The Digital Forest Blog

Finally! a great tool for Marketing management and planning

One common complaint we hear from clients regarding marketing planning and management is the amount of different marketing tools and applications required to keep a handle on your campaigns. For example we took a straw pole from our clients to find out what tools they use and they had on average 5 different tools they used weekly if not daily. These included apps like:

  • Numerous Spreadsheets (one client used 7 different sheets!)
  • Calendar App
  • Google Analytics dash board
  • Google Adwords dash board
  • Bing Advertising dash board
  • Business Catalyst or other CMS analytics dash board
  • CRM reports
  • Social Media Monitoring Dashboards
  • SEO Ranking Dashboards

The later of these - the dashboards and monitoring software, were monthly subscription products which although not expensive certainly add up the more of them you have!

All the web based products had their own logins and various different methods for pulling up stats causing no end of headaches.

The Solution

Enter 9-20am - A new Software as a service offering from Smart Giraffe Research that allows you to run your marketing budget and costs alongside a ‘linear’ marketing calendar with various data feeds with your results running in sync, all online in a single app. This is all presented in a method called ‘Time Series Aligned Visualisation’ which shows all your activities, costs and results on a single timeline for each marketing plan you create.

Marketing planning app

Managing Costs and Budgets

The App is surprising simple to use, Create your marketing plan - simply set a timescale - normally 6 months, 12 months etc and give it a name. The app automatically generates a full plan and you simply add your marketing activities on the left and your budget figures - as you would in a spreadsheet. The app totals your costs and budget figures so you know exactly where you are for all types of activity - so no formulas required!


The linear calendar is presented in a compact view as a separate calendar for each marketing sector you create - how you segment your activities is of course up to you. The calendar shows the number of activities in a darkening yellow - a bit like a heat map - so you get an instant view of where you have a lot of activity. Deadlines are highlighted in red on the day required.

You can easily see up coming events and get a birds-eye view of lots of activities without the visual ‘buzz’ you get on standard calendars.

Tasks and activities in each day are shown instantly by rolling over the day in question. Click the day and you get a full view which you can easily edit or add new entries..

Data Feeds

The Data feeds are all shown below the table of marketing activities - which you can collapse up to the main groupings to make things easy to manage and view.

You can link up your google analytics and adwords accounts, social media and other platforms directly to the app which will then pull in data daily and map it on to the timeline.

There is also a custom feed type which you can add you own data - such as telephone leads, actual sales, whatever you wish - you can have 5 metrics on each chart and as many charts as you need!

All the data feeds are aligned with the calendar and your costs so this is when things start to become interesting - you can see when you did a lot of activity say on twitter, for example, how your follower count changed over time, you can see when you paid for a magazine ad and when it went live and then the effect it had on your leads. This format suddenly becomes enlightening - as you start to see other relationships - such as how you twitter traffic increased when we ran a google PPC campaign - which before you probably might have missed the correlation… but shown on a chart over time - side by side it all becomes very clear…

9-20am is also working what it calls ‘intelligence feeds’ external feeds that it produces that can be added directly to your timeline - for example the weather, school holidays, google algorithm changes etc - other environment data that could affect your results which you currently may not have the resources or time to research.
These aren’t available in the beta version but we believe are coming soon - and we presume you could have a long list of possible feeds.

Dashboard mode.

An additional features of the 9-20app is the ability to run the whole timeline in ‘Dark mode’ and as a dash board - which removes the menus etc and when turned to full screen on your browser looked great on the office wall - and giving an instant visual guide to current activity and performance.

Digital Forest was involved in the development of this app specifically because we saw a need for it from clients - and we will be looking to use it with our clients going forward.

The cost is currently £12 ex vat a month which is great value especially as you can probably do away with several other apps in the process! more information at