Content Marketing is one of the most expensive marketing ventures you’re going to undertake.
Not just the initial outlay for services and tools – such as social and project management software – but the valuable time you’re spending creating your content.
But despite this large investment, content marketing is yielding a strong ROI for many companies – especially those with a long and complicated buying process where the customer needs to be educated about the solution.
More and more businesses are outsourcing content marketing to maximise their time conducting other marketing tactics while they easily budget for their content marketing.
So, should you outsource your content marketing?
You’re not going to like this, but … it depends.
If you’re a marketing manager reading this and you’ve either got things sorted or have a team working with you, the best answer would probably be ‘no’. In-house content marketing can save you a lot of money and chances are, the content produced would be more refined and geared toward your own business, rather than explaining to an agency or freelancer all the ins and outs of your product or service.
However, as we all become exceedingly time-poor, outsourcing for reasonable amounts of money has become a great way to get additional help and participate in content marketing without a huge team behind you.
Keeping it in-house
Keeping your content marketing within your own team is fine. 38% of companies today do NOT outsource their content marketing – due to the fact that they can successfully create and manage relevant and timely content.
Consumers prefer to learn and be educated by you and your business. And the best people to educate them are already in the business. Spending resources to get an agency or new hire to write about your business and industry is a large initial investment of time and resources.
There will be other costs related to managing your content marketing in-house though. You’ll need tools and technologies to keep track of everything and to promote your content. You’ll need project management software to manage a content publishing workflow and social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to streamline promotion your content across social channels. You might even opt for an “all in one” solution like HubSpot, which will set you back around $10k per year. If you’re really serious and/or lack internal expertise, you might also need to bring in some outside expertise in the form of a consultant or freelancers to help get you started.
Arguments for outsourcing content marketing are just as enticing as keeping it in-house. The fact that you’re arguably saving money on talent (compared to employee vs external hire) by a huge margin is sometimes reason enough to outsource.
Expertise is usually an issue against outsourcing content marketing in that the best people to create content regarding the business are people working in the business. However, if content marketing isn’t particularly in someone’s job description, that means that their expertise in actually creating and writing content, might not be in your business’ best interest.
An external agency or hire will take time to ask you the right questions on the right topics about your business in order to perfectly align and produce relevant content.
The Hybrid Approach
What we’ve found with many of our clients is that a hybrid approach can work well. This approach can take many forms, but it generally means the client will have a high degree of input into the subject matter of the content each week. For example, one of our writers might do a 15-minute phone interview with a member of our client’s team and then use that information to write an indepth article that’s then published under the employee’s name. Other clients will create 80% of their own content and just look to us for quality control and to make sure everything happens the way it should when something is published.
This is more content marketing “enablement” than outsourcing. We become advisers and project managers, making sure everything stays on track and adhering to best practices for the best chance of success.
Setting boundaries and responsibilities at the outset is key to success with this approach.
It’s when you expect that you can just hand over an entire process to an outside agency and expect them to intimately understand everything you do that you’ll run into trouble. This leads to a disconnect in both the form and substance of the content you’re producing (or, more accurately, that someone else is producing on your behalf).
The outsourcing of content marketing should really be considered on a business by business basis.
If you can afford the substantial initial time and money investment that content marketing requires – and your team has the knowledge surrounding creation and promotion of content – then it would most likely be more beneficial to keep it in-house.
Yet, if you’re a small business or you don’t have experience in content marketing at all, it might make sense to hire an outside consultant or agency to get your content marketing into gear. Outsourcing means that you’ll have the added benefit of an outsider looking in and giving their opinion about what can work best for your business.
And of course, a combination of these two approaches is what will likely yield the biggest results for most businesses.