury, PPC generates twice the number of visitors compared to SEO. Furthermore, data from Search Engine Land shows that the average yearly cost for PPC services is between $115k to $122k, meaning you can make bank with just a single client.  

Pros and cons of a PPC consultancy

  • High income potential
  • Faster results than other marketing methods like SEO
  • Improved ability to reach target audience through targeting parameters
  • PPC costs are increasing
  • 94% of web users avoid search ads and go straight to organic results (Rank Pay)
  • Brands pay you for the overall project, so PPC spend can wipe out your profits if you don't use the marketing budget well enough

14. Dropshipping

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is an Ecommerce method where you act as the middleman between a supplier and customer. You market the products online, and when a customer buys from you, you go to your supplier to purchase the product and provide them with your customer’s shipping address. Although dropshipping is Ecommerce, it’s also digital marketing because the business model relies heavily on online marketing activities to generate profits. 

Why do dropshipping? 

Dropshipping is a low-risk business model that simultaneously forces you to learn and use entry level skills in Ecommerce and digital marketing. 

Pros and cons of dropshipping

  • Can start dropshipping with minimal capital
  • Straightforward and easy to learn
  • Freedom to choose which products you sell and an audience to target
  • Low profit margins
  • Even if your marketing efforts generate a sale, you need to rely on a third-party supplier to ensure your customer receives the product
  • Structure of Ecommerce sites makes Ecommerce SEO difficult

15. Webinar business

What are webinars?

Webinars are online presentations that brands use to deliver their message to a large audience. A webinar business designs and delivers webinars for brands to track down more leads. 

Why a webinar business? 

According to Zippia, the average webinar generates between 500 and 1,000 leads. Webinars are one of the most effective forms of digital marketing for generating leads available today.

Pros and cons of a webinar business

  • Reach a large audience with limited time
  • Much cheaper than a live event of the same size
  • Can record and re-use webinar material repeatedly
  • Requires close coordination with brand to ensure content is on point
  • Technical issues can be common hindrance
  • Participants can get easily distracted from presentation

16. SEM agency

What is SEM? 

SEM, or search engine marketing, is a digital marketing strategy that goes beyond SEO to increase visibility of website pages by leveraging both organic SEO and paid advertising. A SEM agency is responsible for coming up with and implementing an effective strategy to improve brand visibility online. 

Why a SEM agency? 

SEM marketing leverages the abilities of two powerful strategies in organic search and paid advertising to optimize results. According to HubSpot, SEM is one of the most effective ways to grow a business. 

Pros and cons of a SEM agency

  • Broad options available to produce results
  • In-demand business
  • Results easily trackable and measurable to justify costs
  • Search engine algorithms change often
  • Convincing brands of the long-term costs required for SEM can be challenging
  • Extreme competition in both organic search and paid advertising

17. CPA marketing

What is CPA marketing? 

Cost-per-action, or CPA marketing, is a marketing strategy where brands outsource marketing to third-party marketers for a fixed commission for driving pre-specified results. CPA marketing is similar to and falls under the affiliate marketing umbrella. 

Why do CPA marketing? 

CPA marketing is a performance-based marketing method that is extremely valuable and effective. As a CPA marketer, you have the freedom to choose which brands you work with and when you want to do the work. There are also many more ways to earn money with CPA marketing than affiliate marketing.

Pros and cons of CPA marketing

  • Direct contact with brands not required
  • Access hundreds of thousands of offers to promote through CPA networks like CPALead
  • Many ways to earn money, like sales, webinar sign-ups, or email subscriptions
  • Lower return than traditional affiliate marketing
  • Takes a long time to build an organic audience to sell to
  • Can be difficult for some people to find the motivation to do performance based work

18. Retargeting advertising agency

What is retargeting in advertising? 

Retargeting is the process of targeting users who have already visited a website because they have shown interest in the product or service being offered. For example, if a user reads a specific blog post on your site, you have some idea of their interests and desires and can use that data to effectively follow up with a related offer. A retargeting agency specializes in retargeting efforts for brands to capitalize on user interest. 

Why a retargeting advertising agency? 

Retargeting is most common in Ecommerce, with 27% of Ecommerce companies using the tactic, according to TrueList. With Ecommerce expected to continue strong growth through this decade, the market for retargeting expertise is only growing. Retargeting is an effective and low-cost way to grow and scale your digital marketing agency in 2024

Pros and cons of a retargeting advertising agency

  • Growing need for retargeting specialists
  • Users advertised to are already warm because they've shown interest
  • Can customize and personalize ads by leveraging the data
  • Seeing an advertisement for something they've already looked at can cause the user feelings of mistrust for the brand 
  • Need to spend resources developing multiple ads and angles so the re-targeted users don't see the same ads repeatedly 
  • Ad blockers can prevent you from reaching the desired target audience

19. Web design agency

What is web design? 

