How to Start an AI Marketing Agency: 16 Step Guide to Success

June 8, 2024

How to start an AI marketing agency

Here is how to start an AI marketing agency:

  • Learn the essential AI skills
  • Understand the different marketing AI
  • Choose a sector that needs AI marketing
  • Research the target market’s needs
  • Navigate the legal structure and compliance
  • Create a detailed financial plan
  • Develop a strong brand and marketing strategy
  • Analyze competitors 
  • Build a competent team
  • Create an AI toolkit
  • Invest in your team
  • Establish strategic partnerships
  • Create a strong online presence
  • Offer pilot programs and free consultations
  • Deliver exceptional service
  • Stay updated on AI marketing trends 

To start an AI agency, you need to create a detailed business plan. It should include the type of AI marketing you offer, what sector you’ll be serving, your target market, financial plan, and marketing strategy. You should also learn all you can about AI, market needs, legal compliance, and competitors. This may sound very basic and generic. However, company economics research saw that a thorough business plan is 152% more likely to launch. Plus, it helps an agency grow 30% faster as you’ll know what to do to succeed. 

Starting an AI marketing agency is a great idea in 2024. A MailChimp study found that 88% of marketers say AI is essential to stay competitive and meet customer expectations. Another study by Statista saw 26% of chatbot marketing increased leads by 10-20%. The bottom line is that AI is the future. 

If AI is the future, then business owners can do their own marketing and won’t need an agency? According to IBM, 33% of business owners find it difficult to adopt AI into their marketing because of limited skills. Moreover, these owners are busy enough - they may not want to do their own AI marketing work. Here are what some users from Reddit have to say about this:

AI marketing agency
AI marketing agency 1

One AI marketing company that proves this business model is thriving is WEBITMD. Founded in 2008, this company started as a digital marketing agency. But recently, Mattan Danino, the owner, implemented AI-powered messaging, creative branding, web design, content marketing, etc… Back then, WEBITMD just served in San Diego and Los Angeles. Today, they have clients all over the world, from New York to London. 

However, starting an AI marketing agency is not a walk in the park. For one, there’s a lot of planning, learning, and investing. There’s also a lot of competition out there as more and more marketing agencies are turning to AI. To succeed, you’ll have to find a unique angle and be the best at it. You need to be determined and persistent. Here’s what one Redditor has to say:

AI marketing agency advice

In this article, we’re going to walk you through the 16 steps on how to start an AI marketing agency. Whether you have a marketing agency and want to switch to AI or start from scratch, we’ll help you create the perfect business plan for success. 

Step 1. Learn the Essential AI Skills 

Learning the essential AI skills, such as programming and analysis, is crucial as it’s the foundation of your whole business. It will help you develop effective AI-driven marketing strategies and deliver high-quality services. Give yourself a few months to learn all you need to know, including:

  • AI tools and how to implement them
  • How to use AI with data science and analytics 
  • Machine learning and programming
  • Marketing automation platforms 
  • Marketing fundamentals

To start AI marketing, take online courses, attend workshops, or get certificates. Coursera, Udemy, and edX are great platforms to find online courses. To get you started on your AI marketing mastery, you can check out these courses:

  • Artificial Intelligence in Marketing by Rajkumar Venkatesan. It’s a free course in Coursera and has a 4.5/5 star rating from 192 student reviews
  • AI in Marketing by Victoria Rusnac. This Udemy course costs $64.99 and has a 4.5/5 star rating from 870 student reviews
  • AI for Business Specialization by the University of Pennsylvania instructors. You can join the course for free in Coursera. It has a 4.7/5 star rating from 641 student reviews
  • Social Media and Digital Marketing Fundamentals by the Digital Marketing Institute. This is another free course in Coursera. It has a 4.7/5 star rating from 235 student reviews
  • AI for Marketing Course by HubSpot Academy. This course is totally free and only runs for less than 3 hours

Step 2. Understand the Different Marketing AI

Understanding the different marketing AI can help you choose which services to offer. You’ll also be able to center your skill learning and business planning to specific areas. To use AI for digital marketing, you can implement:

