← Back to Blog

The Essential Components of a Strong Agency Stack

minute read
Updated on:
February 27, 2024
Table of contents

Running a successful agency isn’t easy. It involves huge amounts of hard work, with countless daily tasks to accomplish. Fortunately, there are plenty of technological tools to help out with your agency operations. Together, these tools form what is known as an “agency stack.”

If your agency is just starting out, it’s crucial to establish a strong stack to help in those challenging early months. Meanwhile, for more established agencies seeking to expand and improve, it’s vital to regularly review your agency stack to suit your company’s needs. This guide will explore some of the key components of agency stacks, along with tips for stack optimization.

What is an agency stack?

Let’s begin with a definition. As stated above, an agency stack is a collection of software, programs, and other technological tools used by an agency to fulfill its operations. The term is closely connected to the concept of a “tech stack,” which generally describes the tools and apps that companies use to build products and services.

Agency work can involve a wide range of processes, depending on the type of agency in question. A marketing agency, for example, might have teams dedicated to copywriting, design, strategy, budgeting, and more. All of those different teams may require various tech tools or apps to help them in their duties. Together, those tools all form part of the entire agency stack.

The importance of a strong agency stack

Naturally, in today’s technological world, every agency needs a tech stack. It’s impossible to compete in this day and age without making use of modern technology. However, agency stacks can vary wildly in terms of size, scope, and strength. Some are quite simple and even basic, while others are far more in-depth and comprehensive.

Naturally, some agencies only rely on a few tools to help them out. Others go much further, constantly seeking to embrace new emerging technologies to support their various teams and operations. While you might not necessarily need to go quite that far, it’s important to have a strong and versatile stack to help your agency succeed.

Here are some reasons why.

Reason 1 – Saving time and money

No matter what kind of work you’re doing, it’s always important to have the right tools for the job. In the case of agency work, the “right tools” include software programs like CRMs, scheduling software, and task management apps. All of these tools can save an agency tons of time and money.

Yes, they all usually cost a significant sum to set-up. But the long-term savings are enormous. Many of these tools can automate processes or streamline workflows. They save your staff hours of work and let them focus their skills and efforts on more important tasks.

Reason 2 – Improving morale

Workplace morale is hugely important these days. Many workers simply won’t settle in environments where they don’t feel content and valued. So, it’s up to agency owners to provide the right kind of conditions to make workers feel at ease. Your agency stack can help with that.

Staff will naturally feel happier and more comfortable in their work if they’ve got useful tools to carry out their duties. Therefore, providing your team with a great agency stack that helps them with mundane daily tasks is a great way to promote happiness and loyalty.

Reason 3 – Keeping up with the competition

Competition is rife in the agency world. There are always other agencies out there doing similar work to you and targeting the same kind of audience. In order to succeed, each agency has to be at its best non-stop, always looking for ways to improve and get ahead of its rivals.

One of the best ways to do so is through your agency stack. By adopting and utilizing new technologies to your advantage, you may be able to get things done more efficiently than the next agency. That could help you secure more clients and become one of the leading firms in your field.

Reason 4 – Productivity and profits

This is essentially a summation of all the other benefits listed above. By saving your agency time, improving morale, and staying in touch with your rivals, your agency should become more productive, and therefore more profitable.

That’s the No. 1 aim of any business, and the right agency stack can help you achieve it. With a well-balanced and carefully-selected array of tech tools, you’ll enjoy more efficient work, happier clients, less turnover, and stronger standing in your industry.

Key components of every agency stack

The importance of a strong agency stack is clear to see. But building one isn’t as simple as going out and signing up for every piece of software you see. Instead, it’s best to pick and choose elements with care, focusing on the fundamentals your agency needs to succeed.

In this section, we’ll cover the most important components that make up agency stacks. That doesn’t mean they’ll be necessary for all agency stacks. There may be some that you can do without, depending on the kind of work you do. However, most agencies, particularly those specializing in marketing, will benefit from all the following tech stack essentials

CRM

All agency work revolves around clients. Your main aim is to impress, satisfy, and give them reasons to choose your agency over all the other options out there. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can play a huge role in that.

