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10 Features of the Best Marketing Agency CRM Solutions

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Updated on:
February 18, 2024
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Agencies across all industries rely on software and tech-based tools to support them in providing amazing client experiences. The more streamlined an agency’s tech stack, the more efficient this can make workflows and processes. A customer relationship management system or CRM is a popular choice, offering multiple features and benefits. Understanding what features to look for in the best marketing agency CRM platforms can save buyers time and money.

CRMs are excellent for collating data, quickly updating customer accounts, and noting the progress of projects or client interactions. Some offer additional features such as advanced collaboration tools, sales reporting, and accounting assistance.

Let’s get into why marketing agency CRMs are so useful and how to choose the best one for your teams.

What Is a Marketing Agency CRM?

Customer or client relationship management is essential for all agencies. How you engage with your clients determines your business’s reputation and growth opportunities and can even drive client retention. It should go without saying, then, that CRM software must support your agency’s relationship-building processes.

The CRM does this by providing one single platform for recording interactions with clients. This platform becomes a central repository for customer data, providing team members with fast, simple ways to access the information they need to complete tasks.

Business critical data held within a marketing agency CRM could include:

  • Clients’ personal details.
  • Number of interactions with prospective leads.
  • Login details for existing clients’ systems, e.g., social media accounts, Google Ads, etc.
  • Project timelines, like completed tasks and names of collaborators.
  • Documents and other assets essential for project completion.
  • Data from other agency information sources such as databases and spreadsheets.
  • Client churn rates and reasons.

Some CRMs allow agencies to add additional data sources as they expand. For example, a marketing agency that starts a thought-leadership blog might want insights from this. Some CRMs can connect to blog providers and extract useful information like visitor numbers, clickthrough rates for CTAs, and where readers are directed from. This might show that social media is the most effective way to drive blog visitors, allowing marketing specialists to refocus their efforts in this direction.

CRMs utilize data to streamline processes and improve decision-making. They’re also essential for building and maintaining meaningful relationships with leads and clients.

Benefits of a CRM for Marketing Agencies

Investing in software for relationship management is a key consideration for many marketing agencies. Current research shows that 91% of companies with more than 11 team members use a CRM to manage multiple aspects of their business. These firms also reported that CRMs increased their teams’ productivity by as much as 50%. It’s clear that quickly being able to access client data and interactions boost efficiency substantially. Here are just a handful of other CRM benefits for marketing agencies.

Better Client Relationships

A CRM that doesn’t support better client relationships isn’t really a CRM at all. Your marketing agency software should always improve client interactions because that’s the foundation of consistent business growth. CRMs achieve this by enhancing your team members’ access to client contact details, how many times they’ve been contacted, and preferred communication methods.

Advanced CRMs also help agency personnel interact with each other better, which boosts performance and, therefore, client satisfaction. The best marketing agency CRMs support the client experience from the very first contact through onboarding to project completion.

Bonsai provides multiple forms and templates that make onboarding easier, which is a critical part of building a positive agency-client relationship.

Higher Client Retention Rates

Client retention is vital as it costs more to take on new business than it does to retain an existing customer. CRMs help balance impressing new clients with providing existing ones with the great service they’ve come to expect from your agency.

Clients who are happy with your performance stay longer and order repeat business. Gartner cites personalization, excellent onboarding processes, and customer service as three key drivers of increased client retention. All of these are more achievable with complete client data and effective collaboration tools.

Enhanced Decision-Making

Those tools also benefit your personnel as well as your clients. Easy access to lead contact details, project timelines, and client assets helps professionals make quick, informed decisions about their next steps.

Sales team leaders can allocate leads to employees best suited to address particular challenges. Content creators can quickly access briefs, resources, and other relevant assets. Campaign managers gain access to data sources that help drive marketing strategies forward.

Faster decision-making improves efficiency, again helping provide those all-important excellent client experiences.

More Ways to Deliver Results

Part of a great experience is discovering how your agency has created success for a client’s business. Your marketing agency CRM should store and provide access to multiple streams of data. When it’s time to show your clients your success rate, this data provides you with so many more ways to present those results.

