Are you a business, big or small, that’s struggling to put together an efficient and cohesive marketing plan? If you are, you’ve probably realized you’ve only got a few choices when it comes down to how you can create a strategy that sells.
Marketers who outline and report on their marketing strategy are 538 percent more likely to be successful, according to a CoSchedule report.
You can either dedicate a small in-house team of marketers to come up with a complete and competent marketing strategy — We're talking SEO marketing, social media marketing, content marketing and everything in between.
This might be ideal for a big or growing company that has the time and resources to put towards these marketing initiatives.
Another option — one that’s ideal for small business and teams that may not have the time, energy or materials to put towards building their own team — is outsourcing your marketing initiatives.
What It Means To Outsource Your Marketing Efforts
First, you have to understand what exactly it means to outsource your marketing.
When you outsource your marketing, or anything really, what you’re doing is giving certain job functions or responsibilities to an outside team or agency. Instead of handling these responsibilities or job functions in-house, you choose an outside organization or individual to complete them for you.
In the business world, it is also sometimes known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
Outsourcing has quickly grown as a common trend in the business world. With markets growing and talent pools getting even bigger, it has become even easier to find individuals and organizations that are highly qualified and passionate about certain fields your company might need help with.
One of the biggest fields that has become popular for outsourcing initiatives is marketing.
For many businesses, they just don’t have the ability to build their brand, their products and their processes — and then market themselves. This has led to many turning to agencies to take on these tasks for them.
But marketing is a pretty broad industry. There are a lot of different types of marketing, and many different initiatives and responsibilities that can be broken down. Let's take a look at what kinds of marketing initiatives you can outsource to lighten your load and streamline the campaign process.
Four Types Of Marketing Initiatives You Can Outsource
1. Blog Content
Sixty-four percent of B2B marketers say that they outsource some, if not all, of their written content. This includes blog content.
Blog content is vital for a brand because it shows their expertise in a quick and efficient way. It's easily accessible, personable and shows that you are a leader in your industry or field. Whether you're a business that sells software or a small design firm, having a blog is a great way to reach your audiences with ease.
But you might not always have time to sit down and write a few blog posts a week. That means that this is a great area of content marketing to outsource. And you don't even need a big agency! You can hire a few freelancers and get blog content rolling before you know it.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a big undertaking, and you really need a professional to ensure that you're getting the most out of it. You have to makes sure your landing pages are optimized, your articles, your blog posts and your entire campaigns themselves.
If you don't already have someone dedicated to SEO, an agency might be your best bet because they have a complete understanding and can complete tasks based on your specific needs.
93 percent of all traffic comes from a search engine.
So it's important that you get your website onto Google's page. And outside agencies can help you get there.
3. Social Media
Social media is a big area of marketing that is vital for a successful business, and because it is all relatively self-contained, it is an easy role to outsource.
And there are even dedicated agencies and consultants who work solely on social media, making them experts in their field. They know what they're doing and can take your social media marketing strategy from good to great -- whether you already have one in place, or don't have a single account.
Sometimes, you just don't have the time or people to continuously check our platforms, come up with new content, engage with audiences and promote your product. But by outsourcing, you are able to get all of this done and lose none of the time.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing is gold. It's how you send out all of your content, important updates, offers and promotions. But curating these lists, creating campaigns and brainstorming copy can get complicated if you're not well-versed in what it takes to get users to open your emails.
Whether you want to send out newsletters, promote events or respond to inquiries, you need someone who understands email marketing like it's there life's goal. If that person isn't already on your team, you might want to outsource it.
Especially considering email marketing takes a dedicated team and knowledge base, outsourcing this role is an easy way to delegate responsibility and tackle "core" initiatives.
Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to outsourcing — you have to take into account costs, time and resources. But agencies can help you craft a full-fledged marketing strategy the likes of which your in-house team could only dream of.
But before we get into how the process works and how you can ensure your strategy is a success, let's discuss some pros and cons of outsourcing. Outside agencies are a powerful resource, but they aren't always right for everyone.
The Pros Of Outsourcing Your Marketing
Outsourcing your marketing can be cost-effective, simple and efficient. Depending on what your business capabilities are, outsourcing might be the best bet for you. Here are some pros to consider when thinking about outsourcing your marketing initiatives.
1. It Saves Time
When you outsource your marketing, you're giving yourself and your employees time to focus on the work that matters most to them and your business. If you don't already have a marketing team, this is good because it means that some of your employees don't have to switch tactics and lose time on other important projects.
