Depending on the size of your business and your marketing budget, the decision of what parts of your marketing strategy to outsource can be easy – or very difficult.
If you have zero marketing efforts and plan on continuing to do nothing, then the answer is easy: why bother?
If your business has a huge focus on marketing, and a dedicated team already, then it’s also an easier answer: why outsource what your in-house team can handle?
But if you’re somewhere inbetween zero marketing and having a full marketing department with teams, the decision isn’t as easy.
I’ll outline some easy outsourcing wins for you, as well as some items that probably could – and should – remain in house.
Things to Outsource:
While yes, getting the senior management, design team, or engineers to be involved with blogging is important, it’s extremely likely that none of them are going to be experienced, talented bloggers.
You pay them to do something else: accounting, designing, or engineering your product, to name a few.
So why force them to write a blog, pay for that time, and lose out on their productivity in the thing they’re actually good at?
Instead, pay for a well written blog from an experienced content writer. Whether it’s by the word, the hour, or a flat rate per blog post, they are going to be better at writing, faster at writing, and cheaper than your own team trying to force content to happen.
Additionally, when you have an editorial calendar, you can source key people within your company to provide the topics and basic background information, and have your blog writers prepare their blogs well in advance.
This leads to consistency in your post timing, which leads to increased SERP ranking, and overall, all those good things you were hoping to get from blogging in the first place.
For a dedicated content writer, you’re looking at about $42,000 a year, annual salary, if you wanted to hire one. That’s $3500 a month, give or take.
Compare that to a blog writer, an expensive one, at $400 per post (you can often get blogs for less), and you’re paying only $1600 a month – and you don’t have to pay the overhead that’s associated with a full time employee.
2: Social Media Management
Much like blogging, your team is not going to be as good at setting up and managing social media as an experienced social media manager.
There is significantly more to social than simply posting to each channel once a day, 3 times a day, or in some poor, misguided cases, 10 times a day.
However, unlike blogging, it’s harder to get an effective social media management team that can also function as first line customer service AND nurture leads for you. You’ll need to set up a “chain of command”, of sorts, to ensure an outsourced social media manager or team can be effective.
If you can set up a key point of contact for customer service/support questions, as well as a separate contact for sales, you’ll be 2 steps ahead of 90% of B2B marketers out there. That’s true even if you keep social in house! It’s far too common for businesses to just wing it, because customer service or leads generated from social in B2B is a much less frequent occurrence than in B2C.
In B2B, you’ll want a social media manager, or team, that specializes in B2B. Your necessary tactics and strategies are different than B2C, and they’ll need to be aware of this.
That’s also why you should definitely be outsourcing social media management if the only person managing your social media is also the front desk girl, someone’s assistant, or just whoever you thought had the time to do it. It’s one thing to enjoy Facebook on your personal time, but another thing entirely to try and generate leads through the platform.
For that reason, it’s actually much cheaper, overall, to hire a social media manager or small agency to manage your social, rather than pay for a dedicated professional.
Hiring a social media manager to your team full time: anywhere from $45,000 a year to $61,000 a year, depending on the region and skill of the employee.
Compare that to outsourcing, which for B2B, is anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 a month.
For the cost of your full time copywriter, you could outsource all blog writing AND your social media management – two key digital marketing needs, one stone.
3: Advertising – on Social Platforms or through Paid Search
Google Adwords is such a complex platform that there are literally 5 different tests to pass to be qualified, on a very basic level, as being knowledgeable about the tool in specific niches. Beyond that, actually seeing results requires more than just passing the tests.
Unfortunately, outsourcing this aspect is difficult. The lower cost agency options are, to put it bluntly, often just plain lousy. They generate minimal results for astronomical ad spends, and tend to shrug off a lack of significant ROI.
Facebook advertising has zero certifications or testing required to claim yourself as a Facebook advertiser, but it’s no less complicated than Google’s Adwords – it’s just complicated in its own, unique way.
Both platforms do require a minimum budget of at least $1,000 a month to see initial results.
And both platforms do require testing to try and figure out what works.
Because of this, you need to be working very closely with your advertising agency or consultant. They need to know your goals, and you need to have a very clear attribution model and funnel for the traffic they attract to travel through your site.
Unlike social media marketing or copywriting/content writing, there’s really minimal need to hire a dedicated PPC specialist unless your company is in the Fortune 500 – or you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars a month in paid search. The average salary for a PPC manager is nearly $50,000, right in line with the other specialist marketing managers you could be hiring.
Instead of hiring someone dedicated, or trying to get your poor, overworked in-house marketing everything person to handle your advertising, do the research into an experienced PPC agency or consultant. You’ll save on more than just the salary, you’ll also have a more effective ad spend.
Outsourcing allows you the skills of a full team without having to pay for keeping them all to yourself.
Instead of spending your entire marketing budget on a team, focus on finding and cultivating a positive relationship with an agency (or two) that handles your key outsourced needs effectively.
There’s no reason to hire three people when you don’t have enough work to keep them busy full time. On top of that, why force a generalist to try and do the work of three specialists? You might get by for a while, but the general marketing performance will never equal that of what an agency (or even specialized consultant) could have done for you – and for less.
Things to hire an in-house person for:
1 – Marketing Coordination
As you start moving into multiple agencies, contractors, and/or tools, you need someone within your company dedicated to keeping them all working together and on task.
That’s what a Marketing Coordinator does.
Because the workload of making everything happen is genuinely something that will fill an entire 8 hour workday, it’s worth hiring someone to be in your office to take care of this.
Your marketing coordinator should be a skilled and democratic person accustomed to having to herd cats (consultants), and capable of keeping a smile on their face while they do so. Someone with project management experience or a project management mindset can also be an asset in this role.
2 – First Line Customer Support
While this can be outsourced to a certain extent for social media, it’s honestly best to have at least one person immersed in your company for the front line of customer service.
The questions are often varied and complex, and trying to document this for an outsourced contractor is a massive task that, let’s face it, will never get properly done.
First line customer support often has high turnover, and it’s typically an entry level role in just about any company. While outsourcing entry level roles can be cheaper, again, for the sake of your brand message and ease of management, just hiring someone in-house is likely to be the better option.
3 – CMO / Head of Marketing
If you’re big enough to have a budget to support a small outsourced team, as well as at least one marketing coordinator, you should probably look into someone who can genuinely own the marketing side of your business.
This generally means at least a Director of Marketing, if not a full-blown CMO.
The reason to invest in this person is that they’ll drive strategy for the company, and steer the rest of your marketing efforts in the direction they need to go. They need to be in-house, because then they’re directly invested in your company. Their attention won’t be split between multiple clients or projects – it’ll be focused entirely on driving new business for your business.
Make sure that your head of marketing is someone who does big picture, not the day to day, and provide them with the budget to outsource as needed. Don’t hire a junior manager and give them a director title, and expect the results to be the same as actually hiring a marketing director who knows what to do – and why they should do it.
Understanding the ‘why’ behind marketing tactics is one of the biggest reasons to invest in an experienced marketing strategist for your head of marketing.
Start small with your outsourced efforts, and grow your consulting team slowly.
Before you jump into paying for three or four different contractors to handle different content and advertising needs for your company, start with just one.
Find out what kind of cadence works best with the first contractor (or agency) you’re trying to work with, and whether or not the work arrangement is something that is benefitting your business.
Do you need to hire a marketing coordinator sooner, rather than later? Should you just let the coordinator do the contractor hiring? What budget should you set for contractors and content?
All of these questions might be asked and decided ahead of time, but the reality of making it work may blow your plans right out of the water.