Our Agency’s Complete SaaS Toolkit
September 11, 2018
September 11, 2018
Alright, there are so many tools that you can use as a pay-per-click advertising agency, and it can be a little bit overwhelming. You need tools for bookkeeping, for call-tracking, for project management, for a bunch of different stuff so what I’m going to go over today is just the various tools that we use at ParaCore and the ones that are most important to us.
The very first tool that I’m gonna talk about is Asana and Asana is a project management tool that allows you to create and manage projects in a variety of different ways. It’s incredibly powerful, it has tons of different features and it allows us to keep track of everybody and what they’re doing. So Asana is our number one project management tool. We have the paid version, it allows you to do all sorts of custom fields and really do a lot of different things with your project management. Now the one thing about Asana is that it provides a lot of flexibility, and while that’s a great thing it’s also difficult if you don’t have someone kind of spearheading the processes and making sure that everyone is following them and staying consistent. There are times when we wish we had a little bit simpler project management system because there are so many ways to use Asana. And learning it the ParaCore way can sometimes take a little bit of time for new employees. It takes them a little bit of time to onboard, however, Asana’s the platform we use. It has an incredible amount of flexibility with templates and task delegation and notifications and just everything. So if you’re looking for a strong project management tool, Asana’s a really good one.
On the landing page side you know with paid media services there are two different aspects to what you’re doing. You’re generating traffic and qualifying traffic to some sort of destination. And in many cases we’re using Unbounce as the destination because we want to convert people so the second component of paid advertising is actually converting a visitor from traffic that you’ve received. Unbounce is a really great tool and it has a drag-and-drop interface. You can run A/B tests really easily, integrations allow you to push data from Unbounce to a bunch of different platforms. They don’t have a native integration they have a Zapier setup where you can push it into Zapier, log in to your Zapier account through Unbounce and then basically send that information to wherever you need. So we typically don’t do much of anything like on a WordPress website or build our own pages or work on landing pages outside of a drag-and-drop interface like Unbounce because it just takes forever. And by using this type of system our account managers can actually make changes to text, do dynamic text replacement, do a mobile version, do A/B testing, do all these different things without the need of a developer. So this really is the conversion platform for marketers. We actually have an entire series dedicated to Unbounce because we’ve used it so extensively and have so many clients on it and you can check that out on the YouTube channel by just heading over to our channel. So Asana for project management, Unbounce for landing page design and development and then we use CallRail for call tracking.
CallRail’s one of those platforms that we discovered very early on as a PBC agency and I honestly don’t think I would take on a client that was not willing to do some sort of call tracking and it would hard for me to even take a client that didn’t do CallRail because I know CallRail so well and we just know all the features and integrations and nuances of this platform. It’s partially because we’ve used it for so long but also because it’s a really powerful call tracking system. We can track all calls to a website and identify where they’re coming from. We can track just the calls that come from our paid ads, we can do call flow, setup lead notifications, integrate with Slack so that it feeds into our Slack channel. We can do all sorts of things. So I highly recommend using CallRail or some sort of call tracking platform, this is one that we found to be really, really powerful and achieve most of the needs that we have and so I’d recommend it for you. Alright, so we have Unbounce for landing pages, CallRail for call tracking.
I’m actually going to pull up a different one, a different platform, QuickBooks is one that I use as a business owner. QuickBooks online is super amazing and easy to use. So if you have a bookkeeper that has their books on like a local QuickBooks instance and you don’t have access to it online, for me that’s a little bit annoying, ’cause I like to jump in there and just take a peak at the books. However, whatever works for you, but I’ve really found QuickBooks to be amazing.
From a communication perspective I just mentioned that we will feed leads from Unbounce and/or CallRail into our Slack channel and so Slack is a really amazing communication tool. It’s basically text messages on steroids for your company. So if you ever do a group text and you’re communicating with a bunch of different people, a bunch of different friends or family or whatever the case may be, this is a group text for your business. And within Slack you can setup channels, so only certain people are communicating about a certain project or a certain topic. You can do individual messages, it has a great app for your phone so you get notifications, and all those types of things. You can also integrate with all these different platforms. We’re doing lead generation for a couple different businesses so anytime a lead comes in it’s a Slack channel, it notifies us that a lead came in. So it’s pretty exciting because we make money on every lead and I just like seeing that. And so Slack is an amazing communication channel worth every penny, we’ve gone to the paid plan for that and it’s been really great.
