In-house or outsource? With the demands of today’s multichannel marketing campaigns putting a strain on marketers, this is a never-ending question for many client-side marketing departments. The answer depends upon a marketing department’s needs, staffing resources and expectations.
Consider the average integrated email campaign, for example. Go through the checklist of what it should include and you’ll see a long list that keeps getting longer with technology advances. Even with the best of intentions, some “jack of all trades” marketers will struggle with completing the list, especially when it comes to technology-rich behavioral marketing opportunities.
Personalization & Big Data: The Behavioral Marketing Challenge
Perhaps you’ve noticed sci-fi-esque personalization and big data marketing case studies that your connections post on LinkedIn. The technology has been here for years, and you can argue the technology is stronger than the marketing industry’s capabilities to implement.
Depending on your needs, agencies may be able to help close this gap. They can assist with analyzing marketing data, in real time, as well as helping communicate with their clients’ customers through individualized email, SMS, landing pages and social media.
Sorting Out the Decision Process
Not every business is going to be a good candidate to work with an agency. But many can gain advantages through collaborating or outsourcing some of their marketing processes. Here are four factors to consider when evaluating whether an agency will help you run a more successful behavioral marketing campaign.
1) CPM & Licensing: Agencies often offer an advantage here since they’ll get volume-discounted pricing because of the level of business they conduct. This frees up the ability to shift these savings toward creative, technical and operational services.
2) Technical Resources: This is another area where agencies often shine. Agencies are often able to go deep into a marketing platform’s capabilities, sooner, because they have internal staff already trained. This can become important with more intermediate and advanced capabilities such as APIs and third-party integrations.
As a caveat, technical resources can also present internal approval challenges. So, take the time to learn what data integrations are available between your IT teams, your marketing platform and any agencies you’re considering.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to capture cross-channel information about your customers and prospects, tie it back to the database and use it within your campaigns. For example, data from CRM systems, e-commerce databases, Web analytics, geofencing and social media interactions are some of the data points that can be leveraged with Silverpop.
3) Creative Resources: This one is a toss-up. One the one hand, an agency will never know your customers as well as you will, and your agency will be the first to admit it. That said, as talented as an in-house marketing team may be, for many companies it won’t have the same flare for connecting with an audience as an experienced agency creative team will.
A tip to consider if you go with an agency: collaborate to win. Take the time on the knowledge transfer to get agencies in a good place. You’ll get better creative messaging, images and offers.
4) Operational Resources: This is often the most painful variable that a marketing department needs to consider. Do you realistically have the time to actively monitor your campaigns? Also, will you be able to give your in-house team access to training resources needed to both be initially successful and stay ahead of emerging capabilities? If you answer “no” or are unsure, then your in-house team might be best served acting as a liaison to an agency.
On a per-hour basis, the agency is going to be more expensive. However, the total cost to complete a task and the quality of work performed makes agencies a cost-effective option in some instances.
There’s no hard rule when it comes to deciding whether to tap the power of an agency when you’re creating an integrated email campaign. Play to your strengths and know your in-house limitations. If you have or want a powerful platform, but don’t have the capacity to do everything in-house, it may make sense to leverage the power of a digital marketing solution’s network of agencies and partners. From small-project work all the way to full-service email campaign management, these collaborations can help you find new ways to use email, marketing automation, mobile and social.
1) White Paper: “Creating Real-Time Individualized Campaigns Around Every Imaginable Behavior”
2) Blog: “Behavioral Marketing: What It Is and Why It’s So Exciting”
3) Blog: “7 Email Marketing Ideas You Should Implement Today”