Marketing & Growth

Should I insource or outsource my marketing activity?

6 min read


Have you recruited the right talent for marketing success? In this blog, we discuss whether insourcing or outsourcing can improve your marketing efforts.

The demands of modern marketing are driving organisations in opposite directions. On the one hand, effective marketing requires a customer-centric approach, where organisations are active across multiple customer touchpoints and media channels. But this approach is complex and requires accessing talent ranging from search engine optimisation (SEO) and content production to marketing automation.

On the other hand, top business consultancies like McKinsey recommend that organisations boost their resilience by decreasing unnecessary business complexity and improving their agility.   

As solving this dilemma comes down to allocating the right talent and resources, marketing departments have the choice of either building their in-house capabilities or outsourcing their marketing work. But deciding how to structure your marketing department is difficult, especially for global enterprises that deal with various time zones and working cultures. 

In this article, we unpack the key considerations behind whether you should outsource or insource your marketing efforts. The first step is to understand which marketing skills your department is lacking.

What marketing skills do you need most?

You can figure out what marketing skills you need by looking at your marketing objectives. But knowing your buyer journeys is crucial in establishing business-as-usual marketing objectives versus project-specific marketing objectives.

If, for example, your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts are valuable customer touchpoints, then you will need a full-time social media manager to handle these touchpoints. But if you need an explainer video to help launch a new product, it probably won’t be worth hiring a full-time in-house video production team. 

The need for project-specific marketing skills is why 59% of marketing leaders continue to outsource their creative functions — according to the latest Deloitte survey on Global marketing trends. But whether you insource or outsource needed skills, you will most likely need a permanent Digital Marketing Manager who can ensure that marketing activities are attuned to customer and brand needs. 

Marketing outsourcing versus insourcing — what’s the difference?

As we’ve discussed, whether you should outsource or insource marketing activities depends on your marketing objectives, along with your organisation size and industry. 

The cost of insourcing versus outsourcing is a challenge to determine and is dependent on your location. Performing a cost-benefit analysis means balancing the price of using a marketing agency with investing in marketing tools and paying the benefits and salaries for in-house staff. Websites like Glassdoor.com can help you determine what the costs of hiring full-time staff might look like for different marketing roles. 

With this in mind, here are the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing and insourcing your marketing:

Outsourcing pros and cons

When outsourcing marketing activities to specialists, you’re accessing advanced skill sets that are difficult to recruit for. And when dealing with established marketing agencies, you’re able to leverage their expertise and technology to build better marketing strategies and tactics. Depending on your contract, outsourced marketing is consistently delivered, as production won’t be affected by staff turnover, vacation time, or sick days.

Agencies also bring fresh insights from working with other industries and even competitors. But this can be a danger, as agencies that apply a template approach to their clients — regardless of industry — can deliver generic marketing. Another downside to outsourcing is that agencies will need time to gain sufficient knowledge about your customers and products. 

Insourcing pros and cons

While an outside perspective is valuable, your business should have unmatched knowledge of your customers and how they like to be marketed to. By being better attuned to customer needs, in-house teams can be better at adapting their marketing execution mid-stream. 

Of course, this customer attunement can only be unlocked by building experienced and highly-skilled marketing teams — but there lies the problem. Creating an in-house team is time-consuming. To ensure innovative and effective work, marketing managers also have to worry about upskilling their teams. And while it can be easy to fully utilise your in-house copywriter for business-as-usual marketing activities, it’s a challenge to find a consistent use for specialists who are brought in to meet project-specific marketing goals. 

Using a marketing agency to structure your department

When restructuring your marketing department, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you’re a senior marketer who has just joined the company.    

Whether you’re insourcing, outsourcing, or mixing models, marketing agencies can help structure your department for success. That’s because many agencies have evolved to become marketing technology (MarTech) and data experts, and they offer consultations on strategy, talent acquisition and process improvements.   

For example, agencies can help you build and structure a network of agile, high-performing and global contractors. This makes it easy to scale your department on a project-by-project basis. Tech-savvy agencies can also help you adopt AI and algorithm technology to automate key marketing activities, leading to sleeker and more cost-efficient departments. When choosing between agencies, look at their case studies, and client reviews, and ask about their approach to technology. 

To outsource or insource your marketing: a business-critical decision

There are many different ways to structure a marketing division and the ideal structure will depend on your organisation’s unique needs. However you structure your department, it should be geared towards achieving your marketing objectives and streamlining your buyer’s journeys. 

If you’re looking for technical, strategic, or creative support, our team at Huble Digital has provided marketing solutions work for many organisations. Along with our best practices and expertise, our partners benefit from access to our hand-picked marketing specialists. Get in touch to see how we can assist your marketing department. 

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