You and I both know that digital marketing may be a subset, but in the 21st century we could probably call it just plain marketing.
It’s vital, it’s competitive and it’s bitsy. There’s a strong argument to be had that outsourcing the responsibility can free up your time, and actually be more effective. That isn’t always the case, however. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, and what you need to look for in a digital marketing partner.
Why is digital marketing important?
The world of commerce is thriving online. It’s a meeting point for the masses, a library for the mind and a resource for every which thing. Plus, it’s fun. In the United States, 85% of individuals own a smartphone, while 77% own a laptop or desktop computer. If you’re a saloon in a remote community with no competing saloons, that’s great — you’ve probably got a monopoly on the local business.
For most SMEs though, that’s not the case. A digital presence is necessary. So people can find you on Google Maps, ogle at your pretty posts or make quick purchases. By the way, e-commerce sales are on track to reach 4.81 billion by the end of 2021. That’s a nice piece of pie. More importantly, perhaps, is the growth. The space grew 27.6% between 2019 and 2020 — and it’s only on an upward trend. It’s a clear indicator that the future of commerce is widely digitized.
When you engage in online marketing, you’re attempting to capture the minds that enter that space. To point their attention towards your product or service, and why they should love it. Entice them to click and count your numbers. As technology has advanced, so too has the nuance of digital marketing tactics. We’ve come a long way from sandwich boards to programmatic marketing.
In such a competitive arena, you’ve got massive companies with marketing departments. They’ve got the resources to muscle with other big players for the best ad space, and the means to up the standard in the space. For SMEs, the gameplay might need to start subtle. Strategy, follow-through, constant review and informed decision making are the best approaches. With a consistent and clarified digital strategy, you really can grow your returns. That’s why a good one is important.
What’s in it for me?
Consider the trade-off: your time is worth money. If you’re handling digital strategy yourself, add up the hours you spend working on it. How much is that equivalent to? Could you take that money and spend it on a marketer?
Essentially, if you’re not savvy, or if you’re finding that you’re spending a lot of time trying to keep up, why not shift that expenditure to an expert? Knowing that someone whose specialty is specifically digital presence is handling your marketing can take a huge load off. You can then shift your attention towards other aspects of running your business.
Digital marketers can handle a wide variety of tasks. These include:
- Branding or rebranding
- Strategizing and goal-setting
- Website design and management
- Social media campaigns & management
- Blog and copy writing
- SEO Revision
- Paid advertising campaigns
- Email marketing
- Influencer & Affiliate marketing
- Loyalty Programs
- Graphic and logo design
- Lead generation
What signs should I be looking for to confirm that outsourcing is a good idea?
Your time and energy aren’t leading to returns
Maybe you’re spending hours on digital marketing, but can’t seem to keep ahead of the curve. Or perhaps your campaigns aren’t generating leads and you’re losing money. Digital marketing is its own profession; when you’re already running a business, staying on top of the constant evolution in that space can be near impossible. Sometimes, too, it’s hard to know aesthetically and in your messaging what will land with your demographic. Or perhaps you do know, but it’s being misapplied. That’s where experts can help.
You can’t afford to hire someone full-time
When you’re working on a budget, a freelancer can be an excellent option. They could work as many or as few hours as you need, and help strategize. They’ll work without needing your supervision.
Your in-house marketing specialist can’t handle all the tasks needed
Many agencies and freelancers can coordinate with in-house marketers to make the online approach robust across channels.
You’re a new company with a small team
If messaging isn’t your forte, engaging a company or a freelancer to work over a set period of time to launch can be incredibly helpful. Knowing that branding, outreach and design are taken care of is a huge weight off. You can then ideate and co-create, without having to do the work itself.
It’s time for a rebrand, or your growth has hit a plateau
Your design isn’t responsive, or you aren’t engaging your demographic in the way you want to. The audience you do have isn’t getting any bigger, it just seems to have trickled to a stop. A marketing specialist can assess your design, messaging and approach, and identify areas for improvement.
You don’t have time to explore new avenues of digital marketing
Handling some aspects yourself, but want to expand your reach? If you don’t have the time or capacity, an outsourced option is a great way to advance your business interests in different digital arenas.
When is outsourcing not a good idea?
When you can’t make a clear connection between the expense and ROI
While some expenditure and risk-taking is required to make progress in business, if it’s clear that outsourcing is going to buckle you, don’t do it. There are a lot of resources available online to help refine and coach your own approach to digital marketing. Make sure that you understand what the financial commitment is and how it would impact your bottom line.
If you don’t have a clear idea of your own expectations
Digital marketing companies and freelancers can handle a lot independently. However, it’s imperative they understand your business objectives and preferred approach. If you don’t know how to articulate these expectations, how on earth are they going to be able to? Before spending any resources, work on what’s free of charge. Your messaging, your hopes for growth and who your demographic is.
If you haven’t tried any digital marketing yourself
As above, with so much information available online, getting started for free is a piece of cake! If you’re lacking in basic computer skills, ask a pal to help you set up a basic Facebook business page and show you how posting works. Don’t lose heart if it feels challenging at first; it’s always a learning curve. Those first baby steps can have big returns, and maybe you’ll find that it works for you for your short-term needs, to handle it yourself.
How do I choose my outsourcing partner?
Freelancer vs Agency
Sometimes it’s easier to find a lone wolf who works on the hourly and can handle a multitude of responsibilities. Costs can generally be much lower, too. That said, an agency can provide a more robust approach, there is greater accountability, and most of the time, they’re willing to scale the package to fit your needs.
Get a clear picture
Make sure that the company you’re working with doesn’t outsource — they should be where the buck stops. Verifying that all tasks are completed in-house is important. Ask the tough questions about what you can expect in your time together. How do they record traction? When do they report on this, and what is a healthy level of growth to expect in the early stages of partnership?
Check references. Google them. Check them out on Linked In. Speak to those they’ve worked with. Get an honest appraisal. You’re spending your money so you don’t have to think about it — you want to be spending money with someone who knows what they’re doing.
Get the costs straight, and in writing
This is very important. You need to establish upfront what fees are, including bonuses or commissions for greater conversion. Be direct early on, and finish with, ‘Outside of what we discussed, I want to confirm that there are no other costs or fees associated with this service that I would ever pay?’
Review the contracts and make sure that all of your discussions are documented. You don’t want any unexpected fiscal responsibility. A little sweat now saves the tears later on.
Assess the vibe
You want an individual or company with good communication and innovative ideas. If their thoughts are conventional or identical to your own, keep looking — you need a partner who has the potential to be disruptive, and also make a difference in your marketing strategy.
Your partners should have common sense, but also be creative. Make sure you’re seeking those qualities when meeting with potential companies or freelancers.
We can help!
Full disclosure, we offer digital marketing services in-house in downtown Vancouver. Synic Creative Marketing has package options that can be scaled depending on services. You only pay for what you need, and a consultant is provided for every step. Check out [insert link here] to learn more.