You could combine the data in your CRM with business intelligence (BI) tools or other data analytics solutions to generate visualizations. This makes your complex marketing data accessible to employees at all levels of your client’s organization. CRM features like project timelines and task completion checkboxes allow you to include metrics like “Time to Complete.” As well as impressing current clients, you can use this data to market your effectiveness to future prospects.

Improved Data Protection

Another important facet of client satisfaction is ensuring that their assets are safe with you. Data breaches increased sharply during 2023, peaking at 3,205 cases of compromised data impacting 353 million people. Clients need to know that you’re taking steps to secure their personal information.

Storing names, email addresses, and login details for multiple systems across multiple databases and spreadsheets creates security vulnerabilities. Conversely, having a single source of truth where all client details, project tasks, and other critical data are stored helps improve resilience across an organization.

The right CRM can elevate an agency’s organizational prowess and efficiency. Client experiences improve, and agency team members are empowered to do more and do it better.

Marketing Agency CRM: 10 Top Features

Gaining these benefits means taking the time to find a CRM that’s right for your agency. This involves research, talking to providers, and taking advantage of demos and free trials where possible. Here are 10 of the top features agencies should look for in a great CRM.

1. Client Contact Storage and Management

All CRMs should have the ability to store and produce client contact information. This is the core of good customer relationship management — if you can’t contact your clients, you can’t really influence their decisions.

Ask CRM providers if there is an option to connect CRMs to contact forms on your website or blog. You could use this to collate contact information from visiting leads, collecting their consent to contact them at the same time. Also, see if you can get a look at how contact information is organized. Is it an intuitive interface, or is it cluttered and hard to navigate? This will impact the speed at which your team members can work, which in turn affects client experiences.

2. Lead Identification and Management

Growing your agency is tough if you don’t have a way to identify prospective leads. Your CRM should ideally provide ways to spot leads who are interested in particular products and services. The platform may even notify sales or relationship management personnel when a potential lead hits the system.

Some CRMs utilize analytical tools to shortlist leads and provide predictions into who is most or least likely to convert. Insights like this allow sales professionals to allocate their time accordingly or move “tougher” leads to more experienced members of the team.

Consult your sales team when reviewing the lead management portion of any CRM. The end-users of tools are one of the best resources when choosing software, as they know exactly what features matter to them.

3. Client Interaction Management

As well as understanding who your leads are, you need a clear record of how and when you’re contacting them. Without this, you can end up spamming them with unwanted calls or emails.

Say a lead clicked on a CTA in your most recent article about digital marketing trends. They filled in their contact details and requested a call. If a member of your sales team calls them and doesn’t have a CRM to log this interaction, then every team member might also unknowingly repeat that call. This creates a poor experience — one likely to drive that lead to a competitor.

Effective CRMs provide data on how many times a client has been contacted and their preferred methods of communication. Understanding these details allows agencies to create personalized experiences that help build more profitable relationships.

4. Scheduling Tools

Advanced marketing agency CRMs might have a range of features to help teams manage their time better. One of the most important — that ties directly into client interaction management — is the scheduling tool. The ability to schedule calls, emails, and meetings and share those times instantly with clients and colleagues can be a game changer.

A centralized scheduling service replaces individual calendars that require syncing up, invites, and other time-consuming actions.

Providing your clients with simple ways to schedule calls and meetings helps them feel valued. Bonsai’s CRM provides integrated scheduling with a clean, uncluttered interface that gently prompts clients through the scheduling process.

5. Client Profile Creation

Allowing your clients to schedule their own meetings and upload assets is part of creating their profile. The best marketing agency CRM tools should have a dedicated space for this. Each profile ideally contains tags, notes, project information, and customizable fields unique to your agency or a particular client. You might include previous marketing campaigns you’ve done for that client, success rates, or key personnel.

Make sure you check with any CRM provider that there’s a way to create and quickly manipulate client profiles. Without this feature, your agency might find it tricky to navigate campaign success monitoring.

6. Proposal Generation

A well-rounded client profile can help when it comes to personalizing proposals. Knowing who to communicate with and how they’ve responded in the past helps tailor proposals and guide clients toward acceptance. A great marketing agency CRM should provide tools that help team members quickly generate proposals.

Check if the CRM offers aesthetically pleasing, on-brand proposals that utilize existing data. These proposals should be simple for clients to accept and, ideally, not prompt endless questions and delays. A good proposal leads to increased business and better experiences for all parties.

