August 5th 2015
Outsourced, In-House, or Hybrid? How to Best Manage Your Online Marketing Channels

The digital marketing world has undergone quite the evolution in recent years.

Early on, it involved little more than strategically placed banner ads and targeted e-newsletters. Today, it’s a much more complex endeavor that involves many channels and platforms. In fact, modern consumers tend to consult an average of six channels before making a purchase.

Digital marketing’s broadened realm means that brands must explore and utilize several different channels to maximize the performance of their marketing campaigns.

Some companies are able to accomplish this in-house, while others outsource the task. But it’s also possible to take a hybrid approach by integrating the expertise of specialized agencies into your marketing department.

Deciding which approach to adopt isn’t an easy task, but asking yourself the following five questions will send you down the right path:

 1. Do I already have the required expertise and manpower?

First and foremost, you need to consider whether you already have the necessary expertise and resources on your current team. Does your staff feature individuals who have a firm grasp on today’s relevant topics, trends, best practices, and approaches? If the answer to this question is “no,” outsourcing key components of your digital marketing is probably your best bet.

If you’re able to identify a handful of qualified individuals, you then need to assess whether you have enough of them to get the job done in a timely fashion. If you think you have plenty of capable workers, you might be able to keep everything in-house. But if you’re concerned about capacity, a hybrid approach is likely right for you.

2. What’s my turnover rate?

Companies that commonly undergo extensive personnel changes will struggle to find consistency and positive results in their digital marketing initiatives. If you find yourself with a fluctuating workforce, outsourcing will help ensure continuity and success. On the other hand, if you have a tight-knit team of loyal workers, you don’t have to worry about consistency. Staying in-house is still a feasible option for these companies.

3. Does my location limit my talent pool?

Some companies struggle to find top-tier talent due to their locations. Digital marketing managers pretty much grow on trees in New York City, but they’re awfully hard to come by in small Nebraskan towns. Outsourcing is a useful option for companies located in less populous areas. It can provide a high-quality, big-city product to small-town businesses.

 4. What’s my budget?

All of these options come with a price tag. Whether you’re outsourcing, working with what you already have, or hiring more employees, you’ll need to devote a small team and many hours toward most marketing initiatives. Weigh the outsourcing fees against your internal time and money requirements to determine the proper option for your business.

5. Where do I fit in?

Some marketing channels naturally work better in-house, while others are ripe for outsourcing. Here are a few common matches and why they work:

  • Affiliate: Some larger companies have the manpower to keep affiliate marketing in-house, but most find more success by outsourcing the day-to--day management of their program to an affiliate marketing program agenyc. The average company lacks the platforms and tools required to manage it in-house. 

  • Organic social:This is typically kept in-house or done with a hybrid approach. Social marketing needs to closely reflect the voice of your brand, and no one knows it better than you do. 

  • Paid social: Paid social marketing, on the other hand, is often outsourced because companies typically lack the tools, platforms, and experience needed for success. Outsourced agencies can provide wider access to tools, such as bidding and campaign management platforms, and their cross-client approach gives them a broader basis of data and experience to draw from.

  • Paid search: A hybrid approach is typically best for search marketing. Create your content in-house, and outsource the technical aspects to the experts. Make sure your whole company understands SEO — this is crucial to the success of your search marketing.

  • Display: Display marketing is almost always outsourced. It requires a high level of creative and design bandwidth as well as ongoing collaboration with media buyers and professionals.

  • CRM: Brands generally license CRM platforms, but the management of these initiatives tends to remain in-house. A hybrid approach will also work if you would rather outsource e-mail acquisition, specific promotion management, and other ancillary components.

To sum it up, in-house tends to work best for slow-burning channels that are always on, while outsourcing is often the right choice for channels that require niche skills and involve specialized tools and platforms. And when your in-house talent and bandwidth fall somewhere in the middle, the hybrid approach should work flawlessly.

So, before you spend another dime on digital marketing, ask yourself these five questions and determine which approach is right for you.

Check out our complementary infographic to this post to see which channels tend to be best for in-house, agency or hybrid management: 

Author: Robert Glazer