Running a successful marketing agency is no easy task. Just like any business, developing an efficient and reliable workflow can totally transform team productivity — a core determinant in any agency’s bottom line.

So, what’s the (not-so-secret) ingredient that’s essential to the recipe for a delectable agency workflow? Online tools.

Online tools are wonderful! Who wouldn’t want to offload tedious, time-consuming tasks to an automated, algorithm-based tool with a charming name and a beautiful UI?

In digital eras’ past (I’m talking 2010 and earlier here), there were a few hundred online tools that offered intuitive solutions to the major problems identified in the dynamic industry of advertising. Fast forward to 2019: There are literally thousands of online solutions vying for the business of every marketing agency, big and small.

How to pick the right online tools for your team.

Thousands of options might seem impressive, but a short dive into the world of online tools for marketing agencies can quickly get daunting. Frankly, it could be a full-time job sifting through each one that claims to be perfectly suited for your agency’s needs.

But before you draft that job posting for an ‘online tool researcher,’ let me introduce you to a list of my favourite online tools. I’ll be listing those that relate specifically to the business functions of a marketing agency — not the creative functions (so don’t expect to see any Adobe products listed here).

To make this list, I’ve identified six unique tasks that I’ve faced daily while working in a marketing agency:

  1. File storage and sharing
  2. Internal communication
  3. Writing
  4. Scheduling
  5. Invoice and accounting
  6. Payment processing

Fortunately, every one of these tasks have stellar solutions available through online software.

Here’s my list of six essential online tools for successful marketing agencies.

File storage and sharing

Google Drive

A marketing agency of any size will quickly accumulate thousands of digital files. From videos to text documents, these files need a place to be securely stored, quickly accessed and easily shared with both clients and collaborators.

Google Drive is by far the most popular tool in the file storage world, and for good reason. This service has been around for several years and has seen numerous improvements.

Files can be accessed from any device and can be assigned custom privacy settings. Google Drive allows up to 15GB of storage for free with a competitively priced upgrade program (Google One.)

Internal communication

Slack

tools for successful marketing agencies

As soon as your agency’s staff count exceeds two, you’ll need a tool for coworkers to communicate. Avoid the nightmare of cross communicating over email, text, iMessage, Facebook, and WhatsApp by choosing an efficient and robust communication tool for the whole team to use. Slack is that tool.

Slack has a number of great features, making it the industry standard for marketing agencies. These features include:

  1. The ability to organize conversations by team or idea
  2. The ability to share files
  3. Integrations with a ton of other apps (including many others on this list)
  4. Direct voice or video calling

Writing

Grammarly

Professionalism is key to succeeding in the competitive industry of marketing. To win and keep clients, your agency needs to prove its competency in managing voice, tone and look. Nothing ruins an otherwise perfect client proposal like a spelling error or a poorly worded sentence.

Fortunately, Grammarly has your back. Grammarly not only provides reliable spellcheck, but it also analyzes writing to improve voice and tone.

Scheduling

Calendly

Meetings, meetings, meetings. As your agency grows, so will its list of clients that expect unduly time and attention. No agency can avoid the inevitable pile-up of meetings. Whether it’s for a pitch, brand discovery or to receive feedback on a project, coordinating time between clients and team members can be an absolute headache.

Calendly is an effective software that takes the pain out of scheduling meetings. Simply set your availability in Calendly and share a scheduling link over email or embed it on your agency’s site. Clients can pick a time from the available time slots and the event gets added to your calendar.

To top it off, Calendly integrates with other major calendar software, has a delightful UI and a host of intuitive features.

Invoice and accounting

Quickbooks

tools for successful marketing agencies

Any service-based business needs an effective invoicing and accounting system to be successful. Handling expenses, tracking hours, and managing client payments may not be fun, but they are fundamentally important to your agency’s growth. But good news: these accounting tasks can be done in Quickbooks.

Quickbooks is an online accounting software for small businesses. It has a host of features optimal for agency invoicing and accounting.

Payment processing

Rotessa

Getting paid can be an awkward conversation for account managers. A lot of marketing agencies don’t have the right resources to ensure smooth client payments and if the right payment workflow isn’t established, an agency will quickly amass a collection of payment horror stories. Signing up for a payment software will allow these horror stories to be swiftly avoided.

Introducing Rotessa. There are dozens of online payment tools that allow you to pull money from a client’s account. I chose Rotessa for two reasons:

  1. Rotessa is specifically oriented for processing payments with clients who have an ongoing business relationship — ideal for an agency.
  2. Rotessa uses ACH (or pre-authorized debit) payments and has a flat-rate pricing model. This is significantly more affordable than absorbing a credit card percentage fee. Compare a 25 cent transaction fee against a 2.9% credit card transaction fee on a $5000 project invoice (I’ll let you do the math).

Well that’s it! Thousands of online tools narrowed down to six. Okay, honestly, I just skimmed the surface. There are many other tools I’d recommend. But hopefully, this list gave you an idea for a new tool that your team can try.

Cheers!