Agencies vary in size and purpose, but all agencies have a mission to fulfill, goals to achieve, and clients to serve – that's agency operations.
Operating here and there, SayNine has stabilized as an in-house SEO agency specializing in SaaS link building. The success grew over time. Powered by persistence, resistance, and belief in our actions, we upscaled.
In this article, we will walk through the HOWs together and share how we have efficiently streamlined the agency management system at SayNine, resulting in 100% of task completion instead of the previous 60-70%.
First, let's define why you need it.
Why Should You Streamline Your Agency Operations? 3 Benefits We Gained
For any agency, starting from the small ones, streamlining agency operations means improved agency efficiency, accuracy, costs, customer service, and profitability.
With the expansion of the team at SayNine, processes and tasks got more complex. We had to take measures for efficient agency processes. Clear task descriptions and workload distributions would save the situation.
1. A Higher Level Of Productivity
When we started SayNine, we had only one resource (the whole team) handling every project. It led to slow agency processes, unsatisfactory agency-wide results, and difficulties.
Each team, responsible for link building, content creation, and data, worked independently without understanding the impact on others or the agency.
To address this, we divided the company into teams with specialists in their respective fields, including a team lead, 2-4 link builders, and 1-2 content writers. This division created a smooth agency management system, as each team operates like its own agency. Team members learned how their work affected others, creating a positive domino effect where one task's completion pushed others forward.
2. Workflow Simplification
By dividing tasks among people with responsibilities, we have achieved good managemental results at SayNine. This means that we were able to more easily track each team member’s tasks and KPIs and determine what could be done to improve.
Each member on board gained a good understanding of their tasks and, most importantly, how those tasks affect one another. All members of our team now know exactly when they are needed and what needs to be done to get from A to Z.
3. New Opportunities
Since management and organization are proper, you can put your agency's team efforts, time, and creativity into new projects.
In other words, streamlining agency operations leaves more room to come up with new ideas, campaigns, and opportunities for the company.
We turned the everyday daunting tasks into projects that everyone put value into. All the agency workforce saw their place in the agency processes. Instead of automatically fulfilling their jobs, employees got a purpose in their efforts.
How We Streamlined Our Agency Operations (8 Tips From Real Agency)
Every agency faces challenges and problems. In our case, streamlining operations has helped us overcome and learn a lot.
If you're also planning to implement a streamlining strategy, we have some experience to share based on our experience streamlining operations at SayNine.
Let's get to it.
1. We Focus On One Niche
You may agree that focusing your efforts, time, and skill set on one thing can help you improve and succeed. This is the same when it comes to agency management systems as well, which is why we implemented this from the very beginning.
In our case, SEO has three main branches:
- Off-Page SEO.
Our focus is on the latter, which is about link building mostly.
But, this wasn't enough focus for us. So, we decided to build SaaS backlinks for SaaS websites even though there are other methods, including link building from only-content websites, agency link building, HARO link building, etc. This way, companies could outsource link building and get into a more efficient deal.
While narrowing down your focus has challenges, it can also help you get more experience, learn a lot, and stand out from the competition. That's something we're proud of.
How exactly will this help you? Well, in our case, here's what we've achieved:
Better results since we direct all our efforts and resources towards one primary strategy.
SayNine is known as an expert in SaaS link building, making us more trustworthy when a company is trying to build good backlinks.
Since we focus on SaaS backlink building, there are a lot of repetitive tasks and processes we were able to automate.
No matter your industry, you should still shift your focus on one thing for the above-mentioned reasons.
2. A Repetitive Task? Automate It.
At SayNine, once something repeats over and over, we turn it into automation.
The employees are well aware that automation is a golden practice. Whenever they feel some task is daunting, they let the data team know. The wait may take a while, but the team members understand the task will get automated.
Besides, of course, creativity. It cannot be automated, but automated agency processes will help creativity work better.
In this process, there are two things we focus on:
Creating formulas on Google Sheets: used for data gathering, cleaning, and segmentation.
Writing Python scripts: used in many aspects of link-building outreach so that the link builders don't have to do it all manually. For instance, scrapping articles that we need, domain URLs, and target anchors.
Automation makes agency processes and operations more efficient.
3. Clear Responsibilities And Tasks Are Set
Previously, our agency operated without distinct teams, resulting in overlapping roles and a lack of accountability.
Now we operate with three teams, each led by a team leader.
The team lead's role is to maintain consistent client communication and ensure clients are well-informed and satisfied with our services. They also do strategic planning and project management, making sure projects are on track.
While the team lead is overseeing the project, data specialists take care of the clean data for the outreach, link builders handle the everyday communication with their contacts, making sure that the links come from authority websites, and the content writers provide well-thought pieces where our clients will have their backlinks.
The work delegation among micro departments makes the macro results measurable and real.
4. Using Tools and Software to Simplify Our Work
Our operations go smoothly with the SEO-related tools and technological innovations of our choice. Our niche is SEO-related, but the best agency tools may differ depending on your own specific niche.
Let's discuss some of the tools we use at our agency:
Ahrefs: Ahrefs is our go-to SEO tool to carry out the research behind link building. We conduct keyword research, monitor backlinks, use the tool's reports and analysis section, and inspect domains for essential SEO metrics.
EasyDMARC: Gmail is where most of our communications take place. Using the platform for so many communications, it's critical to have domain security. With EasyDMARC, we can easily monitor and analyze email deliverability, helping us maintain a strong email sender reputation and ensure messages reach their intended recipients.
ChatGPT: It would be dumb to live in the century without using Large Language Models, like the most popular, ChatGPT. The integration of this tool streamlines various routine operations. The brainstorming is more fun and fast, especially for the content team. "It's like having a friend to talk to and generate ideas," says a content specialist.
