It’s the million dollar question that businesses of all sizes are asking themselves today.
And it’s because most companies are finally arriving to the conclusion that effective digital marketing is vital to a brand’s success.
Thing is – not many businesses are entirely aware of the idiosyncrasies that digital marketing entails making the decision to keep the function in-house or outsourced a challenging one.
It stands to reason that every company's position is unique.
This means there is no one right answer for all - what makes sense to one enterprise is not necessarily going to make as much sense to another.
But there are commonalities – shared factors that are applicable to any business and which can help them decide whether to outsource their digital marketing function - or not.
Below are some of what should be considered:
Digital marketing is not one thing – it’s a blanket term for a broad spectrum of activities including PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), mobile marketing and a number of other digital advertising tactics – many of which are used interchangeably.
So in trying to ascertain whether to keep the digital marketing function in-house or not, ask yourself, do you understand exactly what it entails and does your business have the capacity to create a large enough team that can perform all these functions or will outsourcing the task come at far less of a human capital cost in terms of time and money.
Digital marketing is constantly evolving. Nothing ever remains static – online consumer behaviour changes constantly, algorithms get altered all the time, last year’s SEO best practices become this year’s worst, and so forth. Trying to keep your finger on the pulse in an industry that is so incredibly dynamic is a challenge second to none.
Here’s the thing though. Keeping abreast of current fads and trends is the critical basis upon which a digital agencies are built – and they have a team of experts who possess the necessary know-how to recognise and act on the ever-shifting ebbs and flows that make digital marketing what it is.
So what you need to establish is whether an in-house team could ever acquire the wealth of knowledge needed to perform your company’s digital marketing function in its entirety – and at the same pace and with the same efficiency that a digital agency does. While not impossible, it will take continual training and learning so as to keep your team sharp.
The cost of in-house digital marketers is often higher than what a business normally anticipates. Inevitably, no one person can fulfil the entire digital marketing role and the cost of hiring and training a team of digital marketing experts can far exceed that of outsourcing this function to a digital agency who already has the digital expertise you may need.
Aside from salaries, you also have the cost of advanced tools needed to not only run effective digital marketing campaigns but that also allow you to analyse the results of those campaigns to calculate ROI for your business. These tools can often be unaffordable for smaller companies with minimum budgets - whereas agencies already have access to them - meaning by outsourcing the function, financial burden stands to be eased.
There is no one digital marketer that is an expert in every facet of digital marketing. There are simply too many roles for one person to take on efficiently, ranging from SEO experts, search marketing gurus, pay-per-click (PPC) specialists, web or app developers, and so on. Add to these the need for graphic and web designers, copywriters, translators, project managers and strategists. As a result, if your company still decides to go the route of an in-house digital marketing team, it will need to employ more than just one individual to fulfil these functions.
What happens then if your PPC specialist goes on leave or your SEO expert falls ill? If there is no-one else with the expertise to cover this load, you are potentially stuck with a bottle-neck situation that could halt digital marketing campaigns in their tracks and stump your marketing efforts. Not exactly a desired outcome. Especially because consistency is so vital in digital marketing so any lulls will see all your hard work come to nothing.
As we said at the start, what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. And you may feel that an in-house team will be a worthy investment for your company. But if you’re not in the business of digital marketing, if it’s not at the core of what your company is about - and it’s merely a utility, not a differentiator - then outsourcing the function to a digital agency should be a serious consideration.