7 Marketing Project Management Tools (Plus Our Own Tool for Enterprise-Level Agencies)
There are plenty of traditional project management tools (such as Trello and Asana) that are used by many marketing agencies to help with task management and team collaboration. These work well for small and medium-sized agencies that want kanban boards and Gantt charts to help organize and streamline their workflow.
But, if you're in an enterprise-level marketing agency (in particular an ad or media buying agency) working with clients with big budgets, execution of campaigns often involves multiple stakeholders from different departments, which poses a unique cross departmental project management strain:
- Ad or media buy orders are often sold to clients via the sales team.
- Account and project managers then manage the execution of the campaigns.
- Design teams are involved in creative.
- Copywriting may be involved for copy.
- Data or account managers need to interpret and report on results.
- And so on.
These sorts of enterprise agencies often deal with hundreds or even thousands of campaigns for big brand clients, so making sure each of the above stakeholders is aligned on all of the campaigns is challenging. While a traditional project management tool helps streamline some of the organizational processes when you're working on an enterprise scale, having one software solution that can handle the entire workflow is much more efficient and saves a huge amount of time.
Our solution TapClicks does exactly this, specifically, by:
- Allowing you to place thousands of ad orders and fulfill them directly from the TapClicks platform.
- Pulling data from all your data sources and storing it in your own TapClicks data warehouse.
- Setting up complex calculations and defining metrics that can be used across hundreds of campaigns and clients to create meaningful analytics.
- Automating PowerPoint-style reports on your ad campaigns that will always be up-to-date.
If you are an enterprise-level agency with big budget clients, our marketing analytics, reporting, and project management tool, TapClicks, can help streamline and manage your ad campaigns and save you a huge amount of time.
If you're looking for a traditional project management tool, we give an overview of 7 options later on in this post.
Why Traditional Project Management Tools Don't Always Suit Enterprise-Level Marketing Agencies
For many marketing teams traditional project management tools do a good job and help teams collaborate and assign and manage tasks. For example, project management tools can help in-house marketing teams and agencies that don't handle many unique or one-off ad or media buying campaigns but do handle more repetitive work such as Facebook Ads campaigns with fixed monthly budgets. In these cases, because there is less coordination across different stakeholders and less new or unique work, the best marketing project management software could be a traditional project management platform.
But traditional project management tools do present shortcomings for enterprise-level digital marketing teams that handle big budget campaigns (we'll discuss these later on).
The Typical Ad Buying Process for All Agencies
First, let's consider the ad buying process that is common to marketing teams and agencies of all sizes:
- Ad Ops
- Analytics and Reporting
Each stage of this sequence is multi-layered and involves several stakeholders:
- Sales: A salesperson sells a service (such as an ad buy or social media campaign) to a client. This is filled in as an order using an application like Google Forms or a CRM. The order, which needs to specify objectives and pricing, is then sent to the Ad Ops Manager, usually via email or on Slack. Already, there are several parties and marketing tools involved.
- Ad Operations: The Ad Ops Manager starts project planning and delegates the work to team members, usually via a project management tool such as Asana or Trello, where project milestones can be set and tasks and subtasks assigned via task lists. Even a simple campaign can involve dozens of channels and markets and hundreds of tasks such as researching displays, budgeting, keywords, and copy. An approval process with the client will need to be in place for each stage.
- Creative Resources: This involves coordinating creative teams and multiple resources (which may include freelancers) around content creation, copy, design, and SEO for the chosen channels and letting Accounts Payable know for invoicing, etc. There can be hundreds of handoffs in this phase.
- Campaign Launch: Once the deliverables have been approved by the client, the ads are fulfilled in the chosen channels. This involves various advertising platforms, each with its own dashboard that will need monitoring.
- Analytics and Reporting: Lastly, the data from the ad campaign needs to be pulled from each native advertising platform and used to create meaningful analytics that can be distributed to clients and stakeholders. Smaller agencies typically do this manually using Excel spreadsheets, reporting templates, or Google Data Studio while enterprise-level agencies typically use third party analytics tools such as business intelligence (BI) tools.
There's a huge amount of work involved for any size of agency but when you're working at the enterprise level with clients with huge budgets, not only does the number of tasks, handoffs, and complexity increase in scale but so does the level of work involved in any one-off big-budget ad campaign.
For example, a small agency handling repeat Facebook Ad campaigns for a few clients or creating Google Ads where they're bidding on a set of keywords, tweaking copy and strategy to reduce the CPC (cost per click) is in a different league to a large enterprise brand that wants to buy $1 million of ads for a spring campaign or sporting event, for example. The latter is a completely new project involving a colossal amount of unique work. And these types of enterprise-scale agencies handle these types of projects over and over.