If you do have a marketing team, but need a specific campaign or initiative up and running, outsourcing can save you time because these people can continue to focus on whatever campaign they're running, while the agency or individual you hire can spend their time completely focused on the task at hand.
Time is valuable in business.
80 percent of entrepreneurs and small business employees work more than 40 hours a week.
That's a lot of hours, and for the most part, those can't really be cut down to make room for different tasks or responsibilities. This makes moving to an outsourcing agency or company vital for business success.
2. Tap Into Expert Knowledge
When you outsource your marketing plan and strategies, you're giving yourself and your brand access to talent across the globe. Fifty-eight percent of the global market for outsourced talent is found in Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
If you're a smaller company in Ohio, you may have never thought you'd be able to get talent from halfway across the world, but by outsourcing, you can.
And when you have a wider pool to choose from, you can choose from the very best. This means that the organization or individual you higher to work on your outsourced marketing initiatives will be an expert in the field. Maybe they've had decades of experience in the industry and decided to go rogue and open their own consultant firm. Maybe they've traveled the world and know what different markets are looking for when it comes to marketing initiatives. Maybe they're an expert in your industry and can provide insights that will incentivize your audiences.
But the fact remains that outsourcing will ensure that you have the best of the best working on your talent. 78 percent of businesses across the world report being happy about their choice to outsource, and you likely will be too.
3. No Need To Hire Additional Employees
59 percent of businesses across the world report cost-cutting as the number one reason for choosing to outsource their content. And the reason behind this is because in most cases, businesses would have otherwise had to hire new employees to fill these marketing roles.
But by outsourcing, they are able to cut down those costs and allocate them elsewhere. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of an employees wage goes to their actual pay, while the remaining 30 percent goes to taxes and fees. Hiring outside organizations can cut down on that latter 30 percent.
That's a lot of time and resources being spent on hiring just one individual. If you have multiple marketing positions to fill, you'll be taking an even longer time to fill the position and get your goals met. When instead, you could just interview a few agencies and call it a day.
Both will take up time, but hiring new employees also takes up more resources, costs and time down the road while an agency or an outsourcing organization can be used for a few months and then dropped when the project is completed.
4. Utilize Extreme Objectivity
Outside individuals, agencies and organizations can be more objective about your products, services and content. They come in with fresh eyes and exciting ideas that you might not have been able to come up with on your own.
They are also not fully invested in your brand itself, so they can take a step back and really analyze if what you're trying to say you do is what you actually do. Maybe you're trying to boast a little too much, or maybe you're trying to stretch the truth to engage more people.
Whatever it is, your outsourcing team can look at it objectively and without bias.
Often times, the company you choose to outsource will also have insights into the competition. This can help you as they will help you stand out against them. You might not have known how well or how poor your competitors' marketing strategy was before, but with outside help, you can get effective, objective insights into what it will take for your marketing initiatives to succeed.
The Cons Of Outsourcing Your Marketing
But depending on the size of your company, your resources, time and money, outsourcing might not be for you. Here are some cons to consider when trying to decide if outsourcing your marketing is the right decision.
1. It Breeds Higher Costs
In some cases, choosing to outsource your marketing can actually be more costly than doing it in-house. If you already have your own in-house marketing team, even if they are devoted to certain projects and tasks, it might be more cost-effective to keep your other campaigns in-house as well.
You're already paying these employee salaries; you're already paying for benefits, resources and software. Outsourcing your marketing to an agency might just be an added expense on top of it all.
Some agencies charge upwards of $4,500 dollars for Twitter and Facebook social media marketing strategy and management. And that's just for the two top social media channels. If you want a complete social media strategy across all channels, those numbers are likely to go up.
Even if your strategy is not dedicated to social media, you will likely pay thousands of dollars a month to get the job done. This may be more than what you'd pay an in-house employee. And if it is, you might want to reconsider.
2. Less Creative Control
When you give control to an outside organization or agency, you're also giving up control on your end.
This means that you're putting your brand and its reputation in the hands of someone else. You won't necessarily be involved every step of the way. You won't be in every meeting, you won't be in every brainstorm. You can give advice and opinions, but at the end of the day you're paying this organization to create and execute a campaign and you have to give up control.
According to a Clear Company survey, 97 percent of employees and managers say that the key to success in a campaign or project is seamless collaboration, creativity and teamwork.
But if your team isn't able to be a part of this process, your project might suffer.
