With Smart Outsourcing, SMBs Can Build Effective Digital Marketing Teams
The digital marketing landscape is crushingly complex, even for large enterprises. The industry is short on technical marketing talent. Marketing executives are having a hard time building in-house teams with the right skills. At small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), options are even more restrictive. Quite often when SMBs look to IT for help, the IT department is already stretched, both in terms of capacity and skills.
Marketing needs to focus on valuable activities such as: planning, designing, and executing campaigns; analyzing how to improve campaign results; reading beyond analytics data to understand the human issues behind customer behaviors; engaging with customers.
IT can help Marketing by taking on a valuable role in assessing marketing technologies: evaluate how new solutions can integrate with existing business applications; deploy solutions according to corporate IT policies for security and access; stay current with new technologies.
When both teams are stretched, how can Marketing and IT spend more time on high-value activities? Just as importantly, how can you move forward to acquire the digital marketing skills you need to compete in an increasingly online world?
Outsource to Boost Capacity
Outsourcing can help you bridge the gap -- the trick is to outsource with the goal of meeting short-term needs while building a foundation for longer-term self-sufficiency. While internal teams understand your company’s operations inside-out, external specialists bring to the table:
• Experience. Because they work with a variety of clients, external specialists have dealt with a wide range of situations, requirements, technologies, and solutions. Whether it’s IT or Marketing, chances are they’ve had hands-on practical experience dealing with a similar situation, and will take less time to assess your situation and suggest an effective solution.
• Expertise. Because they stay up to date with the latest trends, external specialists can help you take advantage of newer technologies, tactics, and tools. It’s a full time job these days staying current with developments in IT and digital marketing, and this is their job.
• Education. External specialists know that on-the-job learning is a key benefit clients want from the relationship and they are happy to share knowledge. Well-informed customers are the ones who most appreciate the value an external resource brings to the team.
Here are a few examples of Marketing and IT functions that lend themselves well to being outsourced:
• Infrastructure management and maintenance: When companies ramp up digital marketing and eCommerce, they need scalability, reliability and mission-critical uptime. This usually means heavy capital expenditures to upgrade hardware and network. Eliminate the cost of server purchases by moving from in-house operations to virtual machines. The data center provider is responsible for keeping the hardware running. You only pay for the computing resources you use, and IT saves a lot of operations headaches. Many data centers also provide options such as back-up and disaster recovery planning, network redundancy, and Quality of Service guarantees.
• Website maintenance: Your website needs to perform perfectly and safely. This means: the latest security and anti-spam updates; content management system updates including plug-ins and widgets; fixes to broken links. Update and verification should take place every week. It’s time-consuming for IT and adds no value to marketing programs.
• Web design and development: There are plenty of drag-and-drop website builders and templates around that let you build your own website. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Your website is your brand. A marketing agency brings more to the table than just design and development skills. An agency will learn about your business, your customers, your business goals, and then design to optimize for user experience and conversion.
• Analytics (reporting): Whether you’re running a campaign or just monitoring traffic, you need data. You need to collect and process data before analyzing it. Would you rather spend time creating reports or analyzing data? Let an agency handle this and let your analyst focus on what the data means. Sometimes all you need is help creating report templates or views of different scenarios.
• Analytics (interpretation): It’s all very well to have lots of data, but you also need actionable insights. Agencies can shorten your learning curve when it comes to relating your analytics data to your marketing activities. Digital marketing agencies can look at Adwords campaign metrics and suggest ways to tweak your campaign to achieve ROI, or gain insights from your web traffic to improve conversion.
Free up Marketing and IT resources by outsourcing these functions. When you work with an agency, not only can you achieve Marketing goals, you also have an opportunity for on-the-job learning. When IT outsources tedious and laborious maintenance tasks, it opens up more time to help Marketing assess new technologies and deploy solutions.