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The Agency Toolstack

A list of tools for agencies and their customers.

tools for agencies

You can't build a business without the right tools. From small studios to large agencies, everyone will find what they need in this list of helpful tools.

Whatever your goals are, you need the right tools. Whether you're looking for ways to optimize your workflows, automate processes, or improve the quality of your work, you'll find something helpful in this list. In every category we refer to a couple of tools, based on our own experiences.

Tools for internal processes

Running a successful agency starts with getting organized. Streamlining your own workflows and processes is key. 

In this category you'll find helpful tools to manage your information on customers, manage projects, optimize internal communications.

Tools for internal processes

Customer relations management

CRM systems are truely the backbone of a business. Everyone in your business will be using the CRM to look up clients and get the information that they need. So choose wisely! 

  • 1
    HubSpot offers a free CRM system to keep your customer relations organized. You can upgrade the free CRM with a marketing and sales hub to get access to tons of features.
  • 2
    Teamleader is a great tool for straightforward database management.
  • 3
    Salesforce is the well-established leader in the CRM industry, but it is quite complex.
  • 4
    Vcita offers an all-in-one management application specifically for small businesses.

Project management tools

Project management tools are essential if you want to create smooth workflows and procedures for your agency. These online tools replace the good ol’ fashioned bulletin board, and enable you to work in new innovative ways.

There are a lot of project management tools out there that often work in similar ways.

Communication tools

It used to be so easy: most of the internal communications happened at the coffee maker. But with employees working remotely, things became more complicated.

Here are a few tools that can create a digital coffee room for your agency.

  • 1
    Slack is a collaboration hub for work. You can create different channels to collaborate on different projects, share important documents, or just have a chat with co-workers.
  • 2
    Skype is an obvious choice for calling co-workers or having small meetings.
  • 3
    Workplace by Facebook offers solutions for calling, sharing, and collaborating.

Time management tools

Especially when your agency works with an hourly rate, it's important that you and your team keep track of time. These tools will help you.

  • 1
    Timely offers an automatic time tracking tool that learns and improves itself over time.
  • 2
    TimeCamp is a similar tool with an invoicing feature and an integration with project management tools.

Billing & Invoicing tools

With these tools you can create, send and manage invoices. Many of the CRM systems we mentioned above offer an invoicing tool as a part of their package.

  • 1
    Teamleader offers invoicing on top of its CRM and project management tool.
  • 2
    Vcita offers an all-in-one management application for small businesses, including billing & invoicing tools.

Marketing tools

These marketing tools can be valuable for your own marketing activities and those of your clients.

In this category you'll find tools that help you manage different channels, track your performance, optimize your conversions, and automate repetitive work.

Marketing tools for agencies

Social media tools

With so many social media out there, it can be useful to manage everything from a single management platform. These tools will help your agency manage the different channels. Most of them come with features that will help you with publishing, tracking engagement, social listening and analytics.

  • 1
    Hootsuite offers a social media marketing & management dashboard.
  • 2
    HubSpot's Marketing Hub offers a variety of tools, one of which is a social media dashboard.
  • 3
    Sproutsocial offers a complete social media dashboard with tools for planning, publishing and reporting.
  • 4
    Buffer is another great tool for managing social media.

Email marketing tools

Tools to keep your subscribers informed about your business. Send well-crafted newsletters or create smart email sequences. These tools also allow you to A/B test your emails so you can discover what works and what doesn't.

Many of the CRM systems we've mentioned above actually have some kind of email marketing tool included in their package.

  • 1
    Mailchimp is probably the best-known email marketing tool for businesses. Today it also comes with a couple of other tools like a CRM and a design editor for landing pages.
  • 2
    Hubspot’s marketing hub allows you to send personalized emails to your contacts.
  • 3
    Sharpspring has an email marketing tool with a WYSIWYG editor.

Advertising tools

Online advertising is an important source of traffic for both your own website as your client’s websites.

  • 1
    Google Ads allows you to place ads in the Google search engine results and the Google Display Network. It also comes with the keyword planner function, which is great for doing basic keyword research.
  • 2
    With Facebook Ads you can advertise on Facebook and Instagram. It allows very specific targeting based on your target audience’s profile. It also gives you the possibility to install the Facebook pixel, which is a powerful tool to create retargeting campaigns.
  • 3
    Twitter and LinkedIn also have an advertising systems that can be interesting.
  • 4
    HubSpot's marketing hub allows you to create and manage ads for Google, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Analytics tools

It’s all about the data! In the modern agency, everything needs to be measurable. Whether it’s the amount of clicks on your ad, or the performance of your blog article in search engines.

