In the new digital age of media and advertising, specialized digital agencies have been on the increase over the last decade with over 2,500 agencies now operating throughout the U.S., according to IBIS World. The same research firm also found agencies also employ close to 60,000 people and generating over $14 billion in revenue.
The growth in this business segment is expected to be over 12% during the next 10-15 years. This post will help you know what are the top online invoicing tools for digital agencies.
Doing More for Clients
Sources like Ad Age caution digital agencies to not just focus on the extraordinary growth expected in the next few years but to look more at how they operate and the value they can add for their clients. As Ad Age noted, “The brave new world of digital is prompting agencies to be more things to clients. They have to because marketing is so much more than advertising communications now. It’s data mining for unprecedented customer understanding; creating a series of products and experiences, and tying results together by applying a microscope to the whole endeavor.”
This gives today’s digital agencies a lot to think about and plan for in creating a sustainable agency that continues to satisfy clients, build the agency brand, and generate the necessary revenue. This requires focusing on creating the innovative and creative campaigns that resonate with each client’s target audience rather than focusing on the operational aspects that take up the most time. The same Ad Age article reported, “Through no fault of their own, agency people can easily spend 50% or more of their day fending off interruptions.”
Automating Operations for a Creative Focal Point
While these operational aspects are very necessary to keeping the business going, there are ways to automate some of these functions so that those working on accounts can focus on creating something spectacular rather than handling paperwork.
One of these areas is invoicing, which can now be done online, thanks to the availability of many online invoicing tools. Typically, a digital agency uses fee-based models. According to the Association of National Advertisers’ 2013 Trends in Agency Compensation Survey, fee-based agreements now comprise 81% of all compensation agreements while commission-based compensation are just 5% of all compensation agreements.
According to Marketing Land, these fee-based models are now preferred because they “provide predictable expenses for marketers and advertisers, particularly on long-term accounts that require ongoing maintenance, such as monitoring SEO rankings or social media content.” Also known as retainers, this fee-based system also provides a way to test new campaigns and digital marketing tactics because the agency will be paid for their time no matter what the results may be with these campaigns.
Here are some ways these tools can help your digital agency team focus on the creative rather than the tedious tasks of sending out retainer invoices:
- Since a retainer is for the same amount each month, it’s a good idea to use an online invoicing tool that automatically sends out that recurring invoice amount on a designated day each month. Typically, a digital agency would send that retainer at the beginning of the month, but other clients may have arranged for a different date in the terms of their agreement.
- Using an online invoicing tool provides a way to digitize your operations with paperless billing. After all, you are a digital agency, so you want to make sure your operations reflect your technical expertise by delivering email invoices that your clients can pay directly from their inbox, including using any number of payment portals.
- Clients generally want to know what you did with the time allotted for that monthly amount. Many of today’s online invoicing tools now come with time trackers, which provide a way to keep on top of how much time you have spent on each account and then simply import this into the invoice to share with clients. It’s a lot faster and easier to have the time tracking in the background while you toggle between client projects. That way, you will never have to worry about forgetting that half hour on one project or hour on another.
- Since expenses are another time-consuming factor to track in billing clients, including any potential travel or production expenses, turn to the available online invoicing tools that also let you account for all these expenses as part of an online log or that easily integrates with other accounting systems where you can keep receipts and expense records.
- If you have clients in other countries as so many digital agencies now have, then you need an online invoicing tool that can configure invoice amounts in various currencies and to account for different tax systems. Rather than you trying to determine the most current exchange rate, you can get an online invoicing tool that does this for you.
Not only do online invoicing tools give you more time to brainstorm those amazing digital marketing campaigns that will drive your reputation, but your digital agency most likely will experience the joy of faster payments from very appreciative clients who like the new invoicing process. Even better, these online invoicing tools are free. Want to learn more? Click the button below to find out!