17 min read
Jan 12, 2021
Tech 101

What Software Do Advertising Agencies Use?

Managing an advertising agency can be tough, but picking the right software tools doesn’t have to be. We’ve researched and shortlisted the best tools in the market so that you don’t have to.

B.A.
Bandita AwasthiContent Writer

Advertising today looks very different from what it looked like a decade or two ago. While previous advertising was more physical, comprising billboards, television, and newspaper ads, today much of it has gone digital. The internet today is abuzz with social media advertising, as well as search and video ads.

This transition has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. A survey by the International Advertising Bureau found that ad space buyers believe spending on traditional media will fall by 30% and much of this will be transferred to digital media. 

To keep pace with these changes, advertising agencies have also been flexing their digital muscles. Today, most advertising agencies either cater exclusively to digital advertising or to a mix of both physical and digital ones.

However, to keep up with the plethora of routine tasks that an agency manages, such as running ads, measuring campaign performance, or keeping track of projects, you need a few software tools. And if you find yourself wondering, “what software do advertising agencies use?”, we’ve got you covered. We’ve shortlisted the key tools used by agencies as well as the best ones available in the market.

Why do we call them the best? It’s because all of these tools are featured in GetApp’s 2020 Category Leaders reports (an annual ranking of top software tools) for email marketing, marketing automation, and project management. They have overall user ratings higher than four (out of five) and 10+ user reviews on GetApp (read full selection methodology at the bottom).

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Email marketing: Turn email inboxes into lead generation hotspots

The marketing scene has changed significantly over the last decades. Lead generation no longer happens over phone calls or cups of coffee, but rather over social media or in your clients’ inboxes. And out of the wide variety of new marketing strategies, email marketing is undoubtedly one of the most successful. It has a return on investment (ROI) as high as 30%, which means a return of $30 for every dollar you invest. 

While email marketing is certainly a lucrative marketing strategy, it does take some effort to get started. Creating engaging emails and sending them to your audience can be a labor-intensive task.

However, automating the process with email marketing software can help you smooth out the complexities of this process. Here are some things an email marketing tool can help you with:

  • Use attractive email templates to create engaging emails.

  • Schedule drip campaigns or share automated emails.

  • Integrate with and leverage client data from a customer relationship management tool (CRM).

To help you pick the right email marketing tool, we’ve shortlisted the three best options. The list is arranged alphabetically.

1. MailChimp

User rating: 4.4/5

Number of reviews: 13,630+

MailChimp is a cloud-based marketing automation platform that helps with email marketing, social media marketing, and creative design. 

Using MailChimp, you can create emails with the branding of your agency by using a simple drag and drop functionality. Using MailChimp’s Content Studio feature, you can store your creations and designs in a single place for easy access. With its real-time analytics feature, you can also analyze how potential and current customers are responding to your emails, what’s working for you, and what needs improvement.

Creating newsletters in MailChimp (Source)

Pricing info: The starting price of MailChimp is $9.99 per month, which supports up to 50,000 contacts and three audiences. MailChimp also offers a free plan that supports up to 2,000 contacts and one audience. 

Click here to read user reviews of MailChimp.

2. Moosend

User rating: 4.7/5

Number of reviews: 130+

Moosend is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) email marketing platform. 

You can use this tool to create targeted emails for clients across a variety of industries. The best part of this tool is that you don’t have to know the HTML or CSS programming languages to create these emails. You can use readily available templates or create your own using drag-and-drop functionality. 

You can add your agency's branding to the emails and leverage client data from your CRM to create personalized emails. 

Email templates in Moosend (Source)

Pricing info: The starting plan of Moosend costs $8 per month which is billed annually and supports up to 2,000 email subscribers. 

Click here to read user reviews of Moosend.

3. Sender

User rating: 4.5/5

Number of reviews: 60+

Sender is a cloud-based email marketing tool. Some of its key features include drip campaign mailers, push notifications (for both web and mobile), and mobile-responsive email templates. 

You can use the tool to create visually appealing email designs and newsletters without prior HTML knowledge. With Sender’s email analytics, you can track how email receivers are responding to your emails. You can view metrics such as the average click-through rate and the average open rate, and use them to inform and improve your email campaigns.

