According to the Content Marketing Institute, 40% of technology companies have two to five full-time employees dedicated to content marketing, and 62% of technology marketers say they outsource at least one content marketing activity.
However, they encounter significant challenges when hiring a third-party agency to create their content, e.g., they struggle to find partners with adequate topical expertise (75%) or who understand and/or can empathize with their audience (44%). In addition, they are faced with budget issues (36%), lack of clear return on investment (ROI) metrics (32%), and finding partners who can provide adequate strategic advice (25%).
This, combined with lackluster and stagnant results they have gotten from working with agencies over the years, has many companies reevaluating whether or not outsourcing is the best way to go about this in the first place and wondering if they should bring their digital marketing efforts back in-house.
Here at 3P Creative Group, we have coached dozens of organizations and helped them achieve inbound marketing success. Our mission is to enable companies to be able to scale and grow without having to rely on external marketing agencies for success. We see first-hand the tremendous transformation organizations go through when they bring their Digital Marketing in-house and take back ownership of their content creation and management.
Today, I want to share some of the advantages of doing so, which can be categorized in two ways:
- The inherently positive impacts of owning your Digital Marketing, and
- The potential problems to avoid that could occur when working with an agency.
While in-sourcing isn't the right option for every company, many organizations can benefit from it greatly. In this blog post, we will explore these categories in more detail.
Owning Your Digital Marketing Efforts Has A Compounding Positive Impact
If done right, bringing your Digital Marketing in-house has many advantages compared to outsourcing, and chief among them are the following:
- Drastically more and better qualified leads
- Faster sales cycles and an increase in close rate
- Greater control of the content management process
- Ability to scale/execute faster when needed
- Minimize/eliminate ad spend
- It saves money in the long run
- Internal culture change to Inbound/Content
- Creation of a sustainable competitive advantage
1. Drastically More & Better Qualified Leads
Internally-owned Digital Marketing will yield much better results concerning the quantity and quality of your inbound leads. The reason for this is your Content Manager. They are intimately familiar with your niche. Not only do they know your audience inside out, but they also have instant access to your subject matter experts who fully buy-in and support the content marketing process.
The quality of your content will be significantly better if the person who writes it only writes for one company rather than serving different niches and various brands. Your brand voice becomes more authentic, resulting in increased trust.
2. Faster Sales Cycles & An Increase In Close Rate
Better content, more trust, and better quality leads will, in turn, significantly accelerate your sales cycle and drastically increase your close rate. Because your content marketer heads up a revenue team that includes team members from sales and other revenue-generating departments, your content is closely aligned with the sales process and will move prospects faster through the deal pipeline and toward the purchase.
3. Greater Control Of The Content Management Process
When outsourcing your Digital Marketing, the content management process is mainly in the agency's control. Frequently, even the content strategy and blog topic ideation are done without deep industry knowledge or subject matter expertise. This isn't anyone's fault; that is just how things are done.
However, owning your Digital Marketing gives you greater control, from brainstorming blog post ideas and aligning them with your buyer's journey to the writing and the final editing process, resulting in better content.
4. Ability To Scale/Execute Quickly
When working with an agency, you have a monthly retainer that includes a set number of blog posts per month and marketing assets per quarter. While this is helpful to ensure you are getting what you paid for, it is very limiting when you need to scale quickly.
When you own your Digital Marketing in-house, however, you can create and publish articles as fast as you like. For example, a full-time dedicated content manager will create three "Big Five" blog articles a week. Many organizations are so successful in-house that they soon hire a second and third content manager.
5. Minimize/Eliminate Ad Spend
On average, companies spend about $5,000 on search engine and social ads in addition to the $3,000 agency fee for managing those ads. There are two problems with that: 1) once those ads are turned off, the flow of traffic and leads stops, and 2) that is $96,000 a year, which easily equates to more than one content manager's salary. By taking your Digital Marketing efforts in-house, you will, over time, be able to reduce and then eliminate your advertising budget as you invest in content marketing.
6. It Saves Money In The Long Run
Many organizations are afraid of doing all their Digital Marketing activities in-house because they are scared of how much it will cost them to hire all those people. However, in many cases, that fear is unfounded. We did the math over three years, and it turns out that companies who create their content (including video production and coaching) save 22% compared to those who work with agencies.
7. Internal Culture Change To Inbound/Content
One often-overlooked benefit, yet maybe one of the most important ones, is the cultural change that happens over time to a company that owns its content marketing. The culture shifts from one where people see content marketing as just another marketing tactic to one where everyone, from the CEO to the most old-school salesperson, understands the importance of content in tackling today's Digital Buyer. Everyone supports and contributes to creating content.
