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Marketing Agency Startup Stack: 8 tools you need from day 1

Starting a marketing agency isn’t a joke. No matter how experienced you are or how good your team is, you’re bound to get overwhelmed.

There are always a million things to do — finding clients, managing their demands, addressing internal bottlenecks, improving your proposition, and more. Running an agency can almost feel like firefighting daily. 

An agency cannot deal with everything at once without technology and automation. Using SaaS tools, automating tasks, and building an all-rounded tool stack has become necessary for any agency, big or small. 

The marketing agency opportunity: A quick glance 

Starting an agency can be a tremendous growth opportunity, especially in a post-COVID world. 

According to the State of Marketing report by Salesforce

  • 66% of marketers expect growth in revenues in the next 12-18 months. 
  • 78% of marketers say they engage customers in real-time across one or more marketing channels.
  • 88% of customers expect companies to grow their digital initiatives (including marketing) after COVID-19.
  • 69% of customers want companies to offer new ways to interact and buy products due to COVID-19.
  • 83% of marketers reveal that their ability to meet customer expectations depends on their digital capabilities. 

There is no better time to start a marketing agency than now. But managing work can soon get frustrating once you’re up to your ears in client work.

Any marketing agency thrives and grows on: 

  1. The ability to service clients seamlessly and deliver projects on time. 
  2. Streamlined and documented processes.
  3. Continuous experimentation and improvements.

Improving and streamlining processes can take a backseat when you’ve got a lot on your plate already. That’s why you need the right tools up your sleeve right from the start. 

Here are a few tools that would help you manage everything and ensure customer delight: 

1. Client portal — Many Requests

Can you count the number of hours wasted on long meetings or emailing back and forth with clients?

Managing never-ending client requests is a tiring process. Overflowing client requests is a subject of endless memes on Twitter, Instagram, and all over social media. 

Source: Digital Synopsis

ManyRequests can help you bring order to the chaos (and help you manage all at once). It is a client portal and help desk for marketing agencies. You can manage all client interactions and requests and stay organized from a single dashboard. 

With a client portal like ManyRequests, you can streamline every client-facing aspect of running an agency. Manage files, share invoices, ask for inputs, update project status, manage team roles, assign tasks, and more. Everything you’d be delegating to an intern.

Why you’ll like ManyRequests?

ManyRequests will help you set up a branded client portal for a professional onboarding experience. You can customize your domain, create a virtual dashboard and do more. Stay on top of everything — communication, files, invoices, requests, subcontractors, data, projects, etc., from a single dashboard.

Also, you can set up automations, delegate work, and keep clients in the loop about everything. ManyRequests also support custom forms, payments, and conversion tracking. Imagine the number of hours you’d save on follow-ups every week. 

At $99 per month, ManyRequests can be a lifesaver when you are just setting up (or growing) your agency operations. 

2. Meeting and scheduling — Calendly 

Working in marketing = drowning in an endless sea of meetings.

Let’s admit it, all marketers have felt like burning their calendars every once in a while. 

Calendly helps you keep your calendar straight. If you’re always busy scheduling meetings or following up with clients (or team members), this is the tool you need. 

Calendly gives your clients a portal to book a meeting and make sure you (or them) never miss the meeting. The best thing, you don’t have to fiddle with your DMs or your inbox trying to find the meeting link to get on a call. 

Set your availability on Calendly, integrate it to your website (or client dashboard), and you’re done. Use Calendly to minimize calendar conflicts, save time, and never hear your clients blame the late reminder. 

Why you’ll like Calendly? 

A generous free plan, rescheduling features, and a sleek UX will make your life easier and your clients happier. 

Automated flows for reminders and follow-ups and instant scheduling would make them feel that you’re always available. You would never have to reply to an untimely meeting request ever. Also, did we mention that Calendly integrates with Encharge? Is there anything better a marketer can ask for? 

3. SEO — Ahrefs 

What’s a marketing agency without SEO services in 2022? 

Your clients would surely question your skills if you’re not serious about SEO and organic search. So, what should you do to counter the apprehensions? 

  • Option 1: Build a dedicated SEO team with researchers, on-page/off-page SEO experts, and strategists. A very impractical and costly mistake to make at the beginning.  
  • Option 2: Hire a T-shaped SEO professional and give him a powerful SEO tool at his disposal Bang! You’re done. 

With the crowded SEO ecosystem with thousands of tools out there, which one should you pick? 

If you’re serious about SEO (and hate goof-ups), choosing a credible suite like Ahrefs makes sense. 

Marketing agency owners and the community vouch for its effectiveness. Content marketers, SEOs, and web admins have been using Ahrefs for years now. Don’t take my word for it. Just check on Twitter, Google or anywhere you can think of.

