12 Tools Every Digital Marketing Agency Should Consider in 2020
Which tools will bring the most value to digital marketing agencies in 2020? Here's a list of twelve online tools – from task management to data analytics and reporting – that can help your agency gain a competitive advantage and win more clients.
Every minute counts for digital agencies. According to a recent study, the second biggest challenge agency owners face is managing time, and that’s second only to “getting new clients.” If you’re at a digital marketing agency, none of this is news. You know how closely clients monitor and judge your productivity.
And while the time pressure is there, the pressure for quality is there, too.
To stay on the safe side of that calculation, you have to work smart. Part of working smart is to use the right tools. A few good tools used in strategic ways can save hours – maybe even days – worth of time. They’ll let you deliver better-quality work, too.
But agencies have one other criterion for the tools they use. Because agencies manage so many accounts, and because agency branding matters, it’s important to have tools that let you deliver a customized, white-label experience to your clients.
All the tools listed below can do all that and more. Use them to speed up your work, keep clients informed, and manage your workflow in efficient ways. And while 12 might seem like a lean list, it’s actually almost exactly average. A Winterberry Group survey found that the average number of tools marketers use is 12.4.
Check out our list of digital marketing agency tools for 2020 below:
1. For team and task management – Asana.
Five hundred dollars says you already know Slack. But its competitor Asana also gets a lot of accolades. Many people actually prefer Asana to Slack when it comes to team, task, and project management, and so being able to work in both might help you attract or keep a valued client.
Asana even has some agency collaboration templates that might help get you up to speed. Alternatively, if you’ve already tried both Asana and Slack and found them lacking, check out FunctionFox, which has rave reviews from agency pros in Capterra’s ranking for ad agency software.
2. For marketing calendar management – CoSchedule.
So you want to manage a blog, a social media calendar, reshare posts and stay on top of your editorial calendar. For 50 clients. Oh, and you’d like it to work seamlessly in WordPress? No problem. All you need is CoSchedule.
CoSchedule will let you develop unique, branded editorial calendars for all your clients. It will also make collaboration, planning, and content approvals and production a snap to manage. The company offers a 14-day trial, so there's no harm in trying it.
3. For data analytics and agency reporting – Whatagraph.
Results. It’s all clients ultimately care about. And so while you might be getting lots of work done, if you can’t demonstrate and document your results, your clients may still be unhappy. That’s why a good agency reporting software is essential.
Whatagraph reporting software was built by marketers for agencies. Meaning it knows what your clients want to see from a marketing perspective (all the most important metrics and KPIs for all their marketing channels), but also adapts to the specific agency workflows, such as:
- managing multiple client accounts at the same time;
- managing multiple marketing channels for the same client;
- scheduling reports for automated delivery;
- easily sharing reports via email or screen,
- adding custom branding, and so on.
For most agencies, Whatagraph can save anywhere from 1 to 5 hours per week, per client.
With a wide list of integrations, Whatagraph serves all types of digital marketing agencies, from PPC advertising to social media, SEO & SEM, email marketing, and so on. The simplicity of their drag-and-drop editor and the ability to build cross-channel reports and even merge data across channels makes Whatagraph one of the best agency reporting software out there.
4. Create powerful business content together - Xtensio
Xtensio is a strategy and communications platform where anyone can easily create, manage, share, and present professional business collateral.
Teams collaborate on documents, presentations, proposals, reports, sales sheets, and other strategic exercises in real-time. Start with a template or create your own. The editor works like a web builder so it's easy to add images, videos, tables, and other interactive modules. Drag and drop, resize, change backgrounds, and specify colors and fonts to match your brand.
The best part is that the deliverables created on Xtensio are living documents (folios). Share the public link with colleagues and clients so everyone is always up-to-date, without the email attachments.
Present a digital slideshow or export a PDF/PNG. All your work is organized on a private, branded team dashboard so you can keep the work flowing from anywhere.
5. For building landing pages fast – Unbounce.
Landing pages are a proven way to dramatically increase conversions. Increase conversions, and you increase revenue. Increase revenue and your clients will be getting the results they were hoping for when they hired you.
And here’s the thing: Many marketers (and agencies) don’t use nearly enough landing pages because they can be hard to build and hard to manage. Landing pages are just outside their comfort zone to use… which is exactly where your agency comes in!
With a little expertise and the right tool, you can easily step in and be the hero who increases your clients’ conversion rates – and their revenue. While you’re at it, you can increase your agency’s revenue, too. More than half of agencies surveyed by WordStream said they charge extra for creating landing pages than for any other add-on service.
There are dozens of landing page tools available, of course, but Unbounce is recognized across the marketing world for being the go-to tool for developing, testing, and managing landing pages. Getting proficient with it is a fabulous way to provide a high-value service to your clients for minimal cost and time. Your clients will get better results, you’ll have a profitable new income stream – it’s a win-win for everyone.
