A strong digital marketing strategy can make or break the overall success of your business, so when thinking forwards into the next financial year, one element of your business plan which may cause some confusion is whether to outsource your marketing to an expert agency, or whether to alternatively invest into this area of your business with ‘in-house’ marketing.

Whilst there are benefits of each direction, it’s important to look at both sides of this argument before making such a huge decision. A successful digital marketing campaign takes not only the financial investment, but also the investment of resources and ability to use time efficiently.

Quality, Not Quantity

So there is that small voice in the back of your head thinking, ‘wait, I can pay someone the same amount as an agency and get 38 hours a week spent on my marketing strategy, why shouldn’t I do this?’ Ultimately, this is true. But let’s face it, there are many, many elements of a digital marketing plan… PR, social media channel management, SEO, content management, web development, PPC… And these are just the obvious ones!

Within an agency, there isn’t just one person taking care of all of the above, but a team who work together with vast amounts of varying talents and ideas to reach an outcome that will benefit your campaign. With more people, solutions are often found much faster than just one or two people working on your campaign and spreading themselves thinly across an array of digital marketing areas.

Stick to What You’re Good At

Hiring the perfect candidate to take on the challenge of heading your new and shiny digital marketing department is not an easy task. Not only do they have to have the passion to drive the campaign creatively, they have to have the experience to analyse the data collated, the writing skills to piece together every aspect of your copy (blog content, outreach content, SEO content, social content, web content… You get the gist?) and ultimately, the experience needed to manage every single digital marketing question which will pop up on a day-to-day basis.

Do they know how to set up a merchant centre data feed? How to implement a UA code on the backend of your website so that Google Analytics tracking works fully? How to source the correct audience for daily engagement on social media? How to reach out to webmasters and negotiate the price and terms for outreach content placement? You have to establish whether you have the resources to accomplish all of the above and do so successfully to justify your investment.

Evaluate The Risks

Ultimately, when trusting an agency with your digital marketing strategy, if things do not go as planned, you can assess the service you are receiving before deciding whether to continue with this strategy further when your terms of agreement have ended. With in-house staff, you have a responsibility to them as an employer which means that changes cannot be made overnight, and further training, means further investment… Often this training or support is sourced from an agency anyway, so unless this is your plan from the beginning, it could be a long time before you see strong results which properly reflect your investment.

Summary

There are thousands of small elements of digital marketing, that without the experience or training, are hard to comprehend and foresee. Investing into your in-house marketing is not a bad idea. If your company is doing well, an intern or assistant in this area could take some responsibility and work with an agency, acting almost as the ‘middle-man’. However, for SMEs this option is often money and time consuming with the results lacking the creative expertise and knowledge needed to strategise and implement ideas from start to finish. Ultimately, this is almost always reflected in the end result of campaigns and ongoing ROI.

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