Many years ago, it was feasible for an employee to take on marketing in addition to other responsibilities. However, digital marketing has now become so intricate that each aspect requires a different specialist.
In fact, digital marketing is one of the most complex activities your business undertakes. As it’s always evolving, it can be difficult for non-marketers to keep up with all the latest developments.
It’s for this reason that many companies are choosing to outsource digital marketing. But would that be the right decision for you? How do you choose between in-house vs outsourcing digital marketing?
Why Do Companies Outsource Services?
Digital marketing is just one of the services companies choose to outsource. Many small to midsize businesses also use outsourcing to find remote talent for activities like customer service, bookkeeping, administrative tasks, and much more.
These are all completely different services, but the reason for outsourcing is the same: it allows the company to avoid hiring employees, which is a time-consuming, expensive process. In addition, it means current employees can stay working on core business activities.
In-House vs Outsourced Marketing
What about in-house vs outsourcing for digital marketing? This is arguably the most important service to outsource because there are so many types of digital marketing. Therefore, even if you were to hire an expert in social media, this person may only have a basic understanding of SEO — and vice versa. To cover all the different areas of expertise, you would need a team of between six and eight people.
Large corporations can afford to have all these experts in house, but building such a team is out of reach of most midsize businesses — let alone small businesses.
How Much Does Outsourcing Cost?
Depending on the services you want, you can expect to pay anything from $1,000 to $20,000 a month. If you’ve just started your business, you’ll pay around the lower end. Marketing will mainly involve developing your presence online and building brand awareness. Larger companies pay around the upper end, as they need a full suite of digital marketing services to expand into new markets.
Pros of Outsourcing Digital Marketing
Outsourcing digital marketing has numerous benefits.
1. Access to the Top Talent
Even hiring just one expert could be too expensive for your business. By outsourcing digital marketing, you access a wide range of talent for an affordable price.
2. Save Money Over the Long Run
It may seem like outsourcing digital marketing is expensive, but when you compare the cost to hiring in-house staff, you’ll actually save a significant amount of money. Take salary, benefits, and other expenses into account: you’re receiving a whole team for a fraction of what you’d pay one full-time employee.
3. Use of the Best Industry Tools
A huge number of tools can help improve your marketing efforts. For instance, they improve analysis, speed up implementation, and lead to a higher ROI.
Alone, none of these tools are too expensive. The issue is when you add them all up — then they become far out of the budget of most small businesses. When you outsource your digital marketing, access to tools is often included in the price.
4. Minimal Training Requirements
You will need to give the agency information about your business, but no training is necessary beyond this. Whenever there’s a change in the digital marketing sphere (such as an update to the Google algorithm or a social media platform adds a new feature), you can expect your digital marketing agency to cover training for its team.
5. Avoid Reliance on a Single Member of Staff
Small and midsize businesses that do hire in-house marketers often find they’re only able to afford one employee. If this employee takes a sick day or vacation, marketing goes on pause. Whereas there are some business activities that you can put on hold, digital marketing is not one of them. By outsourcing, if any team member is unable to work for any reason, the agency always has someone else who can take over the work.
6. New Ideas
The professionals at a digital marketing agency may bring a fresh perspective. They will work together to come up with ideas that no individual alone would arrive at alone, which will enhance every aspect of your marketing.
In contrast, just receiving ideas from your employees can lead to an echo chamber, particularly if you’re all from similar backgrounds or your team is quite small.
Cons of Outsourcing Digital Marketing
There are some downsides to digital marketing — it’s important to bear these in mind as well.
1. Lose Control Over Your Brand Image
Many business owners are hesitant to outsource the first time, as they don’t like the idea of giving up control of any aspect of their business. It’s true that the marketing team may take your company in a new direction, particularly in terms of brand image.
There are two things you need to do to prevent this from becoming a problem. First, clearly express what you want, including the image you’re striving to create for your brand. Second, accept that the marketing team (provided you’ve chosen well) knows what they’re doing. You need to trust that the agency will make the right decisions for your business.
2. Risk of Inconsistencies
Your strategy may have inconsistencies if you change from one marketing agency to another. This may be necessary if your first choice falls short of your expectations. You can avoid such problems completely by selecting the right digital marketing agency from the start. This means putting in the time to research agencies, as well as figuring out what your business needs.
3. Limited Availability
A major difference between an agency and in-house staff is that the marketing team will have other clients. The team members will be unable to dedicate all their time to your needs, meaning you may need to wait for work — especially if you ask for changes.
4. No One Knows Your Business Like You
Only you and your in-house staff understand the intricate workings of your business. However, for your marketing strategy to be effective, it’s important for the agency to know as much about your company as possible. This can be a challenge and it may mean you need to ask the agency to make adjustments before you’re able to launch marketing campaigns, particularly at the beginning.
What Tasks Should You Outsource?
There are a huge number of digital marketing tasks that you can outsource. To develop an effective marketing strategy, you’ll need to combine several. The following are some of the most important that you should definitely outsource if you lack in-house expertise.
Search Engine Optimization
For users to find you online, you need to be using search engine optimization. SEO is not only complicated, it’s constantly changing. Even if staff at your business is familiar with SEO best practices from two years ago, they already have outdated knowledge. You need support from someone who stays up to date with the latest updates.
Web Design and Development
Your marketing efforts won’t be nearly as effective if you lack a user-friendly, optimized website. If you already have a website, it may be worthwhile to ask the agency to update it to improve aspects like SEO and navigation.
The element that ties SEO and your website together is content. Through content marketing, you create content for your website and blog as well as guest posts to drive even more traffic to your website and premium content to generate leads. A digital marketing team will include a strategist to find the best topics, a keyword researcher, a writer to create the content, and an SEO expert to ensure the content is optimized.
Once you’ve generated leads, one of the best ways to nurture them is through email marketing. For instance, you can send a regular email newsletter with interesting, useful information that positions your business as an authority. Marketers at a digital marketing agency will know how to write emails that convert.
Social Media Marketing
Customers expect to find you on social media. However, social media marketing is one of the most time-consuming activities, as it’s necessary to constantly be creating new content and to post on a regular basis. In addition, you need to interact with users to keep engagement high. An experienced social media marketer will be able to do this and know how to measure results to keep improving your strategy.
The above are all organic methods of digital marketing. Including PPC ads in the mix will help expand your reach further, both on social media and in search. Relying on professional marketers will ensure you see the greatest possible returns from your ad dollars.
Now you’ve seen why you should outsource digital marketing, choosing between an in-house employee and outsourcing should be an easy decision. Unless your business is already made up of experts in all types of digital marketing, it will be difficult to maintain a competitive edge without outsourcing.
Nonetheless, if you are concerned about some of the disadvantages — such as a diluted brand image or a marketing team that doesn’t truly understand your business — you may like to consider a hybrid option. In other words, you outsource some of your digital marketing and maintain control of the rest. This may be a suitable option if you do have knowledge of some aspects of marketing along with a clear idea of the direction you want your business to take.