If you're confident in the abilities of your agency, you should have nothing to worry about. But losing that creative control and not having a huge say in how your brand and its content is being presented can be a major deterrent.
3. Creatives May Not Have A Passion For The Brand
Just like outsourcing can give you greater objectivity, it also means the people working on your campaigns or initiatives will have less passion for your brand.
Of course, this is easily arguable. When you outsource, you are working with professionals that eat, sleep and breath marketing. They are obviously passionate about what they do, but they also may not understand every facet of your brand or business. And if they don't understand or care as deeply as you do, you might not be happy with the results.
Deloitte has found a direct correlation between passion and success. When employees were passionate about their work, their company and what they do, they tended to create work that saw results. But outside marketers might not have that same level of passion.
For outsourcers, this marketing campaign may feel like just another project. And this also might turn the content into something that feels slightly separate from your brand itself. They might not be as connected to your brand and what you're trying to achieve, which might cause problems down the line.
4. Less Communication
Another problem people have when they outsource tasks is that they encounter less communication.
You can't just send out an email and expect to have a meeting in an hour. You can't just jump on the phone and get some insights. It takes time to set up meetings. It takes energy and major planning to get some face time with the organization you're working with.
You will likely be involved in the early stages of planning and organization. But once they get the go-ahead, the company you're working with will likely take the reigns and go full-steam ahead. This means that they won't have the time to sit and walk you through everything. And if you want additional information, you will likely have to wait for a time that works for all parties.
And if you're outsourcing to a new region, facetime will likely be impossible. If you like to control all aspects of a project and get constant updates through face-to-face meetings, outsourcing might not be a good option for you.
75 percent of employees say teamwork and collaboration are vital to success.
And 86 percent of employees and executives cite poor communication as a major factor in failure across projects and initiatives.
So if your team doesn't feel like they're involved and collaborating, then they may feel less confident in the outsourced work -- which might make you feel less confident in the work.
Outsourcing Success Stories
Slack is a workplace messaging platform that facilitates quick and easy conversation between employees. It has grown into one of the most widely-used messaging platforms for businesses around the world.
When slack was still a young startup, it outsourced much of its design work to outside agencies which helped redesign its app, logo and web design. They outsourced this content to MetaLab. And by outsourcing this work, Slack was able to hone in on its product and build a community that was dedicated and passionate about the work.
The company is currently valued at $3 billion and has over a million users each and every day.
Skype is a video and audio communication tool for individuals and businesses alike. And it's been around for over a decade. But at the beginning, this popular communication platform needed the help of an outsourced team to create its empire. This team was a group of three developers in Estonia -- Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn.
Skype wasn't always a leader in the peer-to-peer tech game. And it took outsourcing their technology to realize what they needed to do to get people connected and to not upset the competition.
In 2011, Skype was sold for $8.5 billion to Microsoft.
Another big hitter in the tech industry is GitHub. But this web-based hosting service wasn't always one of the biggest companies in the world. In fact, there was some question in the early stages about whether or not this company would make it.
In the beginning, the founders knew they needed to connect with an outsourced consultant, who is now the CIO, to understand how to effectively share private code in Git. That man was Scott Chacon. Now, Github is a place for developers to collaborate and connect. But had they not taken the risk of outsourcing their content in the beginning, they might have never gotten to where they are today.
GitHub is currently valued at $2.5 billion.
How To Find The Right Marketing Agency
Outsourcing your marketing efforts could be one of the best things you can do for your business. It can provide you with a team of experts who are knowledgeable and passionate about marketing and have experience launching a campaign that ends in successful results. But not all marketing agencies are created equal, and you need to take a few things into consideration when determining what the right marketing agency is for you.
Check Out Their Portfolio
The first thing you should do is give their portfolio a look. This is oftentimes available on their website in the “Work” section. You can also ask questions about their past experiences, what brands they’ve worked with and what kinds of campaigns they’ve run.
This will give you an idea about whether or not they understand your industry and niche. Because marketing for an aerospace company is definitely different than marketing for a cosmetics brand.
You need to make sure that they understand your niche and your audience. And you want to see campaigns with results. They could create awesome strategies, but if they don’t lead to desirable outcomes they’re useless.
Learn About Their Team
Another key component of the outsourcing search process is finding the right team. You want a group of people that have been doing this for a while — people who eat, sleep and breath marketing.
And you want to make sure that they fully understand the tasks at hand — they know what deadlines to hit, how to strategize, how to use certain platforms and can get the job done in a timely manner.
