It’s impossible to deny the need for digital marketing across all industries these days. Even in the “before times” of pre-COVID-quarantine, when you might still be able to rely on certain local banner advertisements and billboards to drive in traffic and sales, you were still fighting a losing battle.
You were losing the battle to the shrinking attention spans of the entire shopping community walking around with their faces plugged into mobile devices.
Even if they weren’t searching on their phones, they were already informed by the research they did earlier online. Either way, if you weren’t part of the digital conversation before, you were suffering (even if you didn’t know it).
The above graph shows statistics from smartphone usage back in 2018 for Facebook shopping. A whopping 95% of Facebook shoppers use smartphones as their primary device for Facebook. While only 31% still use (or used) their laptops.
And I think it’s safe to say that the trend has only continued in the mobile direction.
Now, when everyone is stuck inside and even more plugged into social media, online shopping, and digital consumerism, ignoring your digital marketing is an unaffordable and potentially lethal mistake. Now, having said that, not everyone knows what to do when it comes to websites, search engine marketing, email marketing, SEO, content marketing, and the like.
And this is where things can get tough when you’re sitting in the decision making seat of your business:
How do you know whether to go with an agency for your digital marketing needs or hire an in-house marketing team under your direct employ?
Well, thankfully, we’ve written up this quick 8 minute read to help educate you on what you need to know about the two options. Depending on what your priorities are as a business, you might not want to hire an agency to handle your own branded work.
But, if it doesn’t sound too biased of us, we sure think it’s worthwhile… ;)
This is the first thing that you need to distinguish before you even start calculating budget or scouting who to hire. This will determine the scope of work and the scrupulousness of the relationship you’ll have with the marketer - in-house or otherwise - and will be the key to understanding what kind of work you’re really working for.
For example, if you’re looking for help with driving more traffic and leads/sales for your business through your website and local storefronts, an actual expert marketing agency might be the better choice for you. This isn’t to say that in-house marketers aren’t experts. But there is an old adage that I like to remember whenever I find myself juggling too many plates in any project:
“A jack of all trades is a master of none.”
At Xspekt, we amend that proverb to focus on being “masters of one.” And this is one of the benefits that agencies bring to the table that in-house marketing teams can’t. A legit agency will have experts in nearly all digital fields - and at the very least will have everything you’re looking for related to your services.
On the other hand, in-house marketing teams can often take a real flexible approach to the word “team.” I know this because I myself have been a 1 man marketing “team” at multiple companies in the past. And let me say that when it comes to juggling tasks and projects, I was indeed “a jack of all trades and a master of none.”
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a campaign that speaks to the truest essence of your company’s goals and ideals, then perhaps an in-house team is more your fit. Afterall, an in-house marketer will have a more intrinsic understanding of your brand’s verbiage, tone, ideals, vocabulary, etc. (so long as they are experienced with your brand).
Just be wary that they may very well need to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities as the sole marketer responsible for “all things brand X.” Embracing an in-house marketing team means just that - embracing a “team” effort.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is the issue with seeing goals that will actually drive change in your business.
There are countless marketers out there today desperately trying to generate traffic to their website unaware that they’re disregarding quality, relevance, and conversion rates. This means that even though they’re excited about their performance, their boss still has to sit them down and talk to them about how they aren’t generating any revenue.
And who’s to blame in this scenario? It’s not like the in-house marketer didn’t do their job by driving more traffic. But the actual goal of the business was missed. And sometimes it takes an outside perspective to bring to identify the needle-moving goals that will drive legitimate change throughout your business.
For example, if we’re discussing email marketing campaigns, some agencies might call themselves a success for driving a bunch of opens for your new email campaign and a bunch of “engagement” within the email reads. But what does that actual drive for your business? Below you can find the email metrics that actually directly point to you growing revenue.
Things that in-house teams might not see because they innately trust certain aspects of their brand, website, or content might be challenged and optimized by outside eyes. And these changes are often where some of the biggest results come from.
The outside perspective that digital marketing agencies provide gives a unique glance into what a business can do to drive significant change and not just incrementally grow.
But, if you haven’t gotten the trend by now, there are two sides to every coin, just as there is to the agency in-house debate.
There are two major benefits to hiring an in-house marketing team. The first is the cost: being that the average cost of a single low level marketer’s salary is lower than a year’s retainer of an average digital marketing firm.
The second benefit is that you have direct access to your marketing team whenever you want. They are not only present for all brand decisions, they’re (hopefully) a part of them. Meaning that your marketing campaigns will be that much more in-tune with the rest of your brand.
This is something that agencies, as third parties, can never completely overcome. Thankfully you can make it easier on both parties by walking them through your brand and educating them through light orientations.
If you can get past that, it’s really only a matter of finding the right agency with the right set of services to craft the perfect campaign for your brand.
Not everyone can take the leap of faith to truly let an agency take control of their brand’s digital presence. Some companies still insist on holding onto the reins even after signing with their agency.
But the truth is that letting the experts you pay to be experts in what they do, rarely goes as badly as you’re afraid of. In most cases it’s a matter of being happily surprised instead of the opposite.
Why is this such a big deal? Because letting the agency “do it’s thing” often leads to them taking a road less traveled when looking at it from the client’s point of view. Which can be scary. But, at the same time, is exactly what you paid them for.
For those of you who are afraid to rock the boat when it comes to your brand, your digital marketing setup, or your current marketing investment as a whole, just ask yourself:
What’s wrong with your current marketing setup that has you questioning if you should change or not?
And when you find yourself resisting the change to seek help or invest more in your marketing budget, just remember:
“Nothing changes if nothing changes...”
The biggest benefit that you’ll see from hiring an expert level digital marketing agency to help your brand grow is the new things you’ll learn - even about your own brand. You’ll obviously see the benefits of having dedicated experts work on your accounts as well as having someone who is constantly looking to drive new growth on top of what they’re currently doing to justify your partnership.
But nothing will beat the insights you’ll gain from partnering with someone who doesn’t work under the same roof as you. My Dad once told me something that rings truer and truer to me the more clients I meet:
“It’s what you don’t know you don’t know...that you really ‘ought to know.”
This is the strongest value that an outside expert can bring to your team. Someone who knows not only how to diagnose the problem that’s been grinding your gears but also can leap into the actual knitty gritty and fix it themselves. And, on top of that, someone who’s going to look up after fixing the problem to see what else can be improved.
That’s what it means to be constantly optimizing and looking past the cutting edge. That’s what it means to expect the unexpected.
It wasn’t a long journey, but I hope you enjoyed it and learned something along the way.
The main takeaways (if you’ve been keeping along) are simply that partnering with a digital marketing agency often gives you more flexibility and capability than hiring an in-house marketing team. While the ladder can save you money and give you more direct control over your brand’s voice, at the end of the day neither of those value points are going to truly move the needle when it comes to your business growth.
But partnering with an agency with the diverse expertise to meet your every digital marketing need. That sure will.
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