Should you outsource or in-house your marketing efforts?

When it comes to digital marketing, ‘striking a balance’ between your company and agency could be the answer.
25 February 2019

Is it wise to keep your marketing under your roof? Source: Unsplash

Digital marketing should be an exciting field for any company— it’s become a rapidly advancing, technology-driven sector, with scores of programs and software now available that can help businesses achieve their objectives and stand out against competitors.

A strong digital marketing team is an asset to any organization, and although several experts are advocating that companies develop talent in-house, there’s a strong voice in the marketplace that cautions against it.

The reality is, although in-house talent has a very special place in the marketing department, there are many things that an agency brings to the mix that really help companies maximize their budgets and shine brighter than their competitors in the crowded marketplace.

“Companies need to strike a balance between in-housing for efficiency and agency partner that can increase their effectiveness,” OgilvyConsulting Managing Parter Lucy McCabe told Tech Wire Asia.

The argument for in-housing is short…

Costs aside, the argument for in-housing is short and revolves around the fact that marketing functions, digital or otherwise, within the business understand the company better.

Hence, they’re in a better position to not only create campaigns that better geared to resonate with the audience but also target their marketing budget on the various platforms in a way that is optimal for the company.

Put succinctly, that’s the crux of the entire argument favoring the creating of an internal digital-marketing team and alienating marketing/creative agencies.

A recent study commissioned by advertising platform Bannerflow claimed that 91 percent of brands have moved at least part of their digital marketing operations in-house.

However, that is not an indication that the respondents or any category of businesses are planning on taking all their marketing efforts in-house.

We started off this section putting cost considerations aside, but the reality is, businesses think about costs (and resources) first — and hence, acquiring talent to support the company’s marketing spends is growing as a result of their need to maximize results.

It’s like McCabe explained initially, there are certain advantages to having an in-house team run, monitor, track, and report on your marketing programs and campaigns, but there’s still a major role that agencies can continue to play.

To be very honest, speaking to various SME leaders and enterprise managers about digital marketing, the sense is that an internal team can actually amplify what their agency does rather than help save on agency fees.

… and it’s all about optimizing resources

“Partners like Ogilvy provide expertise in fields like customer experience, behavioral science, technology and data transformation, and innovation, where it is rarely cost effective to build a full level of expertise in-house and bring the experience of working with many clients and industries to fertilize new thinking.”

The digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving and there is always scope to leverage new technologies and skills to help maximize reach, combining new fields of science and technology to get exactly what a company needs.

Agencies are specialist. It’s their job to stay on top of what’s going on in the market. It’s their job to bring their “A-game” to wow the client and their client’s intended audience.

That’s precisely why in-house digital marketing teams must collaborate with agencies in order to get the most out of their marketing strategies. They need to work together in order to take their campaigns to the next level.

So, in such an environment, what is it that in-house teams need to do?

McCabe says that creativity is still the key to accelerated effectiveness and it is very difficult to build a thriving culture and capability of marketing creative in an in-house environment when it is not that companies core business.

Some of the biggest digital advertisers in the world, such as Netflix and Kellogg brought marketing in-house because it gave them more control of data about their audience and customers.

At the time Kellogg’s Insights and Analytics Solutions Center Director Aaron Fetters (now ExecVP at comScore) told AdAge that the company started off with in-housing as an efficiency plan — however, they slowly realized the power that data brought to them, which is why they moved to bring more of their capabilites in-house.

However, most organizations don’t have the talent to run such functions within the digital marketing teams.

For them, the best thing to do is to use in-house talent to manage customer interactions on social media, work on re-marketing campaigns, use social listening to tease out new product development ideas.

Further, the in-house team can use insights from all this activity to collaborate with creative and digital marketing agencies engaged for campaigns and help them to maximize the returns on the ad spend.