On the time tracking side ParaCore basically, we do fixed-rate billing, we do project, we do monthly retainer billing. However that does loosely correlate with the amount of time we’re spending on each project so we use Harvest so that all employees can track their time in the Harvest platform and then assign it to a project. And once a week our account manager sends an email to the entire team saying, hey, these are the number of hours that you’ve spent on this project, this is the project’s budget, and this is how much time you have or don’t have to work on that project. We go over budget, you know somewhat frequently, we try to avoid it, it’s not like we just stop working on a client when we get there but for me it’s important to know hey if we’re spending double the amount of hours that we have allocated to this clients paid media account we either need to talk to the client or change some things internally or optimize our report process. There are a number of different adjustments we can make but I want to make sure that I’m tracking time correctly. And Harvest has provided tons of insight in ParaCore’s past about how projects are working, if they’re profitable and how we should handle those moving forward.
I will say that it’s a little bit hard to get everyone on board, initially, but once everyone’s dedicated and focused and it just becomes part of your culture it’s incredibly powerful. And when you’re hiring new employees you can just say hey, we use Harvest for time tracking and this is just how it’s done and then new employees, they start doing it and then it’s really easy to get them on board. It’s introducing it to existing employees can be a little bit hard, but once they’re dialed in and ready to go it’s a lot better.
Alright so we use Unbounce, CallRail, Zapier, QuickBooks, Slack, Harvest and then we have Google Sheets, this is really common. We don’t really use Slides or Forms that often, we do use Docs, but really Sheets, you know this is just a standard Google Platform so I’m not gonna talk about it a lot, but Google Sheets is pretty good. It’s pretty easy and easy to collaborate and share.
When we are doing a lot of transactional tasks like designing the thumbnail for this video, for instance, I use Upwork. And one thing that I like about Upwork and we actually have a designer on staff, so it’s not as if we don’t have design resources internally, but when I’m creating a thumbnail there’s a different benefit to Upwork than maybe doing it internally. One is the price, my thumbnails, I pay 10 bucks a piece, I’ll bet if I kept looking I could probably get that down to five, but it just hasn’t really been an effort for me. I mean it takes the guy like literally no time at all to do them. Typically people are really excited to work on your projects so the turnaround time is fast. Like I will do it, I’ll send out a job in the evening and I get the thumbnails back in the morning and then if I send revision’s I’ll get them back in a couple hours. That’s just not really the case internally, we might have other projects that we’re working on, landing pages being designed, and it gets put in this queue and it can take like days sometimes, which really sucks. So there’s that speed of return and also the price point. Now if you’re doing something really repetitive like a thumbnail you can do that really easily. I use my internal designer for landing page design and designing new concepts and more elaborate ads, but for thumbnail design use something like Upwork and don’t just default to the resources you have in house because it can free them up and I guarantee my designer doesn’t like doing YouTube thumbnails and then it speeds the rate at which you get the thumbnails back and it’s a really good platform to use.
Alright on the sales side this is the last platform we’re gonna talk about. We use this platform called Nutshell, this CRM and I don’t recommend Nutshell, to be quite honest. I fell into it because someone recommended it to me a number of years ago, I started using it. We have all of our clients in Nutshell right now. It’s kind of integrated with different systems, I don’t think it’s that intuitive. So if you’re considering Nutshell or a CRM, I personally not recommend this, especially from the paid ads perspective. It’s such a pain to transition from one CRM to the next I just haven’t quite tackled it yet. My guess is that I’ll probably go to HubSpot one I feel like the amount of leads justifies the extra energy which is probably gonna be fairly soon. But it’s gonna be a major project and a major undertaking and I’m just not quite ready for it.
So there you have it, those are the platforms that we use at ParaCore, at least the main ones. We also touch on some other platforms, we use some other platforms every now and then but these are really the ones that are our workhorses, that we’re using all the time. I recommend pretty much all of them except for Nutshell, or really except for Nutshell. and I do put a warning sign on Asana, that platform is really incredibly powerful, but it has so much flexibility that you really need someone to have boundaries on it and kind of keep everyone in check otherwise it can become a little bit messy and maybe not as productive as you’d hoped. So anyway, that’s what we use at ParaCore. If you have any questions about any of those platforms or concerns or want to hear more about one of them please leave a comment below. Thanks for checking out the video and we will see you in the next one.
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