In a booming digital world of today, it seems that there is an online marketing agency for every interested client. Well established players are pushing the standards, but the growing market still leaves enough space for digital enterprises to gain a foothold. If they play their cards right.

A huge increase in revenues for digital service providers opened another lucrative market – the one for designers and developers who are competing in creating tools for the trade. There is a growing need for resources and tools that help increase productivity of collaborative projects, efficiency of day-to-day operations, and improve project management in general. And, of course, save time. The only resource that can’t be produced or renewed.

For creative people, time is even more important as they have to deliver results within preset time frames and on a budget. Here are our top picks for essential tools that do exactly this – save time, and improve your odds in the clash of the digital titans.

Email marketing

Email marketing is great for nurturing leads, increasing retention and driving sales. A good email marketing strategy that’s integrated with the messages that you want to run will help you and your customers achieve their advertising goals. As a creative agency, you can’t overlook the power of email when it comes to your clients as email marketing is one of the strongest available channels in online marketing today.

There are a lot of great tools to help you manager you contact lists and send dedicated newsletters, and our choice for the best service in this department would be Getresponse.

It has a wide range of features suited both for professionals and beginners, accessible pricing both for small and larger lists.

Main features:

  • editor for creating and formatting emails
  • autoresponders
  • 99% email deliverability
  • 24/7 live support
  • 500+ professional email templates
  • access to professional stock photos from iStock
  • landing page creator
  • A/B testing

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

No doubt about it, you have more than one type of customers. Some are new business, you’ve just landed the contract and there’s a lot of upcoming new work you need to do for them. For others you’ve done work in the past: you’ve created their website, helped them set up their Facebook and Twitter page. Still you’re following up every now and then or they get in touch about some small changes they want or to let you know that they want to start advertising.

If you’re advertising or if you get referrals, you might get leads on a constant basis. Or you’ve pitched some businesses with a proposal some time ago. That’s a third type of client.

To stay on top of everything, you need a tool to manage interactions with past, current and potential future customers. Here is where customer relationship management (CRM) software comes in. It helps you get organized and spend less time managing leads. Most of them allow you to connect your email and set reminders on what you need to follow up with. This way you can keep track of what needs to get done, set priorities and be more efficient.

And to do that, our pick of the day goes to Salesforce. It has rich features and is flexible enough both for small and large agencies

Main features:

  • contact and opportunity management
  • sales collaboration
  • track and manage sales performance
  • lead management
  • email integration
  • file sync and share

Web Analytics

One of the reasons why online advertising is so efficient is the fact that you can measure results and see if you’re reaching your goals.Besides revealing information on how well you’re performing, it also helps you know and get good insights about your current audience. You can use that information further along and make decisions about your website, products, services and even to create more relevant advertising messages.

And there are no second guessings when it comes to who is the leader in this department. Google has become a one-stop-shop for almost all of your online needs. and when you need good analytics, turn to Google Analytics.

Main features:

  • intuitive navigation that’s easy to understand (audience, acquisition, behavior and conversions),
  • easy to set up
  • features integration with a lot of other providers
  • allows you to create a wide variety of segments

Social Media Management

Social media is an important part of any successful advertising or marketing plan and marketers admit that. Even if only 9% link social media to direct sales, 66% of marketers believe that social media activity has an effect on their business performance. Social media helps marketers and advertisers two fold: to reach the intended audience and to reach their goals.

Simply by being present in social media you can inspire users more confidence in your brand and your business. Still, you can’t spend all day long switching from platform to platform to post for you or your customers. Facebook, for example allows you to schedule posts, but you can’t do the same for tweets. Social media management platforms allow you to schedule posts across different networks so you can save time and get more things done.

This one didn’t come so clearly like other picks, since there are a lot of options with more or less similar functionalities and style. I tried using Buffer. And so far, it has produced the most pleasing experience with easy to use features.

Main features:

  • connect multiple accounts
  • unlimited scheduled posts
  • RSS integration
  • in depth analytics for your posts
  • add team members to your account

Project management

No doubt about it, Basecamp is an excellent project management tool that focusses on making collaboration easy. It’s really simply to use and for many years it was the de facto choice of agencies. Basecamp helps you manage multiple projects at a time with to-do lists, file sharing, chatting, messages, calendars and time tracking.

As it’s so established there are now many different possible integrations and ways to extend the base product including time tracking, invoicing, accounting, reporting, planning (including Roadmap), file synchronization, bug & issue tracking, source control, creative approval and lots more. Read about them here: http://basecamp.com/extras. There is a trimmed-down free version, which is great for starting out. The Basecamp product costs from $20/10 projects/month.

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Posted by Nate M. Vickery

Nate M. Vickery is an entrepreneur and marketing consultant from Sydney, Australia. Lately he is mostly engaged in investing and developing his web designing hobby. Aside from work he enjoys spending time in the great Australian outback and watching football games.

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