Digital Marketing: In-house or Outsource?
Once you’ve decided to increase your investment in digital marketing, your next decision is whether to expand your internal marketing team, outsource to an agency or consultant, or divide the new work between both.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are a number of things to consider as you assess your needs:
- Control. You’ll have complete control of your marketing processes and budget.
- Access. You can consult with any member of your digital marketing team at any time.
- Integration. Coordinating and collaborating with other internal teams is easier, as is working together to support mutual goals.
- Passion. Your company’s employees will have more invested in the success of your marketing efforts, and no one knows your company like you and your team do.
- Resources. Make sure you have the budget to adequately support the required number of people with the specialized digital marketing knowledge you’ll need. The various specialist’s roles may include strategists, writers, designers, web developers, analysts, and technicians.
- Talent allocation. If you need to have current staff members take on new digital marketing work, you may be diverting some valuable talent away from tasks that are more important to your core business.
- Complexity. As you add new marketing functions and team members, the overall complexity of managing digital marketing will increase. Inefficiencies in your processes can also come along with this.
- Skill gaps. Today’s marketing includes tactics that rely on technical knowledge, requiring skills in disciplines from web development to search engine optimization. Relying on team members to take on roles with which they’re unfamiliar can leave critical gaps in your team’s skill sets.
- Savings. At first look, hiring outside digital marketers can appear expensive, but it can be more cost-effective and provide a greater ROI over the long term. SEO and PPC are good examples: A skilled SEO professional can help you avoid costly penalties levied by Google on your website’s ranking, while an experienced PPC practitioner knows how to efficiently manage your paid ad budget and get the most for every dollar.
- Flexibility. You can outsource the more complex or technical digital marketing tasks while keeping your own staff free for tactics that should be managed in-house. You may, for example, want to keep social media in-house since it’s often best to have someone within your company speaking directly to your audiences. You may also want to outsource SEO because it’s become so highly specialized.
- No hiring or training. Outsourcing lets you take recruiting and training off of your to-do list.
- Current knowledge. Digital marketing changes almost by the minute. The best marketing partners thrive on keeping up.
- Gaps in understanding. Depending upon your company’s industry, outside marketers may not understand your business or customers well enough to efficiently and effectively manage your campaigns without significant oversight of their efforts.
- Content volume and quality. Modern marketing, particularly inbound marketing, depends heavily on content. Just any content won’t do, though — for the best results, your company’s content must be highly targeted to your customers’ needs and where they are in the buyer’s journey. You also need an ongoing high volume of relevant, well-written content. This may be a tall order for some outside marketing partners, particularly those more focused on the technical side of digital marketing.
- Trust. The question of trust isn’t limited to digital marketing partners. Working with external consultants or teams in any area always requires you to trust that they’re being good stewards of your resources, brand, and reputation as they work behind the scenes.
More food for thought
As you’re weighing your choices, also consider these questions:
- Do you currently have the time and the people you need to create effective digital marketing strategies and execute specialized tactics well?
- Do you currently have to rely on IT team members for tasks that would be better done by marketers, such as creating new pages or functionality for your website?
- Do you currently have to rely on marketing generalists for specialized digital marketing tasks, such as SEO?
- Do you have great writers on staff who can meet the need for high-volume, high-quality content on which modern marketing depends?
- Do you have a strategy for continually tracking and analyzing the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns?
- Are you confident that you can identify the digital marketing strategies and tactics that will offer the best ROI for your company?
- Is your marketing team able to keep up with the rate of change in digital marketing?
Your answers to these questions can help you honestly assess your current team’s strengths and weaknesses, and build your ideal future team.
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