  • Personalized content creation. You can quickly tailor marketing messages and content to individual customer preferences
  • Predictive analytics. AI can predict future trends, customer behaviors, and market movements. You’ll be able to come up with better marketing strategies
  • Chatbots and customer service automation. AI-powered chatbots provide instant customer support. A Master of Code survey found that 62% of people prefer getting answers right away from an AI assistant to waiting for a human agent
  • Social media management. AI tools can schedule posts, analyze social media performance, and engage with audiences
  • Email marketing automation. AI can quickly segment email lists, personalize email content, and automate campaigns. This will lead to higher engagement and conversion rates
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). You can use AI to optimize website content, perform keyword research, and improve search engine ranking
  • Ad targeting and optimization. AI is great for analyzing data and optimizing ad placements. This will allow you to target the right audience at the right time
  • Customer insights and analytics. Produce better marketing decisions through AI’s gathering and analyzing customer insights
  • Voice search optimization. Let AI understand and predict voice search patterns. This will optimize your digital content for voice search queries
  • Dynamic pricing. Use AI-driven strategies to adjust prices in real time based on demand, competition, and other factors
  • Recommendation engines. You can use AI to suggest products or content to users based on their past behavior and preferences
  • Sentiment analysis. Leverage AI to understand public sentiment towards a company’s brand. Instead of doing it manually, AI can quickly analyze customer feedback and social media mentions
  • Fraud detection. AI tools can quickly detect and prevent fraudulent activities. This is to ensure secure transactions and protect your clients’ companies
  • Image and video recognition. AI can enhance visual content and improve user engagement
  • Influencer marketing. You can identify the most relevant influencers through AI integration. You can then reach out and collaborate with these people for your clients
  • Customer journey mapping. With the help of AI, you can quickly map and analyze customer journeys to enhance touchpoints
  • Marketing automation. AI tools can streamline repetitive tasks. This frees up your time for other strategic planning
  • Enhanced data security. AI can protect sensitive customer information and ensure compliance with regulations

You can offer different AI marketing agency services. However, for startups, it’s best to stick to one and focus on that. This is so you can develop specialized knowledge that can set you apart from competitors. It also allows you to create more consistent and high-quality work. Once you master that, you can branch out to other services. 

Step 3. Choose a Sector That Needs AI Marketing

Choosing a sector that needs AI marketing is highly important for the success of your agency. If you pick an industry with little to no use for AI marketing, you won’t be able to find many clients. Plus, it's easier to convince clients to get your services if they can benefit greatly from it. According to Spiceworks, the top industries that can rely on AI include:

  • Healthcare

  • Customer service and experience

  • Banking, financial services, and insurance

  • Logistics 

  • Retail, especially e-commerce

  • Cybersecurity

  • Marketing

  • Tech startups

  • Travel and hospitality 

  • Media and entertainment

Besides that, you need to break down the market. Determine who you want to offer your AI marketing services to. It can be small businesses, large enterprises, specific departments, or freelancers. This targeted approach will help you during your research.

Step 4. Research the Target Market’s AI Needs

Researching the target market’s AI needs will help you tailor your services to meet specific demands. Adeel Ahmad, a freelance developer, saw success with this. He found that more and more businesses want chatbots to improve customer service. So he decided to study how to integrate AI chatbots. Now, Ahmad boasts more than 600 accomplished projects for his clients. Here is how you can do your research:

  • Create surveys to ask potential customers about AI. Try to find their current use of AI, the challenges they face with it, and their needs
  • Speak directly with people in your target market to get in-depth insights
  • Look at your competitors and check what AI solutions they are offering and how successful it is
  • Read reports from sources like Gartner, Forrester, or McKinsey. Try to get as much information about AI trends and adoption rates in your target market
  • Find case studies showing successful AI implementations
  • Monitor discussions on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or industry-specific forums. Check what your target market is talking about regarding AI
  • Use Google Trends to see what AI-related topics are gaining interest
  • Analyze customer reviews and feedback on the AI products you’re planning on offering
  • Use Ahrefs or Semrush to identify popular keywords related to AI in your industry
  • Read blogs, news sites, and publications related to AI
  • Run pilot programs that your market can test and gather feedback

Step 5. Navigate the Legal Structure and Compliance of AI Marketing

Navigating the legal structure and compliance of AI marketing will ensure that your agency operates within the law. Understand the policies, rules, and processes that guide the development and use of AI. To make it simple for you, there are 3 things to keep in mind:

  • Ethical use. The use of AI should be fair and shouldn’t be used to discriminate

  • Transparency. Be clear about how AI systems work and make decisions

  • Accountability. There should be someone responsible if things go wrong with AI

However, there are many more compliances and ethical standards that each industry, city, or country has. This is why the best advice is to get a legal team or experts as early as possible. Let them help you navigate the legal side of starting a marketing agency with AI.

