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The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Website’s Digital Marketing
October 20, 2016
There is no doubt that the option to outsource digital marketing activities for your company website is appealing. Outsourcing will most likely blow less of a hole in your budget than hiring an in-house team. You may securely leave the marketing to a Digital Marketing Agency or, better still, a skilled (and affordable) freelancer, while you focus on the areas of your business that need your attention the most.
“In our business, whenever there’s a disruption, our clients need guidance.” – Michael Roth, CEO, Interpublic Group
The fact of the matter is that not all companies can afford to hire digital specialists, who belong to a new breed of journeymen of all trades in online marketing having skills in SEO, PPC, email marketing, planning & implementation of marketing strategy, social branding, metrics etc. Small businesses may have no option other than to outsource, which is not always a bad thing.
But remember that digital marketing goes beyond having your young intern send out blog posts on a regular basis, due to the increasingly complex social media and marketing landscape. Digital marketing strategies keep changing – a trend that helped businesses in the past, might not be relevant to your business, today. Which is why, outsourcing your digital marketing, makes sense. Before you outsource, there are pros and cons you need to think about.
What You Are Likely To Gain From Outsourcing: The Pros
A great advantage of hiring from a ready pool of freelancers is that you can pick and choose from talented and experienced individuals with expertise in different areas. Whether you are looking for freelancers or a digital marketing agency for the job, you will find that there is no dearth of skill in the outsourcing market. Look at job boards and freelancer portals and you are bound to find someone with the skill set that you are looking for.
As long as you test candidates and go through their portfolio before you hire, you will find a suitable individual for the job. You can find professionals who will perform everything to keep your online business up and going. You can easily find professionals who are adept at tasks that include website maintenance to email marketing and social media marketing, and others who offer SEO services to place your website on Google search engine’s front page. Of course, you can also hire an agency that already has a team of hand-picked freelancers on the team.
The cost benefits of outsourcing are particularly significant. With third party digital marketers, you are usually billed on a pay per hour basis or a per-project basis, so you pay only for work that you get done. You do not have to keep employees on the payroll who are not trained in the skills you need and pay them the salary and other benefits. Of course, an agency will be pricier than hiring a freelancer. But remember that the advantages an agency offers – a team of freelancers with various skills and their own selection process – may beat the extra cost. An agency will train its own freelancers. In the long run, in most cases, hiring an agency will be less expensive than hiring in-house.
Keep in mind the general reality that you get what you pay for. If you pay for cheap SEO, you may end up with poor quality links and content that could get you in Google’s black books. If a candidate promises 50,000 Instagram friends for $100, these are likely to be fake friends and will prove to be a wrong business decision. A $5-an-hour website marketer is equally suspect – if such people do not value their own time, how can you expect them to value the work they deliver?
Expect freelancers to have more flexible schedules. Outsourcing lets you hire only when you need work done, especially if the projects do not have mission-critical deadlines. Freelancers are often more flexible than employees on your payroll who work 9 to 5. There are cases when you may want to hire a freelancer despite having a small in-house team, to handle all the extra work that your in-house team cannot manage. In such cases, you can achieve a fine balance of productivity between projects on deadline and more flexible projects. An agency may also be able to offer flexibility. Note however that some agencies require down-payment before a project begins. If you do not know how long a project will take, such an arrangement may turn out to be expensive.
There are some additional benefits of working with an agency versus freelancers. An agency will train its own freelancers, often keeping them up-to-speed with the latest software and tools. It may have superior strategies and technologies that independent freelancers may not possess. You may also not have time to go through the rigorous process of selection for a freelancer, which an agency will do for you.
Network of Connections
In addition, you may gain access to the agency’s network of connections. A marketing agency that has been in the industry for a while will have a network of professionals in the field of online marketing that they can connect you with. They may also be able to offer software reviews and other recommendation. For instance, if you need an e-book writer and the agency does not have one on their team, they may still be able to recommend someone to you. In-house employees, on the other hand, may not be able to deliver what you need or might require additional training.
Things To Watch Out For: The Cons
Profile of the Agency
There are scammers out there. It is possible to get ripped off by con artists and swindlers who run rife in the SEO and digital marketing industry. Glib-talking sales pitches promising to “increase your rankings” on Google is a common rhetoric. When you look at the service or freelancer profile, consider this: Are their promises credible? Are their certifications and awards legitimate? Have their listed clients and testimonials? Do they have a mention in major publications? Note that it is possible to buy awards and certifications, and you should have a rigorous selection process that takes such things into consideration.
Be careful that you may also find yourself working with a freelancer or an agency that is located overseas. Time differences, language differences and other communication problems may crop up.
Delay in Completion of the Project
On the flip side of flexibility when working with a freelancer there is also the possibility of delays. A freelancer may take on more work than they can handle, you may not be their only client, and this could lead to poor time management and delayed projects.
To Hire In-House Or Not To Hire
It is difficult to conclude overall whether hiring a freelancer or hiring in-house is a better option for a business that wants to outsource SEO services and digital marketing activities. The decision will depend on your specific needs, the resources available to you, the timeline that you have planned for the project etc.
If you have strict deadlines, an agency may be a good choice. An agency will assign a project manager to make sure deadlines are met. For long-term work, however, in-house hiring can turn out to be cheaper. Weigh the pros and cons before coming to a decision that will suit your business.
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