Ahrefs is one of the most effective tools with everything you need to begin with. You get everything you need to build an SEO strategy, optimize pages and improve a website’s ranking. You can start researching from scratch, perform an audit, check potential SEO issues, generate reports, and more. You can also use it to find new keyword opportunities, discover new content ideas, and create a content strategy. 

Though Aherfs pricing plans are a bit steep, it would take plenty of work off your shoulders.

Why you’ll like Ahrefs? 

If you target the organic growth channel, you would need Ahrefs, no questions asked. It’s a cohesive toolkit that maps the big picture to individual processes and SEO activities.

From keyword explorer to rank tracker, content explorer to audit, it will give you SEO superpowers only high-end agencies can boast of.

But if you’re tight on the budget, you can mix and match free tools like Keyword Planner by Google, UberSuggest, etc.

Another powerful yet affordable SEO tool is ScreamingFrog. ScramingFrog is an affordable alternative to Ahrefs and gives you the necessary tools to start growing.

4. Social Media Scheduling — Publer 

Social media is something you can’t ignore as a marketing agency. It is one thing that every client would ask you about in the discovery call.  

Social starts as a rewarding “fun-to-do” activity for every brand (and agency). But slowly, it starts occupying most of the day. (Yes, we’re all guilty of it!)

The best way to efficiently be on social is to get hold of a calendar and a scheduler. 

You might have tried schedulers before, too. But the problem is most of them have a steep learning curve to save time and scale up quickly price-wise.

So how do we solve this? But finding a scheduler that’s more of a solution than a new problem in itself. 

Publer is amazing at getting up to speed right from day one. 

Publer comes from a small team based in Albania and has become the talk of the town among marketing circles since their AppSumo listing. And it’s pretty powerful when compared to other popular schedulers too. 

Publer allows you to schedule posts on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest, GoogleMy Business, and YouTube. The best thing is that here’s a generous free tier for you to try. 

Why you’ll like Publer? 

Publer comes with a bulk scheduling feature with an unlimited queue. It has an integrated link-in-bio tool (no dependency), a browser extension for quick shares, and a host of agency-friendly features. 

You can even add your client to the queue and keep an eye on Approvals without having to fiddle with your inbox. Plus, their integration with Canva (for design and scheduling) is a massive timesaver. 

All in all, Puber is a worthy social media scheduler with a free tier and paid plans starting at just $10 per month.

5. Marketing Automation — Encharge

What’s a marketer’s arsenal without an agile marketing automation tool? 

No, marketing automation is not something complicated or something to be scared of. You don’t need to spend hours under the hood to automate marketing. 

A tool like Encharge can take your marketing efforts to the next level and make you look good in front of your clients.

Encharge is not just another email marketing tool. Think of it as a powerful sidekick that aids your growth goals. It combines the benefits of segmentation, marketing automation, and lead nurturing for all your campaigns.

Not just email marketing, but Encharge can take your entire marketing up a notch. You can segment your audience, create laser targetted campaigns, and automate marketing processes across the whole user journey.

Encharge’s use cases are ideal for any growing agency. You can start offering solutions for SaaS startups and subscription-based businesses. Help them convert trial users, onboard new users, automate tasks, and more. Something everyone keeps struggling with all the time. 

Why you’ll like Encharge? 

If you’re a fan of omnichannel growth, Encharge is a must-have tool. 

You can integrate everything and trigger campaigns based on user preferences and behavior. What they want to hear and do across email, paid ads, and other channels. Leverage its features like integrations, automated flows, and user segmentation modules to drive conversions like never before. 

Also, the best thing about Encharge is it provides a firm grip over best practices, deliverability, audience segmentation, and behavioral emailing. Everything you need to impact your bottom line. 

On top of that, Encharge offers a generous Agency Pricing model so you can resell the product to your clients and earn additional recurring income for your agency. 

6. Project Management — Asana

How many times have you wasted hours on the phone explaining that *super urgent* client request to your team member in the last month? Lost the count? 

Well, if you don’t have a client portal like ManyRequests (and don’t plan to have one soon), you should look for a project management tool like Asana

Asana simplifies work coordination across your team. The easy-to-use tool brings everyone on your team on the same page. And you won’t have to waste hours on that call ever again! 

Asana helps you automate routine tasks and save time you otherwise waste on non-productive activities. 

According to Anders Bryde from Cyberpilot, Asana helped them create detailed dashboards, project lists, etc. The transparent overview helps them coordinate content production, ads, SEO, and analytics. In his own words, Asana keeps track of “basically everything” they do. 

At Encharge, we, too, use Asana for everything, right from workflow management to managing our content calendar. It makes it easy to keep everyone on the same page. As Asana does the job, we can proudly say that we don’t need emails to coordinate on internal projects that matter.

