With growing complexities in marketing operations, especially digital marketing, many businesses are dealing with a conundrum – should you work with a specialized marketing agency that promises to deliver good results, or create an in-house marketing team that can potentially save money, and generate better results??
This is a difficult question and one that’s getting even harder to answer in the modern era, especially as marketing practices have grown more splintered. After all, modern digital marketing campaigns aren’t just about buying banner ads or sending emails, they also include social media advertising, PPC, and SEO for starters. Truly, the digital advertising landscape has never been more complex!
If you do decide to bring your marketing in-house, where would you start? Would you bring all these channels home, or just take on a few of them?
This post will go through some of the pros and cons of taking marketing campaigns in-house, offering suggestions on how to determine which strategy is right for your business.
MatrixPoint is a team of media data privacy and compliance experts who can help your business leverage data to boost your online marketing performance.
We're here to help you understand the intricacies of in-housing digital marketing efforts, and here’s what you’ll need to consider before getting started:
Why are some businesses opting to take their marketing operations, and especially digital advertising campaigns, in-house?
The biggest incentive for in-housing marketing is cost reductions – hiring your own digital marketers to create campaigns may be considerably cheaper than outsourcing the work to an agency.
Moreover, internal teams may be better at keeping up with current events and trends that directly affect your business. That could put your in-house team in a better position to exploit new opportunities as they arrive, preventing lags in time that require communications back and forth with the agency.
In-house teams may be able to do a better job effectively mitigating the tedious creative and communication delays that plague some agency relationships, significantly improving marketing efficiencies, and results.
Additionally, when brands take back control of their campaigns, the in-house marketing team may be able to significantly improve media transparency, which agencies aren't exactly known for.
Having ownership of your first-party data creates a seamless journey to creativie – one devoid of the silos that can harm results when using an agency. Doing everything in-house may enable you to do a better job of combining customer marketing data, segments, and activation since everything occurs under one roof. Thus, you’re likely to have better control over all stages of your planning, execution, and conversion funnel.
Internal teams also get to proactively engage with your brand, gaining more experience with your products and services, and familiarizing themselves with your company’s work. Having marketers that live and breathe your products, services, and company day to day can lead to more familiarity and better insights than an outside agency may be able to surface.
By in-housing your marketing team, you can do a better job of building a lineup of brand strategists who strengthen your creative and proactively develop your brand, messaging, and general strategies, rather than focusing solely on their ROI, which is typical of agencies.
Given the size of your brand, and your marketing needs, the first step to media in-housing is building your in-house media team.
Your team should include a diverse set of roles, experiences, and personalities to ensure that each aspect of digital marketing is taken care of – this includes media buying specialists, project managers, UX designers, content specialists, SEO strategists, and a range of other digital communication professionals to ensure that your creative, content, and media strategy is all on the right track, and working together.
Next, it’s important to create an overarching strategy for this new team of experts. If all you do is replace the roles currently fulfilled by the agency, without setting strategic objectives for your new in-house team, then you’re unlikely to accomplish much at all, other than wasting time.
It’s important to recognize what your brand new marketing team needs to focus on first and foremost, prioritize, etc., which means you’re going to have to evaluate your current campaigns, determine what their strengths and weaknesses are, and prioritize channels, strategies, and tactics for testing with your new in-house team. This is not an easy process, but as we outlined in the section above, it could lead to improved results.
Will your new in-house team need to start experimenting with entirely new channels, or simply adjust strategies and tactics for the existing efforts? Should they consider radically new ad opportunities, or simply try to improve the performance of your old ones?
These are the sorts of questions to ask long before you in-house media, as they will help determine which parts of the process (if any) you choose to leave with your current agency.
There's a variety of different marketing channels that must be considered when setting up an in-house marketing department. These will include:
If you’re going to bring marketing in-house, the first thing to consider is setting up a new media strategy.
How much do you want to spend on marketing efforts? Which channels will you utilize? How much should be allocated to each channel? Who should those channels target, and what should the messaging look like? This all needs to be considered when creating your overarching media strategy.
Your media strategy should also help guide the new in-house marketing team on processes like audience targeting, creative design, and execution.
You’ll need an overarching media strategy in place to help the marketing teams determine who to pursue, how to address them, and what to say within each media channel.
Not only does a media strategy provide focus and direction to your marketing initiatives, but it also ensures your branding is aligned with your organization's core values.
Media planning is the process of choosing and buying media platforms to run ads for your marketing campaigns.
Marketers start by identifying which platforms are the most effective for delivering your marketing campaign messages and converting the targeted audiences into actual customers.
Your media plan should allocate dollars from your ad spend accordingly so that your campaigns can achieve the best results.