These tools have elevated our service delivery, exceeding our client's expectations. As a result, our daily workflows have become more efficient.
5. Coming Up With Strategies To Scale
How do most agencies grow? By understanding their next goals and steps, right?
In our case, we try to see the more significant picture instead of determining the next strategy.
Also called scaling, this approach helps view the whole agency operations from another perspective allowing us to see our biggest mistakes, understand potential challenges, and define where we want to go next.
How do we do this?
- We organize a meeting to discuss potential methods and ways to grow hugely. For example, lately, we've decided to expand our services and also focus on On-Page and Technical SEO.
- Next, we determine what stops us from doing it. In the cases of our example, it would be the fact that we don't know any more SEO beyond backlink building.
- Lastly, we decide what we need to do to achieve such a big goal. In our example, this is working with an SEO specialist, learning from them, and practicing on multiple websites before we take on an actual project, from backlink building to backlink monitoring processes.
Once we've discussed all the big to-dos, it's time to separate projects and tasks and understand our capabilities and resources. This helps us do two things:
Define what other resources we need (hire new people, get new software, etc.)
Define the exact tasks and responsibilities of each team member.
And so, this is our way to scale instead of just growing as an agency.
6. Separating The Whole Process Between Teams
Dividing our workflow into different tasks has been one of our best decisions. Everyone knows their responsibilities, and nothing gets mixed up.
Initially, we used to work in departments: link builders, data specialists, and content writers.
What was wrong with this approach?
None of these people knew what the other one was doing and couldn't help and grow. So, nobody knew how they could benefit from other specialists' skills to make their work easier.
We then decided to shift the way we had formed the agency workforce initially and created new teams. Each team had people from every department, and they ALL had to work to succeed as a company and achieve goals. Such an approach led to better team productivity and better use of resources.
For example, in one of the teams, the data specialist created a new Google Sheet to manage the content writer's daily tasks better and avoid confusion. The sheet had all the information needed, including the deadline, guest post status, draft, etc.
7. Employee Personal Branding
When the roles and responsibilities were clearly defined, the company stabilized the inputs and outputs. It was time for personal branding.
The best place to complete the mission was LinkedIn. From the company’s internal perspective, this meant boosting our trustworthiness as an agency which later led to more streamlined communication with external sources.
We invited a professional LinkedIn coach who walked us through succeeding on this professional platform, making our voices heard, and having fun.
This proved a win-win practice. Team members felt satisfied seeing their post reaches, impressions, and engagement. There is no need now to remind them about posting on LinkedIn.
Company-wise, we had a boom. Each member's effort on LinkedIn resulted in SayNine's visibility, growth, and cooperation. Make your employees' brand, and make your logo design recognizable on social media platforms.
8. Employee Training
Employees are the best investment a company can make in its operations. It's a payoff. You create a learning environment where employees' expertise and skills multiply. Then, they put the knowledge into company profit.
In our case, LinkedIn training was the first company-wide training all our agency workforce willingly participated in and achieved good outcomes—personal branding, company branding, and growth that is fueled over time.
The second significant training investment was an Excel course taken by everyone. The need was there. We complete most of the tasks through Google Sheets. Using this Google program is an inseparable part of our workflow, regardless of position. We invited an Excel coach over, and the team was up to start the course.
We witness improved agency efficiency, increased innovations, and faster-completed tasks by applying the newfound knowledge to work. A learning and growth mindset fosters an environment where the agency workforce thrives and the agency flourishes.
Challenges We Faced When Streamlining Our Agency Operations
No success goes without a challenge, and so is the case with agency operations. Each company itself has its obstacles in management and workflow streamlining.
Let us share what we encountered and how we handled challenges at SayNine.
1. Creating a Positive Work Environment
Recently, this has become a huge challenge for agencies because so much needs to be done. And often, there may not be an obvious solution.
We decided it's best to keep the working hours flexible and build a sense of employee support. This way, employees feel the "freedom" of not having to wake up at 6 am or not having to leave the office at 9 pm. Therefore, they can create an effective schedule that benefits them and be productive at the office.
Regarding a supportive environment, it's essential to let your agency workforce know you always have their back: listening to their concerns and issues.
2. Workflow Management
Every agency requires its workflow management for the best agency operations and overall success.
In our case, we have divided the whole link-building process into smaller pieces.
- First, the data team gathers the necessary data for link-building outreach, finds the email addresses, and organizes this process.
- Next, the link builders team communicates well with new partners and builds long-lasting relationships.
- In the meantime, whenever there's a need for edits or guest post writing, we know we have a content writers team.
While the whole workflow is simplified to this level, all employees know exactly what's expected of them, and the process goes as smoothly as ever.
3. Accepting Mistakes And Learning From Them
Yep, this can be a real challenge sometimes.
And, even though this is a classic, we will share how hard it was for us and how we have overcome this issue thanks to streamlining our agency operations. The hardest part would be to accept that some project or a goal has gone to failure instead of your imagined success. For this, we tried to see what we could learn, what we did wrong, and how we could've done it instead.
In the next phase, we try to implement the new knowledge into a fresh strategy while also calculating the risks involved or the potential of another failure. In almost all cases, we could turn our failures into new goals or projects.
Motivation for a successful agency management system comes when everybody knows what they aim for, how they should tackle the goals, and the expected behavior for those achievements.
Streamlining agency operations is the key to achieving efficiency, productivity, and success. Take that extra mile, make the route shorter for your team on board, invest in their growth, and encourage personal development.
Those will pay off, reaping the rewards for your very own agency.