DIY digital marketing is not sustainable for most small businesses; however, it's estimated that more than 70 percent of small businesses are handing their own digital marketing, but this might not be the most effective use of their time.
"You typically have three choices of who to go with for marketing," says Josh Dean, Digital Marketing Executive at Kubix Media, "hire somebody in-house, get a freelancer or use a digital marketing agency."
"Hiring somebody in-house is often the most expensive option of the three. Finding an individual with a broad enough marketing skill set and knowledge of your industry can take a lot of time to find and a large salary to pull. Getting a freelancer is generally, but their time is split between several clients."
When you use a digital marketing agency, you have a team of specialists in their respective fields covering design, social media, content, SEO, PPC etc. at your disposal. A good digital marketing agency will be able to plan an effective strategy using the most appropriate channels in order to achieve your business objectives. The team can then work together to roll out the campaign. You will have a dedicated account manager who is just a call or email away to give you updates and advice about performance."
We asked experts to help understand key circumstances that indicate you might need to look into hiring a digital marketing agency. Here’s what they said:
As a business owner, your time is valuable. You have expertise in your area or a product or service that you are passionate about. For some, DIY online marketing is a good way to get things started and find your first new clients or customers. However, at a certain point, it may be time to get help.
"You might need to hire a digital marketing agency if you find you're spending too much of your time trying to establish your business' digital presence," says Sammi Caramela, Content Manager at Lightning Media Partners. Your time is money. Spending it your time and money wisely can make or break your SMB. Warren Diggles, President of Diggles Creative suggests that whether your business is growing too quickly, too slowly, or has reached a plateau, "you know that your time is best spent working on your business, not managing the day to day aspects of your marketing."
Kaisa Suojanen, Digital Marketer, Upgrow explains, "Managing digital marketing on your own is a complex task and business owners often forget about the opportunity cost of dedicating time managing their digital strategy. Rather than managing digital marketing in-house, you should hire a digital marketing agency to maximize your marketing ROI and let yourself focus on other important business activities such as customers, relationship, and retention."
David Blacker, Managing Principal at Venerate Media Group says, "hiring a digital marketing agency allows you to keep the focus on running your business. Digital marketers will handle all of your marketing needs, freeing up your time as a business owner to tend to other important aspects of the company."
Ian Lurie, Founder and CEO of Portent, Inc., a Clearlink Digital Agency shares an example of just how losing focus can affect your business:
"The worst marketing outcomes I see happen because the CEO/CMO/leadership thinks they know marketing, but they don’t. They don’t hire a team. Instead, they do it themselves. It costs them hard dollars wasted on advertising and tools. It costs them far more in soft dollars. Leadership spends time away from their product or service, trying to learn marketing channels overnight, and trying to reconcile results with effort.
Years ago, I talked to a business owner who introduced a new safety product — a great product — just as worldwide attention focused on the hazard his product addressed. A journalist heard about his company and interviewed him. It was picked up by a global media outlet. Links, shares, buzz, rankings, and direct traffic all skyrocketed. So did sales. He earned this success — really earned it — without an agency.
But his lucky break convinced him he knew marketing. As the buzz around his product died down, he started creating content. That went well. But then he invested in paid search and display. He blew tens of thousands of dollars on one display ad before he realized he was paying by impression with no budget. He turned to SEO, taking advice he found online. He bought links and got penalized. He hired a friend to rebuild his site and shopping cart, which was a disaster. Even worse: He spent 10–15 hours a week working on marketing. He lost focus on his business, and it suffered. He turned it around, though. He never worked with us, but he found an agency that fit his budget and got things turned around. That agency then helped him hire an internal team. He’s still thriving today.
Beware: If you think you know marketing, you probably don’t. Focus on your business. Focus on your product. Delegate the marketing. If you don’t hire an agency, hire a team. But I recommend hiring an agency. A good one will get marketing off your plate and, when you’re ready, help you build your team."
"You might need to hire a digital marketing agency if you don't have enough time to spend on it yourself," says marketer Jeff Moriarty. "This is a common reason I work with companies. They cannot afford a full time person, and they have to run everything else in their business."
To illustrate, Moriarty shares an example, "I had a one-man-show client, and he was killing it with customers. He knew he needed to do more online, but he handled everything and couldn't take on any more work. So, he hired me for just one day a week. It made such a vast improvement online with that little time that was spent, and he was able to continue to focus on what he was best at."
Your time is valuable. Veronica Batista, Social Media Manager at OnPoint Internet Marketing says that hiring an agency is a great way to increase your productivity. "By hiring a digital marketing agency, your company can focus on putting more time and effort into other areas that will make the business grow even more."
While you will have more time to do what you do best, your marketing dollars can be spent on experts whose results can be more efficient and effective. Dean explains, "Ideally, [business owners] need to remain focused on the day to day operations of your business. Outsourcing your marketing makes sense not just because you don't have the time to do it, but others can do it more effectively."
"Outsourcing your digital marketing allows you to focus on your most important priorities," says Diggles. "Even by slowly outsourcing different parts, you can slowly alleviate the pressure on your own team so they can focus on becoming more efficient at the activities that bring in the most profit for your business."
If you hire an agency to help with your digital marketing, not only are you free to focus on the things that you do best, but Diggles says, "According to a study by the economist Michael F. Corbett, "outsourcing can increase productivity and competitiveness 10- to 100-fold".
There are so many digital media channels and digital marketing strategies, and the usefulness of each varies, depending on your business niche. With so many channels to keep track of, you might consider focusing on those where you shine, while getting an agency to help with others.
Caramela explains, "Today, developing an online marketing strategy is crucial to success; but as a business owner, you have limited time to spend on tasks like social media management, content creation, SEO and more. When you outsource these efforts to experts, you cultivate the best opportunities to attract consumers while still allowing yourself ample time to develop your business and focus on the areas you know best."
Becky Beach is an eCommerce owner and business coach at Mom Beach LLC. Her story illustrates the benefits of hiring an agency when you need help with a specific media channel:
"As a small business owner, I was doing everything myself, even marketing. I decided to outsource to an agency for my Pinterest marketing to save time. When a small business grows larger, the owner needs to see what is the best ROI for their time and money. It was a positive ROI for me to invest in a digital marketing agency so I could focus time elsewhere on my business."
It's all about focusing your efforts and expertise to get the best ROI. Sometimes paying someone else to help you is more cost-effective and just plain effective than relying on your own skills, especially when you are a business owner pulled in multiple different directions. Focusing on your highest priorities and strengths are key to business success. "Forming connections with prospective clients and customers requires commitment at the highest level," says Caramela. "If you feel you're not meeting your digital marketing goals, don't be afraid to ask for help."
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