SoDA’s 2016 report on the agency-client relationship showed a worrying change: agencies are less confident in the working relationship. Much less.
In 2015, 70% of agencies felt that the agency-client dynamic was improving overall. In 2016, that number was down to 53%.
These days, agencies need to provide a wide range of services, yet clients still expect the same excellent results. Meanwhile competition is immense, and clients won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere.
The same study also found that clients place more emphasis on measurement and project management than their agencies do. While agencies want to focus on the creative side, clients need to know they’re being served. And if you can’t show them a real ROI, they’re moving on.
While we can’t fix every relationship overnight, we can make client reports a whole lot easier. With the right tools, you don’t have to slave over spreadsheets.
So we asked around, and found 14 tools that agencies rely on to report to clients. These tools will make client feedback a walk in the park.
Let’s start with the tools that do a bit of everything.
“All-in-one” reporting tools
“Digital marketing” is a big, broad behemoth. Modern agencies do everything from creating websites from scratch, to managing advertising spend, to posting and responding to social media comments for clients.
You use a wide range of different strategies in order to reach your client’s overall goal.
But even if your strategies are separate, your reporting shouldn’t be. Clients don’t have the time or the willpower to piece everything together. Instead, you want reporting tools that’ll let them see everything in one place, and understand how each strategy contributes to the final goal.
Here are some of the best.
Two different agencies recommended Cyfe to us, and it’s easy to see why. It simply makes life easier for clients:
Web Profits GM & Co-Founder Sujan Patel likes Cyfe because it “pulls data and dashboards from all the analytics tools we use and puts them all in one place. It also integrates with Google Spreadsheets, so we can add information like backlinks and share numbers for specific pieces of content.
“Bottom line, it puts all the data on a dynamic dashboard and gives us a unique URL that we can send to the client. This cuts in half the time we spend reporting.”
Nadav Dakner of InboundJunction uses it to “track performance metrics across dozens of platforms. Our clients really appreciate not having to log into each platform’s analytics – they can see everything they want on dashboards that we customize for each account.”
Cyfe Premium costs $19 per month.
Klipfolio is a business dashboard software that displays your key metrics on any computer or television screen. And since it’s cloud-based, you can share this information with anyone in the world, including clients in different countries.
But what makes it so valuable is its flexibility. Per Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director & Co-founder of Orbit Media, “it’s a way to combine reports from all kinds of different systems. It’s not just a dashboard with reports from different sources, but you can put several sources into a single report: Google Analytics, Moz, Facebook, HubSpot, SEMrush, and pretty much anything else.
“Once it’s all set up, the insights jump off the screen.”
NinjaCat brings together information from a range of different sources to help agencies report to clients. These sources include PPC platforms, SEO tools and social media sites.
Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost, appreciates this versatility. “It includes the biggest PPC platforms, analytics, and call tracking in one place.”
And it lets KlientBoost hand the reins over to their clients and see their progress for themselves. “Our clients can get a dashboard login themselves and see anything they want at any given time and slice the data much faster compared to logging into their own PPC accounts.”
Starting at $799 per month, it’s not cheap. But if you’re serious about client reporting, you’re not looking for cheap. You’re looking for great. NinjaCat appears to be that.
It would be easy to forget Google Analytics in a list like this. We’re mostly looking at enterprise-level tools, and mostly ignoring anything free. In this case, that would be a mistake.
As Andy Crestodina explains, “it’s the most robust web traffic analysis system, it keeps getting better…and it’s free. It’s easy to use and virtually everyone has it, although a lot of companies don’t have things set up properly.”
It may not look as slick as some tools on the market, but it sure is hard to beat.
A parting tip from Andy: “If you’ve fallen out of love with GA, try installing it on your phone and check out the assistant option. Life just keeps getting better.”
Not everyone agrees that Google Analytics is easy to use. More importantly, it’s not particularly attractive, and the data can be hard for clients to understand.
Enter Whatagraph. It’s a data visualization tool that takes information from Google Analytics and builds easy-to-read graphs. These are shared via browser or PDF so your clients know how their website is performing.
Whatagraph tracks all your most important website metrics including:
- Traffic sources like search and social media
- Total sessions and average session time
- Bounce rate for specific pages
- Increase or decline of traffic for websites
Douglas Karr of DK New Media prefers this simplified reporting. “Our clients – even technical customers – continue to struggle with implementing and measuring analytics to a point where they are comfortable making informed marketing and business decisions based on the results. Instead, we rely on automated systems [like Whatagraph] that produce simple overview reports for our clients.”
Tools for social listening and reputation management
Agencies play a role in building and protecting their clients’ brands. Knowing what people say about them online is an important part of this process.
These tools help you track what people say about your clients online, and provide high-level data about social interactions.
Social listening can be essential to the agency-client relationship. Companies want to know what people say about them online, which means you need to be able to tell them.
Mention makes this simple. It lets you track any keyword, anywhere online. This means all the major social media platforms, plus extras like review sites and forums.
