9 Benefits to Hiring A Marketing Agency

Marketing is changing significantly to keep up with technology, and training is either not available or inadequate. If you keep your entire marketing team in-house, you could end up spending your entire budget on payroll and still not have all the skillsets needed. However, if you outsource all of your marketing – quality and control can become concerns. All industries are struggling with this right now. It’s something every company, manager, and employee should weigh carefully.

Deciding whether to hire in-house talent or partner with a marketing agency has the potential for scalable revenue growth. If you’re on the fence, here are my top 9 reasons to consider outsourcing some or all of your marketing to a performance-driven agency like InSilico Media Group.

1. The added value beyond just marketing expertise

What if you could have more effective marketing strategies that generated and nurtured sales leads? By outsourcing some of your marketing, you get marketing talent, leading-edge strategies, shared experiences, and access to advanced marketing technology. You can benefit from focus placed on the customer experience, ensuring your messages are reaching customers in any stage of the buying process with the most relevant marketing campaigns.

The marketing skills gap is very real. 75% of marketers say their lack of skills is impacting revenue in some way, and 74% say it’s contributing to misalignment between the marketing and sales teams, according to Oracle. Clearly, the game is changing and marketers need to master the new rules. Some agencies, like InSilico Media Group, place a high priority on continuing education. These agencies can help bridge the gap between your in-house talent’s skillsets with our team of divere people with the proper education and experience.

DID YOU KNOW: The staff at InSilico Media Group maintains over 7 certifications, including HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certifications, HubSpot Partner Certifications, Constant Contact Solutions Provider Certifications, Yahoo/Bing Certifications, Google AdWord Certifications, and more? We’re also Microsoft Partners, Google Business Partners, and Pandora Radio Partners.

And, one marketing person can’t do it all. (Nor should they.) And if they do, can you afford them? With an agency, you get access to experienced, well-rounded professionals with proven backgrounds in business strategy, marketing, content development, search engine marketing, business strategy, graphic design, web design and development, user experience, email marketing, and SEO. Because of these vast skill sets, they add great value when they contribute where needed.

2. You have the ability to manage costs

Fixed cost are huge. People, systems, and facilities account for the largest part of the internal marketing budget. And the cost of a bad hire can easily cost a company over $200,000, according to The Chally Group.

By comparison, marketing agency resources don’t need a full-time salary, benefits, and other overhead. When you hire a good marketing agency, that team should provide a wide-range of strategic, tactical, and technology skills.

Not only does outsourcing save money in salaries and overhead, but the outsourcing partner can also save you money in direct purchases on marketing programs (e.g., printing, media buys, advertising, etc.). By leveraging their suppliers, a good outsourcing partner can save a company 10 – 30% in their overall marketing spending.

3. You get access to the latest technology

Marketing departments are often technology-deprived, or they have a mixed assortment of incompatible marketing technologies. While companies have access to over 1,800 marketing technologies available to them, how do they know which ones to pick? And it’s often the case that marketing organizations are at the bottom of the IT department’s priority list, so there might be a lack of support and guidance.

Marketing tools increase efficiency, productivity, and performance. There are tools you can find for free or of little cost, but often they are limited on producing results. But performance-driven agencies give you access to premium-level services, software, and analytical data reports.

Also, consider that advanced marketing automation tools do not provide marketing services. They require a professional who can interpret marketing data and make smart decisions in order to achieve results.

4. Your existing staff becomes more efficient

Some companies try to get around hiring in-house marketers, social media personnel, content writers, and SEO experts by just having existing employees pick up the slack. Dumping the marketing burden onto existing employees (who may or may not be skilled in the area) increases the likelihood of burnout and reduces productivity in the long run. As well as, your marketing efforts will lack consistency and effectiveness even if they have all the necessary training.

If you outsource some of your marketing needs, you maintain momentum with critical projects – they’ll never fall to the wayside, drop down the priority list, or become forgotten. And when employees leave the company, they will most likely take the project assets with them (in the form of tribal knowledge). When you outsource your marketing activities, you have one centralized team as your partner.

