The 22 Marketing Agency Tools Powering a 16-Person, 7-Figure Remote Team
Growth Machine has grown from a solo operation to a seven-figure agency that publishes dozens of articles per week and gets millions of page views per month. In doing so, we’ve had to be strategic about the agency tools we use.
We’ve realized that the right tools can facilitate teamwork, enhance our customer support, and make everyone’s work less stressful and easier to manage.
At this point, we’ve tested most tools under the sun for productivity, sales, search engine optimization (SEO), finance, and anything else you need to run a good marketing agency.
Here are the tools we’re using now, what we use them for, and why we like them.
Administration and HR Tools
These are the agency tools that make it extremely easy to get paid by clients, pay our team members, and provide benefits.
Justworks is the magical system that a small business or startup agency needs to handle everything HR-related.
They take care of our payroll, all of our company benefits (e.g., medical, dental, vision, 401(k), etc.), payments, and 1099s.
Justworks also keeps us in compliance with federal, state, and local employment regulations, like workers’ comp insurance, employment reporting, W-2s, and other things we don’t know how to do.
It’s a tad pricey ($99 per employee per month for a team of our size), but it’s well worth it for how user-friendly it is, the number of services provided, and the amount of time it saves us on HR tasks. Justworks also offers pricing discounts for teams with 25-99 or 100-174 employees.
QuickBooks has really helped us streamline our finances and simplify our taxes. By using the app to track our bookkeeping and expenses, we’re able to easily run financial reports, like:
- Profit and loss statements
- Balance sheets
- Cash flow statements
But what’s the biggest plus side to using QuickBooks? Invoicing our clients. Before, when it came to sending invoices, we used a very manual and time-consuming process. But after implementing QuickBooks, we can now set up recurring invoices and send automatic reminders — meaning we can spend less time chasing down payments.
We use Bill.com as our payment platform. It’s very easy to set up, and it allows us to pay invoices for contractors in most countries around the world through ACH payments (or direct deposit).
Some of our clients even pay their invoices via Bill.com, which deposits the money directly into our account and integrates with QuickBooks, keeping our process pretty seamless.
When we ramped up hiring, our old process of doing everything in Google Docs broke down very quickly.
Now we're doing everything in Workable. It streamlines the hiring process, making it much more efficient. We've had to evaluate as many as 500 candidates per week, and Workable has been much better for sending rejections, advancing people to the next step, and tracking where everyone is in the process.
Sales and Client Communication Tools
These are the agency tools that assist in our sales process and help us communicate with prospective and existing clients.
Typeform lets you create forms, surveys, and quizzes that use conditional logic. You can embed the form on your website or share a direct link to it. Typeform also integrates with other tools, like Airtable, Slack, Asana, and Notion.
Currently, we use Typeform for client kickoff and exit surveys, tech audit questionnaires, and building our writer database.
We use HubSpot as our customer relationship management (CRM) platform. A CRM is more than just a digital rolodex of contacts. When you have high lead volume and are closing multiple deals at a time, it’s important to keep the details straight and know where you are in the process with each contact.
In addition to recording contact information, HubSpot lets us keep track of call logs, sales documents, email templates, and notes about our discussions with prospective customers. It also integrates with Qwilr.
Qwilr is the agency tool we use for sales proposals. Typing up a proposal in Word or a Google Doc can lead to dense text that can make the reader’s eyes glaze over. But Qwilr allows us to quickly and easily create custom proposals for each client. They're engaging, interactive, and on-brand. Qwilr allows templates to easily be created and adjusted — saving tons of time.
Another helpful agency tool is Calendly. It makes meeting scheduling with new leads or clients much easier.
When it’s time to set up a meeting, all we need to do is send them a link to the scheduling page, and the lead or client can pick a time on our calendar to chat. It saves a lot of back and forth that can happen when trying to schedule a meeting.
Plus, we don’t have to worry about double-booking. With Calendly’s Google Calendar integration, potential meeting times are based on our real-time availability, and when a new meeting is scheduled, it’s automatically added to our calendar.
Finally, if you want Calendly to automate even more of your sales or communication process, you can set up workflows for meeting reminder notifications and follow-up emails.
Vidyard is a video marketing tool that we use for sales, client communication, and even internal training. It’s easy to use and allows you to record video and audio. You can record yourself through your computer’s camera, record your screen, or both. There is even an app if you prefer to use your mobile device.
Here at Growth Machine, we use Vidyard to create custom sales videos, to communicate with customers (sometimes video is a better way to express yourself than email), and to record training videos.
When it comes to email marketing, there are endless agency tools to choose from (e.g., Mailchimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, etc.), but we prefer ConvertKit.
We use ConvertKit to keep our email subscribers up to date on new articles, new services we’re offering, and anything else going on that potential future customers might be interested in.
ConvertKit’s features and functionality make it customizable to your specific marketing needs. The ability to create email sign-up forms and landing pages can help with your lead generation efforts, while the marketing automations allow you to segment your audience or create sales funnels.
Finally, when it’s time to evaluate how your marketing campaigns are performing, you can use ConvertKit’s analytics tools to track metrics like open rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates.
Project Management Tools
These are the tools we use to keep our many client and internal projects on track.
