Almost every company and client has a solid idea of what they want to get out of their digital marketing budget.
To be able to deliver on budget, on time and to expectation is a challenge that every marketer faces. Thankfully, there are five tools that can not only help you to shape and influence successful marketing strategies, but also ensure your workflow remains efficient, and your client is kept up to speed with easily digestible reporting data.
Here are my picks for the most obvious and overlooked tools out there.
1. Efficient reporting with Google Analytics dashboards
Perhaps one of the most well-known marketing tools is Google Analytics. While Google Analytics is a great way for marketers to track, analyze and process reports, it also offers simple ways to ease your workflow and keep your clients engaged with the account.
The Google Analytics dashboard allows admins to be selective about what other users (in this case, clients) can see. So whether your client is most interested in traffic, conversions, bounce rates or keywords, you can tailor the dashboard to allow them to bypass "irrelevant" data and get down to the nuts and bolts of the campaign.
Let’s take a look at tailoring a dashboard in action. The hypothetical client is an e-commerce store owner who is less interested in aspects like time spent on the site, and more focussed on how the website is driving sales. As the marketer managing their site, you could set up the Google Analytics dashboard to report primarily on sales figures.
Here’s how you would go about setting up the dashboard:
1. Open the Google Analytics dashboard tab, select “+New Dashboard” and then “Import from Gallery” to view the default options:
2. Next, you’ll need to give your custom dashboard a new name or “new widget.”
3. As it’s for an e-commerce client preoccupied with revenue, we can name this one “Revenue by Medium.”
Next, select the “Table” formatting option (a universal reporting language), before selecting “Medium” from the first drop down menu. You’ll then need to select “Revenue” from the second drop down column.
What this does is allows our e-commerce client to easily discover the most important information about the website – how much revenue their digital marketing has generated, and the various streams of revenue, such as organic and Cost Per Click (CPC).
4. The newly created dashboard is simple, clear and easy to navigate:
5. A closer look reveals that the clients’ new dashboard displays lots of useful and pertinent data that "digests" all the information they’ll be asking you for, including top landing pages and the source of their traffic. The data can also help to develop and shape their future marketing strategies and campaigns. For instance, displaying top, non-branded keywords can present new and previously untapped areas that can be taken advantage of and benefitted from.
6. The good news is that you don’t have to spend precious time exporting the data into complicated spreadsheets and external reporting tools. Google Analytics allows admins to send all of this data as an easy-to-follow mailshot – great for weekly or monthly reporting for your client. To do this, simply find the "email" link on the top of the dashboard. Selecting this link will open a new window in which you can dictate the frequency of the report email and the day of the week it’s sent along with a text box for any other communications you need to include with your report.
Easy, clean and efficient reporting that keeps your clients firmly in the loop!
2. Social media reporting with HootSuite
Social media is an integral medium for developing audiences and looking after them. We all know a loyal audience will increase website visits and repeat visits, to name two.
Engagement is key. So for clients to benefit from the potential of the social media community they need to consistently share engaging content throughout their different social channels, utilize features such as hashtags and make the most of existing social communities. But it’s all about capturing the opportunity to grow with the right content for the right people, delivered at just the right moment.
When you’ve got a number of clients with different social media campaigns, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Thankfully, HootSuite is a neat tool that allows you to keep tabs on several social media accounts at once, streamlining your workflow into one neat little package. This in turn allows you to keep your clients updated and informed at the drop of a hat.
Here’s a quick look at a typical HootSuite dashboard for the free version – you can see that it includes separate columns for Twitter mentions (@ replies) as well as a Facebook Page feed:
With HootSuite, posts can be scheduled days or weeks in advance, making planning and maintaining campaigns easier than ever. There is also a tool for bulk update postings across all of a client’s social channels – another practical time-saver.
Upgrading to HootSuite Pro brings a reporting suite into the mix, allowing for important campaign insights such as engagement rate and reach. Vitally, HootSuite can also be integrated into Google Analytics, so social media channels can be analyzed and tracked in the same way as website data, giving insight on their effect on site traffic, conversions and more.
HootSuite is a “must-have” tool that serves as a one-stop-shop for social media campaigns – and a fundamental device for overseeing the bigger marketing picture. Don’t let your social media be segregated from the rest of your marketing, when you can incorporate it with HootSuite.
3. Managing your clients’ readership with email marketing
Email marketing is another way to reach out to audiences with engaging content, making content marketing and email marketing perfect partners. A weekly newsletter presents an opportunity to re-engage with readers, and is one marketing strategy that clients should be encouraged to invest in.