And you want to know how much help they will want or need from your own team. How involved will you be able to be throughout the process? Are they used to open relationships, or do they like to do things on their own?
Outsourcing can cause friction, which is why you need to find a team of professionals that understand your flow and can work with you to ensure maximum success.
Understand Their Expertise & Strategy
Expertise is obviously vital. You need an agency that is used to working with brands in a variety of industries and understands the commitment involved. You can see this in their portfolio, but you can also see it when you meet face to face and ask for tangible results.
You want to see how they come up with their plans — are their strategies based on experience, hard data? And what will this strategy do for your business both in the short term and in the long term?
Similarly, you want them to be fully functioning. You don’t just want a campaign that works in the now, you want one that’s optimized going forward.
Find Out About Their Services
Another key determining factor in finding the right marketing agency comes down to the services they offer. If you need social media help, but the agency you’re looking at only really specializes in SEO, then you’re not going to get the results you want.
Make sure you fully understand what kind of marketing agency you’re dealing with. But first, clearly outline what objectives you want to hit and what initiatives you want to take to get there.
Taking these things into consideration, it should make finding the right marketing agency a little easier. There are a lot of questions to ask and thoughts to consider. But with a little bit of research, you can find the agency that will put your brand on the path to marketing success.
How To Make Sure Your Outsourced Strategy Is Effective
Finding the right agency for you is a great first step. But once you do, here are some helpful tips to ensure your marketing strategy is effective.
Do Your Research
First and foremost, you have to do your research. We’ve already talked about how you have to vet your agency and ask specific questions. But in addition to that, you do have to educate yourself somewhat on what your goals are and how you think you can reach them.
You might not be a marketing guru, and you don’t have to be. But you should have a semblance of an idea as to how you want this campaign to run so that you can be sure that all steps are being hit along the way.
Define The Scope & Schedule
This falls in line with our previous tip. You have to come to the table with an idea or a goal. Maybe you want to increase engagement on social media, maybe you want to drive conversions or maybe you just want a bump in website traffic.
Whatever your goals or ROIs are, you have to have them clearly defined when it’s time to start brainstorming with your outside agency.
Additionally, you have to know how long of a timeframe you have and how many resources you have (this includes budget). This way, your agency has all the details and can craft the plan dedicated to your specific needs.
Keep Communication Open
One of the biggest downsides of outsourcing is the lack of communication. When you give up control to an outside agency, you’re essentially giving them free reign to work their magic. This can lead to stunning campaigns — but along the way, a lack of communication causes confusion and heightens tensions.
This is why you should be upfront and transparent right from the start. Establish a schedule of calls and meeting to make sure everything is going according to plan. And try to pinpoint your point of contact and see if you can have more frequent, unscheduled check-ins to give you and your team peace of mind.
This is another piece of advice that ties in with the previous. Just like you want to stay communicating, you want to stay involved as much as you can.
Of course, you are not the expert here. You might be knowledgeable about your brand, but probably not so much about what goes into a successful digital marketing campaign. So you have to give them room to work.
But you can also let them know what your thoughts and opinions are along the way. You can offer help wherever you can and request to join in on brainstorming sessions in order to keep your branding front and center.
This will also ease any fears you might have that your project will be a flop, allowing you to establish a stronger trust in your agency.
The Pros & Cons Of Outsourcing Your Marketing
When it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy, you can either take control of these responsibilities in-house or enlist the help of an outside agency. So what are the pros and cons?
Pros of outsourcing your marketing
- Expert knowledge
- No need to hire more employees
- Extreme objectivity
Cons of outsourcing your marketing
- More costly
- Less creative control
- Less passion for the brand
- Less communication & facetime
Ultimately, the choice is entirely up to you. And there is a lot to consider. Time, costs and resources are all important to consider, but so are the more intangible things like passion, quality and objectivity.
But with these questions in mind, your brand should be one step closer to making the decision that will set the future of your marketing strategy.
If big brands like Slack, Skype and GitHub can grow and evolve with the help of outsourced talent, then any brand can do it.
In 2017, $88.9 billion worth of revenue went to outsourcing jobs and responsibilities, and these trends will likely continue going forward.
Outside marketing agencies are a valuable resource for brands big and small. And once you decide you're going to make that step and outsource, you need to make sure you're asking the right questions to ensure the agency you work with works for you.
It's a two-way street, but with solid communication, clearly defined goals and a mutual respect, you'll be one step closer to a stunning, outsourced campaign.