Step 6. Create a Detailed AI Marketing Agency Financial Plan

Creating a detailed AI marketing agency financial plan is crucial. This is because you need an accurate forecast of how much you’ll need to get started. This can also reduce financial risks and attract potential investors. Here is what to include in your financial plan:

  • Executive summary. This should have an overview of the business, mission, and objectives
  • Startup costs. This may include technology and equipment, office space, legal and licensing fees, initial marketing and branding, salaries for initial staff, other operating expenses
  • Revenue projections. Plan out your pricing strategy for services. Then get the expected sales and revenue streams. This should also include sales forecasts for the first year and following years. Finally, include expenses for client acquisition strategy and expected growth rate
  • Operating expenses. This includes rent or lease for office space, salaries, technology and software subscriptions, utilities and office supplies, marketing and advertising, insurance and legal fees, etc
  • Cash flow statement. Cash inflows include sales revenue. Cash outflows mean expenses. Net cash flow is a calculation of the difference between inflows and outflows
  • Income statement. Find the net profit (or loss) from your revenue to operating expenses
  • Funding requirements. Estimate the total capital needed and where you’ll get the funding sources
  • Financial projection. Estimate your future finances by making educated guesses about your income and expenses for the next 3 years 

AI is expensive to run. This is because you’ll have to spend on development, hardware, software, data acquisition, and maintenance. According to WebFX, AI development and rollout can cost between $6,000 to $300,000. If you’re hiring workers, the average salary of a data scientist is $123,198 a year. Meanwhile, machine learning engineers in the USA earn an average of $160,156. However, you can leverage cost-effective solutions. This includes cloud-based resources and pre-built AI tools. Pre-made chatbots cost $40,000 a year. Carefully planning for these expenses can maximize ROI.

Step 7. Develop a Strong AI Brand and Marketing Strategy

Developing a strong AI brand and marketing strategy is what can get you ahead of the competition. Remember, competition is going to be tough. You’ll want your agency to really stand out. To design an AI marketing strategy, you should:

  • Understand your market and audience. Conduct thorough research on competitors, market size, trends, and opportunities. You should also define your audience by demographic, pain points, needs, and preferences
  • Define your unique value proposition (UVP). Answer the question, “What makes your AI product or service unique?” Highlight the specific problems your agency will address and the benefits it offers. Then, you should craft a clear, concise brand message that communicates your UVP
  • Have a customer-centric approach. This means you focus on creating value for your customers. Tailor your AI solutions and marketing efforts to meet their needs effectively
  • Build your brand identity. This includes your brand name, logo, visual identity, voice, and tone. It’s best to make it memorable and reflect your brand’s values and personality 
  • Choose your marketing platforms. This can include creating a website, blog, social media, and/or email campaigns. You can also market your agency through B2B, influencer, or leader partnerships
  • Stick to ethical AI practices. To build trust with clients, you should communicate your commitment to ethical standards
  • Be transparent. Let everyone know how your AI technology works and how you handle data privacy. This can help build credibility and trust with your audience

GumGum, a contextual intelligence company, markets to clients by promising to place ads when it matters most. GumGum clients can deliver the right ad at the right moment - when people want it most. Check out how they advertise their services:

AI marketing strategy

Step 8. Analyze AI Marketing Agency Competitors

Analyzing AI marketing agency competitors will help you identify the gaps in the market and refine your own strategy. The first thing to do is identify your competitors. These are the ones related to the AI solutions or services you offer. The popular AI marketing companies are:

  • Single Grain - uses AI to generate content, SEO, and more 

  • Pecan AI - uses AI to predict analytics to help businesses make more informed decisions

  • Thrive Digital - uses AI and machine learning to grab lots of data and interpret it better and faster

  • Oolo AI - uses AI to provide excellent customer service for businesses 

  • Brave Bison - uses AI to grow a business’ online presence 

  • Appier - uses AI to optimize marketing campaigns, customer experiences, and overall operations 

  • NoGood - uses AI to grow an online presence through SEO, PPC, content marketing, and email marketing 

When you have your list of competitors, you’ll need to gather as much information as you can about them. This includes website analysis, content audit, social media presence, etc… You can also check what solutions or services they lack, so you can offer it to your potential clients. It’s a good idea to check out their marketing strategies and their performance, too.

