Insourcing vs. Outsourcing Digital Marketing: Exploring the Pros and Cons

Is it better to build an in-house team of marketers or to rely on the currently thriving outsource market for your business? Maybe it's both. Read on to find out.

Market in-house or outsource to a skilled marketing agency? Insourcing vs outsourcing digital marketing is a question that, these days, nearly every company in business asks themselves at one point or another.

Is it better to build an in-house team of marketers or to rely on the currently thriving outsource market for marketing? 

No doubt, there are some incredible benefits and worth-considering downsides to both options. On one hand, you have a personal team hand-picked and trained who are steeped in your brand and customer needs every single day. On the other hand, you have the cost-effective and always-goal-oriented services of an agency built to do nothing but provide excellent competitive marketing content.

For a small business, this question can be especially challenging. Which provides better results? Which is more cost-effective? What are the unseen downsides you may not have yet planned for?

Don't worry. We're here to answer all of your questions and help you make the right choice for your business with a comprehensive look at insourcing, outsourcing, and potential hybrid solutions.

Overview: Insourcing vs Outsourcing Digital Marketing

Most Cost-Effective: Outsourcing
Most Brand Focused: Insourcing
Most Flexible for Task Diversity: Insourcing
Most Streamlined for Deliverables: Outsourcing

Insourcing Digital Marketing

Insourcing is a funny new word meant to indicate the opposite of outsourcing. Insourcing is, essentially, building your own internal marketing team or perhaps hiring internally to stock a new marketing task-force for a specific project. It includes on-staff employees who are paid wages, given benefits, and are dedicated solely to your company.

RELATED: The four biggest marketing mistakes you’re making as a business owner.

Insourcing Pros

Knows Your Brand Inside and Out: Your on-staff team members were hired by the company and spends all their time immersed in the company culture. They will be deeply familiar with the company culture, style, and the desires of your customer base. Your marketing is more likely to be personalized without many onboarding meetings.

Easier Time Pairing with Sales: Your on-staff marketing team will have an easy time pairing with your on-staff sales team, working together to build an effective conversion funnel of content and actions.

Flexible for Diversity of Marketing Tasks: Your on-staff marketing team can always take a temporary reassignment to touch up a few product pages, build new landing pages, or focus on a specific campaign where outsourced marketing is far more rigid.

Can Rebuild Marketing Plan and Strategy from the Ground Up: Your on-staff marketing team can completely rebuild your marketing strategy to try something new without having to draw up a new contract.

Insourcing Cons

Difficulty Hiring a Perfect Team: There are many great things you can say about a theoretical marketing dream team. But the reality is that very few brands manage to hire and train a perfect marketing team. It's tough to build a team that is efficient, positive, on-brand, and who share the diverse marketing tasks effectively amongst the team members. Not to mention the cost and challenge of getting top talent in the industry.

The Expense of Employees vs Contract: It's undeniable that on-staff employees with wages, benefits, and time off cost the company more than contracting for a few pieces of content or campaign management services each month.

Tendency Toward Bloat: Many companies hire more marketers than they need in an attempt to cover all the bases. This leads to a bloated marketing team that is hard to pare down and streamline once the bloat begins.

Focus Lost to Delegation: In these bloated teams, over-much focus on managers, chiefs, leads, heads, and staff can unnecessarily lose focus through status and delegation rather than having a small, mostly-equal group focused only on the work.

Highly Influenced By Employee Turnover - Risk of Talent Loss or Poaching: If you do put together a dream-team, one person leaving or being promoted can change your perfect balance and productivity for an in-house team.

RELATED: Why a personalized marketing approach is essential today.

Outsourcing Digital Marketing

Outsourcing is currently the leading marketing strategy for both small businesses and large enterprises alike. Rather than working with in-house employees or even a specific team, you are contracting certain projects or specific batches of content from a marketing agency. Outsourcing is done with very specific contracts and meetings, highly focused on deliverables and completed goals rather than purely on brand building in its many forms.

Outsourcing Pros

Pay for Content, Not Employees: Outsourcing is well-known to be more cost-effective in terms of pay per content unit. When outsourcing, you're paying for the content and designer time, but not for the full cost of having an employee (or team of employees).

Agencies Tend to Concentrate Top Marketing Talent: While individual companies struggle to hire top talent, marketing agencies tend to become concentrations of top talent because there is always enough challenging and diverse work to attract the best in the industry. So you are more likely to get top-talent service from an agency than trying to hire on your own.

Highly Focused on Deliverable Content and Results: Rather than getting lost in position and group structure, outsourcing teams are highly focused on delivering your contracted content and delivering contract-specified results.

Savvy Contract-Building Can Be Flexible: Contracts tend to be rigid, but with savvy contract writing, you can get similar flexibility that an in-house team provides with an outsourcing contract.

Outsourcing Cons

Teams are Not Steeped in Company Culture and Client Need: An outsourced team is not a native part of your company culture and they do not initially understand your brand or customers. It takes many meetings and the right team to hone the targeting and personality of the content they provide.

Greater Challenge Integrating with Sales: Outsourcing teams generally prefer to work independently and then deliver content as contracted. This is less conducive to cooperating with sales to build conversion funnels, but it can be done with the right team.

All Planning Must be in Scheduled Meetings: You can't just pop in and confer with an outsourcing team. Everything must be planned in scheduled meetings.
Sharing Time with Other Outsourcing Companies: You will almost never get 100% of the time of an outsourced agency because they have other clients. This is often fine for a small business, but it may be a concern for some.

Contracts Can be Limiting and Not Tax-Flexible: If a contract is not built with flexibility in mind, you will only get exactly what the contract specifies.
Risk of Hiring Agency that is Not the Right Fit: Just like with hiring in-house, you need to find the right team that meshes well with your brand, goals, and marketing management style in order to get the best results.

RELATED: Read more from Nachum Langsner.

The Popular Hybrid Approach
Many companies, after considering the pros and cons of insourcing vs outsourcing digital marketing, decide on a hybrid approach. Often, the most practical approach is to have a few in-house marketing members (or just one for small businesses) tackling the custom work and coordinating the outsourced teams to suit the company's needs. Here are a few smart hybrid approaches:

Hybrid type 1: On-staff team coordinates outsourced marketing contracts
Hybrid type 2: Outsourced provides regular content
Hybrid type 3: On-staff team tackles flexible tasks
Hybrid type 4: On-staff team enables outsourced to integrate with sales

What is Right for Your Company?
So are you considering insourcing vs outsourcing digital marketing, or will you build a hybrid solution of both? For each company, the answer is different. But if you'd like to make a more informed and personalized decision, contact us today. Our team would be glad to consult with you on your business's needs and how our outsourcing solutions might fulfill or help support your marketing teams and campaigns.

Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.  

 
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