Marketing via digital channels is undoubtedly a necessity in today’s world. And it’s becoming more complicated and perhaps more challenging than ever before. Businesses nowadays outsource a plethora of functions, including web hosting, accounting, and customer service. How about marketing? Outsourcing of digital marketing efforts is a growing trend as well, and there is no shortage of agencies that are ready to handle that work on your behalf. But is it the right choice for you and your company? Let’s look at the pros and cons, of doing so, which we hope will help you decide whether to outsource your digital marketing efforts.
Cons of Outsourcing
As you might have already guessed, I’m going to have a lot to say about the advantages of outsourced digital marketing. So, let’s start by considering some of the disadvantages and the objections you may have to outsourcing.
Loss of Control
If you can manage digital marketing efforts yourself, in house, there’s one obvious and immediate advantage. All the work goes on in your office, under your purview. The person or people working on your projects will be, in all likelihood, your employees. You’ve screened and interviewed them, trained them and inculcated them with your company values and visions. They’re your team, on your payroll, working under your roof. It’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain that level of control when you outsource to an agency. The last thing you need is to outsource to an agency who’s going to take your projects and run with them, without keeping you in the loop, which will surely lead to problems.
Lack of Full-time Personnel
If you keep your marketing efforts in-house, you know you’ll have people, or at least one person, who is wholly and completely devoted to your projects. Again, this will be your full-time employee, on your payroll, and their only concern (at least during working hours) are your company’s needs. On the other hand, when you outsource, your digital marketing efforts will be handled by outsiders. The agency, and its employees, have many clients, of which you’re only one. That shouldn’t be an issue, regarding long-term projects, as the agency should assign the talent necessary to complete the work on time. But what happens when an urgent need arises. Though the situation may be urgent to you, if the agency’s key players are already deployed to another assignment, you may not be able to get the immediate help that you need.
The Wrong Agency
A risk in outsourcing is that you could end up with agency that just isn’t the right fit for your company’s digital marketing efforts. They may not really have an understanding of your industry or your client base. Or, they may simply not work well in the context of your business structure. Either way, though this is highly undesirable, it can be avoided by carefully screening and choosing a marketing agency that understands your business and is capable of achieving what you need them for.
Pros of Outsourcing
Don’t forget that when we talk about digital marketing efforts, we’re actually talking about a wide range of tasks, including SEO, website content creation, blogging, social media, strategizing, analytics, and so much more. Assuming that you have the budget to hire a full-time in-house marketing expert, it’s very unlikely that this person will be at “expert level” in every aspect of the marketing process, and you probably don’t want to start hiring and managing an entire marketing team at this point in time. It’s possible that someone who is an SEO guru will also be a talented graphic designer, but don’t count on that.
While it may appear to be most efficient to hire an in-house person who is always available to you, this isn’t always the case. Remember that this person’s salary is not your only cost associated with keeping him or her on staff. There are, of course, costs for health benefits, paid time off, and 401K. Don’t forget the less obvious costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training your employee. And you’ll also be racking up expenses for office space, furniture, phones, computers, software, and any other tools they may need. You’ll be paying for this person always, whether or not the workload is sufficient to keep them busy.
The cost of outsourcing, in contrast is based on nothing but your specific needs. The compensation and overhead associated with keeping an employee on staff is no longer a concern, since the people working on your digital marketing efforts will be the agency’s employees, not yours. You’ll hire them to do precisely the work you need them for, based on fees that you negotiate when you contract the agency. No paying for wasted, unproductive hours, or any of the other hidden costs of carrying an employee on your books.
Cutting Edge Tools and Techniques
A digital marketing agency has one purpose, and one purpose only: to master and perfect the art of digital marketing. It’s their business to stay on top of what’s currently trending in the digital marketing world. Since this is their only area of focus, it’s in their best interest to be aware of the hottest tools, methods and technologies, and to try them out to see which is the most effective. They’ll be working with clients in your industry, so they should know, by the time that you hire them, what works and what doesn’t work, for companies in your field. And they’re also probably working with clients in other industries, who may be utilizing techniques that are still unknown in your field, but could benefit your business greatly. If there’s training to be done to get their staff members up to speed on new approaches, that’s all their responsibility as well.
An in-house marketing person working in your office, will be focused on nothing but marketing as well. But it’s not likely that they’ll have the exposure to everything that other companies are doing, since they’re only working on your projects. It’s also unlikely that they’ll have the time and resources to do the research and testing necessary to properly vet new tools and methods.
A Scalable Solution
One of the biggest challenges with keeping work in-house, and therefore one of the main reasons that many companies outsource so much of their work, is the challenge of maintaining the right levels of staffing through the ups and down of the business cycle. You may have an in-house staff that’s perfectly capable of managing today’s workload, but what if there are urgent needs next month that emerge quite suddenly. It’s going to be difficult to recruit, hire, and train people on short notice. And then, what will happen when the workload slows down? You’ll either have to lay people off, or continue to carry their salaries and hidden costs while you wait for more work for them to present itself.
However, when you outsource your digital marketing efforts, it’s the agency’s responsibility to maintain proper levels of staffing. When you contract them, they’ll assign the internal resources necessary to complete your work on time. If there are sick days or other staffing issues, they’ll be the ones to make sure that there’s sufficient coverage to get the work done on schedule.
Keeps You Focused On Your Priorities
Even if you can dedicate the budget to hiring in-house marketing staff, it’s going to take some management on your part. Even if it’s only one person, you’re going to need to oversee the work they’re doing, and stay somewhat involved in the marketing process. And then there are all the management responsibilities associated with keeping employees in your business and on your payroll.
It’s become a generally accepted “business best practice” to outsource any work that isn’t a part of your company’s core competencies. I’m assuming that marketing isn’t one of those, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. While all resources are at a premium in a growing company, the one that’s the most precious has got to be your own time. You’ve got plenty of responsibilities pulling you in different directions and putting demands on your time. Why not just outsource the whole operation to experts in the field, and put your own time to higher and better use. Give us a call to set up a consultation and see how outsourcing your digital marketing efforts can benefit your company.