Like any other marketing agency, yours probably uses a creative mix of software to service your clients. Design tools, social media management suites, digital advertising tools, and email automation platforms are just some of the tools in a typical marketing agency’s tech stack.

But alongside tech that helps you tailor your services, it’s important to have the right systems for managing your agency’s core business functions—like cash flow, projects, client relationships, and resources. And while you could leverage multiple tools to support these functions, a unified marketing agency management software can be the better choice.

In this article, we’ll explore how marketing agencies work, the reasons why having several tools isn’t always best for your tech stack, and the merits of investing in a single, unified marketing agency client management software.

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How marketing agencies work: functions, structures, workflows

Software as a service (SaaS) solutions form the digital infrastructure for marketing agencies, supporting core functions, reflecting organisational structures, and organising workflows. Let’s take a quick look at the way marketing agencies work to better understand the importance of having the right tools. 

1.   Organisational structures

Organisational hierarchies differ from agency to agency, and lots of factors can influence the way a marketing agency is structured—like its size, the workforce’s skill sets and experience levels, the mode of work (hybrid, remote, or in-person), and the nature of its services. For example, an agency might adopt a:

  • Functional structure, made up of different departments relevant to each function—such as social media marketing, email, SEO, PR, event marketing, and PPC. In this structure, individual departments have team members who specialize in these respect functions.
  • Flat structures have fewer management levels (i.e., less or no middle management) and each team member is given more responsibility. This structure can work well for small and medium-sized marketing agencies, especially ones with remote or hybrid workers.

Regardless of your agency’s structure, it’s crucial to have the right systems and infrastructure to support your organisation and scale your operations. Moreover, in marketing agencies, different teams—such as design, content, and web—frequently work together on projects, making it important to choose systems that support cross-functional collaboration.

2.   Core business functions

Marketing agencies have several core functions that can benefit from integrated systems, including:

  • Project management. Marketing agencies typically manage deliverables and campaigns as “projects,”—such as a project for a specific event’s campaign, or one for managing a client’s content publishing lifecycle.
  • Cash flow management. Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and it’s no different for a marketing agency. Having the right systems in place lets you keep track of where the money is coming in—and where it’s going out.
  • Client relationship management. A strong client relationship lifecycle is key to any agency’s success. The way you acquire new customers and nurture your relationships with them determines your success in both winning new business, and retaining existing clients. 

    Thus, it’s important to have tools for tracking your pipeline, providing customer support, and determining how valuable a client is to your business. For example, a business management suite might tie financial data from your projects to the relevant client accounts, making it easy to identify the most profitable accounts. 
  • Time tracking and invoice generation. Tracking work progress—including the hours spent—is important for transparent billing. Many software solutions not only let you accurately track the time spent on each project, but also help with generating invoices automatically. 

3.   Campaigns and day-to-day workflows

As a marketing agency grows—both in headcount and client size—scalability is essential. If your processes, workflows, and systems don’t scale well, your agency may experience growing pains. And to help ensure scalability, it’s important to have the right systems in place—ones that let you standardise processes, outline and manage workflows, effectively allocate resources, and track progress.

For example, let's say your business offers five core services—search engine optimization (SEO), Google Ads, social media ads, outbound marketing, and organic social media marketing. In this case, it helps to have a project management system containing outlines of your campaign types, which can be duplicated and customised each time you take on a new project. 

Why multiple tools don’t always cut it

Using multiple tools to support your marketing agency’s core functions and operations can be tempting, but it’s not necessarily the best decision. Here’s why.

1.   Lots of admin work

As your tech stack grows, the work involved in managing multiple systems gradually compounds. Before you know it, the administrative work becomes a job of its own—teams have to manage multiple logins, track subscriptions and renewals, assign permissions, and manage data scattered across these platforms.

2.   Complicates onboarding

Using multiple systems can also complicate the onboarding process for new hires. When you onboard someone new, training them on more systems and assigning relevant permissions takes time. 

One study found that almost half of the surveyed employees weren’t satisfied with their company’s onboarding experience, while over 60% were inclined to leave a job within the first year following a poor onboarding experience. This highlights the importance of scrutinising these experiences and looking for ways to improve them—and that might entail reevaluating software onboarding. 

The onboarding process becomes more complicated when you’re filling a role that was previously occupied (e.g., it’s vacant because someone got promoted or left). For example, let’s say an SEO manager who used three or four different systems—such as PM tool, CRM, time tracker, and internal comms software—leaves. Now, the new hire won’t only need to be onboarded onto these systems, but they’ll also need to learn how the previous manager used these systems, and where and how they stored data. 

3.   Disconnected workflows

Having teams working on different platforms can create knowledge siloes and discourage collaboration. For example, maybe the design team tracks their work on one platform while the content team uses another tool for managing projects. This means different teams work in siloes and they lack important visibility into each other’s work, discouraging collaboration. 

4.   Uncentralised data

When company data is scattered across different systems, making informed decisions, locating the information you need, and accurately tracking productivity becomes more challenging. 