  • 1
    Google Analytics is the most powerful analytics tool out there when it comes to tracking and analysing your website’s data.
  • 2
    HubSpot's marketing hub provides tools to track the performance of web pages, forms, CTAs, etc. It also allows you to create custom dashboards.
  • 3
    Hotjar is a great tool to track user behavior on a web page. It’s a must-have if you want to optimise web pages.
  • 4
    Crazyegg is a similar tool that creates heatmaps so you can better understand how your visitors are using the website.

Marketing automation tools

Because marketing automation is such a broad topic, it's hard to make a list of tools. Many of the tools we've discussed in the CRM & email marketing categories can automate marketing tasks. In this category you'll find tools that you can use to connect different platforms, tools and apps to each other.

  • 1
    Zapier connects over 1,000 web applications. By connecting different apps you can automate virtually any task.
  • 2
    IFTTT (if this, then that) is another easy-to-use tool to connect web applications.

Webinar platforms

Webinars are a popular way to generate leads. There are a couple of interesting webinar platforms out there, each with their own strengths.

  • 1
    Zoom is not only a webinar platform, but also offers solutions for video conferencing and calling.
  • 2
    Livestorm is a powerful webinar platform with a great interface, automatically generated landing pages, recording, etc.

Market research tools

Use these tools to learn more about the pains, challenges and ambitions of your potential and existing customers. By understanding them better, you can tailor your services to their needs and improve your marketing.

Tools for market research

Survey tools

Doing surveys can be a source of valuable information for your company. There are quite a few survey tools out there. They have similar features and most tools offer a free plan that can be used for smaller surveys with a limited amount of questions.

Keyword research tools

Performing keyword research gives you a lot of insight into your potential buyers. By knowing what they are looking for in search engines, you can discover what their actual pains and problems are. Keyword research is also essential for search engine optimisation and for planning a content marketing strategy.

Sales and support tools

Sales document tools

Managing sales documents can be a hassle. These tools allow sales teams to create, send and track sales documents like proposals or quotes.

Pipeline management tools

Keeping track of prospects during the sales cycle becomes easier with pipeline management tools. 

Customer Service Tools

These tools provide you with the necessary features to create an outstanding customer service. Build your own knowledge base, add a ticketing system, and create custom workflows.

Web design and development tools

From conceptualization to development. You need the right tool for every stage of the web design process. 

In this category you'll find tools for drawing wireframes, creating designs, and managing content.

Web design tools

Flowchart & mind mapping tools

Before getting started with the actual design process, it can be helpful to create flowcharts and mind maps while brainstorming. These are our favorite flowchart & mind mapping tools:

  • 1
    Mind Meister is a collaborative mind mapping tool, designed to brainstorm in team.
  • 2
    LucidChart is an application for drawing diagrams, mind maps and flowcharts.

Wireframing tools

One of the first steps in the design and development process is to establish the structure of a web page and the website before visual design and content is added. Use these tools to draw accurate wireframes for your projects and brief your web designer.

Web design tools

Once you've sketched the skeletal framework of your website project, it's time to create the actual design. These tools will help you create stunning designs.

  • 1
    Figma is a great tool for web design. After creating a design it even provides CSS code you can use when developing the website.
  • 2
    Adobe Photoshop is an essential part of the web designer's toolstack.
  • 3
    Sketch has some great functionalities for web design such as the automatic slicing tool and the CSS logic function which converts your designs into CSS.
  • 4
    SiteManager's design editor allows you to create a design in the browser, which is automatically coded and connected to a CMS.

Content Management Systems

The last phase of the development process is filling the design with content. This is where content management systems come in. 

You can either choose for a self-hosted CMS, or for a cloud based CMS. The first category requires you to choose a hosting partner and install the CMS manually, while the second category takes care of hosting for you.

Self-hosted

  • 1
    WordPress is the most popular open-source CMS out there. With plugins you can turn it into a visual drag & drop editor.
  • 2
    Drupal and Joomla are open-source alternatives to WordPress, but are more complex.

Cloud-based

  • 1
    Wix is a great choice if you like a DIY approach.
  • 2
    SiteManager is a collaborative web design platform specifically designed for marketing and web agencies. The SiteManager Studio has a visual CMS with a drag and drop editor.

