Digital marketing has fast become the cornerstone of any small business’s marketing strategy. This is especially true for businesses where budgets are tight, and marketing activity has to deliver a significant return on investment (ROI).
Although most business owners understand the importance of a competent, reliable website and social media presence, they often don’t understand the fundamentals or intricacies of digital marketing – and struggle with the idea of outsourcing their digital marketing needs to an outside team.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the umbrella term for all online marketing. A company’s website is the most obvious example of digital marketing, but it actually refers to any digital channel or strategy used to market a business, product or service:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Pay per click (PPC) advertising
- Email campaigns
- Online brochures
- Online retail
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Put simply; digital marketing is how you engage with your target audience online, and how they experience and interact with your brand on digital devices, including PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices.
It also requires a specific skill set.
SEO, for example, refers to a combination of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking (i.e. close to the top of page one) in the search results of a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing or Yahoo).
The higher a website ranks in the search results, the more ‘visible’ it is and the greater the chance that a user will visit that site.
SEO is divided into on-page SEO (the content that exists on your web page); off page SEO (backlinks to related and reputable sites); and technical SEO (the backend of your website, e.g. how your pages are coded in order to increase your site’s loading speed).
SEO considers several factors, including:
- Crawl accessibility, so search engines can reach and index the content on your website
- Compelling content (written directly for your target audience, keeping in mind what is important to them)
- Keyword optimisation (ensuring the content prioritises the ‘keywords’ your audience users uses in search engines when searching the internet)
- A great user experience, including fast load speed, ease of navigation and ‘mobile-friendliness’ (i.e. easily viewed on a mobile device)
This is not a simple endeavour, and small businesses should ask ana SEO professional to perform an ‘SEO audit’ of their website to ensure that it is fully optimised and accessible.
Pay per click (PPC) is another area that requires strategic thought and clever implementation. PPC drives traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked.
One of the most common types of PPC is Google Ads, but other PPC channels include Facebook and LinkedIn ads (among others).
All the examples of digital marketing listed above require time, consideration, and a good measure of skill. If you struggle to find the time (or lack the expertise) to do it properly, you might consider outsourcing your digital marketing needs.
Why outsource digital marketing?
There are several reasons why companies choose to outsource digital marketing activities. Many are small businesses without the capacity for an in-house marketing team. Others may employ a marketing manager – but without the necessary digital marketing skills.
Others may have a great marketing team in place, but need to outsource a specific need (e.g. the design and development of an optimised website). Alternatively, a company may just need to do something different in order to take their business to the next level.
For many small companies, outsourcing digital media is often a purely budgetary decision. In other words: is it worth it? Here are just five reasons to outsource digital marketing:
Rather than employing a digital marketing manager in-house, outsourcing your digital marketing will give you access to an entire team of experts. This includes:
- An account manager with a deep understanding of the digital world
- A website developer with SEO (search engine optimisation) experience to keep your website updated and optimised at all times
- An experienced copywriter with an SEO background (including blogs and content creation)
- A graphic designer for all your design needs (website, logos, ads, infographics and more)
- A video specialist (creating share-worthy Facebook videos or Instagram stories)
- A social media manager (community manager) to look after your pages, including content curation and engagements
- An online PR specialist, who can develop relationships with micro and macro influencers
- A digital ad specialist who understands the ins and outs of PPC and Google analytics
We have already established that digital marketing is a specialised field. However, it is also fast-paced. The beauty of outsourcing your digital marketing is that a digital agency will not only have access to the latest technology but will also keep up with the latest trends or advances in digital marketing.
For example, Google and Facebook change their ad buying platforms and products so quickly that you need to be responsive, open to change and digitally savvy.
This is not always easy – especially if you have other responsibilities, like keeping an eye on the day-to-day duties of running your business.
A monthly retainer (tailored to both your needs and budget) will give you access to a skilled team of individuals – at a fraction of the cost of a permanent team. Moreover, this brings us to the point below.
An excellent digital team will be impressively efficient. Dedicated to your immediate digital marketing needs, they will be able to deliver on a brief quickly and effectively.
Often in-house teams have a significant workload with other responsibilities and stresses, while freelance or remote teams will be able to respond immediately.
This means a quicker turn-around time – without the cost of salaries, benefits or sick leave. A remote team is there when you need them, and will only charge you for hours spent, making them a potent and efficient tool.