Mention also features valuable analysis tools to let you:
- Compare their share of voice against major competitors
- Analyze sentiment towards them and their social posts
- See the reach of their marketing campaigns
- Recognize their best-performing content and promote this further.
quintly is a social media analytics tool that lets you keep a close eye on all of your clients’ social media profiles. When you’re in charge of building an audience on Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest, having a central analytics tool is a lifesaver.
Use quintly to:
- Track growth in followers across multiple platforms
- See the reach of your social posts
- Get deep insights into your audience demographics
quintly plans start at $129 per month.
If your clients are brick-and-mortar businesses, you need to check out Reputology. It aggregates reviews from more than 70 sources including TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Yahoo.
So if your client operates 25 stores across three countries, you’ll know how each individual location is reviewed, and how the brand is thought of in general.
Reputology lets you:
- See negative reviews quickly and respond
- Track locations all over the world
- Monitor and compare competitors
- Thank customers for good reviews
Plus, the workflow tool lets you coordinate your team to ensure that necessary tasks have been done.
Reputology provides custom pricing on request.
Tools to track public relations:
Every PR professional wants to focus on the important task: giving smart communications strategy to clients. That’s only possible if you’re not spending hours on reporting.
Put your faith in robots, and try one of these PR tools for agencies.
For PR agencies who want to avoid wasting time on reporting, Coveragebook is a great option. It helps you track the number of coverage pieces, the readership of those sources, links earned, and the overall return on investment for a campaign.
As described on CoverageBook’s website, this is “hours of painstaking faff, magically condensed into minutes.” You’ll also have centralized records of all your past campaigns, showing you what’s worked in the past, and what failed.
If you’re sick of your messy collection of spreadsheets – and the time it takes you to make them – here’s your solution.
“One of the best ways to assess the performance of a content asset,” according to Nadav Dakner, “is to check how many social shares it drives.” If your goal is to build buzz and get eyeballs on your campaign, social media is the place.
“We use BuzzSumo to check how popular a given publication’s articles are over time – and to see how many social shares our PR hits get across each social channel. BuzzSumo provides this information quickly and accurately, and we often include it in our monthly reports to clients.”
Tools to monitor SEO performance
When it comes to SEO, clients love the numbers. They want to know how you’ve made them more visible, and how that’s led to traffic.
These tools help you monitor your clients’ keyword performance, report on new backlinks added each week, and track improvements in domain authority.
Moz is a comprehensive SEO tool with great automated reporting built in. Track your clients across a variety of metrics including search visibility, onpage SEO, and traffic from organic search.
The best part? It lets you create custom reports from scratch:
This is great for:
- Monitoring key metrics for a single client’s campaign
- Tracking several campaigns for different clients
- Automating different reports for different users within a client’s organization
And so much more. Moz lets you track pretty much any SEO metric you care about, and send results to clients without lifting a finger. Simple as that.
This tool is specifically designed for link building. According to Taco Agency’s Chirag Kulkarni, “it gives you seamless understanding of the links you need to build to power pages.”
You choose which pages you want to boost (“power pages”), and SEOJet gives you link maps. These come with suggested anchor text, and SEOJet will tell you when your pages begin to look unnatural. All of this makes it simple to show clients how to construct their sites for better SEO performance.
Request a demo to learn more.
Similar to Moz, SEMrush lets you track key SEO metrics for yourself and your competitors. “You don’t need to access Google Analytics or Search Console,” say Andy Crestodina. “Just put any domain into SEMrush and you’ll see a list of all the phrases they rank for.”
These competitor features are particularly interesting to Andy. “It’s brilliant for competitive analysis but also a fast way to jump in a find low-hanging fruit. Want to see all the phrases that your client ranks for on page two of Google? Create a filter, export the data and send it along. Your client will be immediately impressed.”
Use SEMrush to:
- Track your clients’ keyword rankings
- Perform audits to make sure clients’ websites are optimized
- Discover new keywords to target
- Monitor PPC ads and find new opportunities
This one didn’t fit neatly into a box. Pun intended.
The secret to a good agency-client relationship is communication. InboundJunction loves Dropbox because it helps them keep lines open with their clients. “We use a lot of spreadsheets to keep track of various types of account activity,” says CEO Nadav Dakner. “Periodically, we’ll invest some extra effort on creating a custom PDF report that covers a year’s worth of activity, with screenshots and visualizations.”
“Dropbox is perfect for us to store and share these types of files. We set up folders for each account, and our clients know they can just check out the shared folder to see the latest.”
To keep clients in the loop and sharing in the process, Dropbox is a great option.
So which will you choose?
It all depends on your needs. If you already have a range of specialized tools you might want an “all-in-one” to help you bring all those metrics together. Otherwise, select from our list of PR, social media, and SEO tools based on which will benefit your clients.
And if you’re still not sure, why not test them out? Free trials are the industry standard these days.
Remember that your chief goal should be to communicate openly with your clients, and save yourself time in the process. These tools should help you achieve both. And this resource will help you to achieve better communication with your customers:
So what did we forget? Let us know in the comments.