The Complete Guide To Outsourcing Digital Marketing

A blue background on a whiteboard includes all the phrases related to outsourcing digital marketing

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in outsourcing digital marketing, hiring a full-time digital employee, or some combination of both. This article is aimed at making your decision process easier. When does it make sense to outsource? What about outsourcing parts of an internal marketing function, but not all of it? Below we’ll answer some of these big questions.

When Does Outsourcing Digital Advertising Make Sense?

First, think about what you already outsource. Taxes? Payroll? Cleaning? Any process, service or role that doesn’t directly improve service, generate new customers or drive sales should be outsourced. A restaurant should keep an IT firm on a small monthly fee instead of hiring a full-time technician. Have you ever bought a steak dinner because the chophouse had an email disaster recovery plan? In that business, IT is a utility. Chances are it’s the same for your business as well. A steak house needs people to buy steaks, prepare steaks and sell steaks. Every other business function (legal, janitorial, clerical, etc) can be had from an outsourced provider at a reduced cost.  

That’s why in-house digital marketing doesn’t always make sense from a business perspective. Digital marketing is a collection of varied channels,  each requiring their own skillsets. However, it isn’t your core business (unless you are a digital marketing firm). You can get access to a full team of digital superstars for what you’d pay for 1 or 2 full-time digital employees.  Cost won’t be an issue, as digital marketing services are available from many providers across a wide cost spectrum.  In reality, you need someone in-house to keep things organized and to be a liaison with your agency partner…but you don’t need a group of junior level employees learning on the fly while your competitors eat up valuable market share.

Do People Outsource Part Of Their Digital Marketing?

Let’s start with some facts. According to a 2015 survey by the Content Marketing Institute that targeted small and mid-sized U.S. based companies, the following was found:

  • 64% of marketers outsource copywriting
  • 54% of marketers outsource graphic design
  • 30% of marketers outsource content marketing/PR
  • 13% of marketers outsource reporting & analytics

If you take into account the most people already contract out their website design or maintenance, as well as their paid advertising management, the above shouldn’t be surprising. In fact, it’s surprisingly low. Think about the cost of hiring a content marall theketer, even someone with limited experience. They may be a talented writer, and they may even be familiar with your industry…but will you get a return on their salary? Even an entry-level content marketer will demand a salary in the $35k to $40k range, and they may not work full time for that amount. It’s hard to fathom how much they would need to write (and how effective they’d have to be at promoting their own content) to generate even a break-even for their salary. That’s before you take into account taxes, benefits, ongoing training and benefits associated with full-time employees. And the biggest cost of all often times occurs when that person leaves. Their relationships, vendor contacts and industry learning go with them.

However, you may be in a situation where you have a “niche superstar” – someone who really excels at setting up and managing paid advertising campaigns, or who seamlessly navigates traditional and web design projects. If that is the case, lucky you. But all too often, these leaders are asked to take on other tasks that “seem related”. If someone manages paid ads they should be able handle SEO and content marketing right?  If someone is a strong designer they should also be able to build and maintain a website right? Almost always, the answer is a resounding “no”. Letting employees focus on key skillsets and filling in around them is always the right choice. These are certainly examples where outsourcing digital marketing pieces or parts make sense, to fill in around existing talent.

What is Integrated Digital Outsourcing?

a green board includes copy about outsourced versus inhouse marketing as a road signIntegrated digital outsourcing is a merging of your outsourced partner/partners with your internal  operations. It’s making your top vendors an extension of your company. It no surprise that a key component to an integrated relationship is trust, but it becomes even more important when you’re trying to build programs from the ground up.

An important point here is that it takes time (anywhere from 3 to 6 months) for an agency / client relationship to take hold, and for each party to fully understand the other. With this in mind, it’s best not to be hasty about hiring and firing agencies. It’s better to hold off on hiring until you are in a place (both emotionally and financially) to move forward for a few quarters. Especially if you are hiring based on SEO and content marketing needs. These results don’t happen overnight.

Why Else Would I Consider Outsourcing Digital Marketing?

Often times the big picture needs boiled down into easy to digest statements or ideas. Below are four “big ideas” that can put things into perspective. Why would you outsource a sensitive internal function like digital to an external team? Here’s four reasons.

1. They’ve been there, they’ve done that.

Professional digital marketers have real experience and are experts in their respective fields. Most digital marketing agencies specialize for a reason. It’s because they have a track record and are able to prove their expertise time and again. What’s better than working with people who already know the very best way to generate ROI for for your business? That’s exactly what happens when you outsource this function of your business.

2. They’re part of your team…but not “in your business”.

Any digital consultant or firm is already self-sufficient. They aren’t looking for benefits, training, resources, etc. They’re going to focus on marketing your business. The right partner will be empowered to make changes, and also have the knowledge of your business needed to create change. They can increase your digital presence without needing guidance, pep-talks, time off work, etc. You focus on your business, while they focus on their business (which is helping you grow yours).

3. They’re on top of an ever-changing industry.

Few aspects of your business move as fast as digital marketing does. Good agencies are always investing in and researching new technology to make sure they stay ahead of curves. The cost of being behind a curve can be severe. Instead of relying on one person or a few people to stay on top of an industry, it’s better to have a group of industry experts at your disposal.

4. They’re motivated by your success more than an employee will be.

Unfortunately, many employees are more interested in keeping their job versus really excelling at their job. Digital agencies tend to be more motivated by your bottom line because that, in turn, ensures a long engagement and future business. Keeping a focus squarely on generating a return is probably the greatest benefit of an external digital partner.

Still have questions about outsourcing digital marketing and if it’s right for you? Contact us today and we’ll walk through it with your for five minutes. That’s literally how much time it can take to see if digital outsourcing is right for your business or not.

Author Dan Foley

Dan is a content marketing and social media marketing expert with more than 5 years of experience working with B2B and B2C brands all across the United States. His clients include dentists, real estate agents, auto dealers and online retailers.

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  • Mandy Robinson

    I am really bad about doing it all myself and I know that I need to start doing this more! You are convincing me that I can’t do it all and there are probably people who are better qualified I should use.