Graphic design and video tools

Graphic design is often one of the most important services of a marketing agency and video marketing is becoming more popular every day.

In this category you'll find the right tools for graphic design and video editing.                       

Graphic design tools for agencies

Graphic design tools

Graphic design is often one of the core activities of a marketing or web agency. 

  • 1
    Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are the most popular and most advanced tools in this category, especially when combined with the other tools in the Adobe creative cloud.
  • 2
    Sketch is a worthy alternative for Photoshop & Illustrator, but only available for Mac.
  • 3
    CorelDRAW Graphics suite is an alternative to Adobe creative cloud.
  • 4
    GIMP is a free open-source alternative for editing graphics.
  • 5
    Canva is the popular tool for people with no or limited graphic design skills.

Video editing tools

Video marketing is becoming increasingly popular. Whether you’re making an explainer video or a testimonial, these tools will help you with editing:

  • 1
    Adobe Premiere Pro is the photoshop of video editing, used and loved by many professionals.
  • 2
    Final Cut Pro X is the standard for video editing on Mac.
  • 3
    Lightworks is another video editing tool with a simple interface. It comes with a free version.
  • 4
    WeVideo is a simple cloud-based video editing tool for people with limited editing skills.

Tools for specific web projects

Whether you're building a website for a hotel, a store, or a real estate agent, you'll need the right tool for every project.

In this category you'll find what you need! 

Tools for web projects

Video hosting tools

Want to put a video on one of your projects? Awesome. Self-hosting video can slow down the website, so here are a few tools that you can use to embed videos on your website.

  • 1
    YouTube is the most popular video platform out there. Uploading your videos to Youtube is entirely free, and it comes with helpful features like automatic subtitling. The player is branded with the youtube logo.
  • 2
    Wistia is the standard for businesses. It integrates with most CRM systems, provides interesting analytics, and comes with a fully customizable player.
  • 3
    Vimeo has a great player and the free plan should be sufficient for a couple of videos.

Ecommerce tools

There are quite a few ecommerce platforms out there to set up online stores and start selling online, each with their own strengths and advantages. 

  • 1
    Woocommerce is the most popular ecommerce platform and aims to be the most customizable ecommerce solution.
  • 2
    Shopify is an intuitive ecommerce solution with a great interface.
  • 3
    Prestashop is another video editing tool with a simple interface. It comes with a free version.
  • 4
    Lightspeed combines ecommerce with a POS and CRM system.
  • 5
    Ecwid offers an intuitive ecommerce platform, an embedded store and multi-channel selling.

Booking systems

Working on a project for a restaurant, spa, beauty salon or B&B? You’ll definitely need a reservations system that allows customers to make a reservation or book a table online. 

  • 1
    Resengo comes with a booking system and a tool to capture feedback from customers.
  • 2
    TableBooker and Little Restaurant offer a solution specifically for restaurants.
  • 3
    iBeauty is a platform for beauty salons and offers a great tool for online reservations.
  • 4
    Smoobu is a reservation tool for owners and managers of vacation rentals.
  • 5
    Bookingplanner is a solution for hotels and B&Bs.

Event tickets systems

These applications allow users to embed a checkout on their website, so visitors can buy tickets for events and shows online.

Meeting calendar tools

Allow website visitors to book a meeting into a calendar without emailing back and forth. A great way to increase conversions! 

  • 1
    Calendly has an embeddable calendar and integrations for Google Calendar and Outlook.
  • 2
    vCita has an online calendar that can be embedded on any website.
  • 3
    HubSpot CRM has a specific application to schedule appointments online. It can be connected to Google or Outlook calendar.

Live Chat & Chatbots

Live Chat is in! It’s a great and intuitive way for visitors to ask questions and get in touch with a company. 

  • 1
    Drift is a popular chat tool with interesting features like chatbots and an online calendar.
  • 2
    Intercom is an alternative to Drift, and integrates with loads of apps and integrations.
  • 3
    Facebook messenger is currently beta-testing a chat plugin.
  • 4
    HubSpot CRM also comes with a Live Chat feature and a chatbot feature. Because the chatbot is connected to the CRM, it can deliver more personalized messages.

What’s Next?

While this list should cover the essential tools you need to run and grow an agency, we've really only scratched the surface. Every day thousands of new tools are created.

Always be on the lookout for new tools and platforms that could increase efficiency and improve your business. If you follow our blog, we'll help you keep up with the latest trends, tools and technology!