Asana is where the majority of our work lives. It’s an all-in-one task management and collaboration tool. You can use Asana via your browser or through their desktop or mobile app. It integrates with various other tools, including Zoom, Slack, Zapier, and Harvest’s time tracking app.
You can use Asana to track the various moving parts of a project as well as your personal task list and due dates. Asana allows you to use different views for your tasks and projects, so you can choose the visualization that works best for you. The view options include:
- Board (a Kanban board view that’s similar to Trello)
Since our content production process is standardized, we’ve created task and project templates that we can copy and paste for each client project. For example, every project has a client board and an editorial board. We add our clients to their own private client board where they receive deliverables, and we add the project managers, editors, and writers to the editorial boards for the projects they’re on.
Within the tasks on these boards, we share all the details about the articles that everyone needs, including a link to the draft and deadlines. We also use Asana’s comment feature to communicate with each other and with clients about the articles.
We use Notion to organize all of our internal information, and we love it. The ability to nest pages, easily create templates, and find the information we need is far superior to what you can do with Google Docs.
We noticed that as we were growing, it was harder to keep all of our client and internal information straight, so Notion was a good solution to enable anyone on the team to find the information they need when they need it.
Here are some of the things we keep in Notion:
- Employee handbook
- Standard operating procedures
- Contact information for our team members
- Style guides
- Training and how-to documents
- Weekly meeting notes
Our Google Workspace subscription provides us with access to the wide array of Google apps, which you’re likely familiar with. For any work that’s not related to internal notes, we use Google Sheets and Google Docs.
We do all of our client tracking and reporting within Sheets as well as most of our content planning. For drafting articles, we use Docs because it’s widely available and easy to use for collaboration. Plus, Google Drive makes file sharing a breeze.
Slack is another agency tool that probably needs no introduction. It’s where we do all of our team communication that’s not related to specific tasks in Asana.
One of the nice things about Slack is it integrates with a lot of other tools, allowing for automation. For example, we receive alerts about new qualified leads from HubSpot, new orders from The Writer Finder, and new course sales.
Sometimes it’s nice to talk face to face — or at least over video. For that, we use Zoom.
We’ve tried a few different tools for this, like Skype, Hangouts, and Slack, but Zoom just does the best job of letting everyone easily join a call with good audio and video quality.
We also like that you can join calls by clicking a link in your calendar invite on your computer or phone.
Zapier is the secret weapon that makes everything else more efficient. It allows us to create automated interactions between our different web apps — saving us time on repetitive tasks that were previously done manually.
For example, we use Zapier to:
- Automate 80% of our sales funnel
- Create Asana tasks based on client content plans
- Update new Writer Finder customers
- Create client info pages from their kickoff questionnaire answers
- Forward certain emails from our team Gmail inbox to Slack
But that’s just the beginning of what you can do. Need to connect Google Sheets with a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer? Want to automatically add a lead from a Facebook Ad to your ConvertKit email list? Zapier is your answer.
Look up the tools you use in Zapier to see what triggers and actions are available. You may just find you can automate part of your workflow.
Content Creation and SEO Tools
Last, these are the not-yet-mentioned agency tools that are specifically helpful for doing our SEO and content marketing work.
When it comes to SEO tools, some of the big names in the space include Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. Ahrefs is the one we use for our keyword research and tracking.
Based on testing out other tools, it seems to have the best data and the largest set of keywords. And it has been the best for keyword research, competitive analysis, and rank tracking to grow the sites we work on.
Clearscope is another helpful tool for standardizing our SEO process across various writers, brand voices, and categories. We run every article through the tool to make sure it’s as SEO-friendly as possible before it goes live.
Another big benefit is that you can share each report with the writer so they can see the competitive information without giving them access to your entire account.
Accuranker is one of our favorite tools for tracking how keywords are performing over time. There are two big reasons to use it alongside Ahrefs:
- It gives you easily updated dashboards you can send to your clients
- It has an API for integrating with other tools.
As our business has grown, having easy ways to aggregate and evaluate customer data has become essential.
Google Data Studio
When we tried to find a good all-in-one tool for giving high-level reports to our clients, Google Data Studio was the best for our needs. We're able to pipe in data from Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Accuranker, and Google Sheets to create a simple dashboard where our clients can see how their articles are performing.
Due to the current nature of our business, we don’t have a need for a robust graphic design department. We mostly use stock photography. However, Canva is useful during those times when we need to design something quick or create a template for cropping stock images.
We’ve been able to get by using Canva’s free tool, but if your company needs more functionality, they offer tiered pricing plans as well.
Last but not least, Grammarly is great for double checking any grammatical errors and making sure content from our writers hasn’t been plagiarized.
Grammarly’s premium plan offers a plagiarism checker that scours the internet for any content similar to yours. This is essential for making sure we’re producing original articles that are void of inadvertent plagiarism.
Run a Smooth Business With the Right Agency Tools
These are the agency tools that have let us grow and be efficient, and perhaps some of them can streamline your own processes. When it comes to choosing the right tools for you, think about the core functions of your business and the repetitive tasks you do. Then, search for ways that tech can automate and simplify those tasks so your team can focus their talents on the work they were hired to do.
Another way to take extra work off your shoulders is to partner with a team of content and SEO experts. At Growth Machine, we specialize in planning and creating the right content for your audience to increase organic traffic to your website.
Ready to amp up your content marketing? Reach out to us today.
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