Digital Agencies: Business Technology to Manage Client Campaigns

business technologyWhich technologies do you rely on to manage your agency? Which do you introduce to clients to help manage marketing campaigns?

Staying ahead of new technologies, or updates to legacy technologies, can improve agency efficiency and collaboration, and attract the right talent to your team. This post outlines a few of the technologies we use to manage client campaigns at PR 20/20.

General rule of thumb: new technologies are great and emerge daily. However, you should build your business around reliable technologies that last and will grow with you.

“… Always test innovative solutions from emerging technology companies, but turn to proven organizations when it comes time to make major infrastructure decisions.”

— The Marketing Agency Blueprint, Chapter 4

Business Technologies We Love

  • Google: Disclaimer—Google is one of my favorite companies, ever. We recently transitioned to Google Apps for Business. Web-based email, calendars and documents (with the added security for businesses) improve our team’s mobility and collaboration. We can access information from any device, and have the assurance that everyone we’re collaborating with has the most updated information, auto-saved often. Another bonus is Google+, which we use for agency collaboration. If an employee is working offsite, they’re able to “hangout” with the team for meetings, and screen-share information presented at the office.  
  • 37Signals: Another technology that I have open at all times is 37Signals. We use 37Signals’ Basecamp and Highrise for project management and customer relationship management (CRM), respectively. If you’re like me (or most marketers I know), we’re always creating, completing, and reorganizing to-do lists. Basecamp puts your to-do lists online, and lets you share them with others. Other Basecamp perks are checking in on others’ lists, adding comments or updating deadlines digitally. We have a project for each client; so we can collaborate with the entire client team seamlessly and transparently. Check out this Marketing Agency Insider post for more on how to manage client campaigns with Basecamp. In terms of contact management, consider 37Signals’ Highrise. It keeps your team on the same page with client communications, call notes and new business leads.
  • FunctionFox: Track the time and expenses put into each marketing campaign with a product like FunctionFox’s TimeFox. Regardless of whether your marketing campaigns are based on retainers or hours, accurate time tracking is critical to monitor efficiency, productivity, employee performance, and overall return for time invested in each account. Share time-tracking reports with clients within weekly (or monthly) activity reports to foster transparency and trust, and hold each party accountable to contracted services.
  • Intuit QuickBooks: QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting system that provides real-time insight into the financial health of the agency, as well as individual marketing campaigns. We use QuickBooks to pull bi-monthly reports on paid and outstanding client invoices, and to forecast the agency’s overall finances (income and expenses), growth and opportunities.
  • Conferencing Technologies: Sometimes, exchanging emails is not the easiest way to move a project forward. Just the other day, we were trying to help a client set up Google Webmaster tools. When following the “easy” 1-2-3 steps from Google failed, a screen-share and guided process set up the system in less than a minute. Pick up the phone, don’t fear videoconferences, and engage your clients! For agency and client collaboration, we use Citrix’s GoToMeeting, Skype and Google+.
  • Yammer: One of my favorite technologies at the agency is our internal collaboration software—Yammer. The best way to describe Yammer is a secure, internal social network for businesses. You might instantly think, “another social network is a distraction.” I’ll argue the opposite any day. Yammer keeps our team updated on the latest industry and agency news, client updates and resources, and more—all without clogging your inbox. It’s searchable, tag-able, can house files, and can be separated into smaller focus groups. This drives business alignment and agility while improving relationships. Learn more on the business benefits of an internal social network.

Note: This post doesn’t dive into additional technologies to manage campaign service activities, such as content, lead nurturing, social media, etc., because that would be a really long post! However, the same advice does hold true: stay ahead of the curve, but don’t build client campaigns around free services or unstable providers that may not last.

Share Your Resources

For more details on building a scalable agency infrastructure through trusted solution providers, check out chapter 4 of The Marketing Agency Blueprint, by Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) or session 2 of The Blueprint Series Presented by HubSpot.

Which technologies have improved your marketing campaigns, or have been vital to agency operations? 

Image Credit: andertoons

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