For example, let’s say you’re using different systems to track cash flow, manage projects, and handle client relationships respectively. Now, while your cash flow is being tracked on one platform, the data isn’t tied to individual projects—meaning it’s not immediately clear which projects are big money-makers and which (if any) are in loss. 

Similarly, using different platforms for tracking projects and managing clients means you won’t have real-time insights into which accounts are most profitable. Disconnected systems also make it harder for knowledge workers to find the information they need, potentially costing them up to 20 hours a month in productivity.

5.   Team fatigue 

Using multiple tools can hinder productivity by making it difficult for teams to focus on their work, largely due to:

  • Context switching. Context switching is when you switch from the type of work you’re doing, and it’s been linked to productivity losses. It can be prompted by switching apps—one study found that people can take over nine minutes to regain their focus after switching from one app to another. 
    Since marketing agencies may already use multiple tools to service their clients, using even more apps for in-house needs can compound the effects of context switching. 
  • Information overload. Having multiple systems can lead to information overload because you’ll have lots of tools—with business data scattered across them—demanding your attention. When you’ve got lots of notifications coming from different tools, it’s hard to decide where your attention is currently needed.

    Additionally, one study found that after a notification makes us switch tasks, it can take over 20 minutes to return to the task at hand. “Multi-tasking” is, in practice, a myth, and what really happens is that people lose productivity when they’re overwhelmed with notifications. 
Caflou helps you take control of your projects and teams

5 Reasons to use an all-in-one marketing agency client management software

Many marketing agencies can benefit from consolidating their tech stack by using an all-in-one platform. Here’s how.

1.   Manage all your projects in one place

No more work scattered across different systems. With an all-in-one system, your teams’ projects all live on the same platform. This helps teams collaborate more effectively by giving them visibility into each other’s work. 

For example, let’s say your performance marketing team needs advertising assets from the design team. They can see the design team’s progress and share feedback in real time. Similarly, design and web teams can work closely together to develop web pages for client websites. 

2.   End-to-end client management

Onboard new customers, send invoices and contracts, manage support requests, and track client communications in a single, centralised platform. All-in-one solutions also let you link client data to your own business metrics—so, e.g., you can identify which accounts bring in your most and least profitable projects, respectively. Understanding this data in a holistic way helps businesses make strategic decisions, such as prioritising profitable accounts.

3.   Centralised business data

All-in-one solutions let you centralise all your data in one place, and crucially link client data to your own business metrics. So, for example, you can identify which accounts bring in your most and least profitable projects, respectively. Or, when assigning resources to a new project with an existing client, you can pinpoint employees who previously worked on the account. Understanding this data in a holistic way helps businesses make strategic decisions, such as prioritising profitable accounts and optimally allocating resources. 

4.   Monitor business economics in real-time

Keep track of your cash flow, see where money is coming in and, crucially, where it’s going out. Business management systems also give you a more holistic overview of your business economics, making it easier to track more granular metrics such as the time, cost, utilisation, and revenue associated with each team member. 

5.   Hassle-free scalability

Having a single, unified business suite makes it easier to scale as your teams and operations grow because:

  • It reduces administrative hassles. Fewer subscriptions to manage, and all your team members and projects are on the same platform. This means team leaders and managers only have to manage roles and resources on one platform, and assigning responsibilities is more straightforward. 
  • Managing and forecasting costs is easier. When you’re subscribed to multiple tools, it’s difficult to forecast how your costs will scale as your organisation grows. SaaS systems have different pricing structures, e.g., they may have tiers with more advanced features and per-user billing. Long-term costs are easier to project when you’re only subscribed to a single business management suite. 
  • Easier onboarding. No more having to train new hires on multiple systems. 

Caflou – all-in-one marketing agency management software

Caflou is an all-in-one business management software for marketing agencies and other SMEs. Here’s how Caflou helps you take control of your projects and teams. 

1.   Manage all your core business functions in one place

Customer relationships, projects, business economics, and teams—manage them all with a unified business management suite. Caflou connects your workflows, centralises business data, lets you track the time spent on individual projects, and provides real-time insights into your cash flow. 

2.   Intuitive collaboration features

Seamlessly share feedback and assets with team members, other departments, and clients in a single system. Share status updates, tag relevant personnel in projects, and diagnose issues together. Eliminate workplace silos by onboarding all your teams onto a shared, unified system. 

3.   Flexible, transparent plans

Caflou’s straightforward pricing plans make it easy to forecast future costs and scale as your business grows. Subscriptions start at $11 per month per user, with discounts on your cost-per-user for larger teams. Get started for free with Caflou’s Turtle plan. 

4.   Personalise to your needs

Every business operates differently, so it’s important for your business management suite to reflect the way your teams work. Caflou makes it easy to personalise Caflou to your needs by customising the top menu, quick links, custom modules on your dashboard, notifications, and more.

5.   Automate workflows

Caflou’s native workflow automation builder lets you create custom, rules-based automations. Select specific triggers and specify the tasks to execute—e.g., notifying the relevant team member after a project’s status changes. Caflou also supports integrations with Make (formerly Integromat) for more versatile automation needs.

Ready to move your marketing agency onto a unified business management suite? Get started with Caflou today.

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