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Digital marketing: In-house or outbound?

It’s 2016, and demand for the skills and expertise of digital marketing professionals is going through the roof. As online marketing overtakes traditional marketing methods in terms of reach, efficiency and platforms available, you must explore new digital marketing channels in order to compete in the digital landscape.

Businesses that want to reach customers online need to become more hands on with the digital marketing activities. The rise of social media and major changes to the way search engines work have made many traditional marketing techniques obsolete – did you know Facebook accounts for 13% of worldwide mobile ad revenue?

In its 2015 survey, the Content Marketing Institute found that 86% of B2B respondents are using digital marketing, and the growing power and influence of online or digital marketing shows no signs of slowing down.

Marketing requires a number of professionals skilled in different disciplines. A good digital marketing team will comprise:

  • A digital strategist
  • A graphic designer
  • A social media marketer
  • An SEO expert
  • Online advertisement manager
  • Content writers
  • Account manager

Not sure what type of online marketing is right for your business? Should you invest in hiring and training a digital marketing team who will learn and embrace the company culture, or outsource the effort to dedicated professionals with a proven track record?

It’s a difficult question to answer, as it depends very much on the internal resources available, in-house skills and knowledge level, and it might be difficult to find the candidates with the right skill sets and experience in your industry. It also depends on the nature of the business, the sector and the growth aims & objectives. For some companies the web will be integral to who they are what they do and how they reach their customers, for others the web may simply be one of many routes to their market.

Going in-house: pros and cons

57% of B2C marketers and 69% of B2B marketers reported that the lack of time proved to be their toughest challenge in digital marketing. With a dedicated in-house digital marketing team, you will have a flexible and dedicated team who understand the specific goals, objectives and culture of your business.

Communication will be easier with an in-house team on site or in proximity to your business – having direct contact with each of your team members can speed up the whole process.

Having an engaged team is one of the biggest advantages you can have against your competitors. You have the potential to recruit from existing internal staff by providing your employees with fresh challenges and opportunities to upskill by working on your in-house digital marketing. For example a copy writer in your sales team might be keen to start writing blog posts and learn more about the social media side of your operation.

If you do not have the skills, experience, time or resources to oversee all aspects of an effective digital marketing campaign, running it in-house is a risky strategy that will not pay off. Your employees will need to be continually trained in the new tricks of the trade. This can quickly become an expensive and time consuming effort: Building an in-house marketing team could cost you upwards of £250,000 a year.

As the demand for marketing skills grows, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to source and recruit talents with the right mix of creative and analytical skills for the role of Digital Marketer. A June 2015 study by Moz found there is a massive spike in marketing talent since 2012 and the trend is not going to slow down until at least 2020.

Research done by Bullhorn revealed that 64% of hiring managers reported a shortage of skilled talent for digital marketing positions, with only two potential candidates for every job opening.

Because of the speed at which marketing technologies and strategies evolve, employers are spotting large skills gaps: 79% of B2B digital marketers reported notable skills gaps in their teams. 82% of in-house digital marketers learned ‘on the job’ and not through any formal training. Another poll showed that only 48% of in-house digital marketers claimed to be proficient in digital marketing, and that 60% actually think they have an ineffective marketing programme.

If you are established business and have the resources to hire and train a new team, and if you are willing to put in a robust training, communication and admin structure, then it might be worth the investment in costs and time to get exactly what you want, and a marketing team that innately understands your mandate.

Going outbound: pros and cons

The number one advantage of using an agency is that it gives you access to its collective knowledge, experience and talent: An expert team of qualified and skilled marketing professionals who are already highly knowledgeable about digital marketing and will select the best suited digital marketing channels to reach your target audience (SEO, social media, video marketing).

One important consideration is the cost, which is going to be cheaper or give better return on your investment in the long run? Recruiting in-house can prove costly: A study by Deloitte found that it costs an average of £3,000 to fill a position.  Outsourcing your digital marketing efforts will save you as much as half the cost of hiring a full-time marketer.

It can be difficult for an in-house team, who are emotionally invested in the brand, to look objectively at the brand – getting an outsider viewpoint will offer you a fresh perspective on your brand and product.

External agencies will be aware that their reputation is at stake so will want to prove that they’re the best in a highly competitive industry. When you employ an agency you will be getting a team who are up to date with the latest developments in social media and digital marketing.

Remote technology (e.g. Trello, Slack) means projects can be tracked and manage with ease off-site.

Having access to the latest tools can increase the efficiency, productivity and performance of your marketing strategies. These tools are usually costly. Agencies will already have these tools because they are an integral part of their daily business.

Consider the cost of just some of the top marketing tools:

  • Bright Local (local SEO) – £45.16/pcm
  • Raven Tools (social media) – £173/pcm
  • Hootsuite Pro (social media) – £6.99/pcm
  • AWeber (email marketing) – £104/pcm
  • Sporout Social (social media, SEO) – £348/pcm
  • Manage Flitter (Twitter management, marketing) – £34 pcm

All included, an agency can save you over £30,000 a year on these marketing tools alone.

Priority conflicts: You will likely not be the only client, and other work may affect their availability. Your account manager or contact might not be available instantly when you need them if they have other commitments. Despite digital marketing taking place in real time, 24/7, most agencies work within a traditional 9 to 5, Monday to Friday timeframe – you may miss out on opportunities to engage with targeted audiences outside that timeframe.

Outsourcing doesn’t mean losing control of your marketing. It’s a proven, cost effective way to streamline your marketing, especially if you don’t have the time or resources internally.  Finding an agency that gets the right balance between taking ownership of products while also keeping you in the loop is crucial. There are numerous agencies out there. Review their track record and past successes before making your choice.

A blended approach

The majority of companies who are serious about digital marketing will take a blended approach, opting to outsource certain specific needs that require a high level of expertise, especially for work that you don’t have enough time or resources to handle internally.

Which digital marketing activities should you keep in-house and which are most suited to outsourcing?  A survey revealed that certain functions, notably those that are more content- and analytics focused, are commonly carried out in-house.

A large majority of respondents tackle email (75%), analytics (73%), social (70%) and content (67%) in-house, with less than 10% wholly outsourcing any of these functions.

The following specialisms might also be more suitable for outsourcing:

  • App development
  • Creation of campaign assets
  • Display advertising
  • Video production
  • Website design and build
  • Pay per click

The kind of work outsourced to freelancers includes the following:

  • Design (64%)
  • Content distribution (30%)
  • Editing (22%)
  • Measurement and analytics (13%)
  • Planning and strategy (8%)
  • Buyer persona creation (5%)

You can start small and then scale the outsourced work up or down.

An inexperienced in-house team might not be capable or qualified to handle new digital marketing challenges that they have not encountered before. Such challenges may best be handled by an external agency or partner. They already know what they are doing, enabling them to start right away on your campaign, leaving you free to concentrate on other essential tasks relevant to the running of your business – your own time is a cost to your business. Evaluate what works best for your business, budgets and resources.

Pay only for what you need.

Ready to take a step in the right direction?

If you are looking to outsource your business’s digital marketing needs to a full service digital agency that is responsive to your digital marketing requirements, feel free to connect with us.

We are confident that we can alleviate any concerns related to any of the questions above and give you peace of mind to take the plunge and reap the benefits of outsourcing your digital marketing to a specialist agency.

We offer a wide range of internet marketing services; by offering this array of online marketing options, we are able to present you with a tailored online marketing strategy that utilises only the most effective channels for your business.

Contact us now to discuss your digital marketing needs… 

 

 

James GentDigital marketing: In-house or outbound?
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