It’s become a highly anticipated marketing tradition. Each year, Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technology blog unveils an updated graphic showing software and tools being offered to marketers. If you’ve ever questioned the impact of digital, consider the following.
In 2011, Brinker’s research showed 150 solutions making up the martech landscape. Just months ago, the infamous supergraphic reported by the spring of 2019 the number had risen to 7,040.
Digital marketing agencies and marketers have an abundance of tools for increasing client success and delivering projects. From new business development to finance, each department has purpose-built ones for their own functions, too. Yet, “Cobbler’s Children Syndrome” has clearly set in, and like those proverbial shoeless kids, agencies and marketers often neglect to take care of their own business.
The fact is, powerful digital marketing agency software exists that’s designed specifically to improve internal agency processes, efficiency and control. Foremost, these free up and leverage data typically trapped in information silos, the result of point solutions that don’t communicate well with each other.
With real-time visibility, an agency can unify its people, drive profitability and raise competitiveness.
What is digital marketing software?
Digital marketing software performs a variety of functions to serve both the client side of agencies as well as drive the inner operations of the agency itself. In addition to the typical software used to communicate and guide day-to-day activities, digital pros may turn to different platforms for running campaigns, managing ad spend, feeding distribution channels, and tools for campaign performance analysis and measurement. On the operational side, each agency may use other types of digital marketing software to handle project management, staffing, compensation, billing and sales needs.
What tools do digital marketers use?
Amongst this array of tools are a few popular technology categories and names that have become standard at many agencies.
Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions help organizations manage interactions with clients and prospects. HubSpot, a developer and marketer of software for inbound marketing and sales, is an industry staple in this realm, as is Salesforce, which gained notoriety for its cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach.
Time is money at an agency, and so, accurately tracking it is essential. ClickTime is another mainstay of digital marketing agencies, offering tracking, management and reporting on employee time.
Project management and task applications help keep people and projects focused on priority deliverables and align them with the deadlines needed for production. Marketing agencies may enlist the help of Basecamp, Asana, Trello or even chat to communicate on projects and assign tasks.
When it comes to finance, spreadsheets continue to top the list, despite attempts by vendors to supplant this workhorse over the years.
How do you keep track of marketing projects?
All of these have their place. However, they’re not typically integrated as they should be with other systems. That, or the complexity of having so many solutions has created a technology tangle that IT can’t effectively unravel or connect appropriately.
The result is, one agency function doesn’t know what the other is doing, creating issues that snowball. For instance, a sales CRM solution could contain data that would allow project managers to effectively forecast work, plan and hire contractors accordingly. Those dealing with clients could also use the information to prevent under or over-servicing. Finance could avoid billing errors and ensure contract scope and margins are on target.
Spreadsheets often limit visibility further. When department and individuals have separate ones – and many do – someone has to manually gather relevant data to know where the agency stands. Not only is it a labor intensive process, by the time the information is finally assembled, it’s already old.
Agency leaders can’t afford to be making critical decisions on dated data. Real-time insight is needed to control margins and lift profitability. To ensure the firm maximizes operational and delivery activity, agency owners should ensure they can use a unified snapshot of the company’s goings-on. Marketing agency management needs to have a grasp on not only time tracking and project management, but also resource management, team billability and capacity planning for the future. One tool is needed to control them all.
This is where marketing agency software supported by professional service automation (PSA) comes in.
What marketing software is best?
The best marketing software has the ability to combine multiple capabilities in one. If you’ve onboarded point solutions in the past, you’ll want to take a good look at how tall your marketing stack is starting to reach. A software platform apiece for time tracking, project management, employee utilization and other functions can start to add up.
That’s the other hallmark of the best marketing software — the ability to grow alongside a business as it gets bigger. Whether you have five or 500 employees, you’ll want to ensure your marketing software continues to streamline your business, not add bigger fees, licenses, redundant costs or other unnecessary overage. Many agencies look to cloud-based platforms for similar flexibility and reliability.
How can you control and grow with marketing agency software?
A case in point is Metis Communications, an award-winning, remote-first marketing firm known for the revenue generating services it offers clients. With personnel across the U.S., it relies on close collaboration with data guiding the agency’s leadership and direction.
Metis takes a multi-faceted approach to serving clients. Each project is unique but has a common goal of delivering bottom-line benefits and revenue growth. The agency’s operations previously used a number of SaaS solutions and manual spreadsheets to analyze profitability, margins, output and revenue growth.
According to its founder, Cathy Atkins: “We rely on our revenue growth and ROI data to guide us. Unfortunately, our internal processes weren’t keeping up or reflecting the work we were doing. We had far too much complexity in our analysis and started experiencing tool sprawl that trapped data.”
With VOGSY, Metis was able to automate activities in finance, operations, sales and project management – a significant benefit in itself. The agency streamlined crucial operational workflows, too. Timesheets now facilitate staff utilization, heat maps offer at-a-glance views of team resources, role and skill matching puts the right person in the right position. Additionally, consultants and partners also can now submit their own invoices, saving time and reducing errors.
Perhaps most importantly, with critical systems linked to VOGSY, Metis reduced reporting time 75 percent, while enabling leadership to share new insights across the organization.
“With VOGSY, we’ve been able to quickly develop as an organization, tie analytics more closely to our future, simplify processes and think of the business in ways that move us ahead,” notes Atkins.
Learn more in the Metis Communications/VOGSY Case Study.
Agency project management can change firm trajectory
Knowing where things stand at any given moment results in increased control. All the data that a digital marketing agency needs to do so already exists.
PSA taps into all areas of an agency’s technology stack, freeing information, simplifying operations, ensuring work doesn’t stack up and always moves ahead. It’s technology that’s uniquely focused on the business itself, capable of bringing everything into focus, supercharging operations and changing an agency’s trajectory.
Mark van Leeuwen is the CEO of VOGSY, the Google business software pioneers. Mark has held leading roles in software and service businesses on all continents and led growth in uncharted territories for 20 years. He’s also a stickler for simplicity and transparency and doing more with less.