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This article discusses what businesses look for concerning marketing support and why it matters for getting the ROI they need. The question has been asked for years, but even more so today: should businesses hire digital marketing agencies or build internal marketing teams—or both?
Whether you currently have one or neither but need to decide, let’s make a Benjamin Franklin decision and weigh each. But first, let’s look at the considerations you may be taking into account: What’s most efficient? Do you need Jacks of all trades or experts in their trade? Which scenario will provide the most creativity?
Marketing is not a vacuum.
A recent study shows US digital marketing agencies are seeing steady year-over-year growth, pointing to continued demand for digital marketing services and digital marketing agencies. Nearly 90% of the businesses surveyed in a recent study stated access to marketing contractors (whether in-house or from digital marketing agencies) is instrumental in their success, with almost 25% reporting it as critical to their success.
What is a typical marketing budget you can expect? $35K up to the one million mark, depending upon business size, opportunity, brand age and lifecycle, performance objectives and indicators. For these businesses, the decision of digital marketing agencies or in-house marketing teams requires an informed decision. Now, let’s hop into the top considerations to take into account when deciding.
Consideration 1: ROI, spend, and budget
ROI is the first and most important consideration for businesses. But because of the change in customer needs and expectations that make up the customer experience and CX ROI, measuring ROI is harder to pin down. A leap from even a few years ago, today’s markets drive the landscape, and we are just embarking on an era where the customer is at the center of it; one where there are fewer playbooks and expertise is crucial.
Digital marketing agencies provide full scale, in-house teams.
Digital marketing agencies provide full scale, in-house teams that are typically certified in their specialties, stay up-to-date on the changing landscape and are managing your marketing strategy round-the-clock. Compared to in-house teams, which may require upfront and ongoing training, tools, and certifications to get going—and to keep up with the brand and its markets as they evolve.
When considering ROI, how many in-house team members would your brand need to ensure each medium is performing? Social media, content marketing, graphic design and branding, SEO, web design, web development and UX, strategy and analytics, paid search, digital communications, and email marketing are roles fundamental to a brand’s success.
If your business hired an in-house marketing team to manage these roles effectively, based upon today’s median incomes and salaries, you’d be looking at anywhere from 35k and up as a monthly investment. This doesn’t include the actual budget for promotion, paid search, technology (enterprise- and entry-level), training, certifications, and overhead.
Avoid technology, training, and overhead.
On the flip side, digital marketing agencies can avoid these investments, as well as the overhead of in-house employees, and your only debt is a fixed monthly retainer, or project fee, and any time and materials expenses. What you can expect to pay a digital marketing agency is anywhere between $150 and $300 an hour, with rates based on staff size, services provided, and age and experience and skills and certifications of the agency.
While the rates of a digital marketing agency seem higher than what you’d pay for in-house marketing support, consider the fact that with a digital marketing agency, the skill sets, success rates, and efficiency of working with an agency are what you’re paying for.
Let’s look at paid search. Hiring a digital marketing agency to run your paid search campaigns is similar to hiring several in-house SEM providers. This is because of their level of experience and certifications. At Savy Agency, for example, we’ve been in paid search since the beginning, as early users of the platforms. We also maintain Google Partner status and are ranked in the top 3% in performance. Because of that experience, the campaigns we manage perform well above industry benchmarks for ROI. Some of those accounts are without landing page development, social media, SEO, product or market development—merely paid search alone. If you hired an in-house marketer with this ability, you’d search far and wide to find them. And their salary wouldn’t be cheap. At a digital marketing agency, you get this capability and the others within their doors—strategy, branding, design, copywriting, and more.
Where will marketing budgets be spent in 2020?
Before deciding the roles required for in-house marketing support, let’s look at where top CMOs expect to spend their marketing budgets in 2020. Advertising budgets continue to shift to social media and digital. Therefore, budgets expect to spent primarily on social media followed by mobile apps and web. Mobile is no surprise, given that it carries over half the web traffic, with no signs of softening. Will your internal marketing teams be ready to capture that micro-moment that flashes by on mobile? Will you employ the marketing technology to know when a customer is interested and meet their need accordingly?
ROI, the ultimate objective.
ROI is the ultimate objective of marketing. Your businesses investment with a digital marketing agency or an in-house marketing team should always return on the investment. Several variables influence ROI, including competition, industry, strategies, collection and measurement. Digital agencies understand their growth and solvency depends on returns. In-house teams, on the other hand, can become more comfortable in their roles and going about business as usual.
Consideration 2: Flexibility
When working with a digital marketing agency, depending upon the contract or agreement you have with the agency, you can pause or quit at any time—and since today’s trends discourage locked-in contracts, that should be easy to do.
Asking internal questions like how efficient are our processes? Are we operating via an online marketing strategy or are reacting to the day-to-day? The answers to these questions can guide how much flexibility you’ll need and whether a digital marking agency or an in-house creative team provides you the most. If lack of planning from a strategy standpoint leads to rushed creative or last-minute projects, a digital marketing agency is probably your best bet because they’re tooled up and able to act quickly. Digital marketing agencies are great at solving time-sensitive or last-minute marketing needs or opportunities.
Consideration 3: Changing landscapes
It’s no secret that the digital landscape is changing and digital marketing agencies stay ahead of, or at least alongside, it. The sheer nature of what they do and managing the data insights keeps them on the edge of digital. They tend to know when the algorithms change, and what those changes mean for brands. You might say they have a digital sixth sense, but it’s probably more likely because digital marketers are fully immersed.
Get the winning cards.
Staying fully immersed also means reacting to change—on your toes and ahead of the pack. In-house online marketing teams have their roles and priorities and an algorithm update that may all but level advertising may not be at the top of them. Digital marketing is always changing, and when you can adapt and stay ahead of it, you’ve got the winning cards.
Christina Brown, founder, creative director and SEM lead at Savy Agency. Savy is a digital marketing agency headquartered in Bend, OR with offices in Santa Barbara, CA. Savy has been serving local and national clients under one roof since 2007.