You already know you need help with your marketing. And you know that the internet is a great place to get attention and leads. Question is, should you hire a full-timer, or outsource digital marketing?
In-house staffers, freelancers and digital marketing agencies all have their benefits. How do you know which is right for you?
In this post, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each digital marketing approach. In the end, we’ll offer a recommendation about the right path for the majority of B2B companies.
Before we dive in, here’s a spoiler alert: Outsourcing is usually a pretty fantastic option.
There’s a reason that, according to HubSpot, two-thirds of B2B companies outsource their digital marketing.
Outsourcing digital marketing isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for incredibly fast growth, or if you need a ton of leads now to avoid your business going under, this post isn’t for you.
Creating a hockey stick out of nothing or getting to a million users in a year doesn’t require a digital agency. It requires being a unicorn, or a miracle. If that’s what you’re looking for, you have bigger fish to fry.
That said, does this sound like you?
- You need more leads
- You’d like a greater presence in the marketplace
- You’re doing well … but you could be doing better
- You feel like your competitors are more visible than you are
Those are great reasons to look at enhancing your digital marketing presence.
First Things First: What Do We Mean By ‘Digital Marketing’?
When we say digital marketing, we don’t just mean SEO.
We don’t just mean content creation. Or social media.
Or digital advertising. Or your website. Or lead gen campaigns.
We mean all of that.
Digital marketing is any form of marketing online, but its core meaning is much deeper. It’s the holistic act of creating awareness and demand in the marketplace among a target audience of prospects, driving them to a desired location on the web and causing them to take a specific action.
That works with SEO, where you’re trying to “rank” for a keyword or term. That works for display advertising, where you place an ad in front of the right person at right time, with the hope that they click and fill out a form. That’s also part of the website itself. If someone sees you at a trade show or hears about you, you want them to be able to easily find you, get interested and become a lead.
That’s all digital marketing – ideally wrapped up in one neatly integrated package.
The Skills You Need
If you’re thinking about juicing up your digital marketing, the first thing to think about is the skills you’ll need, and how you’ll acquire them.
To do digital marketing justice, you’ll need expertise in:
- B2B strategy
- Content creation
- Graphic design
- Media planning
- Web development
- Data analytics
- Social media
Now, there are a few different ways to try to acquire all those skills.
You can hire someone in-house. They’ll probably cost about $70,000 before benefits, and they’ll give you some permutation of a holistic skillset. But there’s almost no chance that they’ll offer all of what’s listed above, meaning you’ll still need to outsource some functions (or add multiple headcounts).
You can tap a freelancer or solopreneur. Cheaper than hiring in-house, sure, but with the same issues – you’ll need multiple freelancers to build a full digital marketing team.
Or you can go with a full-service, integrated digital marketing agency. (Like, say, Altitude Marketing.)
The great thing about outsourcing to mid-sized agencies is that they offer all the skills you need to build a digital marketing practice without the overhead and price tag of a 100+ person firm.
A retainer with a full-service agency usually costs about as much as a single hire, but with every skill you need.
It’s not just about the people, either. Agencies offer subscriptions to tools freelancers can’t afford. They have relationships with ad networks and publishers, offering economy of scale. And they have experience that individuals can’t match; 25 perspectives are better than one.
Still not sure that outsourcing digital marketing is the right path? Here are six benefits of going with an agency for you SEO, PPC, display advertising, content marketing and social media.
Benefit #1: You Don’t Need to Hire
It is much easier to outsource top talent quickly than it is to hire it in-house.
It’s as simple as that.
As you may know, hiring is incredibly tough. And expensive. When you’re looking for an FTE, you have weeks of gathering resumes. Endless interviews. Salary negotiations. Benefits. Infrastructure, like computers, desks and building access.
Hiring is hard, and it’s a huge commitment.
Outsourcing, on the other hand, is pretty gosh-darn easy. Most agencies work on annual contracts, while some will even do month to month. You don’t have any tech setup, infrastructure, insurance or 401(k) plans. I know — very simple.
