How to Balance in-house and Agency Expertise in the Digital Marketing World

Traditionally, marketing has been a function that has been held close to the heart and handing it over to a third party was an inconceivable notion. Over the last two decades, as the digital marketing space exploded, it brought with it game-changing tools and processes, a shift in the way of thinking and with all of this a radical way of using budgets- 38% of marketers are increasing digital and content marketing budgets over the next two years. Agencies employing multi-specialty marketing talent are working hand in hand with in-house teams to ensure small and big, mature and startup firms have all the support they need in their marketing endeavors. While creative and operational tasks were being outsourced earlier, with 60% of marketers expecting their companies to increase investments in technology (AR, Video, Big Data and Analytics), agencies are ramping up their talent pool in these areas as well to provide a win-win experience. In order to ensure the best interests of the brand are met and make both the in-house team and agency vigilant in avoiding potential pitfalls, it is imperative to keep the balance regarding allocation and execution of marketing tasks right. Here are four ways in which companies can achieve that balance.
Consumers want good content – Research shows that while over 70% companies have increased spending on content and marketing, only 5% buyers who receive this content actually believe that it showcases thought leadership. Assess if your in-house team can create useful, relevant, timely content. Even if it can, consistency in creating great content, leveraging top-notch industry tools, and scanning the industry for influencers is the forte of a good agency.   To achieve a balance, a firm could focus on articulating their core positioning and messaging, identifying the right brand ambassador who will voice this while leveraging a strong content agency who can help bring the research, industry trend and influencer perspectives into the same content to make it a really strong thought leadership piece.
Time and effort to meet strategic priorities – It makes sense to have a clear expectation setting exercise at the outset of the partnership- can the agency deliver on time, do they understand the strategic priorities, and can they invest time integrating with the sales team? A firm’s marketing lead could oversee agency relations to ensure the firm’s interests are well catered to.
Lead Generation – Quality content through various content assests can generate 67% more leads, on an average. Any brand would want to initiate the communication that ensues and take customers further through the sales funnel. While lead generation can be outsourced to agencies with the in-depth know-how of the online media space and market, customer service itself and all aspects related to key customer accounts could be retained by the in-house team. A quality AI experience that can guide companies to identify trending topics and building content around those  and using chatbots to engage customers can streamline customer services and improve B2B lead nurturing process further.
Staying on top of the game – Digital media is changing at blinding speed and a marketer needs to experiment on different social media. Consider how mobile marketing is all the rage with 143Bn$ being spent on mobile advertisements in 2017 and this is expected to increase exponentially. Agencies with multi-specialist talent understand and leverage a wide variety of channels that meet prospects where they are. To establish a balance, an in-house team can talk frequently to the agency to share statistics of what is working or not and employ analytics to guide the agency in their line of action. Martech will be a key element in helping companies drive better ROI for this content marketing efforts.
In conclusion, the digital marketing world is dynamic and constantly evolving. Functions that are getting outsourced today could go back in-house and aspects that were never shared with ‘outsiders’ could get outsourced. Finally, in-house or outsourced, it’s not about where a firm has been, but where it wants to go that will determine how it will balance the capabilities and expertise of its own team and partners it works with. Challenge the status quo and be open to possibilities is the new mantra that firms embracing content and digital marketing are swearing.
About the Author
Karthik Nagendra, Founder & Director of Thought Starters, has a decade of core marketing experience with prime focus on branding, communication strategy, and executive communication & thought leadership marketing. He has been instrumental in creating many award winning marketing programs for leading brands like MeritTrac-India’s largest Skills Assessment Company, Wipro Technologies and Accenture. He has worked closely with leading universities, industry bodies, analysts and research firms globally and acted as a catalyst in providing best practices and insights to customers across sectors. He has authored papers & articles on thought leadership marketing in international journals & has been a guest speaker at many Ivy League Universities globally. At ThoughtStarters, the first end to end Thought Leadership marketing company in the world, Karthik & his team help businesses transform from sellers to influencers by helping them unearth their ‘big idea’ and thus brand them as experts in their field. While their approach is grounded in facts, they seek fresh perspectives to showcase clients’ USP through research, academia collaboration and strategic content marketing. Karthik has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Bangalore University & an MBA in Marketing & Finance from IIPM Bangalore.

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