5. You don’t need to train agencies

It’s the marketing leader’s job to produce results, including drive quality sales leads, increase website traffic, build followers and subscribers, yet they often lack the skills, technologies, and strategies to pull it off.

Forrester Research stated in its report, “B2B CMOs Must Evolve or Move On,” that 96% of marketing leaders believe the breadth of skills required to succeed in marketing has increased, and 44% say they can’t find the right combination of people and skills in the job market.

Performance-driven agencies, like InSilico Media Group, provide a unique, holistic approach that allows clients to launch multidisciplinary campaigns with one “highly qualified contact.” Your dedicated resource is accountable for strategy through deployment. You don’t have to train your existing staff members because your agency has the depth and breadth of skills needed.

We come prepared to meetings with a long list of questions, so we get the right answers. We make sure we leave no stone unturned – meaning, we find out the information we need to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s”…

6. You can easily scale your marketing efforts

When the economy tightens, companies tend to cut costs. Marketing is often the first to go because they are seen as an “unnecessary” expense. And when times are good, marketing often gets more funding.

But reducing and expanding the marketing budget is expensive. In the short-term, reducing or canceling marketing activities incurs cost. In the long-term, costs associated with attrition, staffing and erosion of knowledge base are more expensive.

Under a traditional in-house operation, the only way you can increase the output of your marketing team is to hire more employees. Agencies like InSilico Media Group already have cross-functional professionals on the core team that have been senior management with some of the top agencies, design firms or companies in the world.

7. Stay current on the latest marketing trends, without a learning curve

What in-house marketer has time to read up on all the latest social media, SEO, technology, content marketing, and branding news? Usually, they are so buried in day-to-day tasks, there is no room to continuously grow, change, and evolve.

In fact, we know what the next year’s design and marketing trends are in the fall, and are able to plan ahead, adapt, and educate ourselves accordingly. Your marketing campaigns seemlessly flow into new trends without anyone noticing. And – surprisingly enough – that’s one of 2016’s marketing trends…. but we’ll get to that later.

Our strategy is a responsible one. But that’s nothing new… the majority of reputable digital marketing agencies across the country take education very seriously. InSilico Media Group invests the time to stay abreast of the latest trends, tools, technologies, and strategies to serve Mid-Ohio Valley small businesses better.

Unfortunately, not all of our competitors keep up on current trends. According to the report above from Capgemini, only 4% of companies align their training efforts with their digital strategy. Picking the correct agency is critical – we’ve posted about it before, and we’ll post about it in the future.

Source Capgemini

8. You benefit from an outside perspective

It’s easy for in-house Marketers to lose sight of the big picture. They tend to be immersed in the day-to-day activity and wearing many hats. They can’t see the forest for the trees. Employees may find it hard to express new ideas or bring up concerns, for fear of losing their jobs. But we’ve seen amazing results by collaborating with marketing team members.

Sometimes you can get too close to your business and not see your marketing strategies, programs, or materials from your audience’s perspective. Even though you may know your business inside and out by living and breathing it each day, your perspective is still one-sided. To market successfully to your current audience – and capture new markets – you need to step out of your shoes and into your target markets’ or customers’. Having a group on the “outside” supporting your needs helps to give you the customer’s perspective, not just your company’s.

Whether it’s planning, copywriting or designing, the right outsourced team will have experience with a variety of different marketing and communication strategies, techniques, and tools. You can rely on their lessons over the years to find the correct solution for your business challenge.

9. Break the “we’ve always done it this way” tradition

It’s easy enough – turnover within companies provide opportunities for individuals to move up, or new hires to take over. At some point, someone will challenge the status-quo within the company, and they’ll hear “we’ve always done it this way”.

Old ways won’t open new doors. We all know this.

By bringing in an outside group, we’ll challenge the current by asking the correct questions and providing the statistics to back up our marketing strategy recommendations.
The Bottom Line

Companies of all sizes use outsourcing to help build their business and stay nimble.By outsourcing some or all of your marketing, you have flexibility and access to trained professionals and advanced marketing technology.