If you are just beginning to outsource digital marketing, social media is a good place to start. In order to be successful, your social media pages need to be current, up-to-date and responsive.
Search Engine Journal looks closely at current social media trends, and reports that more than ever, businesses need to take the time to understand their customers and how they interact with their brand on each social media platform, and then engage with them at the right time, in the right tone, with the right medium.
In other words, interactions are more powerful than broadcasts.
However, social media interactions take time and require almost instantaneous responses to comments, complaints and queries.
By outsourcing your social media to a digital team, you can ensure dynamic social media content and engagement – without the stress and burden of doing it yourself.
4. Strategy development
It is essential to find a digital marketing partner that can go beyond copywriting and graphic design. Although these skills are important, you need to outsource digital marketing to a team with a strategic capability.
A digital agency or team will have an objective, ‘big picture’ view, bring a fresh perspective and be able to design a long-term strategy in order to grow your business online.
5. Tracking and analysis
Businesses often neglect to track and analyse their digital spend and activity. This is down to both time and expertise.
A digital marketing partner worth their salt will be able to monitor your activity and spend using tracking and analytics tools, and report on your return on investment (ROI). This includes tracking competitor activity, spotting gaps, and identifying opportunities.
The advantages of outsourcing your digital marketing
To be honest, there are very few disadvantages when it comes to outsourcing digital marketing.
Obviously, you will need to invest time and energy in building a good working relationship, as you will be entrusting your brand to a new team.
However, a new team brings new energy, a unique skill set, fresh perspectives and may just take your business to a whole new level!
Entrepreneur.com lists the following advantages of outsourcing your digital marketing:
- Your marketing won’t suffer as a result of staff issues or annual leave
- You pay for results – not staff
- You get an ‘outside’ insight on your business’s needs
- You are assured of a return on investment (in other words, your money will be spent on strategies that work)
- You are in touch with the latest trends and industry updates
- You can count on ongoing optimisation – there is no danger of stagnation or neglect
- You get to focus on the core of your business
Essentially, you will be placing your digital marketing account in the safe hands of digital experts, who are able to exploit the full potential of digital marketing. And that is priceless.
How to outsource digital marketing
The first step is to find the perfect freelance or remote digital marketing team for your business. Your digital marketing partner will often be the voice of your brand.
This is a huge responsibility.
You need to be happy with their skills, style, tone and manner. It is about finding the best ‘fit’ possible, for both you and your brand.
Go online (LinkedIn is a great place to start) and ask for recommendations and referrals. Have a close look at potential suppliers’ websites and social media pages. Do you like their image and tone? Have a look at their online portfolio and a list of their current clients.
Once you have identified a potential shortlist of agencies, ask them for samples of previous work, case studies they are particularly proud of, – and a list of contactable references.
Potential partners should be happy to meet in order to assess your needs and put together a quote tailored to your specific budget.
The second step, therefore, is to decide exactly what work you would like to outsource. You may choose to hand over your digital campaign in its entirety, or you could outsource one or more of the following:
- Website design and development
- SEO (audit and implementation)
- Strategy development (including competitor analysis)
- Copywriting, e.g. new product names, slogans and taglines
- Email campaigns
- Electronic newsletters
- Blogging and content creation
- Social media (content creation and curation, engagements and interaction)
- Creative photo, audio and video services
Picking a digital marketing agency
Ideally, you want to find a partner who offers a full package of services, and you can then increase the amount of work you choose to outsource as your relationship develops.
Many small business owners are concerned that an outside service provider won’t fully understand their brand, or simply won’t have the same level of passion or drive.
However, this is not true. The trick is to find a digital marketing agency that is fiercely passionate about what they do.
They will be determined to create a successful, measurable and memorable campaign (remember their reputation and ‘brand’ is also at stake) and will pull out all the stops to make it happen.
In fact, permanent staff members can become tired and jaded (and require performance management) while an outside team can bring renewed energy and commitment to your brand.
The right digital partner will help you craft your marketing strategy, add invaluable insight in terms of your online presence and give you final approval on all content and activity before going live.
Most importantly, they will take a massive load off your shoulders. A successful digital marketing strategy requires time, know-how and smart implementation.
However, even business owners who are seasoned marketers, may not be up to speed with the latest technology, digital trends, tricks and hacks, and just need a little help to get the most out of their marketing spend.
So whether your needs are big or small, consider outsourcing your digital marketing to a team who can help. Start with a free trial today.