In 2015, a common question addressed in business has become:
Should we provide our digital marketing operations and execution in-house? Or should we outsource to a marketing services company? Or is the solution to find somewhere in the middle?
It’s a difficult question to answer, and depends on a business’ internal resources, skill sets and knowledge level. Let’s begin by pointing out a distinction between 2 kinds of outsourced Marketing Operations:
- Technology provisioning: The delivery of specific marketing applications that may be owned and hosted by an outsourced vendor, such as an automated email service provider (ESP), or e-commerce platform
- Managed services: The provisioning of business process of a specific marketing function, such as campaign development, database management, project management, and campaign execution
So what’s right for your business? Below are 5 key criteria that will help you assess if outsourcing marketing operations is right for your business:
1. Your don’t have precise expertise, or bandwidth
- According to research conducted by Adobe in 2014, most marketers agree that the industry has changed more in the last 2 years than in the last 50. What’s more, most digital marketers don’t have formal training, roughly 82% learn on the job. In this time of digital evolution, many marketing organizations may not have the skills to use technology platforms or tools optimally, or, even, effectively. Effective marketing organizations require a wide range of expertise. A typical group may include: strategists, data analysts, social media specialists, technologists, e-commerce experts, copywriters, et al.
- In either case, specialized outside help is often required
2. You lack required technology
- Marketing organizations are notoriously technology deprived—even in high-technology companies—or, they’re bogged down by an assortment of incompatible technologies.
- Getting access to an integrated, technology-rich set of marketing applications can be an expensive exercise. A better solution is often to outsource specific marketing functions to specialists who use cutting-edge technology
3. You want to benchmark your marketing operations against best practices
- Outsourced marketing services companies package their understanding of best practices in the form of their employees, as well as in operational models, process flows, and partnerships with like-minded companies. Building this understanding from scratch in-house may be possible, but it takes time. Engaging a marketing services company provides immediate access to experts and knowledge that can be transferred immediately.
4. You want to manage more costs as variable expenses
- Fixed costs in people, systems, and facilities often account for the largest portion of a marketing budget. Marketing organizations need to quickly adapt to sudden changes in customer demographics and markets, as well a stake advantage of immediate opportunities. As such, those functions or projects that can be outsourced create a greater overall level of flexibility.
- While the specific costs of outsourcing might appear to be higher than doing it in-house, there are hidden costs in maintaining internal fixed marketing assets. These include absorbing delays caused by training needs or changing priorities. While an outsource provider might charge more for any one unit of work, they also bear much of the risk that changes in your business strategies.
5. You want to focus on insights rather than operations
- The skillset in your marketing unit or agency likely includes people whose primary responsibility is to understand your business. Some are focused on understanding demographics, segments, and buying patterns. Others manage relationships with specific customers…. Bottom-line: These people handle the core functions of the organization.
- Most marketing organizations also employ staff members who are activity-oriented, managing processes, activities, and events. They ensure that variables X and Y come together in the right way and at the right time to ensure that Z takes place on schedule.
- To be blunt, the former is the essence of your marketing group; the latter is not. The brain trust is the irreplaceable element in an organization, while all the other functions are candidates for outsourcing.
Can you think of other reasons to outsource marketing operations? Better yet, let us know how to reach you if you’d just like to grill one of our experts for more information about Marketing Operations outsourcing or best practices.