Successful digital marketing isn’t as easy-peasy as it used to be. Let’s be real honest. Digital marketing has transformed dramatically over the last decade, largely because technology and customer preferences have exploded during that same time frame.
It was too easy to gamify search engine rankings with excessive keyword density, random linking, and creating numerous pages for a singular keyword. Not to forget, clickbait was at the top of the game a decade ago.
Old School: You wanted organic exposure through Google, Bing, and Yahoo. You simply hired an SEO agency; they configured all top spots on-site, created a bunch of SPAM links; and BOOM – you got the results. It was so formulary. Thanks to Google, they evolved their search algorithms, and today, no one’s wholly sure what checkpoints to tick to sustain a first-page ranking.
There’s a long-standing debate about whether your company should handle a large-scale SEO marketing campaign internally or seek expertise from an outside marketing agency. Which is better: hiring a digital marketing agency or DIY marketing?
Modern Online Marketing isn’t Hard but Complex.
A lot of small businesses (I talked with) were scared of digital marketing. But I can feel their pain. They were all bummed out by outdated marketing services. There’s a lot to do the right way, a lot to be cautious of, and anything that you thought you learned tends to change.
To see and cite today’s online marketing landscape hard is really vague. The number of marketing platforms you could potentially tap to get your message out is staggering. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, guest blogging, SEO, PPC, and email marketing immediately pop up into mind as the ideal platforms you might see to take advantage of, and there are lots I didn’t even mention.
Also, consider the proliferation of consumer devices. Once, the audience was purely connected to their desktop PCs or hand dragged an unwieldy laptop with them whenever it was time to go mobile.
What has changed in recent times to reach the mass audience: your marketing campaigns must also be biased and optimized for tablets, smartphones, and even internet TV channels. Each one of those platforms and devices requires a different set of expertise. Staffing your marketing department with top talent in each would easily become cost-prohibitive.
It’s not Just Crew that Is Expensive
While no marketing campaign can succeed without great people involved, it’s also true that those people can’t do their jobs effectively without access to the right tools. They need SEO content writing experts, tagging and attribution tools, DSPs, analytics, and reporting modules–and none of that comes without cost. Digital agencies leverage those costs across a spectrum of clients. For individual companies, however, investing in all those technologies can require daunting expenditures. In many cases, it might be more cost-effective to let a search engine marketing agency take on those capital outlays.
So, how do you decide what marketing tasks to keep in-house and what you need to outsource to a digital marketing agency? To answer that, you need to consider three questions.
1. Where Do You Excel?
When a portion of your campaign coincides with a competency that truly defines your company, keep that function in-house. For example, if your company always finds a marketplace advantage because it understands how to analyze complex metrics and take appropriate action, let your marketing agency handle the creative side of things while you handle the reporting.
2. Who’s on Your Marketing Staff?
While it’s true that it may be impossible for most marketing departments to keep experts in all facets of digital marketing on staff, it’s also true that the people you do have on staff possess expertise in certain areas. Leverage that talent instead of handing over everything about your campaign wholesale to an agency.
3. How Much Will Doing It In-House Cost?
Working with an outside vendor requires paying that vendor. It might be tempting to avoid some of those costs by keeping work that you can do at least competently in-house. Still, it’s important to ask, can you do that work efficiently? What will the tools cost? Most importantly, what is the opportunity cost? Will your team be spending time on work it can do satisfactorily instead of the tasks they have the strengths to do excellently?
The Future of Marketing is Interactivity.
Everyone wants to know where the future of digital marketing is headed. It makes sense to want to know – if you can get a handle on where it’s headed, you’ll have in your hands the tools necessary to beat the competition to the punch and make sure you’re the first out of the gate. The good news is, that the future of digital marketing can be summed up in a single, easy-to-understand word: interactivity.
Understanding the Difference between Digital and Interactive Marketing
First and foremost, you have to be able to wrap your mind around the concept that there’s an enormous difference between marketing through digital means and marketing interactively. To some, it may sound like a matter of semantics, but it’s not. There’s a big difference between the two.
Digital marketing is all about the technology that exists behind marketing campaigns. On the other hand, interactive marketing is all about establishing relationships with consumers. You can hire a digital marketing agency to launch and manage all of your online campaigns, but this isn’t the same thing as creating an interactive experience that will build a customer base and keep them coming back time and again. Interactivity relies heavily on collaboration, the freemium model, and a gamification strategy to the very consumers you’re marketing to.
Here are some of the keys to effective interactive marketing.
- Give your customers the ability to customize the products you offer. If you sell shoes, enable consumers to “create” their footwear by specifying colors and styles. If you offer janitorial services, give your customers the option to pick and choose the services they hire from you, like nightly office cleaning, without having to also buy into carpet cleaning and floor waxing. The result is that your customers feel they’re more in control of what they’re paying for.
- Work on quick response to critical customer service issues. These days it’s possible for a single unanswered consumer complaint to balloon into a public relations nightmare. Responding quickly to important issues is critical to becoming effectively interactive – but you also have to have a system in place to identify the most pressing issues. There are software programs that can give you the upper hand in doing this.
- Give your customers a big say. Sometimes, the best innovations come not from genius minds but open ears. The people with the best ideas are often the people who use your products or services. Listening and opening up channels of communication to the people can give you innovative ideas. It can also let your customers know their opinions are heard and valued.
Few businesses can stay on top of developments in interactive digital marketing. Even those businesses with full-time marketing staff can find themselves struggling to keep up with rapidly emerging concepts. For this reason, you must seek the services of top digital agencies with the necessary expertise to anticipate trends.
Today, that question has largely been settled: You need a digital agency to get results.