There’s good reason why MailChimp is such a popular email marketing tool. The user-friendly interface is easy to navigate and master, and the email designer provides a simple but effective way to create bespoke campaigns. It has been created with user experience in mind, so tasks like creating a newsletter with a client’s branding is made easy by the drag-and-drop functionality and pre-designed content blocks.
What’s more, MailChimp allows you to save your custom templates so the process is even quicker next time around. Simply populate these boxes with the images and written content for the next newsletter.
Here’s a quick overview of MailChimp’s template designer:
For more hands-on clients, we suggest setting up the newsletter, then giving them access to the account so that they log in and craft the campaign themselves. For those clients that want the newsletter managed on their behalf but want to keep updated on progress and impact, there’s a reporting functionality.
As soon as a campaign is launched and the newsletter is sent, MailChimp allows users to collect campaign-specific data, including subscribe and unsubscribe rates, open rates and click-through rates.
The dashboard is clean and clear to use, and there are additional tools to help develop the campaign, like the A/B testing feature. Because there are so many variables in newsletters – such as information hierarchies, visuals and headlines – that can affect user behavior, the A/B testing feature is an extremely useful tool that allows you to try several versions of the same newsletter to determine the most successful format. If one particular format outshines the rest, then MailChimp can send the "best" campaign out to those on your email list that haven’t already received it.
Like HootSuite, MailChimp can also be integrated into Google Analytics to give a wider view of all marketing channels in action, as well as other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Salesforce.
Placing leads into the CRM helps to focus on the campaign in a much more targeted and responsive way, which should lead to a much higher ROI.
4. Call tracking: Real conversion data
Not all visitor behavior can be tracked through online software. Why? Because not all interactions happen online. The simplest example of this is when a user visits a website, browses the products or services, sees a telephone number and completes their purchase offline. In fact, Google commissioned a study through ComScore to examine this kind of behavior, and determined that “63% of website visitors complete their purchases offline.”
Obviously, this “human” visitor behavior can really skew analytics and data reporting, especially in terms of visitor numbers and conversions. Here’s a typical purchasing scenario that demonstrates the complex nature of online/offline visitor behavior:
Thankfully, some clever people have already tackled this issue and come up with a solution – call tracking. By using a unique phone number on relevant advertising, from print to email campaigns, the software allows both client and agency to track online and offline advertising in a closed-loop. It allows you to compare lead generation and conversions made by your online and offline marketing, making for more accurate campaign reporting and analysis.
If you haven’t already invested in call tracking, then it should be under serious consideration. Without it there is no real way to measure ROI across your entire marketing, or provide a complete picture that justifies your marketing spend. It’s a worthwhile tool that can form an integral asset in your marketing services portfolio. Find out more in this handy free guide, The Marketing Agencies Guide to Call Tracking.
5. Project management software: Accountability and productivity
Trust and accountability are two integral aspects to account management. A certain amount of transparency may be required to build trust and maintain accountability. An effective way to do this is to demonstrate daily workflows and show when you reach certain milestones.
Project management software not only helps to improve and sustain efficiency internally, but also lets clients feel confident and assured that they are investing well, and are in good hands. Basecamp is one such project management tool that allows agencies to manage, review and assign client projects via its Events and Milestones feature.
The Events and Milestones can email assignees reminders when a deadline for a task is looming, so no task is ever missed. The feature can also be synced with Google Calendar to help with project planning.
Basecamp is also a practical means to keep a paper trail of every aspect of each project, campaign or account, by allowing users to keep a record of even the most minute project detail, from every file transfer, discussion, meeting or project milestone that’s reached.
As with all good communicative software, it’s all about the usability. Basecamp makes it easy to quickly create a new project and invite clients to participate via email.
For day-to-day assignments or to allocate tasks, the ‘To Dos’ list functionality is particularly useful. This means that every element of a project can be assigned to a team member, so no small task is left unaccounted for. Once a task is completed, a simple check in a box next to the task moves it to a "done" list, which is also viewable by the client. This clearly demonstrates progress in the project without the need for countless catch-up emails.
For times when a little more discretion or privacy is required, there is also a privacy function that makes the task visible to only select users:
For a busy agency looking to maximize its productivity, Basecamp is most definitely a worthwhile investment to keep all of your clients in the loop as you manage the project.
If you or your marketing agency uses any other tools to aid productivity and client retention, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Barrie Smith is an SEO consultant for Receptional Ltd. His last article for SEMrush was "4 Effective, Alternative Tactics to Guest Posting for 2014.”