In fast-paced agencies, it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed by data overflow. If you’re an account manager or a team leader, you can receive communications from dozens of clients (or more) every day.
In addition to all of the deliverables that you’re responsible for, you also have to keep the information organized and streamlined, which can be a huge challenge.
The good news is that there are plenty of productivity and sales tools available that can provide fewer headaches and an improved ROI.
But the question remains — which ones are the best options?
We wanted to know more about the tools that leaders at leading digital and marketing agencies cannot live without.
So, we spoke with Kate Pellegrini, Account Director at 3Q Digital, an integrated digital marketing agency that tackles paid search, social, display, and SEO. At 3Q, seamless collaboration is the best way to ensure success, especially since the company has more than 300 employees. “We often have several teams working on one account, so we really need the best collaboration tools for what we do,” explains Kate.
We also interviewed two industry leaders at Adpearance, a fast-growing digital marketing and sales agency. David Steinberg, President, and Anne Allison, Research and Development Director, manage teams across the world and leverage more than 75 online tools among more than 200 employees, to stay organized and minimize the friction that can lead to lost sales and internal confusion.
Agencies like 3Q and Adpearance are constantly looking for tools to help them stay on to of constantly evolving projects. Here are their top recommendations:
To really be productive, agencies need tools to help them catalogue and find information quickly. Kate Pellegrini says 3Q uses Tettra to organize and provide access to HR paperwork and internal policies and best practices for their agency. It’s a nifty online service for creating wiki-like pages for clients and internal teams.
So people can search for tons of different topics – like Wikipedia. Tettra also integrates with Slack, so if someone on your team asks a question in Slack, it’s easy to integrate Tettra pages there directly.
Almost every list of vogue productivity tools includes Slack these days. It simply can’t be overlooked. Even if your agency is already using Slack, there are probably some features you’re not fully leveraging yet. According to Kate, the most important tool her team uses right now is Slack.
Kate’s team at Q3 uses it for project management, collaboration with team members as well as client communication. It allows them to integrate their work in one place, which is the real benefit of this app.
- Widget Integration. “Slack can integrate a lot of different widgets that allow me to stay on top of different aspects of our work. For example, if any of our campaigns in Google Adwords run out of money, I get a Slack about it. This prevents a lot of errors. Every hour it runs a script and checks all of my accounts.”
- Personal Reminders. “I have an internal and external Slack channel for all of my clients. If I can’t get to something right away, being able to hit ‘remind me later’ in Slack is great.”
- Automated Reminders. “I have my team input their hours into a document every Friday, so every Friday morning, my team gets a Slack reminder with a link to the document so I don’t have to send it out each week myself.” Kate’s team also uses automatic reminders to cover their bases for administrative and HR tasks. “We do automated Slack reminders for expense reports and lots of other paperwork, running updates on our computers, and a lot of other small things. This is all easily set as a Slack reminder.”
- Channel Pinning. “We often pin important things to a channel so that team members can easily reference key information on an ongoing basis.”
Finding the right tool for engaging leads and keeping track of communication with clients is critical for growing agencies. “Intercom is the one that the team can’t live without,” says Anne Allison, head of research and development at Adpearance. Intercom is an all-in-one customer messaging CRM, which allows easy communication between clients and companies.
Adpearance uses Intercom within their product mainly for sales – when a potential lead enters a website, he or she can easily ask questions and find information through live chat or message bots. But Intercom offers tools for qualified lead acquisition, targeted and segmented customer engagement across several platforms, and an integrated helpdesk and knowledge base for customer self-service. Plus, it’s easy to run A/B tests to help optimize messaging.
The average person spends about 28% of their day dealing with email. Fast paced agencies need the right email collaboration tool to help ensure that all communication with customers is handled quickly and correctly.
Outpost is an email management tool for tracking, organizing, and coordinating responses to customer emails—all in a single dashboard. It’s designed specifically for teams.
“I could never go back to regular email,” says Kate. “Outpost solved a problem we didn’t even know we had – or, at least, weren’t looking to solve.” David adds, “Outpost is awesome in that I can deploy it across various teams within the agency; it’s just not for sales or customer service, our operations team and project managers s are probably our heaviest users due to the variety of incoming client requests.”
Being able to assign ownership of emails that come into different members of the team is a huge help. Managers can also easily track which emails have been assigned to each team member, and which messages still require action. This prevents duplicated work and email confusion. Both Adpearance and 3Q use Outpost as their collaborative inbox tool of choice.
Foureyes allows Adpearance to track all phone calls, forms, and chats back to the web visitor and ensure leads make it into the CRM and are communicated with as they return to the website. It overlays the website and CRM and functions both as a tool to empower the sales force and also a safety net to make sure that leads are being followed up with at the right time.
The Adpearance team plans to integrate this tool with Outpost. Once a lead enters the sales funnel in the Foureyes CRM, the team lead could use Outpost to assign all communication to a specific representative or agent.
Real-time collaboration and document editing make a big difference for agencies that want a solution that reduces clutter and version confusion by design.
For 3Q, Google Slides and Google Docs have been life-savers over the last two years. Transferring their work over to this online space has helped 3Q employees and clients collaborate on the spot, even when they can’t be in the same room.
Google eliminates the need for tracked versions — no more sending brand docs after each editing round. This is the key bonus for agencies working with Google Docs: any team member who has permission can log in and see the last time a certain document was updated. If they need to check changes, Google tracks all of them in the “version history” section of the document.
Google Sheets also helps 3Q’s finance team t track their business. Every action or services they provide needs to be charged, so individual client budgets change quickly and often.
With Google Sheets, they’re able to give each account manager access to the appropriate client information, which allows them to refer to the client budget and track any changes provided by the finance department so there aren’t any unexpected billing surprises
Acuity Scheduling allows users to schedule calls, appointments and even demos. According to Adpearance professionals, Acuity reduces a lot of inefficiencies in appointment scheduling.
Instead of emailing back and forth, clients can view your schedule in real time and schedule a meeting that works for them. You get a notification every time someone books a meeting. You can set it up to automatically add meetings to your existing calendar system if you’re using Google Calendar, iCloud, Outlook and Office 365.
What’s more, Acuity makes it easy to send automated, branded reminders and follow-ups — both by email and text message. Plus it can even be used to request and accept payments. can be used both on the service and the product side, and helps the agency’s recruitment efforts when they are expanding their team.
There are lots of productivity and sales tools out there that may be a good fit for your agency, but Adpearance and Q3 vouch for these as essential ones for agency work. What is your favorite tool for management and productivity? Share in the comments!
About the Author: Noah Parsons is the COO of Palo Alto Software, Silicon Valley product development veteran, and entrepreneur looking to build the next generation of tools for entrepreneurs and small businesses.