I have been in the digital marketing industry long before the corporates caught up. It has been more than a decade now since my first marketing campaign in 2007.
A lot of business owners have asked me to clear this dilemma that is common. Should they go ahead and hire an ad agency to handle their digital marketing account or should they focus on developing an in-house marketing team?
I wish I could give a clear answer, but there is no one size fits all formula. I have worked in the agency as well as in individual companies.
There are a lot of people who would tell you that involving the agency would make your life easier. But not having an inhouse talent can hurt a company’s marketing strategy.
There are certain advantages to having in-house digital marketing talent, and we will have a deeper look at it in this post.
Why In-house Digital Marketing Talent is Important
Can you guess how much time an average Indian spends on the internet? Shockingly enough, it is 4.4 hours in a day, taking into account that there are only 24 hours to sleep, work, eat and other routine things.
Statistically speaking, the Indian internet traffic is nearly 291 times more than what it was a decade ago.
That’s a huge number, right? So now you can totally guess where your potential customers are spending most of their times.
Yes, on the web – Google, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn to name a few hangouts.
If you think having a functional website and a branding page on Facebook or Instagram is enough, you are wrong.
It’s 2019, a well defined digital marketing strategy and skilled digital marketing professionals are something that you can’t fail to keep away from your business.
You are most likely to agree with me on the fact that not only e-commerce business but also FMCG companies are not leaving any chance to make their online presence felt.
This digital wave is one of the reasons why even the likes of the most conventional CEOs, business owners, senior managers etc are deep diving into digital marketing.
In recent times, there has been a huge demand for digital marketing skills from the corporates.
Even the IT giants like Accenture have started providing DM services to their clients.
The interest shown by the startups and the corporates has been so high that many senior managers and CEOs have reached out to me for an in-house digital marketing training.
This is how we were also approached by Mercedes-Benz to train their sales and marketing team with core digital marketing.
During the training, I realised that it is sometimes better to train your people than to hire an Ad agency to do the work.
Although, for some businesses, it would be advised to outsource your digital requirements to Marketing agencies. But those who the have capacity should be training your own sales and marketing team.
Benefits of having an in-house Digital Marketing Team
Some of the best businesses that I know have inhouse digital marketing teams. With time they have realized that it is not always easy to let an agency take care of everything.
1. Choosing an agency is a risky business
In my experience, most of the agencies promise too much and deliver less, ripping clients off their money.
Come on, they are marketing agencies! They will be very good at pitching to you and would claim to have a solution for all your business setbacks. You need to be extra careful in assessing their result delivering abilities.
If you select a wrong digital marketing agency, you could be heading for a wreck. Eventually, you will end up burning money and wasting time.
2. Difference in opinion and incompatibility
Every company has a different work culture and share different core values. People working in your company adhere to it and work with the same frequency.
It can be a huge problem if the agency that you decide to work with believes in different work ethics.
Digital marketing campaigns take some time to show results. So working with an agency is a long-term commitment. If your work relationship does not work out, it can prove to be a bitter experience for you.
3. Industry knowledge and Understanding of the Business
The people in your sales and marketing team must have spent a good amount of time in your industry. They understand your business better. They also closely know about your product, goals and vision.
There in-depth knowledge about the subject matter and direct access to the industry experts in the company will always have an upper hand over any agency.
Once they get skilled with the required talent, they would be able to curate better content, lay better marketing strategy and would do it faster than any outside help.
4. One directional attention vs. dedicated team effort
Having an in-house digital marketing team means having people who will give their undivided attention to your digital marketing strategies and campaign experiments.
They will only focus on your industry and product. This is not the case with an agency. One person works on multiple projects.
The attention given to a particular client is directly proportional to the monthly retainer fee and budget. So if you are just starting up and cannot shell out a large marketing budget, the agency will never work out for you.
Also, while bringing your sales/marketing team together, you must have already hired the best you could find it the market.
So why not just up-skill your hand-picked employees and train them on how things exactly need to be done.
5. Measuring Impact of Marketing Campaigns
Most of the times, due to lack of in-depth knowledge in digital marketing, the clients are not able to gauge the agency’s performance and credibility.
There are a lot of metrics to look at other than tracking conversions and traffic. These marketing campaigns may also take some time to show the desired results.
But the market is also very competitive. Therefore agency owners sometimes make false promises and can take you for a ride.
This makes a lot of business owners opt-out of the business contract with the agencies and also gives Digital marketing a bad rap because people claim digital marketing is a fad and doesn’t work.
Even if you decide to go with an agency, some of your employees should have a fair amount of literacy in digital marketing. This way they would at least know what to delegate to the agency and how are they performing.
Finding a Sweet Spot
If you are a fast growing company with good capital, you can have full-time employees to work in your office while outsourcing some tasks to an agency. Digital marketing is a vast field. Different agencies specialise in different verticals (most of them would agree to offer you all the services).
For example, you can take care of organic growth, building a brand reputation through ads and doing email marketing while collaborating with an agency to create content, creatives and drive conversions.
Trust me, digital marketing is not a very hard skill to master!
With some initial training and hands-on experience over a period of time, you can have a fair amount of command over it.
Having your team working on your business means having direct control over decision making. You can choose what works for you and what channels your money needs to be invested in.
If you want to monitor your marketing strategies sharply and closely, the in-house marketing team can be good for you to start with.
If your company has just started to figure out various digital marketing channels, you should start with your company’s team.
Ultimately, it’s a call that every business owner has to make this call at some point in time. Assess your requirements and decide where your time and money will be best spent.