With that simplicity, you can acquire talent incredibly quickly. And trust me when I say this: being able to get top-level talent in the door very fast is invaluable.
Benefit #2: Reducing Risk
We spoke about the challenges that come with hiring someone. But there’s also risk. It’s quite the commitment. You’re making a minimum $70,000 bet when you hire a full-time digital marketer.
Outsourcing digital marketing is far less risky. When you work with an agency, there are many different team members that can be cycled into your partnership to find the perfect fit.
And if the relationship ends, guess what?
It’s not the end of the world.
Most outsourced digital marketing agencies assume that you’re going to work with them for 3-4 years until you’re ready to fly with your own wings. It’s a simple, stress-free partnership.
Benefit #3: Various Perspectives and Expertise
The benefits of outsourcing your digital marketing efforts include bringing on a ton of experience from a ton of different seats. An individual offers a single perspective and a single set of experiences. Agencies offer tons, from different demographics, backgrounds and career paths.
And don’t forget the value of an outsider’s view.
Agencies are capable of seeing things internal teams just can’t. It’s one of the perks of being a team that’s on the outside looking in. When you’re doing work for your own company, you’re bound to have some bias – and those can bleed into your marketing efforts.
For better or worse, internal teams often have blinders on.
Plus, do you know what else you get from a good agency? Unfiltered honesty. It’s our job to find wobbles and fix them. The last thing a good agency wants to do is present an entirely rosy picture. The realpolitik is that we’re constantly looking for things to fix and improve. That’s a huge plus for B2B companies.
Benefit #4: You Can Focus on Your Core Competencies
If you’re a CEO or COO, chances are your core competency isn’t hiring a new digital marketing team from scratch. You probably can’t differentiate the lingo and understand all of the intricacies of the space.
But if you decide to hire in-house, you’re going to need to get up to speed fast.
Sound fun? Nope!
Sound time-consuming? Yep!
When you outsource your digital marketing efforts, however, you can look at past results as proof of capability and compatibility with your company. It’s a business decision, not a marketing decision.
Outsourcing essentially lets you go back to what you need to do – because they’ll take care of the rest.
Benefit #5: No Need to Worry About Turnover
When you build an internal digital marketing team, you build a significant amount of key-man risk. You put a lot of information and trust in one or two people.
As you can imagine, when those one or two people leave your company, they’ve taken everything with them and you’re left with zero.
The benefit of outsourcing digital marketing is that agencies are experienced in spreading out that critical information with proven systems. An agency is broader – there are lots of people from different departments working on your account. Even if there is some turnover, there are redundancies built into the relationship; you’re never left out in the cold.
When risk is spread out, the digital marketing ecosystem is stable. And stable is good.
Benefit #6: Unbiased Reporting
Remember the part out unfiltered honesty? That extends to reporting and analytics.
Good digital marketing agencies are trained to give you metrics tied to your business success. Our bread and butter is things like cost per acquisition, cost per lead and overall spend. If we’re doing our job right, you’ll never see “vanity metrics” like click-through rate and impressions taking center stage.
(If they do, you’ll know something isn’t working.)
Why is good agency reporting like this?
Simple: Agencies offer so many different skill sets and perspectives that we need to quickly measure what’s working and what’s not, then test something else. We don’t live and die with one or two tactics. If something’s not working, we move on.
An individual with a more narrow skillset is going to be more apt to try like heck to make one thing work. If it’s not, they’re likely to try to make it seem like it is.
So, Why Outsource Digital Marketing?
By this point, we hope we’ve made the case that outsourcing digital marketing to an agency is the right choice for most B2B companies. You’ll get more skills, more perspectives, more technology, less risk and more security for about the same cost as a single mid-level FTE.
Ready to give this outsourcing thing a go? We’d love to help. Contact us today or call 610-421-8601 x122 to talk with one of our digital marketing specialists today.
After all, you found us, didn’t you? We can do the same for your business.