Today’s companies have a lot of choice in building an effective digital marketing team. You can create an internal dream team, hire it out to a marketing agency, or use a combination of internal and external resources. But which option is right for your company?
Are you better served with an internal team or finding the right mix of external talent?
What Are the Basic Skills Needed on a Digital Marketing Team?
Marketers need to be willing to embrace continual professional development. With new social media features and technology changes, marketing is no place to stagnate. Your team should embrace the challenge of being in perpetual “beta” mode of learning new things and testing hypotheses.
While most skills can be taught, you need to look for a proclivity for the following:
- Data analysis
- Engagement (you can teach someone to use Facebook but you want an employee with a natural predilection towards building connections)
- Problem solving
- Interest in SEO
- Willingness to learn
These are all basic personality traits from which you can build an effective digital marketing team but it helps if they also come with the necessary marketing skills like social media marketing, email marketing, drip campaigns, nurturing campaigns, AdWords knowledge, copywriting, storytelling, SEO experience, public relations, and a host of other inbound marketing talents. When you factor all of that in it’s easy to understand why some people select outside help.
Why Should You Keep Digital Marketing In-House?
Some companies prefer to have everyone in-house. Here’s why:
Input and Connection
If you enjoy being part of the brainstorming that occurs in a marketing department or want to have the convenience of checking-in on a regular basis, keeping it in-house makes sense. Maybe you like that your marketing department can go walk down the hall and listen to customer calls for a bit. That type of intimacy is a challenge to achieve with an agency. It can be done, but it will be scheduled.
Some people want all of their employees to be in the same location. It builds camaraderie and everyone is part of the office culture. Since they are employed directly by the company, the person giving the marching orders also cuts the check.
If you have a problem with something the in-house marketing team is doing, you walk down the hall and straighten it out. Plus, your in-house crew is dedicated to your account only.
The in-house team is also part of every communication and onsite meetings. When you work with a digital marketing agency, you need to communicate every change in direction. Otherwise, they won’t know because they’re not there to hear “water cooler” talk.
Why Hire a Digital Marketing Agency?
Relying entirely in-house doesn’t work for every organization. Many choose to work with an agency because it gives them more options when it comes to:
Fluid Marketing Needs
Creativity and Experience
Someone Else Pays for Professional Development
You may only have the budget for one person and finding the previously mentioned expertise in one employee is difficult. Many marketers specialize in an area of digital marketing such as social media, email marketing, or SEO. If you select an agency, you may use all the resources of their team for an agreed upon price.
If you hire one in-house digital marketer, they must be a jack of all trades. Often this means a cursory level of knowledge in many areas of marketing. But sometimes you need deep expertise. Temporarily.
Maybe you want to run a big email campaign in Q1 and devote Q2 to telling your business story and increasing content. Q3 you want to enter into referral marketing. These hyper concentrations may be best filled by an agency that can provide expertise in these areas without you devoting your employee to just one of them.
Agencies serve multiple accounts and can have resident experts to help with clients. Experts that clients couldn’t dedicate the (sole) headcount for in areas such as AdWords or SEO.
Employees of agencies work on many accounts, which at first glance can be a deterrent for some companies. However, with this exposure to other accounts comes a knowledge of how other companies solve similar problems.
Agencies also tend to attract more creative people because of the constant change of projects the agency employees work on. Creatives, who are often bored easily, enjoy the variety a digital agency can serve up.
Marketing is rapidly changing and marketers must educate themselves on these changes. Some of that is done on their own but some of it should be handled as professional development. This may include courses or conference attendance, both of which can mean additional expense if your team is in-house. If you work with a digital marketing agency, those costs are taken on by the firm, saving you quite a bit of money but still availing you of current best practices.
So Which Marketing Solution Is Right for Your Business?
This is largely a personal decision but marketing agencies provide a lot of resources for small- to medium-sized businesses that may not otherwise be able to make these marketing costs scale. There is some control lost when you give your marketing to another company, but as long as lines of communication are open and strategies are discussed, you’ll likely be happy with finding a business partner who is an expert in the ever-changing field of marketing.