What’s the best marketing software for your agency? We asked dozens of agencies to share their “must-have” tools––here are the 38 they recommend most.
Agencies | Sep 16
Elizabeth Wellington on March 5, 2020 (last modified on June 23, 2020) • 5 minute read
Although the company’s clients leverage diverse marketing-tech stacks, the company stands out as the highest-rated HubSpot partner in the world and one of only six Elite Partners in HubSpot’s ecosystem. SmartBug can trace its success back to a unique approach. Unlike many agencies, SmartBug foregoes the use of interns and account managers in favor of seasoned marketers that have launched products, managed P&Ls, and understand the implications of unsuccessful campaigns.
By eliminating non-strategic roles and focusing on marketing experience and accountability, SmartBug channels its resources to give every client a one-of-a-kind, goal-aligned marketing plan and roadmap. “We’re not just throwing deliverables over the fence,” says Senior Marketing Strategist Paul Schmidt, “We’re saying ‘here’s what you need to better understand your audience. Here’s what you need to reach your goals.’”
Paul describes his role as the conductor of a small orchestra of creatives, developers, and marketers who collaborate to understand, track, and meet his clients’ goals. He’s been working at SmartBug for five years and using Databox as a data analytics platform for three years at the company. We caught up with Paul to learn how Databox empowers the SmartBug team to deliver outstanding results to their clients.
The faster a company grows, the more likely they are to invest in tools and apps that track progress. As that toolbox expands, corresponding data sets balloon exponentially. Paradoxically, creating a clear, comprehensive picture of company performance can become elusive, if not impossible, as the number of data sources grows.
Successful agencies always take reporting and analysis seriously. Unfortunately, many spend far too much time and energy manually pulling reports from individual client tools. “Before Databox, strategists and consultants spent the first 10 days of every closing out reports for clients in addition to execution for that month,” says Paul. Without one platform that gives strategists (and their clients) a birds-eye-view into metrics, team members dedicated a ton of time to building out extensive reports from scratch before they dug into the analysis.
Now, Databox loops in metrics from over 70 integrations into custom Dashboards that are presentation-ready for clients. Plus, Paul says, Databox enables his team to overlay metrics from different technologies and create visualizations that you just can’t build within other platforms or CRMs — without any design skills.
Shifting to Databox meant that SmartBug’s team members can quickly monitor key performance indicators once they have set up a client account on the platform. Because strategists are no longer pulling data manually, they’ve saved a significant chunk of time, too. Paul explains: “This means we get to spend more time focused on strategy and finding the insights that make a difference.”
The time adds up for everyone. Using Databox for KPI reporting saved SmartBug team members four to eight hours of work per month on any given client account using the platform. That results in SmartBug’s clients being able to realize an additional 48 to 96 hours per client annually — or $8,400-$16,800 a year — in agency work that’s channeled away from direct reporting and toward more meaningful activities for the client.
What could a top agency do with nearly 100 extra hours a year? How could that result in even greater results? SmartBug focuses these hours (and financial investment) toward revenue-generating initiatives for the client. Strategists often take on extra campaigns or deliverables, tackling the initial blueprint faster and with more extensive plans.
Databox makes daily reporting seamless to ensure everyone keeps their eyes on the metrics. As Paul summarizes, “You have to look at data on a daily basis. You can’t get lazy. You still need to go in there every day.” Paul automates daily or weekly Scorecards that update his team — and his clients — on progress through email or Slack. It saves Paul time and mental bandwidth while ensuring he’s always ahead of the next challenge.
“Daily scorecards make us own the numbers even more,” says Paul. “It makes people at the agency more aware of the numbers on a daily and weekly basis — and have more ownership over these specific KPIs that are critical for our clients.” The opportunity to make real-time insights is especially important for short campaigns. Clients don’t want to wait a week to understand how their investment is playing out for a six-week sprint. Paul uses the same Scorecards that keep clients engaged to stay agile in response to the metrics on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to make tweaks or major changes with the most up-to-date information in your hands.
With enterprise clients, the reporting benefits are even more notable because of the scale of their marketing operations. One SmartBug client, for example, links 30 separate Google Analytics accounts to a Databox account. Each Google Analytics account tracks the performance of a local franchise within a larger organization. With Databox, Paul can see overarching trends within the entire organization while isolating problematic issues at the franchise level. The team can then pinpoint effective adjustments that ladder up to growth for the entire company.
The data from your marketing-tech stack is only as valuable as it’s usable and presentable in real-time. Databox allows you to work with your data from one hub, so you can focus on the work that delivers results for clients.
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