6. For user testing – Userbrain.
Remember that fateful Peloton ad from the 2019 holiday ad season? That’s an example of what can happen when you launch campaigns inside an echo chamber, without getting feedback from your audience.
To make sure you never spin out as Peloton did, get actual opinions of your actual ads, product, or website before you launch. That’s what Userbrain (or its competitor, UserTesting) can do. It makes user testing a snap.
It won’t break your budget, either. The cost for Userbrain is $29 per user test for a one-time test. They recommend testing with 5-8 participants. So for $145 to $232, you’re buying yourself an awful lot of marketing insurance.
7. For designing and prototyping UX – Adobe XD.
So your client wants a new website… and you want to show them how awesome it could be… but you don’t want to invest days of work to show them.
Adobe XD is a widely-used wireframe tool that can build functional, gorgeous websites and apps. Those wireframes can then be shared, and they’ll work on both desktops and mobile devices. Your clients and agency teammates will be able to leave comments and feedback from anywhere.
8. For managing profitable marketing funnels – Funnelytics.
If you truly want your clients to be successful, you need to think beyond one-off assignments and isolated tasks. You’ll need to think holistically, and to make all the parts of their marketing funnel work as one.
Funnelytics (and other marketing funnel-simulator tools) make this possible. It will help you understand where the gaps are in your clients’ marketing and will let you be the hero that fixes those gaps and deliveries the boost in revenue.
This is exactly the kind of big-picture thinking clients want from agencies, and having a funnel-visualization tool like this can put you way ahead of any agency that isn’t using something like this.
9. For any type of outreach – Hunter.io.
If you do any link building, content promotion work, or influencer marketing, Hunter.io is an essential tool. It makes finding contacts from across the web and then managing hundreds (even thousands) of outreach emails about a 100x easier than using a spreadsheet. With its free Chrome extension, you can start building a contact list in seconds.
10. For connecting everything with everything – Zapier.
The headline sounds vague, we know, but Zapier actually does exactly that: it helps you create links between various apps, thus automating the process of data collection and exchange.
For example, whenever your client emails you an attachment, with Zapier you can make it automatically upload to Dropbox. Or, imagine your client wants to get notified every time you post something on Instagram. You can do that and so much more with Zapier's 1,500 integrations.
11. For client referrals – Influitive (or Ambassador).
Both of these tools are referral marketing software. Both Influitive and Ambassador are highly-rated in their categories, and as specifically built to manage B2B referrals (though both can also handle B2C business models as well).
Before you ask, “why do I need referral marketing software,” consider this: The #1 channel for getting new clients is referrals. It beats out any other client acquisition channel for digital agencies. And by a lot, as you can see from the chart below.
12. For optimizing SEO and content – SEMRush.
We picked SEMRush instead of its competitors Moz and Ahrefs because it’s slightly more of a well-rounded tool. However, all three tools are excellent and as an ad agency, you should probably have access to all three. You might want to throw in SpyFu and ScreamingFrog for good measure.
But if we can only pick one tool, SEMRush wins for being able to do competitive analysis, content and SEO audits, keyword research, content optimization, PPC optimization, social listening, and more. It is $99 per month, but if you’ve got even three clients, it’ll probably pay for itself in spades every month.
Rebrandly, a link management platform
Rebrandly URL Shortener is the perfect tool for managing your clients’ links at scale. From a single dashboard, you can create custom short URLs with tracking capabilities, share custom reports on link analytics with clients, build out their retargeting lists, and more.
Some of the more advanced features the platform offers include traffic routing, which allows you to route users to specific destinations based on their behavior; open graph control, which is used to edit the preview windows associated with your links for social sharing; and finally, mobile deep linking, which enables you to direct users from a web link directly to a mobile app.
Kontentino, Social media account manager.
With Kontentino, you can manage hundreds of social media accounts, saving your agency's time and money. It makes it possible for you to automate posts scheduling, generate reports for your team members and clients, analyze content performance on a daily basis, exchange comments, discuss changes and issues, gather inspiration and content in content calendars, and do much, much more. Prices start from 54€ per month, so it's affordable even for small organizations.
Collaboration between your agency and your clients becomes smooth and easy - you can get approvals on the content you create in no time. You can forget about spreadsheets, Google Docs comments, and suggestions.
Beyond the tools
Marketers seem to love tools, but who can blame us? They save time, make work easier, and let us deliver better results. Agencies, especially, are so time-pressed that spending a little bit of money on a good tool is usually a smart move.
However, “a fool with a tool is still a fool,” as the old saying goes. Tools can’t fix a terrible strategy. They can’t fix deep-seated client-agency conflicts. For that, we still need people with expertise… like you.