Let's look at how traditional project management tools can help many agencies and then we'll consider why they are less suitable for enterprise-level agencies with the big-budget campaigns we just described.
How Traditional Project Management Tools Help Small and Medium-Sized Marketing Agencies
Traditional project management tools help teams collaborate, manage workflows, and optimize efficiencies. They vary in terms of scope and proficiency but, broadly speaking, they offer these key features:
- Task management including notifications of due dates
- Team collaboration with message boards
- Time tracking
- Resource management
- File sharing
Most project management tools operate via user-friendly Kanban boards or Gantt charts and are used by businesses generally as a common workspace and collaboration tool for cross-departmental work management, not just marketing campaigns.
Some tools have been designed for agencies specifically (e.g. Teamwork and Scoro) and offer integrations with other software functions, for example, QuickBooks, Dropbox, and Slack.
Note: We'll take a look at 7 examples of traditional project management tools later on in this post.
But first, let's consider why these tools are not enough for the type of enterprise-level agency we mentioned above.
Why Traditional Project Management Tools Don't Provide All the Help Needed by an Enterprise-Level Agency
The most significant challenge for marketing teams and agencies using traditional project management tools is that they only handle the organizational task management side of their workflow and do not handle the other key areas needed by enterprise ad and media agencies, namely:
- Ad order placement
- Ad execution
- Campaign measurement
- Client/stakeholder reporting
For these functions, you need to use additional tools (for example a BI tool) and store your data in a separate data warehouse which adds another layer of complication, and/or do some tasks manually using spreadsheets, for example.
This can be manageable for smaller agencies who could use Google Analytics, for example alongside, say, Asana, and manually create visualizations using spreadsheets and templates. But, once an agency is dealing with enterprise-level clients with large budgets and significant one-off campaigns, doing all this using different tools and methods becomes unnecessarily complex and time-consuming.
In addition, most traditional project management tools are designed for general business use and not marketers specifically so they are limited in terms of customization which, in turn, can restrict scalability for large agencies.
An enterprise-level agency with clients that have unique big-budget campaigns that involve a great deal of one-off work would benefit from a project management tool that also manages the rest of the workflow placing and executing ad orders and creating analytics and reports.
We'll walk through how the TapClicks solution does exactly this next.
TapClicks Does Project Management and Handles the Entire Workflow for Enterprise Ad Agencies
Our solution TapClicks helps enterprise-level marketing teams and agencies manage the entire process of ad campaign management. In addition to the standard project management functions offered by traditional project management tools, TapClicks provides a solution for the entire workflow, from ad order placement to campaign analytics and reporting. Streamlining the whole workflow process saves enterprise agencies a significant amount of time and resources allowing them to focus on profitability.
Specifically, TapClicks does this via 4 components that directly match the functions we mentioned above:
- TapOrders: Accurately log customers' orders
- TapWorkflow: Connect teams and optimize workflow
- TapAnalytics: Gain valuable insights on campaign performance
- TapReports: Create automated PowerPoint-style reports
We'll discuss each component next:
#1. TapOrders: Accurately Log Customers' Orders
Project management tools are helpful for tracking project progress and managing resources but they do not manage ad orders. When you're an enterprise-level agency and you're managing a huge ad campaign, you need to be able to track progress right from the get-go of placing the ad order.
With TapClicks, you can set up and track ad orders all the way through fulfillment. This means you can streamline the entire process of approvals and execution between sales, account management, and creative teams.
You can create a product catalog of the professional services you offer (e.g. advertising, digital marketing, SEO, etc.) along with templates that your sales team can use to create orders. This ensures that the correct information is always captured and makes it easier for your team to upsell services too. For example, as your sales representative fills out an order, they will see where they can offer an upsell, such as offering Instagram Ads with Facebook Ads.
The templates are highly customizable and, because you will know which of your campaigns are the most profitable through our analytics and reporting features (we'll cover these later), you can optimize your order templates accordingly.
Bonus: Use TapOrders as a Self Service Platform
An additional feature enterprise-level agencies can offer clients is that they can buy your ad services from their end by using TapClicks as a self service ad platform. Vendors can login through their portal, order the ads they want from your catalog, and pay via our secure portal.
Note: TapClicks supports many CRM tools (such as Salesforce) so you can integrate your CRM with TapClicks and transfer your order information directly into the platform.
Bonus: Track Billable Hours
Another benefit of using TapClicks is that you can track billable hours or timesheets (for example, for freelance creatives) and account for all deliverables.
The invoices don't need to be viewed in a separate tool such as QuickBooks. With TapClicks, you can easily see the work that's been submitted by your freelancers as well as the corresponding invoice.