Web design is arranging digital content on a website to display the company’s branding and information. A web design agency specializes in designing and developing web properties for brands. 

Why a web design agency? 

According to WebFX, 73% of companies invest in web design to enable their brand to stick out from competitors. Web design is well paid because it requires a broad range of aesthetic and technical skills, from understanding color theory to the capability to use design software.

Pros and cons of a web design agency

  • Most businesses need a website nowadays, so your potential client pool is massive
  • Requires more advanced skills so not as easy for new competition to enter the market
  • Compensated for creative ability
  • Requires more in-depth technical knowledge and ability than other digital marketing opportunities
  • Client dissatisfaction if a site breaks even if it's not your fault
  • Many aspects to web design so you will be forced to multi-task

20. Copywriting agency

What is copywriting? 

Copywriting is writing the text for branding, advertising, and publicity materials. A copywriting agency handles copywriting efforts for brands by using its expertise in persuasive writing. 

Why a copywriting agency? 

Copywriting is a skill that will always be in demand and is an easy path for people who are capable writers to start an online business. Copywriting is needed in every aspect of digital marketing, from web design content to email marketing and paid advertising.

Pros and cons of a copywriting agency

  • Doesn't require technical skills
  • Can start making money as a copywriter with minimal experience
  • Fairly easy to find opportunities and develop a stable stream of work
  • Best opportunities are in English so you usually need native English fluency
  • May have to write about topics that don't interest you
  • Need to develop niche specific understanding for each client you take on

21. Ecommerce marketing agency

What is Ecommerce marketing? 

Ecommerce marketing is digital marketing specifically for Ecommerce brands to increase brand awareness and generate sales. An Ecommerce marketing agency uses its specialized knowledge of the Ecommerce industry and related marketing practices to boost results for Ecommerce brands. 

Why an Ecommerce marketing agency?

Global Ecommerce has experienced an incredible rise over the last few years and is expected to increase from $3.3 trillion in value today to a whopping $5.6 trillion in a few short years by 2026. Ecommerce agencies are particularly well positioned to take advantage of the hot Ecommerce industry.

Pros and cons of an Ecommerce marketing agency

  • Serve a booming industry
  • Can become an expert faster because you focus on one thing
  • Usually a long-term arrangement with your client
  • Limited to just Ecommerce clients
  • Operating in the highly competitive Ecommerce industry
  • Different expertise required for each Ecommerce platform, like marketing on Amazon vs Shopify

22. App development agency

What is app development?

App development is the process of creating mobile applications. An app development agency develops mobile apps for brands who want to enhance their digital presence beyond just a website and social media accounts. 

Why an app development agency? 

According to SPD Load, the average app development cost is $60,000 to $150,000, so an app development agency can demand a high price tag on each project.

Pros and cons of an app development agency

  • Large, lucrative contracts
  • Usually some recurring payment aspect to maintain and expand app performance
  • High barriers to entry protect business from competition
  • Requires technical ability
  • Software bugs are a common nuisance
  • Need to have the capital to hire and pay a team of developers

23. Video marketing agency

What is video marketing?

Video marketing is using videos to market products and services. A video marketing agency creates effective video advertising materials for brands by leveraging current trends and video production abilities to produce branded video content. 

Why a video marketing agency? 

According to HubSpot, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool because of its effectiveness in increasing understanding of the product or brand, generating leads, and increasing sales.

Pros and cons of video marketing

  • Video is the preferred form of content right now with the popularity of TikTok, YouTube Shorts and IG Reels as proof
  • More options to capture audience attention with video compared to web copy and images
  • Can start building a business using low cost or free tools available with a smartphone or computer 
  • Video content creation is a time-consuming process
  • Need to learn advanced software like Adobe After Effects if you want to demand the highest rate
  • May require access to production quality camera equipment

Which digital marketing business model is the best? 

As you can see, each digital marketing online business idea has pros and cons. To choose the best option for you, consider your skills, financial situation, and what your goals are. For example, if you have little money to get started but enjoy creating content and are active on social media, you could start a content marketing or social media marketing agency. If you already have experience as a copywriter and have a bit of money you can put towards expanding your earnings potential, you can start an SEO or SEM agency. If the most important thing for you is an end goal of generating passive income, local lead generation and affiliate marketing are the business models you should look at.


In today's world, digital marketing is far more important than traditional marketing and there are so many ways you can make money within the digital marketing industry. You could even do something as simple as helping companies set up their Google My Business profile. No matter which digital marketing service you choose to offer, the chances are high that someone is already making money from it. There is plenty of information available on the internet to learn how to perform any digital marketing service. You may even want to consider taking a digital marketing course like this one to optimize your results and earn money faster by avoiding mistakes. 

Are you going to start your digital marketing business and create yourself an exceptional lifestyle of location and financial freedom, like many others have already done? 

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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