Post-pandemic, marketing and advertising agencies have seen a lot of change. Shorter-term project work is taking precedence over retainer work in many cases, production has become more difficult and expensive, there’s a major shift to remote work for both internal teams and clients’ teams, and the talent market seems to be constantly in flux.
While the global circumstances could not have been predicted, the traditional agency model has gone through a lot of change over the past decade, thanks to an ever-changing digital world.
Every agency — from marketing to performance, boutique to major holding group — needs to take steps to future-proof their business now to stay ahead of the competition and continue to win and retain clients.
Why Your Tech Stack Can Help Future-Proof Your Business
One of the first, and easiest, places to start is your tech stack. Too many marketing agencies are left behind because of clunky, legacy tools that slow teams and output down.
Now is the time to reassess the tools and technologies you’re using to support your teams and your clients. From analytics and attribution to tracking client feedback, project management to employee engagement, marketing automation to contracting, in 2022, you’re only as good as your tools.
As artificial intelligence matures, the need for agencies to upgrade tools will become even more pressing. It’s as simple as this: agencies that embrace the changes AI brings will find themselves with deeper insights into their business and operations, more time for strategic initiatives, and a highly-efficient workforce, while those that don’t will fall behind their competitors.
7 SaaS Tools to Future-Proof Your Agency
Overhauling your entire tech stack can be quite a task, so we’d always recommend getting strategic about it. Identify the biggest roadblocks in your operation and tackle one thing at a time. That way, your entire team can take the time to onboard and integrate the new tool into their workflow before another is thrown in the mix.
In this list, we’re sharing tools across different categories to help you prioritize the things that will make the biggest difference to your business. When compiling the list, we used the following criteria to prioritize our choices:
- Easy to implement and onboard
- Support team available
- Security measures
- Flexibility and scalability
- Strong third-party reviews
Make sure to book a demo or get in and play around with a free trial or freemium membership before you commit, and attend webinars or training to get a sense of how things work.
Streamline contracts and other documents with PandaDoc
G2 Rating: 4.7 / 5 stars
Sending a quote, proposal, or contract to your client is one of the first interactions they will have with your agency in an official client capacity. It’s important to get the details right, make eSigning quick and easy, and track all document activity.
PandaDoc does all this and more. You’ll benefit from integrations with CRMs like Salesforce to automatically keep details up-to-date and generate reports that show activities like opened, viewed, and signed. Plus, with legally-binding eSignatures and HIPAA, GDPR, FERPA, and eIDAs certifications, you can rest assured that all of your documents are kept safe.
You can also create forms and collect payments right from your control to increase your close rate and make those early client experiences as streamlined and efficient as possible.
Your HR team can also PandaDoc to sign new employees and eliminate the waiting period for signed offer letters and contracts.
- Template library including customizable templates for proposals, contracts, quotes, employee performance reviews, and more
- Integrations with payment platforms, CRMs, productivity tools, and more
- eSignature available on any device
- Ability to generate, send, and eSign documents on one platform
- Real-time notifications for key document activities
Automate marketing and unlock insights from data with Ortto
G2 Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Ortto brings customer data, messaging, and analytics together in one platform to help you or your client’s business grow. With simple integrations, you can bring all of your customer’s data—from the website, marketing, product, sales, and support—together to easily draw insights, track success, and send highly-personalized marketing messages.
With a single view of the customer, you can easily create journeys and playbooks including emails, SMS, and on-site pop-ups. Integrations with platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter allow you to seamlessly sync your client’s audiences with their ad accounts to avoid the time-consuming (and unsafe) practice of downloading and uploading CSV files for retargeting or lookalike campaigns.
Ortto is suitable for agencies looking to manage their clients and create personalized experiences for them (check out this case study from tech talent agency Double Yolk). It has a partner program that includes a generous commission model (up to 30% for customers on Business and Enterprise plans), marketing support, and a partner portal that helps you manage deals.
- Customer data platform including an activity feed and reporting
- Robust audience segmentation with easy-to-use filters
- Integrations with many major apps and tools
- Customer journeys and playbooks to automate your marketing
- Email, SMS, and on-site pop-ups
- AI subject line tester that predicts the open rate of your emails
Manage projects and people with Mosaic
G2 Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Mosaic is a next-generation resource management and workforce intelligence tool that helps agencies effectively assemble project teams, efficiently staff projects, forecast workload, and map demand to inform capacity planning and hiring.