7. Client Portals

Keeping that client experience in mind, your CRM should provide intuitive ways for clients to log in and interact with you. This may be for processing payments or accepting proposals. It could also be to view results, schedule meetings, or add or remove collaborators.

Additionally, an external portal can give freelancers and contractors a streamlined method of communicating with project leaders. Rather than waiting for assets and resources to arrive by email, they can quickly log in and gather the data they’ve been granted access to. Everyone gets to work faster, again helping improve the overall client experience.

8. Collaboration Tools

That last point is just one way that your marketing agency CRM could promote better ways of working. Project timelines, task lists, or document folders allocated to specific collaborators can all increase efficiency and productivity.

With Bonsai, for example, it’s easy to review how many projects are in progress and who is involved. Each of these projects further breaks down into tasks, timelines, and relevant resources. Team members are only ever a few clicks away from getting the data they need.

If your CRM doesn’t provide ways to access client data quickly, it can impact your relationship with that customer. At least 36% of agency leaders noted that client retention is challenging without transparency and honesty. While most agency professionals won’t mean to actively lie to clients, failure to provide accurate data can cause a poor service experience. Conversely, complete data helps you quickly answer client questions and appear more professional, even if you’re a small team competing with big corporations.

9. Scalability

Just because your agency is a small team now doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. If you’re already expanding and taking on increasing volumes of new clients, you’ll probably have already experienced frustrations with software that doesn’t grow with you.

The best marketing agency CRM should empower you to use that same platform for years to come. Having to switch to new software simply to accommodate growing teams and client numbers is tedious and potentially costly. You have to purchase new packages or subscriptions. Then there’s training and development to think of, which takes agency personnel away from their daily responsibilities.

Ask your CRM provider how they ensure scalability and future-proof their solutions to handle increasing and shifting client demands.

10. User-Friendly Interfaces

Scalable, feature-rich CRMs tend to be cluttered and assume a high level of software savviness in the user. For marketing agencies, you want an easy-to-use system with intuitive screens and menus. Considering that many CRMs have client-facing portals, investing in a user-friendly option is vital for ensuring customer satisfaction.

Bonsai does away with the clutter, providing bright, clean screens with obvious and easy-to-navigate menus and workflows. There are hundreds of templates and resources to help make this CRM work harder for your agency and clients. And, for when you really need some additional support, there’s a built-in help center.

Use Cases for Your Marketing Agency CRM

Now you’ve seen the features marketers appreciate in a CRM, it’s time to consider what type of platform you need. There are many different types of CRM available for marketing agencies. Some focus on operational strategies, automating multiple tasks, and collating project-specific documents in a single repository. Strategic CRMs tend to revolve around client interactions and growth opportunities, whereas collaborative CRMs offer efficient ways to transfer data between agency team members. Agencies may also invest in analytical CRMs that drill down client and internal data to provide insights into key metrics.

For example, marketing agencies could utilize an analytical CRM to understand their performance on KPIs such as:

  • Client retention rates
  • Repeat business and recurring revenue
  • Highest paying clients
  • Cost per lead
  • Content performance rates
  • Lead conversion rates

Marketing agencies are in the unique position of needing this information for their own business as their clients’ firms. Clear reports on marketing campaign performance help deliver meaningful results to clients who want to know that they’ve made a good investment.

Another common use case for the marketing agency CRM is as a collaboration tool. Effective marketing campaigns take an omnichannel approach. For agencies, this could mean bringing together social media marketing experts, designers, branding specialists, and project managers. A single platform where all these team members get the information they need removes data siloes and increases efficiency.

With Bonsai’s intuitive CRM, it’s simple to add and remove collaborators in seconds. These collaborators gain access to project timelines, relevant documents, and the client data they need.

Invest In a CRM Designed With Agencies in Mind

Your marketing agency CRM is the ideal tool for improving interactions with clients while upgrading the way you handle data. Effective CRMs make data more accurate and accessible, both critical concerns when you consider that “bad” data costs American businesses $3 trillion every year. Investing in a CRM designed with agencies in mind helps avoid the pitfalls associated with inaccurate data and poor collaboration.

Read our other guides to the best marketing agency software, or create a free account and book a free trial of Bonsai here.

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