CRM software helps you manage all of your agency’s interactions and relationships with your clients, with the ultimate aim of improving those relationships. It allows you to build client lists, track and respond to feedback as efficiently as possible, identify leads and opportunities, and so much more.

Client portal

The next element that no agency stack should be without is a client portal. This is just what it sounds like – a digital space for your clients to use. It lets them view and track the progress of their orders and projects, upload files, get in touch with your team, and more.

There are countless advantages to having a client portal. They can drastically improve your clients’ experiences of working with you, as well as facilitating collaboration between you and the people you work for. They also help to save your staff a lot of time when it comes to responding to client queries or concerns.

Scheduling

Time is money, as the old saying goes, and when it comes to agency work, time often seems to be in short supply. Many agencies often feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, but scheduling software brings clarity and organization to your operations.

As the name suggests, scheduling software is all about organizing your time and calendar. It makes it easier for clients to book appointments or consultations with you, updating your schedule automatically to reflect meetings and other arrangements.

Invoicing

Every agency has to get paid. But that can also soak up time and effort from your staff. Even the process of creating, sending, and managing invoices can become a drain on your resources and a negative influence on your productivity. That’s where invoicing tools come into play.

Invoicing software helps you get paid on-time and in-full more quickly and easily, with less effort needed on your behalf. It allows you to draw up invoices in seconds, configure global payment systems, send payment reminders automatically to clients, and so on.

Project management

Ultimately, the success or failure of most agencies depends on how well they manage projects. If you can get things done in an efficient and tidy manner, you’ll usually stand a much better chance of building a good reputation and gaining loyal clients. But there are often so many challenges in the way of efficient project management.

Fortunately, project management platforms can help with that. They’re designed to facilitate collaboration across your team, automate trivial processes, and manage your projects to completion more quickly than before.

Task management

In many ways, task management software is similar to project management platforms, but on a smaller scale. Task management tools let you track individual tasks, assigning them to the right people and monitoring their progress.

When used in conjunction with other tools, like project management and scheduling software, this can be invaluable. It can help so many processes become more efficient, saving workers time and giving supervisors a clearer view of what’s being done each day.

Workflow automation

Automation is a recurring theme of many of the agency stack elements listed throughout this guide. A lot of tools and programs are designed to do things for you, automating day-to-day tasks to save you time. There are also specialist workflow automation programs that can help you streamline specific workflows to improve your agency’s operations.

The best workflow automation programs often support cross-platform connectivity. In other words, they can bridge the gap between your CRM and your scheduling software. This allows them to, for example, update a client’s page on your CRM when that client schedules a meeting.

Contract creation

Agencies tend to handle a lot of contracts. Time is often wasted drawing them up, checking the small print, getting them signed, and so on. Again, there are tools out there that can help with every step of that process.

Contract creation software is a must-have stack element for agencies that regularly have to make and manage a lot of contracts. It can create contracts for you automatically (or provide templates for you to fill in), as well as helping with digital signatures or automatically sending contracts to relevant people.

SEO

SEO isn’t just for digital marketing agencies. It matters for every agency. If you want to get the most clicks, clients, and work, you have to have a strong SEO campaign and get your site and services right up there in the Google rankings.

SEO tools can help with that.

They can help you identify the right kinds of keywords to target in your campaigns to boost visibility. They’re also crucial for agencies who offer any kind of SEO services. They provide all you need to build and implement strong optimization campaigns for your clients.

Graphic design

These days, having a good image is crucial for building a successful brand. You don’t just need a powerful logo, but also an identifiable visual identity that clients understand and can relate to. Graphic design tools bring it to life.

These tools allow agencies to design impressive logos and website elements in a matter of minutes. They’re also helpful for marketing materials, letting you generate infographics, concept images, and more, without even necessarily needing your own in-house design experts.

Social media management

Many agencies are prominent presences on social media sites, too. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram can all be used to your advantage. They’re great for getting in touch with your users, generating leads, and building brand awareness.