Email marketing dashboard in Sender (Source)

Pricing info: The price of Sender starts at $11 per month for 5,000 subscribers, and you can send up to 60,000 emails per month. It also offers a free plan that supports up to 2,500 subscribers, as well as up to 15,000 emails per month.

Click here to read user reviews of Sender.

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Marketing automation: Automate the prospect-to-customer journey 

Much of what advertising firms do counts as marketing, whether it is running paid ads on search engines and social media or coming up with enticing ad copy. And while your team may love coming up with creative advertising ideas, they may not particularly enjoy the more tedious parts of the process, such as scheduling mailers or manually analyzing ad performance using complex formulas in spreadsheets.

The good news is that although creativity can’t be automated, these recurring marketing tasks can be. With the right marketing automation software, you can effectively automate the following:

  • Tracking, scoring, and nurturing leads until they convert into customers.

  • Segmenting leads based on attributes such as gender, age group, and geography to share personalized communication to each group.

  • Running campaigns and measuring performance across multiple channels.

  • Managing social media ads and campaigns. 

To help you find the right tool to manage these functions, we’ve created a list of the three best accounting tools (listed alphabetically):

1. ActiveCampaign

User rating: 4.5/5

Number of reviews: 960+

ActiveCampaign is a cloud-based marketing, customer service, and sales platform. 

ActiveCampaign’s marketing automation tool helps you create customized sign-up forms to collect contact information of prospective clients, nurture leads with regular automated communication, and track conversions. 

You can also use the tool to segment contacts and share targeted messages, automate marketing workflows and tweak them as needed, track what people do on your website, score leads, and generate reports to monitor campaign performance.

Automating a marketing task in ActiveCampaign (Source)

Pricing info: The starting price of ActiveCampaign is $9 per month (billed yearly) for up to 500 contacts. You can also get a free trial of the tool.

Click here to read user reviews of ActiveCampaign.

2. EngageBay

User rating: 4.6/5

Number of reviews: 60+

EngageBay is a cloud-based marketing, sales, and customer service platform. 

Some of the key features of EngageBay’s marketing automation solution include customer segmentation, lead management, lead scoring and prediction, SMS marketing, multi-channel campaign management, and landing page creation. 

You can also use the tool to track your prospective clients’ online actions, such as the pages they spend the most time on or the tabs and buttons they click on. You can also gain insights into their browsing patterns and provide helpful content or offers accordingly.

Designing a pop-up form in EngageBay (Source)

Pricing info: The Basic plan of EngageBay is priced at $10.39 per user, per month and supports up to 10,000 contacts and branded emails. The tool also offers a free plan that supports up to 1,000 contacts and branded emails.

Click here to read user reviews of EngageBay.

3. HubSpot Marketing Hub

User rating: 4.4/5

Number of reviews: 4330+

HubSpot is an online marketing, sales, and customer service platform, and HubSpot Marketing Hub is one of its software products. 

The tool helps you manage social media ads across many platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, from one centralized system. You can also create landing pages and sign-up forms, optimize websites for search engines, generate lead scores, and retarget ads.

With the advanced analytics offered by the tool, you can also see how much revenue a lead is generating and what is working for your campaign and what isn’t.

Marketing dashboard in HubSpot Marketing Hub (Source)

Pricing info: The starting price of HubSpot Marketing Hub is $50 per month, billed monthly. The tool also offers a free plan that you can use without any time limitations.

Click here to read user reviews of HubSpot Marketing Hub.

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Project management software: Juggle multiple projects with ease

As advertisers who are busy coming up with the next best ad campaigns, you may not necessarily have the time for managing the details of each project. With your creative hats on, you’re constantly trying to meet hard deadlines and deliver on client expectations. In such a scenario, it’s easy to feel overburdened by the added responsibilities of project management.  

Even if you have experience in project management, managing timesheets, allocating workloads, and forecasting project revenues can all be a strain when managed using complex spreadsheet formulas. It can also be tricky to forecast project outcomes while using spreadsheet data. 