8. Creation Of A Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Lastly, let's talk about how owning your Digital Marketing creates a competitive advantage for you. As discussed above, most organizations will outsource at least one content marketing activity, which, most of the time, is content creation/writing. But if we do what everyone else does, how are we going to be able to stand out from the noise and create a long-lasting competitive advantage? This truly only happens when you manage your Digital Marketing internally.
In addition to these eight reasons, your employees tend to be happier and more fulfilled, and feel appreciated.
Avoid Common Marketing Agency-Related Problems
In addition to the many benefits listed above, you can also avoid the most common problems organizations might encounter when working with marketing agencies.
- The work depends on the agency's focus
- Your monthly retainer limits execution speed
- You are not your agency's only client
- Many agencies outsource writing to freelancers
- You might not ever develop your brand’s authentic voice
- It is more expensive in the long term
- Your growth depends on a third-party
- You are investing in a marketing agency, not your business
1. The Work Depends On The Agency's Focus
There are many types of Digital Marketing agencies. For example, for the past eight years, we used to be an Inbound Marketing agency specializing in content marketing for technology companies. Now we are a sales and marketing coaching firm.
There are many other agency types, such as SEO, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, and Online Marketing. Depending on the specific focus of the agency you work with, you will get outcomes that closely relate to that. For example, a digital marketing agency might have a balanced portfolio of blogging, social media engagement, and advertisement. Others might be more restrictive, making it hard to pivot if needed.
2. Your Monthly Retainer Limits Execution Speed
In addition to the scope of the work being done, you are also limited in how fast you can get things done. Suppose something happens (for example, a market development suddenly creates a customer demand) that requires you to scale up content creation quickly. In that case, you can do this in-house much faster than with an agency as the monthly retainer size limits you. Some agencies give you flexibility by offering a point or credit system, but your internal resources will be much faster and more effective in tackling this.
3. You Are Not Your Agency's Only Client
While a good agency might give you the feeling that you are their only client, you most likely are not. This means you are not only sharing their resources with other companies, but the writer has to switch between brands, voices, and industry expertise constantly.
By bringing your Digital Marketing in-house, you guarantee that your needs are met without having to worry about what happens if a larger client comes along or someone else has more urgent priorities that might push your needs to the back of the line.
4. Many Agencies Outsource Writing To Freelancers
Not only does an agency have multiple clients, but the vast majority of Digital Marketing agencies will also outsource the actual writing part to a team of freelancers. This means that you brief your agency's account manager, who then will relay the information to the writer. Much of the detail that makes up your expertise and the value of the information gets lost along the way.
In addition, many writers cover multiple industries and are not familiar with the intricacies of your space. To make matters worse, to reach the number of words required, some will add "fluff". The consequence of that is less helpful content.
5. You Might Not Ever Develop Your Brand's Authentic Voice
In addition to fluffy content, by outsourcing your content to a freelance writer or agency, you risk not developing your brand's authentic voice. While that might sound nit-picky, consistency and authenticity of your brand's voice are essential in creating trust with your prospects, and trust is the currency of the Internet age!
6. It Is More Expensive In The Long Term
While it might sound enticing to know exactly what your marketing costs will be every month, spending $8,000 a month (average spend per month on marketing agencies) for a marketing agency is a lot of money. Add the ad spend and fees for managing the ads, and you will end up spending a lot more over time compared to bringing it in-house.
7. Your Growth Depends On A Third-Party
Making your organization's ability to grow dependent on a third party is never a good idea. By completely depending on a marketing agency for your Digital Marketing needs, you are doing exactly that.
8. You Are Investing In A Marketing Agency, Not Your Business
Lastly, and probably most importantly, paying for a marketing agency every month is like renting a house. You are not building equity. As soon as you stop paying, the skills, expertise, and know-how is gone. While your blog posts and other content marketing investments will go on producing leads for you for a while, you will need to figure out how to fill that void.
By learning how to do it yourself, you are developing internal core competencies that will allow you to do this better and more effectively. In other words, you are investing in your own business and your employees.
How Do I Get Started?
One of the best ways to get started on your journey to agency independence and Digital Marketing self-sufficiency is by holding a company-wide alignment workshop. By the end of the workshop, everyone in your organization understands why content is so vital in the sales process, what their role in a content-driven organization is, and how to best support you.
I hope you found this helpful. In the next post, we will focus on how to take ownership of your Digital Marketing in a well-planned, strategic manner that will not only protect any work you have done so far, but will also show results very quickly.
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