If you make your living by providing a service, it might seem self-destructive to teach your customers how to do it themselves.

But that's exactly what a Norwich-based digital marketing agency is doing to stay relevant in a changing online world.

With digital marketing becoming more common, ApplinSkinner, based in Muspole Street, has been coaching companies' in-house teams in partnership with Jarrold Training.

While the training side of the business only makes up a small percentage of turnover, the firm is aiming to increase that by doubling the number of courses by the end of 2018.

Mark Cook, digital marketing director, said: 'We are facing up to a reality of the market changing.

'We have actually found we get more work through the training. We teach in-house teams and they get to know us so when they need additional support they often come to us.'

Another direction ApplinSkinner is developing is software integration, which sees them build custom programmes for companies to enable them to make use of data from old versions of their websites.

The firm has built a site for insurance broker Alan Boswell Group which allows the company to see throughout the process how an interested party becomes a customer, or at which stage they do not.

Mr Cook said he thought specialising in back-end development would be key as the industry changed. 'These days everyone knows about digital marketing and a lot of companies have their own teams, so it becomes more important to specialise,' he said.

'I see agencies moving to a specialist role while in-house teams take on the day-to-day strategy.'

The firm, which is planning to add to its 13-strong team, has seen steady growth over the past three years from a turnover of £187,000 to nearly £500,000 this year.

Google's algorithm and the content it favours has long been of interest to digital marketers. However, with the rise of smart assistants such as Google Home or Amazon's Alexa, Mr Cook said he believed change was coming.

He said: 'Google has changed from an information retrieval service to an answer engine – you don't have to go on a page to see the information a lot of the time. What will be important is making a client's information accessible to personal assistants.'