When you hire a marketing agency, you should assume that you are getting senior-level marketing professionals with a wide-range of CURRENT skill sets. When picking agencies, some companies worry about product knowledge and try to find vertical industry firms. Your employees should have product/service knowledge to provide guidance and edit for content. Your marketing agency should provide you with an outside viewpoint on where to find your market and how to talk to it.  We will have lots of ideas on to contribute based on trends, statistical data, and competitive analysis, but we find the best results come from working with a dedicated staff within our client’s company.

Social Media Is NOT A “Strategy”

Businesses throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley can’t rely on social media alone for marketing and it’s becoming increasingly apparent.

No matter how much hard work you put into growing your social media audience, most of that audience will not see the social media posts that you publish. If every single one of my Twitter followers saw one of my tweets and clicked on the link, I would be getting thousands of visitors every day (at that point, move over, local news sites!). Facebook posts now only get seen by about 3% of your audience which means to have a big impact on Facebook, you need to have a ginormous audience in order to actually see measurable results.

“Social media isn’t marketing, and it doesn’t work as a “strategy” on its own—something that seems to have finally sunk into the collective marketing consciousness. Social media is one platform of many, a tactic that does a great job of supporting broad campaigns but flounders by itself. This distinction will shape marketing strategies and budgetary considerations in 2016.”

Social media was free.
That is what attracted me and many marketers 7 years ago. But things have changed. Facebook has wound it’s organic reach for pages back to almost zero. Want to reach your Facebook fans? Its pay to play.

All social networks are now in this game and as social media has become just another media channel that reality is not going away. You are going to need to adapt. When people think of making money online, they want to make money as directly as possible. Many people have tried turning social media into a direct revenue stream, but that’s not how social media works.

Facebook made big money from this in 2015. But if you are paying you need to make sure you are measuring the results. You don’t want to be spending $100 in advertising every day and only making $50 in profit. Don’t pay for traffic until you know what it produces. Now, even the smallest of businesses need data to help create smart marketing strategies to ensure goals are met.

The function of social media is to build an awareness for your brand and get more traffic (whether it is into your store and/or to your website). This is not to say, of course, that social media is useless for direct client marketing. Even though your social media-based referrals should far outstrip your direct client intake, potential clients will examine your social media profiles as part of your marketing package. This is especially true for those potential clients who are more likely to get their news and information from social media, as more and more people are. So, perhaps your potential client is Googling you to see if you’re a legitimate professional within your field and finds your Facebook page that way. Or perhaps that potential client is directly searching for you on Facebook first. Either way, it pays to be on Facebook.

And this is where we arrive at the completion of the circle: Social media’s not your magic bullet, just as in-person networking’s not your magic bullet. But bringing them together is about as close as you’ll come.

businessman draws flowchart of marketing strategy

Good business marketing involves effective distribution of content and commentary across a number of channels.

So ….. what’s your business marketing strategy for 2016? InSilico Media Group can help.

How Not to Be Ripped-Off by Web Design and Search Engine Optimization Companies

I first started learning HTML when I was in 8th grade (the year was 1998…) and I was bored one summer. Because ‘N Sync was my favorite band (I did mention I was 13, right?) … back then the popular search engines were Altavista.com and Yahoo. Google had yet to launch their empire – at least, not to us in West Virginia. Needless to say, I was not impressed with the internet at this stage of its development…

Because of the shortcomings of the early internet, fraudulent minds were able to fluff their website traffic statistics. They would trick META tags into accessing websites that had nothing to do with the search words. For example, one method was to use common words in their tags, such as “free”, “news”, “love” … so when an average person typed in these words, they would go to a fraudulent site, realize it had nothing to do with what they wanted to see, and click the BACK button to move on.