Typically, this is one of the most important processes that an agency provides, so if you’re going to drop the outside experts and take everything in-house, this is likely one of the big pain points you’ll want to consider and develop before making the transition to a full in-house team.
This marketing strategy involves automatically buying and optimizing digital campaigns instead of buying directly from publishers – effectively replacing human negotiations with automated machine learning.
Not only does it increase efficiency, but it also promotes transparency, giving you better data to make marketing decisions that will improve ROI.
Programmatic advertising exists in a variety of digital channels, such as mobile, videos, and social, and it’s one of the most important channels to consider when moving marketing in-house.
With the rapid rise of self-service programmatic marketing platforms and tools, smaller brands are now enjoying increased access to programmatic technology, enabling them to compete with larger businesses.
MatrixPoint can help your business with media automation implementation, identifying AI solutions, and helping set up your in-house media team to achieve success.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy used to increase your website's visibility on search engines.
Also called “paid search advertising”, this channel helps consumers researching products to find your brand online, significantly increasing your company's reach.
SEM marketers only pay for ad impressions that convert into visitors, making it an efficient marketing tactic for companies that want to expand their reach, while sticking to a set budget.
Many advertisers choose to work with SEM and PPC advertising because these are non-intrusive marketing channels that don't interrupt your audience as they browse the internet.
With SEM, results are typically immediate, and tracking is nearly perfect, making it one of the quickest ways for marketers to drive traffic to their websites – it’s no wonder that search advertising spending is projected to reach $132 billion by 2022.
SEM is also one of the easier channels to in-house since everything done here happens within a set platform, typically Google Ads, allowing you to collect all the data you need to make marketing decisions, but SEM experts don’t come cheap, so if your plan to in-house media is all about saving money, then it may actually be better to keep PPC efforts with your agency.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing tactic that involves optimizing your website’s tags and content to make it appear more prominently in the organic search results.
61% of marketers believe that SEO is key to their brand's online success because they've seen that implementing SEO best practices improves rankings, allowing sites to generate more traffic and especially more conversions.
Ranking at the top of the search results helps build your brand's credibility, telling your customers that you're a top player in your industry, and updating your content to be more helpful and informative typically increases engagement and conversion rates for all of your marketing channels, so SEO is often considered a core marketing channel.
SEO, however, is one of those channels that can be in-housed, especially since it oftentimes relies nearly entirely on content production, and who knows your brand, your products, and services better than your own employees?
The challenges for in-housing SEO tend to be related to training employees on using best practices effectively, but there's a great deal of content floating around the web explaining how to do SEO, so this is certainly a channel worthy of considering bringing in-house.
Social media marketing involves using social media platforms to connect with and engage your audiences, and social media campaigns have been proven to help quickly grow brands and boost sales.
This channel is crucial to building your brand's visibility and recognition, especially if you target younger audiences or if you’re selling the types of products and services that flourish on social platforms (relatively inexpensive direct-to-consumer goods), making social an important channel to consider in-housing.
But like the other marketing channels covered here, there’s certainly a learning curve to getting social media marketing right, and because this is one of the newer marketing channels, and one that can change rapidly, it’s not always easy to bring this effort in-house.
Social marketing requires regularly creating, then publishing engaging content on your social media profiles, as well as listening to and interacting with your followers on a daily basis, so this can be a difficult channel to take from an agency and hand to an in-house employee.
However, creative is extremely important to social success, and authenticity is celebrated more on social media than on any other marketing channel, so in-house employees may be able to generate improvements in results simply by being better reflections of your brand’s true voice, tone and messaging than someone working for an agency.
Analyzing the results of your social media marketing campaigns and proving that they produce ROI is another difficult challenge, and one that agencies tend to excel at, so that could be a big hurdle you'll be forced to face should you choose to bring social media marketing efforts in-house
Email marketing uses emails to promote your brand and strengthen your relationships with prospective leads as well as existing customers, and while this strategy has been around for years, and hasn’t evolved all that much, it is far more complicated than many businesses might imagine at first glance.
Email marketing allows you to reach a wide range of Internet users, even if they aren't avid social media users and works especially well for older audiences who haven’t yet “gone social”, especially when it’s handled properly.
ROI is relatively easy to track with modern software, so email marketers can determine which prospects are opening their emails, find out who ends up clicking through to the website, and understand which messages are working at converting “leads” into “clients” or “sales”, making this an excellent channel for data-driven individuals.
Moreover, given that email marketing requires virtually no ad spend, it comes up as one of the cheapest marketing tactics out there, and because it’s so much simpler than some of the other digital channels, this may be the first place to look at building a team of in-house experts.
If you want to move your digital marketing in-house, Matrix Point is here to help ensure that the transition is seamless and that your new department has all the tools and resources at its disposal to deliver exceptional results from day one!
Ready to schedule a consultation with MatrixPoint? Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for your business.