Modern agencies need to proactively prevent burnout while keeping teams busy and motivated. It’s no easy feat, especially when clients are sending more and more unpredictable project-based work your way, and retainers are lowered. With Mosaic, you can unlock the power of AI to manage resources more effectively. Identify roadblocks, staff the right people to the right jobs at the right time, and ensure everyone is at capacity without reaching overload—all of which improve utilization rates and thus, profitability.
With smarter forecasts on things like workload, demand, and budget, you can confidently plan for the future and ensure your team is ready when the next big project drops.
- Visual resource planning including AI-powered project team builder, staffing recommendations, and headcount and hiring projections
- High-level project management
- Organization charts
- Integrations with major productivity and financial tools (including Asana, Jira, Quickbooks, Unanet, and Deltek)
- Easy-to-read dashboards and reports
- Budget tracking to prevent scope creep on projects and retained clients
Automate workflows with Zapier
G2 Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Ahhh Zapier. What would we do without you? For the uninitiated, Zapier is a tool that allows you to automate anything across over 5,000+ apps without writing a single line of code.
From workflows to file management, analytics to notifications, marketing communications to data updates, if you can dream it, you can probably do it with Zapier.
If you’re new to Zapier, it can be difficult to figure out where to start as there are quite literally millions of different ways to automate. Start by identifying a couple of tools you’re already using and take a look at the possibilities on the Zapier explore page.
Once you’ve completed a few automations, you’ll start to identify the repetitive tasks that Zapier can handle, freeing up your team’s time for better things.
- Over 5,000+ apps to automate in millions of ways
- Templates to quickly set up automation
- Zap editor to build your own no-code automation easily
- Help center, training, and community forum to get help or inspiration
Motivate employees with Enboarder
G2 Rating: 4.8 / 5 stars
The talent market has been tumultuous over the last few years. There has been massive competition for talent, worsened by the Great Resignation. Then, we saw the market flooded with new talent due to layoffs. Throw in the shift to remote and hybrid work as well as hotly debated trends like “quiet quitting," and it's clear that retaining, motivating, and inspiring employees has never been more important.
An incredible onboarding experience, ongoing training, and effective change management will all go a long way to ensuring your top-tier talent sticks around and productivity soars. Enboarder is a people activation tool that helps automate every stage of the employee’s journey—from onboarding to off-boarding and everything in between. It digitizes the process, personalizes communications, and automates repetitive tasks to give every employee a great experience, without slowing managers and team members down.
Tools like Enboarder are an essential part of future-proofing an agency. After all, without talent, where would your business be?
- Experience-driven onboarding that works for in-house, remote, and hybrid employees
- Change management tools to help your team navigate restructures, rebrands, and more
- Personalized learning journeys to educate employees throughout their tenure
- Offboarding, reboarding, and transition workflows to help employees navigate big changes with ease
Brainstorm, create, and collaborate with Figma
G2 Rating: 4.6 / 5 stars
Figma is a tool for designers who want to collaborate on designs and streamline the developer handoff process. But, for savvy agencies, it offers so much more than that.
With Figma’s FigJam feature, you can brainstorm together using diagrams, sticky notes, comments, chat, and more. When you’re ready to design, you can seamlessly move from ideation to execution in Figma, building iterative design flows that are easy to share, present, and gather feedback on.
Once all of your design work is organized in Figma, it’s incredibly easy to search for assets and ensure brand consistency across every asset created. There are also plenty of plugins to play with, templates created by real users, and FigJam resources including mind maps and customer journeys.
- FigJam to whiteboard ideas and brainstorm collaboratively
- Plugins for stock imagery, charts, icons, and more
- The large community of passionate designers who share templates and widgets
- OpenType advanced font features, a modern pen tool to design in any direction, and an auto layout to eliminate manual resizing
- Shareable design systems and libraries to ensure every asset delivered to your clients is on-brand
Create a new website with Webflow
G2 Rating: 4.4 / 5 stars
Like any other online business, an agency’s website and portfolio are its business card, its shopfront, and the truest representation of its brand. A slow website with inconsistent, old, or incorrect information will not give potential new clients a vote of confidence.
That said, building a website has always been one of the more time-consuming and resource-heavy jobs. Until now, Webflow is an ingenious tool that allows you to build a beautiful, responsive, fast website without the development time.
It’s intuitive and easy to use with plenty of templates that can be easily adapted to suit your brand. Websites as big as Vice, Zendesk, Rakuten, and Upwork have used Webflow for their site. (The very website you’re reading this article on was built in Webflow.)
- Highly-customizable responsive website templates
- Flexibility without code, including flexible content management systems
- SEO features to ensure your site is optimized for SERPs
- Strong security standards and practices
- Fast and reliable hosting
- Ability to hire an expert
- Community and form to get help when you need it