Charles DearingCharles Dearing 

Implementing marketing campaigns is tough work. Devising marketing plans is arduous enough without the additional difficulties created by clients who may not fully comprehend how or why certain marketing tactics should be employed. Seeing your plans through to the end, wherever that may be, can prove even more difficult.

Thankfully, in-house teams are in it for the long haul. They can help clients reach overarching goals by pooling together their talents over a long period of time, building up the company they work for and learning from each other as they go. But, in-house teams come at a high price. In order to acquire an entry-level SEO professional, you’ll need to budget out, at the very least, $50,000 per year for their salary. As expertise and experience increase so does the price tag. You may not be able to afford to hire the large team it takes to deliver comprehensive digital marketing services.

Mixing insourcing and outsourcing

How do you ameliorate poor performance and bolster strengths? How can you satisfy your clients and deliver cost-effective quality? The answer does not necessarily rely on a binary decision. That is, if you don’t want to skimp on quality but need to cut down on costs, a mixture of insourcing and outsourcing may be the best solution.

Sometimes marketing efforts fail, regardless of the amazing team members you’ve acquired, and your clients will not be sympathetic or understanding. In fact, 60 percent of marketers have expressed that proving ROI on social media marketing was a major challenge. Digital marketing involves a lot of moving parts, and it’s near impossible to create a team that lacks any sort of weakness.

Companies will experience the best performance hiring a large, long-term team made up of individuals who are fully integrated and invested in their work to tackle projects. However, the price of this level of work may simply be too high for some. Outsourcing all your services is also a completely valid business strategy, if you’re willing to sacrifice quality for quantity, and believe you can target clients who are interested in this model. For most marketing companies, however, there’s no reason to foist an ultimatum of in-house or outsourced services upon themselves. Outsourcing certain services can help smooth some of your team’s rough edges and improve client satisfaction without the value of your work suffering too dramatically.

Keep inbound in-house

In recent years, the number of people utilizing third-party ad-blocking software has risen dramatically. More than 615 million global devices have adblock software, comprising 11 percent of the entire Internet population. Increasingly, inbound marketing is becoming of greater importance.

“The world is becoming more inbound. It’s growing more authentic, less interruptive,” wrote Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot. I think it’s safe to say that over the next ten years we’re going to see an even more inbound world.”

Every marketing company’s weaknesses are unique, to be sure, but there are certain services that can be deemed campaign-independent and certain ones that are integral to specific goals and circumstances. Campaign-independent services are ongoing activities requiring individuals with a deep knowledge of many different aspects of digital marketing, such as SEO, content creation and email marketing. In most cases, you’ll do well to keep these core inbound responsibilities within an in-house team.

Essentially, a company’s core inbound marketing is the lifeblood of effective marketing plans. It is therefore vitally important that you keep your staff penning personal emails and crafting exceptional blog content. Your agency needs to be consistent, and ever-improving in these areas as these services will only become more valuable as time goes on.

When outsourcing may be best

Are there inbound services that can be improved by bringing in an outside agency or freelancer? Certainly. Certain aspects of SEO and social media may need more help than your email marketing, for example, since these services will be tailored and adjusted more so than your campaign-independent activities. You may also want to employ the help of industry experts to delve deeper into complex analytics you’ve gathered with your in-house team. They can assist you on a per-project basis, which, if you have a strong foundation of inbound marketers, will serve to support the viability of your endeavors.

With few rare exceptions, there are efforts that will almost always be outsourced, however. Unlike your ongoing marketing efforts of building links and creating engaging content, these activities involve technical skills unrelated to — or only proximally related to — marketing. Services such as video content creation for YouTube campaigns or designing user experiences for mobile applications, which require in-depth technical knowledge that is not easily applicable to other marketing tasks, should be relegated to outsourced teams.

Should marketing companies rely on in-house marketers to get the job done? The answer: some of the time. Often, the best strategy is to form a strong skeleton made up of core inbound marketing duties. The task of fleshing out your campaigns can rest with individuals who lie outside your company. 67 percent of agencies admitted to farming out SEO to white-label firms. In contrast, only around 37 percent relied on other agencies or freelancers for content creation. While these are definitely patterns you should be aware of, there is no one algorithm you can apply to your marketing company. Sometimes a situation may call for outsourcing a very technical blog post; other times you may find your in-house team can conjure up their own online video campaigns.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to outsource lies with you. Continue to research current marketing practices, refine your approach and test your own theories. In time, you’ll find the right mix of insourcing and outsourcing.


Charles Dearing is a veteran tech and marketing journalist with over 15 years of experience using words to move people to act. He has written for various publications such as ProBlogger, Big Think and Apps World, to name a few. You can connect with him on Twitter.