Plus, by using TapClicks for time tracking, you can more easily measure how long projects are taking which helps you evaluate performance, make adjustments as needed and more accurately estimate future work.
Bonus: View Ad Creative alongside Your Results
And, we offer a feature where you can view the visual for your ad creative right next to the results you achieve for the work in your reports (#4 below). So, you can view and track every aspect of an ad order from placement and briefing creative through to viewing the ad design alongside the results pertaining to that order as well as the invoice, all within the TapClicks platform.
You can learn more about how TapClicks can be your ad order management system in this piece.
#2. TapWorkflow: Connect Teams and Optimize Workflow
The work management aspect of the advertising process is the area where traditional project management tools help with task management and team collaboration. But TapClicks goes much further than this for enterprise brands by also executing the ad orders you placed as well as managing the entire workflow right through to analytics and reporting.
Once the order forms have been created, it's time for the creative, marketing, and accounting teams to get involved. Instead of using a traditional project management tool to manage all the tasks, TapWorkflow can be used to automate the tasks and processes.
The workflow is outlined by you when you set up your TapClicks account based on your business processes and can be modified as your company grows or changes.
For example, a process we see commonly used by enterprise advertising teams (that can be modified to suit) would be from order completion creative and approvals fulfillment optimization completion rejected (if needed)cancellation (if needed).
So, after an order for a national Facebook Ad campaign, for example, is submitted by the sales team, TapWorkflow will alert the appropriate team members. Your team will only see the tasks that are ready for them as our platform is procedural and status aware*. This means the right team members will be alerted to new tasks and their dashboard won't be crowded with tasks that do not yet require their attention.
*This is highly customizable.
There is space on the order form for team members to collaborate so there is no need to use any other software such as Slack, email, or Asana. Discussion strings are contained right within the order so everything is interactive and easy to track.
Bonus: Launch Ad Campaigns Directly from TapClicks
A significant advantage for enterprise-level agencies using TapClicks is that you can execute your ad campaigns directly from within TapClicks.
So, instead of going into each marketing platform (e.g. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.) separately and building the ad there, you can launch it directly from TapClicks. This saves time and reduces any potential errors.
We have direct integrations with Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Wide Orbit, AffinityX, and Google Ad Manager and continue to add to our list. For any other ad platforms, you can easily push information through a webhook.
Another significant advantage for enterprise-level agencies using TapClicks is that, unlike any traditional project management tool, you can do all your analytics and reporting within the TapClicks platform.
#3. TapAnalytics: Gain Valuable Insights on Campaign Performance
If you're a large agency using a project management tool you're likely also using several other third-party tools (such as BI tools) to create your analytics and reports. Or, you may be going into each marketing platform separately, downloading data into spreadsheets and creating metrics and plots and graphs manually. All of this is labor-intensive work that takes dozens or hundreds of hours each month or whenever reports need to be created and, for an agency handling a huge ad campaign, it's simply not efficient.
TapClicks makes the entire analytics and reporting process easy by containing everything you need to do within the TapClicks platform. It does this by:
- Pulling data from all your data sources and storing it in your own TapClicks data warehouse.
- Allowing you to access your data (with no coding skills) and set up repetitive and complex calculations to automatically populate your reports.
TapClicks Automatically Connects to All Your Ad Data and Stores It in Your Own Data Warehouse
Project management tools do not extract data from your marketing data sources for you. And, if you're using a connector tool such as an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool to move your data to a data warehouse or BI tool, most of these don't connect to all your data sources.
TapClicks was designed to connect to essentially any data source. To date, we have built over 6,000 data connections via our Smart Connector. This tool allows you to connect to any data source you may have including proprietary and offline data sources.
We also have hundreds of pre-built API-based data integrations including all the marketing platforms you would expect (e.g., Facebook Ads, X [Twitter] Ads, etc.) as well as many lesser-known ones too (e.g. Genius Monkey and Tiger Pistol). Being able to pull data from all your advertising and marketing sources automatically saves your team hours of laborious work, particularly if you are working on a big-budget campaign.
Once you've set up your data connections, the data will be pulled through immediately and stored in your own fully managed and accessible TapClicks data warehouse. In many cases, we can extract 12 months of historical data too. TapClicks will then pull data automatically every day or whenever you choose to refresh it (in near real-time).
There is no need to store data in a separate database or data lake because TapClicks acts as your central hub, allowing you to store data forever and do everything you need to do within the platform including creating visualizations and reports and pushing data out to other destinations.
