You’ve decided you need help with your local inbound marketing — and you’ve made the excellent decision to look into Flagstone’s digital marketing services. But the question remains: do you do it in-house or hire an outside agency?
This may appear to be a no-brainer, but many companies feel that if they hire someone with experience in digital marketing, that’s enough. But the industry – and the technology – has gone through a sea of changes in the last five years alone. A digital marketing agency not only will be up-to-date on these innovations, they’ll make sure your marketing campaigns fully leverage their capabilities.
Technological expertise is just one aspect of it. An agency will provide specific expertise in campaign development, planning and analytics. They’ll help you meet your goals the first time, and possibly exceed them the next. Keep it in-house and you might find yourself struggling to simply keep up. When you hire an agency, you’re taking the burden off your shoulders and putting it into their expert hands, leaving you more time to focus on your core competencies.
Sure, you may be an Outlook power user. You might know a thing or two about Google Analytics. But digital marketing technology changes fast, and if your company’s focus is elsewhere, chances are, your tools are out of date.
When you hire a digital marketing agency, you’re not just getting access to their people. You’re getting your hands on a powerful set of tools that incorporate the latest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM); marketing automation, lead intelligence and more. Agencies are constantly refining and upgrading their technologies, which are much more robust and intuitive than general-purpose tools.
Some agencies operate on an online subscription model, so you know you’re always getting the latest version of their software whenever you log in. And if there’s a glitch or a point of confusion, digital marketing agencies will also provide customer support, so there’s less risk of downtime or a delay. In some cases, you may not even have to use the software at all. Agencies will be happy to send you reports on a regular basis, containing the information you need to feel comfortable moving forward.
You know your customers inside and out. But maybe you’re a little too close. An outside digital marketing agency knows customer behavior in general – and may even have experience with your industry and competitors. They’ll be able to analyze your brand image and customer relationships from the point of view of an outside observer who’s knowledgeable, savvy and operating with your best interests in mind.
A fresh third-party perspective can breathe new life into your marketing efforts. It can open your eyes to opportunities that may have previously gone unnoticed.
Looking for a less expensive way to generate leads and nurture customers? Compared to traditional marketing, digital marketing is extremely wallet-friendly. When it comes to maintaining a website, landing pages, blog or social media presence, hard costs are minimal. Though content creation involves time and money (regardless of who does it) there are no printing or media placement costs (other than web hosting, but you probably have a website already). And you can deploy or modify campaigns any time you want, without incurring those infamous “change fees” that traditional agencies and media outlets like to charge.
Digital marketing software, like a lot of technology, has also gone down in price in recent years. Now, small companies have access to the same types of tools formerly only available to large corporations. All of this adds up to measurable return on investment (ROI) in terms of leads and conversions.
In addition to providing you with customized recommendations and a technology suite, when you hire a digital marketing agency, you’ll also be getting valuable resources to help you with everything from keyword lists, search engine optimization (SEO), lead generation, timing of blog posts and social media updates, and even advice on how to convince decision makers at your company to get on board with digital marketing.
Your agency can also recommend outside resources for building your knowledge, or even conduct training sessions so your team can better understand the strategy and methodologies behind your campaigns, as well as be able to easily use the software.
Whether you’re a startup in the early stages of product launch, a medium-sized business poised for growth, or a large company with an extensive product line, a digital marketing agency can design campaigns that work within your timeframe and budget. And if it works – and a greater scope of services is required – a digital marketing agency can easily scale up to meet your needs.
Some agencies provide a monthly pricing model based on a package of services. This pay-as-you-go approach helps make sure you’re not overspending or underspending any given month and gives you the flexibility to adapt as needs change. And because the agency’s compensation is tied to your growth, they’re highly motivated to see you succeed.
One of the best reasons to hire a digital marketing agency is that you can see where your money and your efforts are going. Digital marketing technology has the amazing ability to track and measure almost any kind of marketing activity.
We could go on, but there are literally hundreds of data points that can be measured and analyzed. An agency will also help show you what the raw numbers mean, and how the insight can be applied to design even more effective marketing campaigns.
Measurability also ties into cost-effectiveness. When you can justify hiring an agency with measurable ROI, it’s easy toget the support of management — even those who have been traditionally skeptical of marketing activities.
It’s easy for companies to get excited about digital marketing, some even going so far as to draft extensive plans for a comprehensive, integrated digital marketing program. But launching and maintaining such a program takes ongoing focus and dedication, as well as the ability to analyze your results and provide insight and recommendations based on your data.
An agency will be able to maintain focus because digital marketing is their primary area of expertise. They’ll be more likely to recognize opportunities for improvement before you do, and they can make it easy to adjust your campaign to ensure maximum effectiveness. Of course, they’ll make it easy for you to keep track of things as much as you like, but they also can provide valuable continuity during crunch times.[
So you decided to go with the in-house option. You task your marketing department with designing, developing and deploying a digital marketing campaign. Maybe you hire a full-time employee to manage the initiative, bring on a few contractors or assign maintenance duties to junior staff or tech-savvy interns.
But then something comes up. Your marketing team needs to prepare for a big trade show or respond to a crisis and gets pulled in another direction. Your full-time digital marketing person quits or goes on vacation. The intern returns to school. The next thing you know, your campaign has been languishing for weeks.
Hiring an agency takes a lot of the load off an already-stretched marketing staff. And it ensures that there will be a team of experts who will take ownership of your programs and activities. Nothing ever gets put on hold because of staffing issues. With an agency at your back, you can be sure that you’ll always hit your marketing milestones – regularly and reliably.
Our agency not delivering the results you’d like? Don’t agree with the strategy? Don’t get along with us? Fire us!
When you source out your business to Flagstone, we can always be let go – or switched out – if the relationship doesn’t work out, especially with our monthly retainer model with a simple 30 day out.
On the other hand, if you hire a person to manage your digital marketing, you may have to go through a degree of red tape with human resources before you can let them go.
Chances are, a digital marketing agency will cost you much less than hiring even a junior-level employee. And you can easily terminate the relationship for any reason.
Flagstone Search Marketing is a digital marketing company based in Birmingham, Alabama, with a focus on well-crafted inbound marketing programs and cost-effective custom WordPress web design.
Owner Carlton Smith has been focused on digital media content for more than 13 years, and has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital and International Expeditions, Inc.
As a Google-certified Partner, Flagstone creates and manages PPC programs for its clients as a means of driving traffic to your website. Once the traffic gets to your website, we use our embedded inbound marketing platform to increase conversions.
The Sharpspring inbound-marketing platform includes integrated search engine optimization, email marketing, landing pages, lead intelligence and nurturing, social media marketing, and contact management for every website or Content Management System (CMS).
When we install Sharpspring on your website, we track all traffic, prospect research activity, and leads from your website and social networks so you can measure the impact of all of your programs in one place.