In any scenario, project management software can come in handy as it automates many routine project management tasks so you can focus on what you do best. Here are some tasks the tool can simplify:

  • Identifying and setting priorities and tracking the progress on each project

  • Collaborating with clients and teammates on project documents

  • Planning projects, allocating resources, and setting timelines

  • Tracking completed tasks, budget utilization, and workloads

To help you find the right tool to manage these functions, we’ve created a list of the three best accounting tools (listed alphabetically):

1. Samepage

User rating: 4.7/5

Number of reviews: 800+

Samepage is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) project management and collaboration solution.

The tool helps you visualize projects in multiple formats such as lists, Kanban task boards, sheets, pages, mind maps, and calendars. You can use the tool to easily organize your team’s agenda and create subtasks and recurring tasks. It also helps you monitor progress on individual tasks, task reports, and task progress trackers.

The tool also helps your team communicate better with features such as direct messages, group chat, chat threads, on-document comments, voice and video calls, and tagging.

Real-time collaboration over marketing campaigns in Samepage (Source)

Pricing info: The starting price of Samepage is $7.50 per user, per month, billed monthly. The tool also offers a free plan with limited features. You can also get a 30-day free trial of the tool.  

Click here to read user reviews of Samepage.

2. WorkOtter

User rating: 4.9/5

Number of reviews: 150+

WorkOtter is a cloud-based project, resource, portfolio, and time management software. 

It can help you manage projects by offering multiple project planning options such as Scrum, Agile, and Waterfall. It helps forecast and track the resources and finances involved in each project. You can also use the tool to improve team collaboration on projects with instant messaging, tagging, and saving specific chats to related work items.

Monitoring project portfolio in WorkOtter (Source)

Pricing info: The starting price of WorkOtter is $10 per user, per month, billed annually. 

Click here to read user reviews of WorkOtter.

3. Workzone

User rating: 4.7/5

Number of reviews: 135+

Workzone is a cloud-based project management tool. 

It offers a variety of project management features to organize, plan, and track projects. Workzone offers a project dashboard which you can use to monitor task dependencies, workloads, timelines, project requests, task statuses, and items on the project’s to-do list.

The tool also helps manage project documents with features such as secure file sharing, on-document comments, file versioning, document approval workflows, and corresponding email alerts.

Managing documents of an advertising campaign in Workzone (Source)

Pricing info: The starting price of Workzone is $24 per user, per month (billed annually) for up to 15 users. Teams with more than 15 users are eligible for a quantity discount and can request a custom quote.

Click here to read user reviews of Workzone.

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Make the right software choice

Before you narrow your list of top software choices down to a few particular tools, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Analyze your needs: Before you finalize on a software product, ask yourself: What is my end goal for using this tool? What are some problems that I am hoping this tool can solve? What kind of business impact can this tool have on my processes? Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, it’ll be easier to filter the tools and create an initial shortlist. If you have trouble comparing tools, you can check out these 5 options to make project management software comparison easier. You can also involve your team in this process by collecting their feedback on the tools with these easy tips

  • Read reviews: User reviews are a great way to learn about the pros and cons of a tool. Reading reviews on third-party websites, such as ours, can help you learn about the experience of those who’ve used the product first hand. You can also learn about the useful features the tool offers or some much-needed features that might be missing.

  • Schedule a demo: Product demos are an effective way to get a first-hand view of a tool’s capabilities. You can also use these as an opportunity to discuss any unique needs or customization requests with the vendor. However, before you schedule the demo, be sure to do some research to come up with a handful of questions to ask a vendor. You can go through this five-point checklist to get the most out of product demos.

Methodology

To identify the products listed in this article, we leveraged the GetApp 2020 Category Leaders for each category (email marketing, marketing automation, and project management). For each category, we eliminated products that did not have at least half of the below-mentioned features:

  • For email marketing: Email templates, email reporting, spam complaints, segmentation, lead capture, email tracking, and integration with marketing software

  • For marketing automation: Drip campaigns, social media management, and landing page creation

  • For project management: project planning, resource management, time tracking, gantt charts, budgeting, document management, and task boards

From this list, we selected three products in each category with the highest ratings and at least 20 unique product reviews (as accessed on Dec 15, 2020).

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