Access Your Data (without Coding Skills) and Automate Repetitive Calculations to Automatically Populate Your Reports
Storing your ad campaign data within the same platform as your workflow management solution means you don't need to use any third-party tools to pull data or do analysis. Specifically:
- Our platform is built to be marketer-friendly, so the data can easily be accessed by marketers with no data engineering skills. This means that enterprise-level ad agencies and marketing agencies can do their own analytics and reports without the need to call on a separate data team which can be costly and cause delays.
- Within TapClicks, you can set up or define advanced calculations once only and have them automatically executed anytime in the future.
Let's look further at #2: automating repetitive calculations of marketing data. We built this feature because enterprise-level agencies (and agencies of any size) have to consistently report on the same campaigns and metrics every month or week. Pulling together this data into a report (e.g. a PowerPoint) is typically a tedious and manual process involving spreadsheets and repetitive calculations.
Take, for example, the need for a social media marketing firm to report on total engagement across all clients' campaigns on all social platforms every week. In TapClicks, you can customize and combine metrics and give them an umbrella term. For example, different marketing platforms often have unique names for terms that mean the same thing (e.g., follows on X [Twitter] and subscribes on YouTube).
Normally, you'd have to add up the follows'' and the subscribes manually on a spreadsheet. But with TapClicks, you can define what you want to be included in your Engagement umbrella term and it will remain available and updated with the latest data for use in other features on the platform (e.g. a graph, a dashboard or a report).
Likewise, you can also automate more advanced calculations in TapClicks such as filtering by brand or specific product and aggregating stats across those into a single metric. You can also zoom in and out of campaigns regionally from a single location right up to the national or even international level.
The possibilities are endless. As with so many TapClicks features, you can define metrics and set up calculations just once and use them for any aspect of your analytics and reporting which saves a massive amount of time.
You can read more about advanced calculations in this piece.
#4. TapReports: Create Automated PowerPoint-Style Reports
The main challenge of traditional project management tools is that they don't allow you to create reports unless you use another tool.
With TapClicks, you can create powerful visualizations and reports in two ways and you can push your data out to other platforms too.
You can create dashboards so you can view campaign data in near real-time (typically updated daily).
TapClicks dashboard tools are designed to be scalable, meaning single dashboards or visualizations can easily be turned into templates and applied across dozens or hundreds of dashboards, campaigns, and clients.
Advertising agencies can create one dashboard for a specific type of report and filter the data for each client. This has the advantage of letting you make a change to this report in one place and having it instantly apply to all clients.
Here's a video that shows you how to create a dashboard in TapClicks:
PowerPoint-Style Reports Populated with Your Latest Data
Sharing your ad campaign analytics with clients is easy with TapClicks. Our reporting solution, ReportStudio, automatically populates PowerPoint-style reports. These can be scheduled to be sent out to your chosen audience whenever you want (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).
Here's a short video on how to schedule reports in TapClicks Report Studio:
TapClicks Delivers Data to Any Other Platform
If you prefer to analyze and visualize data in a third-party tool, you can also push data from TapClicks to any other destination.
These are just a few examples. With ReportStudio, you can also schedule and automate when the data is sent out.
Overview of 7 Traditional Project Management Tools
Asana is a popular general project management tool that allows a limited amount of customization. It tends to be used by smaller businesses who want to focus on task allocation and project execution rather than resource management or billing functions as it does not have these.
You can learn more about how TapClicks compares with Asana in this piece.
Basecamp is a solution that provides several useful project management features including real-time communication. However it doesn't offer Kanban boards of Gantt charts which you would expect from most project management tools and leans towards the more basic end of the spectrum.
Hive is a fairly new project management tool that incorporates AI into its project management interface. You can map out project timelines, track baselines, and execute comprehensive plans in Gantt, Kanban, table or calendar views. Hive also offers integrations with several third-party tools including Google Workspace and Jira.
Monday.com is a well-known project management tool or work operation system. It claims to be simple and intuitive and comes with a variety of collaboration features, timeline and calendar views and the ability to track time. It also has several integrations including with apps such as DropBox, Slack and Gmail.
Trello is a visual kanban-style project management tool with an intuitive interface that helps teams manage any type of project, workflow or task using drag-and-drop cards. The platform has a free version where you can start with a Trello board, lists and cards. As your team grows, you can use custom workflows with more (paid for) features such as productivity metrics, calendars and more.
Workamajig offers full end-to-end project management including task and resource management, shared calendars, time tracking and digital proofing. It also has an accounting package with invoicing and billing functionality and real-time financial visibility.
Wrike is a powerful collaboration and project management tool designed for marketing teams. It includes marketing and creative project management templates and dashboards that you can customize to suit your business. You can also share files, reports and tasks instantly and integrate to several other platforms including CRMs such as Salesforce and business intelligence tools such as Tableau.