Finding the perfect marketing agency management tools can be overwhelming.
When you're running a marketing agency, there's so much to do. In the beginning, your team is small so that means you're forced to wear multiple hats. Most of the time it's all on you.
It's too much to track.
What if you had the appropriate set of tools to run your agency? Tools that create the leverage, access and management support you need to manage and maintain your agency successfully?
In this series, we'll cover a variety of marketing agency tools and resources across 3 themes:
Part 1: Marketing Agency Management Tools (This article)
Part 2: Creative and Marketing Tools To Implement Services
Part 3: Local Marketing and Local Search Tools for your Local Clients
Let's dive in to part 1 - marketing agency management tools to efficiently run your operations and client communications.
Introducing the ultimate guide to marketing agency management tools
This section focuses on internal tools you'll need for your day-to-day operations. We'll take a look at:
I'll provide you with a list of resources you can use in your agency. This guide is a bit different from other guides.
Let me explain.
Most of the time, guides like these prefer one viewpoint over another. If they're focused on the tools an agency uses for their business, they ignore the tools and resources their clients need and vice versa.
I try to cover multiple angles in this guide for a few important reasons:
I'll cover a few examples from each category and provide you with a brief breakdown of their offering.
Let's dive in.
1. Project Management Tools
Monday is a team and project management app that's visual and highly collaborative. This is perfect for traffic managers in your agency, the people responsible for the deadlines, schedules and status of ongoing projects/work in your agency.
Pricing: $29 - $144 per mo
Basecamp is the project management tool many agencies are already familiar with. It's easy to use, incredibly intuitive and it comes with legendary customer support. This SaaS tool is available on both Android and iOS. It requires minimal training so employees are able to jump in and get to work. The best part about their software? You don't pay more for extra people. One flat price covers everything.
Pricing: $0 - $20.83 per user/mo
Project Management Runner Ups
SaaS management tools
Zylo is a SaaS management platform. It monitors SaaS applications purchases, integrating with a variety of the tools and resources agencies use on a daily basis. If you're like most agencies or brands relying on SaaS services, you have no idea what you're buying, what your employees are using and the return your organization receives from each SaaS provider. Zylo changes that.
Pricing: Contact Sales
According to LastPass, passwords cause 81 percent of data breaches. The reason? Many agency owners use the same password for most of their applications. LastPass Enterprise is a sophisticated password manager enables you to share passwords safely with your team.
The best part? Your team never sees the actual passwords used. Administrators have full control over and employees corporate account. LastPass is made for both small teams and large complex enterprises.
Pricing: $4 - $6 per user/mo
Zoho, maker of apps for business owners, created Vault. Like LastPass, they offer single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication and are compatible with a variety of software, tools and resources you already use. Their apps are browser and mobile-based, available on Apple, Android and Windows devices. Vault is made for small teams.
Pricing: $0 - $7 per user/mo + tax
Dashlane is another password manager with a surprising twist. Dashlane scans the web for leaked or stolen data (e.g. usernames, passwords and personally identifiable information). You're instantly alerted if your information is found in a place where it doesn't belong. Dashlane also bundles a VPN with their service.
Pricing: $4 per mo, billed annually
Calendly is an incredibly useful scheduling and meeting app. Calendly helps you schedule meetings without the constant back-and-forth emails. It automates scheduling and logistics, giving attendees an instant snapshot of your availability.
Calendly for teams kicks it up a notch, providing your agency with incredible features including auto-assigned meetings, individual selection and team/department availability.
Pricing: $0 - $12 per mo, billed annually
Drift is a Calendly alternative that's focused on meeting the needs of sales reps, account executives and account managers. Unlike Calendly, drift automatically pulls your availability for you. Drift enables you to chat with prospective clients browsing through your website via your browser or the Drift mobile app.
Pricing: $0 - $50 per mo (for individuals), $400 - $1500 per mo (for teams)
Streamtime is focused primarily on team scheduling. Streamtime is built for agencies and designed for the modern (remote, flex and telework) workforce. It prevents agency teams from doing double work, handles life events and task changes seamlessly, and creates new tasks from the schedule.
This amazing little tool handles the unexpected components of scheduling - time tracking, schedules, conflicts, quotes, invoices, etc.
Pricing: Free - $27 per user, per mo
Note:Note: All of the project management tools can be used to handle scheduling as well.
IFTTT is an acronym that stands for: if this than that.
It's pronounced like 'Lift' without the 'L'. IFTTT is an incredibly helpful automation tool that allows users to create automation workflows called "applets." IFTTT focuses primarily on keeping things simple, their applets are meant to handle a variety of tasks across web, desktop and mobile apps.
Use it to send yourself reminders and notifications, manage important components of your business and personal life, send yourself alerts and triggers for current events and more. Zapier's primary focus is on apps. IFTTT focuses on getting apps + devices to talk to each other.