Step 9. Build a Competent AI Marketing Team

Building a competent AI marketing team is what will keep your agency going. This is because they will provide the necessary skills and expertise. Hire a team that can utilize AI technologies, improve marketing, and adapt to market demands. Here are some of the initial team members that you’ll need to get started:

  • AI or machine learning engineer

  • Data scientist

  • Digital marketing specialist 

  • AI product manager

  • Content strategist/writer

  • UX/UI designer

  • Sales and business development manager

  • IT support specialists

Of course, you can start solo if you know how to operate and manage your AI solution or service and business. However, it’s always best to have a team to lessen your burden. If you can’t afford a full team yet, start solo and gradually bring on team members in order of importance. So if you’re struggling with marketing, you can bring in a marketing strategist first. One great example of this is Julia A, founder of Jus Agency. As a solo digital marketer, she advertised her services on Fiverr. When she had enough clients, she then went on to hire a team and created Jus Agency.

AI marketing agency example

Step 10. Create an AI Toolkit

Creating an AI toolkit can streamline your operations and enhance efficiency. With a toolkit, you can centralize resources, have a consistent workflow, simplify integration, and much more. Your kit can include tools that automatically develop, implement, and manage AI. For example, Python will interpret programming language to make it simple and readable. HubSpot Marketing Hub can be used for marketing automation. Here are other key tools you can include in your kit:

  • Google Analytics to analyze web analytics 

  • Chatfuel and Grammarly to create and improve AI-driven content

  • AI Pitchdeck Building Software to create a compelling pitch to raise money for your agency

  • AI website builder to create your website

  • AI SEO tool to rank your website in Google search engine results page (SERP)

  • AI graphic design tools to create logos or flyers for your clients

  • AI social media marketing to write your social media posts

Step 11. Invest in Your AI Marketing Team

Investing in your AI marketing team can drive innovation and improve campaigns. Remember, your team is the center of your success. If you invest in them, your agency will gain a competitive edge and see more growth. Here are some ways to invest in your AI marketing team:

  • Provide training and development. Pay for online courses, workshops, and certifications in AI, machine learning, and marketing. Also, encourage them to attend industry conferences and events. In-house training programs are great, too
  • Offer the right tools and resources. Invest in advanced AI and data analytics tools that can help the process. You should also give them the latest software and hardware needed to perform their tasks efficiently
  • Foster a collaborative environment. Hold regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and new ideas. Encourage open communication and feedback so that everyone is aligned and motivated. It’s great to organize team-building activities as well
  • Encourage innovation and creativity. Allow your team members to dedicate a few hours to explore new ideas and technologies, or work on related personal projects. This not only improves their skills and knowledge but also makes them happier in their work
  • Provide career growth and advancement opportunities. It’s important to give them a clear career path and opportunities for advancement. This will encourage them to work even harder
  • Promote a supportive environment. A healthy work-life balance will keep your team happy and motivated. You can provide flexible working hours, gym memberships, mental health support services, etc
  • Support research and development. Set aside a budget for research and development alone. You can also partner with universities, research institutions, or industry experts. You can use these to stay at the forefront of AI advancement and marketing efforts

Step 12. Establish Strategic AI Marketing Partnerships

Establishing strategic AI marketing partnerships can expand your agency and its reach. You’ll have access to advanced technologies and expertise that may not be available to you. For example, an AI-driven analytics firm can provide deeper insights into consumer behavior. With this, you’ll be able to make more targeted and effective marketing campaigns for your client.

