How Our Frustrations with SEO Campaign Management Led to the Development of Workado

In 2008 I jumped into entrepreneurship and started a digital marketing agency.

By 2010 I had two other people working with me full-time, and some additional part-time/freelance help. We had moved on from managing our client campaigns with whiteboards and so at the time, we were managing our campaigns and tasks with a shared excel file.

Our services had gone back and forth from packaged link building solutions, to custom link building solutions with blogger outreach, social media, and everything in between. So clients were all getting different services, which made staying on task difficult (let alone the constantly changing sales messages).

As a small shop, we also found it difficult to communicate with clients about activities performed. We just didn’t have the time, nor the capacity without hiring someone specifically for customer service.

So, by the end of 2010, we decided to build out a platform that not only allowed us to track all campaign progress internally, but then also report on completed activities and tasks to clients.

I justified the expense in building it, by telling myself we wouldn’t need to hire someone for customer service.

I knew that the tool had potential as a SaaS product as well, knowing we couldn’t find what we needed ourselves. Project management systems are great for projects, but marketing campaigns aren’t projects. That said, I wasn’t ready to launch something like this publicly and instead wanted to see how well my team would leverage it internally.

By early 2011 we had built our own campaign management system that we called The Work Wall.

It was originally built with Ruby on Rails, and built very specifically for us. In fact, we even had to rebuild it at the end of 2012 when we decided to try using a credit based system to sell our services.

Basically, we had a complete menu of services and depending on the complexities of the service, we applied a credit cost. Clients than purchased a certain number of credits every month.

Here is what our “service sheet” looked like:

Needless to say, we had to have a custom credit count system for each campaign so we could properly keep track of the credits. I wouldn’t suggest going with a credit system, as it proved to be difficult to explain during the sales process.

I knew by the end of 2013 though, we had a tool that we relied on 100% to power our entire agency. I could log in and immediately see where things were, which campaigns were behind, who was working on what, etc. All at a glance.

I knew we had something that other marketers needed. This was realized in two ways:

  1. We depended on it 100% to run our agency
  2. It helped us sell customers on our transparency and our abilities.

I figured – what digital marketing agency doesn’t want to be better organized and have it also be a sales tool, while simultaneously increasing lifetime value by showing clients what they are paying for every month?

My thoughts exactly! So in November of 2013, I had decided I wanted to take the tool public.

This meant we would have to rebuild it in Javascript (AngularJS front end/NodeJS backend if you’re curious) to allow for real-time updating and what not. It also meant that I would personally have to switch gears and no longer be agency minded, but instead focused on Workado. Here’s a blog post I wrote about making the transition from agency to tool provider and my role had to change.

How did you manage your campaigns before Workado? If you aren’t using Workado yet – I’d love to hear why!

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