Here's an excerpt from Gary Vee on IFTTT:
Zapier is an oldie but a goodie. Zapier connects your apps, enabling them to talk to each other. Use Zapier to integrate your communication, project management and creative tools. Messenger funnels, a digital ad agency used Zapier to save 30 hours per week by automating with two apps.
Here's another example:
Pricing: $0 - $125 per mo for (individuals), $250+ per mo for (teams and companies)
Microsoft flow is another workflow automation option, but similar to Zapier. While Zapier has 1,300+ integrations with more every day, Microsoft flow integrates with, as of today, 244 apps. Flow is heavily focused on Microsoft-owned properties like Outlook, Excel, OneDrive, etc. They also integrate with popular apps like Slack, Disqus, Twitter and Facebook.
Pricing: $0 - $15 per user/mo
3. Agency Management Tools
This section covers the apps and tools you'll need to manage key aspects of your agency. The section includes:
Is a cloud-based SaaS offering. Zenefits handles various categories in the HR spectrum covering payroll, HR, benefits, compliance, time and team performance management. As far as SaaS providers go, Zenefits is an end-to-end solution for small medium and large organizations. Zenefits really stands out for organizations dealing with a combination of freelance, remote and contract workers.
Gusto handles payroll, benefits and general HR. They offer full-service payroll with each of their plans, if you're looking for comprehensive, best-in-class support, Gusto is the solution for you. They aim to make payroll and HR refreshingly easy so you can get back to the things that matter most like running your agency. Their service is paperless and they provide your employees with a helpful app to answer their questions (so you don't have to).
Pricing: $6 - $12 per mo/person + $39 - $149 base
ADP is massive. They're a publicly traded company with 57,000 employees and 500,000+ small business customers. They're the 800 lb. gorilla for a reason. They have history. Once companies select an HR, payroll company they tend to stick with them. The transitional pain involved with switching is typically not worth it. It's part of the reason they've continued to grow in spite of major market disruption from upstarts like Zenefits.
Pricing: Request a quote
HR/talent management runner ups
Accounting + finance tools
Financial management. It's the most neglected but most important part of your agency. Marketing agencies need accounting tools to ensure they're managing their business properly.
Here are several cloud-based tools agencies can use to manage their finances.
You've probably heard of Slack, right? Everyone has. Slack is the communication platform to beat. They have a strong lead over other competitors in the market and they've even edged out larger competitors like Atlassian's Stride. If you didn't already know, Slack offers organized conversations, searchable history and integrate with the tools and services you already use. Beyond that, Slack provides your team with multiple methods of communication including voice and video calls. What's really neat about Slack is the fact that you're able to bring different parties together (e.g. clients, vendors and partners) into the same chat room or channel.
Pricing: $0 - $4.5 per user/mo
Zulip offers a different take on the communication/collaboration paradigm. Zulip is fully open source and comes in two options: Zulip Cloud and Zulip On-Premise. Both options come with free and paid options. There are a few key differences. Slack relies on channels, Zulip uses streams. Each stream comes with its own set of topics you can subscribe to.
Pricing: $0 - $6.67 per user/mo
Mattermost is another open source option that emphasizes privacy and security. Mattermost uses the tagline "Cool enough for Uber. Secure enough for the US Army."
It's one of the fastest-growing messaging platforms for engineering-heavy agency teams. If security and privacy are key points for your agency, Mattermost provides you with the control you need. Matter most integrates with Atlassian products and is focused primarily on financial, government and healthcare industries. It's perfect for agencies working exclusively in these verticals.
Join.me is focused on one thing and one thing only. Meetings. Join.me provides you with video and audio sharing. Phone access and screen sharing. It's a reliable tool that's provided by LogMeIn, the same company responsible for GotoMeeting.
Pricing: $0 - $30 per mo
Mikogo is different. It's screen sharing and online meeting software that lives on your desktop. It's a modern take on an old school implementation. Unlike GotoMeeting, there's no software for your attendees to install and there's a free plan account for personal/business use.
This list is comprehensive, but this doesn't cover everything. There are so many great resources for agencies today.
These are helpful management tools.
Most of the providers I spoke with (I didn't call all of them), had an off the books option for white labeling that wasn't publicly advertised. Some providers will share if you ask. Others will want to develop a relationship with you and request that you sign an agreement.
There's variance here.
Larger providers are less likely to work with small agencies. The unpleasant truth is they don't need to. They're not particularly motivated to win your agency's business. Small to medium providers, on the other hand, are hungry. They're eager to please and focused on fighting for your business.
It's a great place to start.
In part two, I'll cover creative + marketing tools for agencies. It's a meaty post so you'll want to bookmark and share both of these.