Besides that, you can tap into your partner’s networks and customer base. Plus, these partnerships often come with shared resources and collaborative opportunities. With both your strengths, you can offer a more comprehensive suite of AI marketing services. Some of the partnerships you can consider are:

  • AI analytic firms

  • AI-driven marketing platforms

  • CRM solutions providers

  • Content generation tools

  • Customer service AI

  • Predictive analytics companies

  • Ad tech firms

  • Innovative labs and startups

Once you identify your needs, you can seek out a potential partner to work with. Just make sure their technology is compatible with your existing systems. You can find this out by requesting demos and trials before coming to an agreement. It’s also very important to negotiate terms and agreements. This includes data sharing, roles, responsibilities, intellectual property rights, etc…

Step 13. Create a Strong Online Presence for Your AI Marketing Agency

Creating a strong online presence for your AI marketing agency can do two things for you. For one, it will help you reach more clients. A Salesforce survey saw 85% of people do online research before buying a product or hiring a service. A strong online presence also gives a clear statement about your marketing capabilities. If you can effectively market your agency, potential clients will have confidence that you can do the same for their businesses. Here is how to boost your online presence:

  • Create a website. Make sure it has a great design, is easy to navigate, and has a clear message. You should also optimize it for SEO so that it will rank in Google SERP
  • Do content marketing. This includes blogging, guest posting, and creating video content. You can provide valuable information, such as industry news, tips, and agency updates
  • Take part in social media. Pick a social media platform where your target audience is most active. You can then consistently post content and engage with followers
  • Send emails. A HubSpot report saw 95% of marketers say email marketing is effective. So build your mailing list and send regular newsletters, insights, and AI solutions or services
  • Leverage your AI tools. Use chatbots for better customer service. Use predictive analytics to help refine your marketing strategies. Use automated content creation to generate content ideas and streamline processes
  • Pay for ads. If you want instant visibility, you can run targeted Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. You can even use retargeting ads. This reaches visitors who have previously interacted with your website or content
  • Encourage client reviews. A Dixa research found that 93% of people read online reviews before trusting a business. Plus, Google prioritizes websites that have many positive reviews or testimonials
  • Engage in online communities. Sharing your knowledge and expertise with others will build trust. So answer industry questions in LinkedIn groups, Quora, Reddit, etc

The Accion Opportunity Fund provides a graph to help you pick a social media platform to focus on:

AI marketing agency strong online presence

Step 14. Offer AI Marketing Pilot Programs and Free Consultations

Offering AI marketing pilot programs or free consultations will give potential clients a taste of your agency. Remember, people won’t just trust your promises because you said so. They will want some proof that you’re good at what you do. So why not give them a sneak peek into your AI solutions or services before they commit? If satisfied, they will be willing to continue and pay for it. 

Pilot programs are best if you’re testing out new technologies. You can select 10-20 people to try it out and give their feedback. This will help you see what’s good and what needs improvement. For free consultations, you can help business owners see where or why they need AI marketing. You can then convince them that your AI marketing agency is the perfect solution. 

However, you should know that both of these require careful planning. You need to come up with a strategy on how to implement this without wasting your time, money, or other resources.

Step 15. Deliver Exceptional AI Marketing Services

Delivering exceptional AI marketing services is the key to success. Even if you only have a few clients, an AI marketing solution or service that works will have them come back. Plus, they will be more than willing to leave positive reviews and recommend your agency. In turn, that can attract more clients and more revenue. To make sure you deliver only the best AI marketing, here are some tips:

  • Understand your client’s goals. This will help you tailor your AI marketing services to meet their specific needs
  • Use data-driven strategies. This will help you create a marketing strategy that works for different clients
  • Provide a realistic outcome. Never overpromise. This will only disappoint or anger clients if you can’t fulfill it. Instead, be as realistic as possible on how your AI solution or service can help. It’s good to be able to hit the expectation, and even better if you’re able to go above it
  • Offer top-quality AI solutions or services. To be able to help your clients with their marketing campaigns, your AI solution or service must really work. This is why it’s good to learn the necessary skills and have a competent team
  • Personalize the customer experience. This will make your clients feel special. In turn, you’ll build a strong relationship. No doubt, these clients will come back regularly or promote your agency freely
  • Communicate effectively. Communication is one of the most important aspects of an AI marketing agency. So be transparent about your AI solution or service. Update them on how the marketing campaign is going. Answer all their questions. A Salesforce research saw a whopping 78% of people do business again with a company with great customer service, even after a mistake
  • Give transparent reporting. Make your clients know that you’re not hiding anything from them. You can give them access to real-time dashboards showing the performance, provide AI-driven insights, and more

