Whether you are an SEO freelancer, a small digital agency, or a large multinational marketing company with an SEO arm, it is important that you have what I call a digital marketing technology stack. This is a group of technologies that you use to work together to provide you with a great suite of SEO tools that speed up processes, save you mental time, and improve the online marketing impact that you have on your clients – or your own websites.
However, this is not just a suite of SEO tools – it’s more of an environment that you should be creating that your SEO tools are a part of.
What could form the components of a digital marketing technology stack?
Workflow/Project Management Software
Let’s start with the software that most digital marketing agencies get wrong – something to manage everything else. In my own time working and managing digital agencies, a huge common theme is the lack of a software that keeps everything else together. The vast majority of ‘off the shelf’ software to project manage (such as Basecamp), or workflow management tools such as Jira, Trello do some great things. But the operative word here is ‘some’. Even some of the best ran agencies I have worked with have several pieces of software to manage clients and workflow. This can get messy.
Yes, some software allow integrations with each other, and with things like Zapier, even apps that don’t talk to each other can create bridges of continuity – but this still means different interfaces, workflows and so on.
Until, that is, you come across the 8th wonder of the world that is Notion. I’ll let you into a little secret…Notion is what has helped Embryo Digital to grow from a small group of keen internet marketers into a fully-fledged digital agency that manages just about everything through this one, very special piece of software.
Getting the management platform (or platforms if you must) working for you is paramount for your digital marketing stack to be something that not only works, but something that powers the business forward.
The chances are that your chosen CMS will be WordPress, along with the rest of the world. Larger companies may choose other CMS platforms that cost an arm and a leg. At Embryo, we use WordPress – but spend a lot of time decluttering and improving speed of delivery to the user, so that the experience is top notch.
Google Docs has become the most prevalent content platform used by digital marketing agencies, but other options include Word (yak!), and lesser-used options such as Markdown editors (this article is being written on Ghostwriter, a very good Markdown editor indeed).
How do you start a fight between SEOs? Tell them that your choice of keyword research tool is better than theirs!
Getting your suite of SEO tools organised for the future – and sticking to it – is very important. There’s more and more tools being released all the time, and it is indeed very tempting to sign up to them all.
You’ll need tools for managing client reports, for SEO audits (shout out to Screaming Frog), an editor for Google Adwords, link auditing/monitoring (we love Ahrefs at Embryo), a tool that checks for websites going down, a site map tool, keyword research (shout out to Mangools), call tracking software for PPC campaigns, domain managers if not done on your hosting platform…and then there’s the editor you use for making tweaks to HTML pages…the list can be long indeed.
If you want to take advantage of keeping in touch with prospects (or clients) that have shown interest in your services, then avoid marketing automation at your peril.
The ‘big guys’ have been doing it for a while, but with services such as HubSpot, Active Campaign (our favourite), and Infusionsoft, to name just a few, ‘one-man-bands’ are now able to automate marketing in a way that saves huge amounts of time, and targets people with great precision. If you put the work in, that is.
Marketing automation expert, Phil Slorick, explains why it should be on the agenda for all companies.
“More and more businesses are realising the opportunity and value automation brings to their sales & marketing. For any business, the ability to create personalised 1-to-1 conversations with prospects and clients is easily within reach. The real winners though are those who fully embrace the opportunity with automation to build loyal, profitable communities around their brand.” – Phil Slorick, marketing automation expert at Automation Base.
Social Media Tools
Ensuring that social media management is something that generates business for clients, and not just done to ‘fill a need’, is paramount for many digital marketing freelancers and agencies. Too often, agencies that manage social media accounts for clients don’t actually ‘manage’ at all – they just ‘do’.
This is why many-a-client has taken ‘social media services’ from digital agencies, only to realise that they could do it themselves. I’ve seen it over and over and over – and each time the agency STILL doesn’t realise why this happens.
There are many great social media management tools out there that can help any agency to post, manage, and build a community for their clients.
Some of the most popular tools include Buffer,Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Agora Pulse, and Sendible. However, there are many more, too, that are aimed at enterprise-level companies, and more niche businesses.
But, be warned, use these tools to manage and build social media profiles, build communities, build brands. Just ‘doing the posts’ is NOT social media management!
I’m always surprised when even a freelancer does not have some form of CRM to use. Even a Google Sheet can be used to great effect. As I mentioned earlier, we have the glorious Notion at Embryo Digital, which comes with CRM functionality, too! I told you it was the 8th wonder of the world.
There are so many CRMs on the market to choose from, with lightweight options popping up all the time, to behemoths like Salesforce waiting when companies get a little bigger.
As mentioned before in this article, agencies are prone to having way too many apps/software running, which becomes a nightmare in terms of monitoring which are used to their capacity – and which are used at all, so our choice would of course be Notion. If this is not your choice, however, then ensure that you use something lightweight, VERY easy to use, and can connect with some or all of your other agency software.
From design software, to HR management apps, there are lots of things that a digital marketing company may need. This article is a mere drop in the ocean of ways to make a digital agency run smoother.
Getting your digital marketing stack ready for action can seem like an unnecessary lump of work, but done right, it doesn’t half feel good to feel in control of managing internal people’s actions, and indeed, client delivery.
Notion (this is starting to seem like an advertisement now…) helps us at Embryo Digital to limit the number of applications we use, while allowing us to give clients full viewing of the work we do on a daily basis. It also allows us to know which tasks cause us the most problems, take the most time, fall behind (hey, we’re not perfect).
Whatever software/apps you build into your stack, ensure that they are easy to use, can work with your other software/apps, and most importantly, help you to over-deliver for your clients.
James is a digital industry veteran, and has worked various roles from SEO, head of research, to director level.
He is a content nerd, and loves nothing more than demanding that evermore content is added to client sites – as well as the Embryo blog!