Social media management software does just what it says – it aids with managing your various social profiles, posts, and schedules. You can use it to automatically make posts, for example, or to track metrics and performance from your social marketing campaigns.

Tips and tricks to build the best agency stack

Clearly, there are a lot of elements that make up a strong agency stack. With so many possible tools at your disposal, it can be a little daunting to start building your startup stack or fine-tuning your existing one.

Here are some smart strategies to help out.

Regularly review and audit your stack

When it comes to your agency stack, you should never rest on your laurels. Don’t see it as a fixed or rigid structure of technological apps and elements. Instead, see it as something dynamic. It should change and evolve over time, with new apps added and old tools phased out to support your agency’s growth.

Get into the habit of reviewing or auditing your agency stack on a regular basis, like every six months or at least once a year. Look at what’s working, what’s not, and stay up-to-date with trends and new releases to find tools that can help your agency move to the next level.

Seek as much integration as possible

Ideally, it helps to have pieces of software that work well together. If your CRM is able to easily link up with your project management platform and your client portal, for example, everything will flow nice and smoothly. So, try to find programs and tools that integrate with one another.

Think about the tools you use most each day. Then, look for other pieces of software that complement them. Alternatively, to make things easier, you could simply opt for an all-in-one agency package that gives you everything you need – invoicing, scheduling, project management, and more.

Monitor your tech spending

There are some useful free tools out there. But most of the apps and programs that make up your agency stack will likely cost money. Those costs can add up over time, especially if you’re being charged on a “per user” basis.

Don’t just sign up and download new tools without considering the costs and working out your budget. First, figure out how much you’re prepared to spend on your stack. Then, try to determine what kind of value or ROI (return on investment) you can get from a tool to work out if it’s worth using.

Look for new, emerging tools to help you

The beauty of modern technology is that it’s always evolving, with new innovations constantly coming out. From year to year, we constantly see big changes in fields like CRM technology and workflow automation, with more and more useful, time-saving features arriving on the scene.

If you don’t know about the latest innovations, you won’t be aware of how much they might help your agency. So, it’s wise for agency owners – or those responsible for agency stack additions – to keep up with the latest news. Learn about emerging trends and technologies, see what other agencies are doing, and discover fresh ways to enhance your agency’s operations.

Ask for feedback from your team

A common mistake that many agency owners make is to adopt new technologies without first consulting with the people who will use them – the workforce. This often backfires, as workers may end up with tools that don’t fully solve their problems, when better alternatives were available.

It’s much wiser to bring your workers in on the decision-making process. Ask for feedback about their day-to-day tasks and which tools they feel could help them. You may get some great recommendations from your staff, who are often best-placed to know which pieces of software they truly need.

Invest in training

A tool is only as effective as the person using it. That’s true for every part of your agency stack. Even if you invest in the most highly-rated software on the market, it may not get the results you hope for if your workers aren’t sure about how to use it.

Whenever you invest in a new tool or app, make sure you take the time to train workers on how to use it. Some developers even offer thorough onboarding or training processes for their customers, as well as detailed help centers and tutorials. The more your workers know about how to use the software, the more they’ll get out of it.

Cut your losses on tools that don’t work

You might not always invest in winning tools or technologies. Sometimes, you might pick an app that just doesn’t seem to work, or even causes more problems than it solves. It’s worth persisting at first, seeking training or support to perhaps find ways to better use that piece of your agency stack.

However, if the tool doesn’t quite provide what you want, it’s usually best to move on and switch to something different. Forcing workers to use a tool that is outdated or unsuitable can harm morale and productivity in the long run.

A strong agency stack is critical for efficient and effective agency operations. It supports every aspect of your daily work, helping you perform at peak capacity and deliver the best services to your clients. In short, it’s massively important, and agency owners should regularly seek ways to improve their stacks to help them succeed.

One of the easiest ways to upgrade your stack is by investing in all-in-one agency software from Bonsai. Instead of forcing you to build a stack of separate elements that don’t always work well together, Bonsai provides a comprehensive package for managing clients, finances, and projects. Contact the Bonsai team today to learn more.

Related Articles