Step 16. Stay Updated on AI Marketing Trends

Staying updated on AI marketing trends is crucial to maintain a competitive edge. AI technology is advancing at an incredible pace. If you’re not keeping up with the latest developments and trends, you risk being left behind. For example, customer expectations are increasing as AI becomes more robust. If you’re not able to provide the most robust solution or service, you’ll struggle to retain or attract clients. Here are some ways to keep up: 

  • Read industry blogs or newsletters

  • Attend relevant conferences or webinars

  • Follow AI thought leaders or influencers

  • Join online communities and forums

  • Read AI books and research papers

  • Take online courses and training programs

  • Monitor industry reports and predictions

  • Network with AI marketers and professionals

  • Experiment with AI tools and technologies

  • Stay up-to-date with industry news and press releases

The latest trends in AI marketing are centered around Personalization 2.0. This allows marketers to use AI to create highly personalized interactions with customers. It takes into account factors like customer behavior, emotion, preferences, contextual data, etc… Jay Prajapat, a digital marketer, says that this is the “era of hyper-personalization”.

What Is AI Marketing?

AI marketing is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate, optimize, and personalize marketing processes, strategies, and interactions. AI marketing agencies work by offering these advanced technologies for effective marketing campaigns. Here is what these agencies can offer: 

  • AI automation to streamline repetitive and mundane tasks. This includes data analysis, customer segmentation, content creation, etc
  • AI optimization to improve marketing campaigns through data-driven insights. This will help you adjust the target, message, and budget
  • AI personalization to analyze customer data, behavior, and preferences. This way, you can create highly personalized and relevant marketing experiences

Are There Any Courses About AI Marketing Agencies?’s AI Marketing Agency Training’s Marketing Agency Training by Alex Mehr teaches you the ins and outs of starting an AI marketing agency. You’ll learn how to create content with AI, find clients, and automate tasks. You’ll also learn about’s proprietary software. Besides that, you’ll get your own account with AI Marketing Academy and gain entry to a members’ community.  The best part is that it just costs $97. Or, you can pay a $69 monthly subscription.

What Are the Challenges of Starting an AI Marketing Agency? 

  • High initial investment. You’ll need a few thousand dollars to create or acquire advanced AI technologies and tools. Plus, hiring skilled professionals can be costly
  • Technical expertise. You can’t just start your AI marketing agency on a random Tuesday. You’ll need a deep understanding of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and marketing. You also have to stay updated with the rapidly evolving technologies and trends
  • Data management. This is needed to collect, store, and manage vast amounts of data. It helps ensure data privacy and security compliance with regulations, too
  • Market competition. According to Foundation Inc, 85% of marketers already use AI tools. This makes the industry highly competitive. You’ll have to find a way to differentiate and establish a unique value proposition (UVP)
  • Client education and trust. It will take time to educate potential clients about the benefits of AI and build trust with them. You might not start earning right away
  • Integration with existing systems. Integrating AI tools with clients’ existing marketing platforms can be technically challenging. It may require custom solutions

Conclusion: Is an AI Marketing Agency Worth It? 

An AI marketing agency is worth it if you have the resources and put in the necessary efforts. The AI marketing business has some big numbers. In 2024, the market size reached $10.4B. If you know how to start and grow your agency, you can earn a revenue of $6M a year. This means you can easily get back your initial investment. Plus, many business owners are seeing the need for AI marketing. They will always need someone to do the tasks for them.


If AI marketing is too expensive or technical, consider local lead generation instead. This is a much simpler digital marketing business model. Local lead generation is creating, ranking, and renting service websites. The initial investment is small - it will cost you $25 to $100 to create a basic website. From there, you can use local SEO strategies to rank it. Once ranked, it will be easy to find local businesses willing to rent the website. With local lead generation, you can earn a streamlined revenue of $50,000 a month without much effort. 

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Ippei Kanehara

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