Why you’ll like Asana? 

The best thing about Asana — you can automate routine tasks like getting client downloads, approvals, etc. 

With Asana by your side, you can view your workload and your team’s progress with a bird’s eye. An essential success metric! 

The premium monthly plan starting at just $10.99 makes sense for your marketing agency if you struggle with never-ending tasks, but you can always use the free version.

7. Workflow Automation — Integrately 

Automations are not just for your client’s campaigns. Integrating everything into a linear workflow is a part of building a successful marketing agency. So, why not start from the beginning? 

In the past, the costs associated with implementing complex automation would have made sense only for a large agency. Today this is not a problem anymore. Several workflow automation tools are now affordable, even for the smallest agency that’s just starting up or even for a freelancer or a solopreneur. 

Integrately is one such alternative. It is a one-click automation platform that supports 650+ apps on a single dashboard. According to its website, it comes with 8+ million ready-to-deploy automations for all kinds of use cases. 

You can use a workflow automation tool to connect multiple tools. Say you want your CRM to update a contact status when someone fills out a form. 

A workflow automation tool is like your own genie that supports you while you juggle multiple hats during the day. 

According to G2 reviews, Integrately has a super sleek UI, is very easy to use, and can deploy automations within minutes. A mobile version and plan cheaper than Zapier make Integrately quite a package. 

You can try Integrately with its free tier that supports 200 tasks a month or pick up the starter plan. At $19.99 per month, the starter plan would allow you to run for 14000 tasks — it’s a decent deal for starting up your agency. 

Why you’ll like Integrately? 

Pre-made automations, an affordable plan, and an efficient UI would make your life easier. Also, the mobile-friendly interface and one-click setup of Integrately would ensure you won’t have to spend hours trying to minimize your effort. 

8. Graphic Design — Canva

Can you even call yourself an agency without Canva? When every client wants a “quick little change”, Canva is your indispensable friend. 

No disrespect to the design community, but Canva has truly democratized design like never before.

If you’re just starting out and need sharp designs for social media, or any client needs, Canva is your go-to tool, thanks to its ever-growing library of high-quality templates.

With its pro plan, you get access to royalty-free photos, great fonts, and ready-to-use design elements that would save a couple of hours every week, if not more. 

Why you’ll like Canva? 

Dealing with multiple clients daily can quickly get frustrating. Managing design guidelines and assets can be a real pain. With Canva, you can organize multiple brand guidelines and quickly replicate across designs with a single click. 

The image resizer feature is a cherry on top. It would help you a ton when working on a client with an omnichannel growth strategy. 

Also, You can customize fonts, color palettes, and styles and stay on brand with the Canva brand kit. The scheduling, teams, and other features are great add-ons, too. 

The $12.99/month price tag on Canva is absolutely justified, too. Just count in all the great designs (and happy clients) apart from the design hours saved just to make the logo bigger.

Your marketing agency stack: Ready to make you roll! 

ToolWhat? WhyCosts for you 
Many RequestsClient management and client portalBranded client portal 

Automated forms

One platform for everything — collaborations, invoices, team management, etc. 
Starts at $99 per month
CalendlyMeetings schedulerAutomated reminders

Rescheduling features

Supports multiple calendars 
Paid plan starts at $8/month 
Aherfs SEO researchTechnical audit
Keyword explorerRank tracker
Starts at $99 per month
PublerSocial media schedulingAutomated/bulk scheduling

Built link in bio alternative

Browser extension
Paid plan starts at $10/month 
EnchargeEmail marketing automationBehavioral emailing

Visual flow builder with flow integrations

Automated flows
Paid plan starts at $49/month 
AsanaProject managementRepetitive task automation

Robust collaboration 

Generous free tier 
Paid plan starts at $10.99/month 
Integrately Workflow automationPre-made automation

Affordable Integrations with 650+ platforms
Paid plan starts at $12.99/month
CanvaGraphic designHuge template library

Brand asset features 

Scheduling and collaborations
Paid plan starts at $10.99/month 

Final words

Stacking up the right tools is the first favor you’d do for yourself as a founder of a marketing agency. Don’t overthink the decision. Go for it and choose your tools. And while you’re here, here are a few freebies from us to help in your journey.

4.8/5 from 228 reviews
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Meet your new marketing automation platform

Customer messaging tools don’t automate workflows outside your product and marketing automation tools are bad at behavior emails. Encharge is the best of both worlds — a marketing automation platform built specifically for startups and digital businesses.

“Encharge helped us visually redesign our onboarding flow resulting in a 10% increase in our trial activation rate."

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Camille Richon
Founder Payfacile
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