Marketing: In-house vs Outsourcing? Finding the Balance

When it comes to marketing does it make sense to have in-house talent or would it be better to outsource to a specialized agency?

Most companies fall somewhere in the middle of this broad spectrum, where in-house marketing strategy is supported by agency execution, of course this also depends on the type of marketing activity which is being performed.

Most Brand marketing, is usually done in-house, where agencies are used to support specific tasks such as creative concepts and execution for a marketing campaign. Campaigns can be short or long term, with multiple agencies working on a similar project.

For Digital marketing, decisions have to be made on an activity level as different channels need varying levels of expertise. The decision is also dependent on the number of projects or brands that need to be worked on. Digital Marketing channels include:

  • Social Media
    This is the most common and ‘go to’ channel for digital needs, however there are a lot of factors to consider before deciding to outsource. Firstly social media takes a lot of time to manage, develop and engage. Many businesses choose to employ a dedicated executive to handle social media accounts especially if there are multiple channels, multiple brands, or the company is involved in a lot of events and live activations. Having an in-house resource means they are more familiar with the brand, the target market and language style to ensure a seamless experiences across other advertising channels. However outsourcing to an agency has its own merits. Agencies have more experience but care has to be taken they don’t do similar work with competitors, agencies also charge by the number of channels they need to manage, how often they post and the number of events they are expected to cover. Also social posting needs someone who can create a brand story, and most agencies are not well connected to the brand or to the target market to understand their needs and what they respond do. Of course this is not to say that agencies cannot do a good job, they can as long as there is a good understanding. So this decision needs to be made on a business level and looking at the cost / benefits of either option. If the business has the resource then social is an activity which should be kept in house and close to the brand.
  • Paid Media
    This activity refers to digital advertising across multiple channels such as social, Google Adwords, Display etc. Media buying is usually an agency led activity. There are a few businesses who do it in-house, but this is dependent on the the number of products or the overall size of the business. If it is a small company with one or two products it is relatively easy to manage this activity in house either by a marketing exec or direct by business owner; however if this is on a larger scale, then it is more profitable to outsource this to an agency. Most agencies work on operating margins, therefore while they conduct media buying they can work across multiple accounts to get better deals. Advertising optimization is also a time consuming and specialized activity which requires professionals with experience or managing campaigns can be an expensive affair. They are also more in tune with the different ad formats available and which would best for the media activity. But most agencies usually charge either a minimum spend or % of overall media spend which may work out better depending on the number of campaigns that are being run. Possibly one solution to this is to let agencies manage the media buying and optimizing while having in house expertise to manage the campaign strategy, channel selection and overall plan.
  • Organic Search
    A highly specialized and often technical activity, organic search is a long term investment and requires a high level of expertise and connections with media and bloggers for link building, and an understanding of website architecture to review technical SEO. Most businesses outsource this to agencies, who work on a retainer basis and conduct a set amount of optimization activity per month. However it is strongly recommended to have in-house SEO expertise who can set SEO strategy according to overall business strategy, cater to business objectives and review agency activity.

There is no easy decision when it comes to in-house vs. outsourcing of marketing activity, the best option is to review the below factors before making a decisions:

  1. Size of Business / Level of Activity
  2. Cost & Marketing Budgets
  3. Digital Expertise required

While there is no ‘one’ overall solution digital marketing requires a combination of in-house brand management and digital know how combined with the execution expertise, industry experience and media buying power of agencies. Usually a merger of experts from both sides of the business proves to be overall beneficial for the business; it’s all about finding the right balance.

So, how does it work in your company?

 

 

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WhatsApp Status Updates – Marketing Opportunity?

So unless you’re living in the stone age you would have noticed that WhatsApp’s latest version includes new status updates which look eerily similar to Snapchat or Instastories. Now I have no intention of discussing the strategy of the move, however I am more curious to look at its adoption and overall use to marketers as a potential new social media channel.

  • Viewability / Privacy
    The first aspect to note is that WhatsApp updates can only be seen by your WhatsApp contacts (with the option of turning on privacy) in comparison to Instastories or Snapchat which open to all your followers, therefore WhatsApp updates has a much smaller and niece audience when compared to other channels which operates on a larger more public domain.

 

  • Adoption
    I have been following how many of my whatsapp contacts have been posting status updates lately and overall the rate of adoption seems to be a lot less compared to when Instastories was launched. This could be because of several reasons, firstly how many channels are people expected to update? Secondly these updates are so similar to other channels it does not offer a unique advantage to cause a change in posting behavior, third the audience has some overlap as most people’s friends are already on Instagram and are familiar with the way it works. But in saying that, WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps for communication so watch this space, as overall adoption may increase.

So as marketers what can we do to maximize the use of this feature?

  1. WhatsApp in Marketing
    WhatsApp on its own is not a new channel for marketers. They have used it to message their most loyal customers, create groups based on personas, or send broadcasts to multiple marketing lists. But usually each of these methods has limitations in the number of people that can be messaged, the level of engagement and the risk of spamming your customers. The new status updates provide a good solution where the updates can be viewed voluntarily so there’s high engagement, and reduces the risk of spam. All your contacts can also view the message so there is no limit on the number of views.
  2. Status Content
    As the people who will be viewing the updates will most likely be loyal customers, the type of content used in will not be mass market or for general brand awareness, instead content can be used to encourage or reward loyalty through special offers, sneak peaks at new products or send invites to exclusive events. Content will also depend on the brand objective. As messages will be more targeted and personalised, WhatsApp status updates can be used to assist with direct sales objectives as well as brand engagement and loyalty.
  3. PR
    Status Updates can also be used as part of overall PR strategy. It can be used to invite media to exclusive events and product launches, provide sneak peaks at new product developments, and encourage and excite media about new brand developments. This would assist with media engagement as well as overall brand coverage.

Overall WhatsApp Status Updates are fairly new and will surely develop over time. I would watch this space to look out for further developments especially if there will be any analytics attached to it. This would certainly be a game changer resulting in more marketers using this as a potential advertising channel.

Do you have any other ideas on how WhatsApp Status updates can be used?