Running a content marketing campaign: in-house or digital agency?


June 15, 2021

This is an eternal dilemma. How do we drive our digital marketing strategy? Can our marketing department run this, hiring some additional people? Alternatively, do we outsource this expertise with a marketing agency?

This dilemma has increased with the use of content marketing as a key strategy to position a brand regarding SEO, reputation, demand generation and customer relationship.

Working both in-house and at a digital agency, there is always that small detail that prompt marketing executives to say “we should have gone the other way”.

Whom do I go for?

To be honest, this depends on the industry, the size of the company and the internal culture of that organization. Often, booming enterprises with a considered buying cycle, and a pressing need to raise awareness with educational content lack the sufficient staffing to run a content marketing operation.

Sometimes the head of marketing is the marketing department and must oversee the entire marketing mix, suppliers, internal communication, PR, contact databases, and much more.

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016:

  • 66% of marketers who run inbound marketing consider blog content creation a top Inbound marketing priority over the following 12 months.
  • 52% believe content distribution and amplification a priority for the same period.

Can you manage your content funnel?

Working an in-house content marketing

Wasif Kasim, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Crimson Consulting explains that in-house content means that “you do everything internally – from ideation and writing to distribution and managing content workflows. Depending on your company – size, structure, resources – it may be realistic or near impossible.”

He summarizes some pros:

  • The company is in control from start to finish.
  • There’s no chasing of account managers.
  • You can do as you please when you please, “as you deem fit”.
  • You have insider expertise and know your business and customers better than anyone.
  • When it comes to creating content, you’re the authority.

However, he points out some cons:

  • You’ll need more staff “unless you already have a content marketing team in the office”.
  • Content production is not scalable overnight, and “if your requirement for content suddenly explodes or shrinks, you either won’t have enough people or you’ll be paying for staff you don’t use.

Going with a content marketing agency

Marketing agencies can help accelerate results, as the internal skillsets of in-house marketing teams tend to be very reduced, and the time and resources to train staff to master the tools of content marketing are lacking. 

According to PR Daily, the knowledge of clients and prospects, multitasking, workloads and depth are different between an in-house communications and an agency representative.

As companies turn to agencies or partners to run their blogging and content marketing, they can better use their experience, especially those businesses that are too shorthanded to work on content.

People who prefer in-house marketing have some concerns about agencies

  1. They don’t have the in-house expertise about the industry, their products and services.
  2. They don’t have a strong brand commitment, as they divide themselves between different clients.
  3. They can miss critical information that may be gathered by the agency.
  4. After their business relationship ends, they feel a gap in the know-how, capacities and expertise, and knowledge management they delegated instead of developing in-site.

“While you want your agency to create content for you as a client, a lot of time it is hard for the agency to be a true topic matter expert and not fully be able to create the content—if you're looking for deeper than the usual [Facebook] posts (...). “The key for in-house or outsourcing is to know the expectations and have a clear set of [tasks].”

Jeremy Pepper, PR Daily

Wasif Kasim explains that choosing an agency is a great option “for businesses without the time, resources, inclination or expertise to keep it in-house.”

He gives out some benefits:

  • Everything from strategy to creation and implementation can be taken out of your hands and undertaken by experts, as they’re “your one-stop content marketing shop.”
  • They’re efficient and scalable, due to their size, structure and talent pool.
  • They can have the resources and processes to “produce lots of varied content on a regular basis."
  • They offer a fresh perspective, “away from the corporate mindset, an agency can offer new insights and ideas as well as opening your eyes to hidden opportunities."

He also points out some cons:

  • It can be expensive.
  • It may not be feasible for smaller businesses.
  • Since they’re juggling multiple projects, content may not get the attention it deserves.
  • They might not fully grasp your industry or customers.

What to look for in a content marketing agency

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. But if you want to choose an agency, make sure that one of their strengths is content marketing, so you are sure they have the best minds behind you.

Kazim recommends you make sure that:

  • They’re familiar with your industry.
  • They run their own industry research.
  • They have successfully helped clients with similar challenges to yours.
  • They have set the right metrics to measure success.
  • Have a clearly defined content workflow process.

Remember that communication is key for anything to flow in the right direction. Trusting an agency and giving them all your input and information can transform the ones in charge of your strategy into an extension of your own marketing department.

¿Are you struggling to decide between in-house content and an agency? Send us your thoughts.

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