Should you hire a digital marketing agency?
Most companies don’t have the budget to hire a team of marketers — the average salary of a digital marketing manager is USD77,000/year and this number might be higher depending on where you’re based. There’s also a variety of other reasons why hiring a team is tricky, and I covered them here.
I’ll outline a few different reasons to consider when thinking about hiring outside digital marketing help.
You need a digital presence and you can’t do it all yourself
A lot depends on the industry that you’re in, but more often than not you need a digital presence. Your customer is likely googling you and your competitors, comparing all the different options that they have. If you don’t have an (at least acceptable) online presence, your customers might just go with your competitor instead.
While everybody understands that having a website or social media can be a benefit or lead to more sales, they don’t know what to do beyond setting up the sites — build it and then what?
Unless you have a lot of time to create content, manage your website/social media, you’re not going to get much value out of it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will take a lot of time. And if your core business/expertise isn’t in digital marketing, you won’e be able to handle these effectively or efficiently.
You need direction and strategy
A lot of companies have a website or social media because either they think they need one (the above point) or because their competitors have them. However, there is usually very little thought as to why these channels exist, what they’re supposed to do or how they will convert potential customers to paying ones.
The agencies and digital consultants should be able to help in understanding 1) who your competitors are, 2) what the typical consumer journey looks like, 3) what competitors are doing, 4) what brands (in and out of your industry) are doing that works and 5) the cost-effective opportunities to explore for your business.
By analysing what to do and how to approach it, you will be a lot more effective in using each channel for specific purposes and growing your business as a result. Missing this crucial step usually ends in wasted time and money.
You get a lot of value out of agencies
Hiring full-time help is expensive. More likely that not the help is going to specialise in one thing (and if you’re lucky two things) — for example you could get a good graphic designer or photographer but unlikely one that is also good at SEO/SEM, videography, social media, etc.
If you hire an digital marketing agency, you’re able to tap into a their resources — these usually include content creators (writers, photographers, designers, videographers), SEO/SEM experts, social media strategists, PPC experts, event organisers, among many others (most agency staff have various marketing backgrounds with experience in offline advertising, traditional OOH marketing, etc.).
You get a lot more from your budget, and since you don’t necessarily need channel experts working for you full-time, being able to tap into these resources when needed makes life a lot easier (and so much cheaper).
You can focus on your business
You’re probably busy. As a business owner you’re putting out different fires every single day. There’s never a free moment of peace let alone time to think about creating content for social media.
Outsourcing your marketing efforts allows you to focus on what you’re best at — growing your business. In most cases, spending time in developing relationships with strategic partners or making operations flow smoother is more beneficial for the business than replying to a few Instagram comments.
While digital marketing is important, it usually isn’t immediately important. For social media in particular, you’re not going to see huge benefits immediately. Inbound marketing takes time, but once things are set up and running smoothly, things get dramatically easier.
If you’re spending more than 1 hour a day on marketing, you should look towards hiring some help (if not a digital marketing agency, then at least a digital consultant). Focus on your business instead.
You get measurable results
You understand the value of social media and paid digital ads (SEM/PPC) and you’re willing to pay, but understanding testing/optimisation is an entirely different story.
The biggest benefit of digital marketing (as opposed to traditional advertising) is that everything is measurable. It means you can test and optimise continually. With the data that you get, an expert can easily tell you what is worth doing and what isn’t worth doing.
Spending USD10,000/month may seem like a terrible idea, until you’re able to show the data the proves you’re getting a true return. In reality, spending USD200/month is a bad idea if you’re doing it blind and not bothering with results (I’ve heard too often business owners say ‘I think it’s working’ and not able to articulate why).
Data is in itself a specialty. Unless you’re willing to pick up this skill, you should probably hire an agency.
You can scale up quickly
When things go well, they can do so in a blink of an eye.
Hiring and training new staff takes a long time (and there isn’t a lot of digital marketing talent waiting to get hired anymore). With agencies you’re able to scale up quickly (while looking for full-time help at the same time).
Just because you have an agency on retainer, doesn’t mean that you have to stick with them in the long-run. Opportunities change over time, and working with an agency at least allows you to revisit the situation on a continual basis (firing an employee on the other hand can be tricky and difficult).
When considering digital marketing agencies, it’s important to find one that truly understands what you’re looking for and whether they can actually help address your issues. It’s about making decisions that is best for you and your company.
It can be quite tricky, but talk and ask plenty of questions. Be wary of agencies that say they can do everything (it’s a cash grab and they’ll figure out how to do it once the contract is signed), all agencies specialise in a few things but none do everything.