How was this beneficial to the fraudulent website owner? He or she could care less if the person viewed the information on their website or not. They simply wanted to get a recorded click so this would add to their unique visitor statistics. Then, the company would sell ad space based upon the number of visitors they received. Companies could sell their website advertising space for $2,500 per month because they published their website statistics, which showed they received over 1 million visitors per month to the website. Who would question that? Seems legit, right? Of course, they never told advertisers how the visitors were obtained, and no one asked. The stats were all we needed back then. Unfortunately, the only one who received benefit from this was the website owner.

This is why search engines had to develop advanced software programs to minimize the fraud and keep the internet a useful tool for society – and this is why our search engines continue to produce updates frequently – not to trick those of us who utilize white hat SEO tactics, but to stay ahead of the website design companies out there who still promote the concept of META tags – the old school method of SEO.

When you’re thinking about SEO – do your research…. Since 2009, major search engines rarely rely solely on keywords for indexing. The new technology that major search engines use today is to scan the content of the web page and index the actual text, not just the keywords in the META-Tags.

When the major search engines sent out its spidering software (an automated program that visits and categorizes web pages) the software could determine if the META-tags did not match the content of the web page itself. This causes the web page to be dropped and not indexed at all; resulting in poor or non-existent search engine optimization.

Of course this is just one example of the huge changes going on inside the internet today. Most people do not have the time or knowledge to follow the trends of the internet world. They are only interested in getting a web site on the internet and to be visited by visitors.

To find out more about this service which is available for as low as $500, visit: http://www.insilicomediagroup.com

The importance of SEO

Nearly every Mid-Ohio Valley small business today must realize SEO is no longer optional – it is on longer an “if” question. Thus, local businesses now must face the reality of figuring out how much time and money they are willing to invest in Search Engine Optimization.

So, if your small business is now wondering, “how much will we spend on SEO?” – this blog is specifically for you.

 

SEO Payment Models

To understand the dollars and cents discussed below, you must understand payment models used by agencies. When researching your options, you can either opt for a local agency, or an agency found online that may offer “discount prices” when compared to local agencies, that are many hundreds or thousands of miles away, that you may never meet face-to-face.
Many SEO agencies typically offer four main forms of services and payment:

Monthly retainer: In this model, clients pay a set fee each month in exchange for an agreed-upon array of services. The monthly retainer is the most common payment model, because it provides the greatest ROI. Monthly retainer arrangements usually include regular analytics reports, on-site content improvements, press releases, link building, keyword research, and optimization.
Contract services at fixed prices: Nearly all SEO agencies sell contract services. Often, before a client is ready to engage a monthly retainer, they will select contract services that they want to have completed. Often times, the services that an SEO agency offers are often advertised on their site, along with a price. A typical example of this is an SEO website audit which can help determine existing strengths and weaknesses in the client’s online presence, competitive analysis, as well as keywords that have the highest potential to return positive ROI.
Project-based pricing: Project fees are similar to contract services with the exception that they are custom projects created specifically for a client. Pricing varies according to the project. For example, a local cupcake shop may ask an SEO agency to help them with their local online marketing. The client decides that they want the agency to establish their social media accounts. The cupcake business and the SEO agency will decide on the scope and cost of the project.
Hourly consulting: This familiar consulting model is an hourly fee in exchange for services or information. Most SEO agencies use all of these payment models. Likewise, clients may work with an agency using more than one model. For example, a client may choose to enter into a monthly retainer, purchase a contract service, and engage in a special project with the agency, thus entering into three of the payment models.

 
Typical SEO Costs

So, what should you expect to pay? After carefully researching multiple agencies, we’ve determined the average price for these services as follows:

Monthly retainer: $750-5,000 per month. Within this range, the amount that a client pays depends on the size of their business and the extent of services provided by the agency. On the lower end of this spectrum are small SEO agencies that offer a limited range of services. On the upper range are businesses with greater needs working with full-service SEO agencies. Most businesses pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for a monthly retainer.
Contract services at fixed prices: price variable. Businesses that are just testing the waters in SEO usually choose a contract service as an entry point. Typical contract services include things like SEO copy writing ($0.15-$0.50/word), site content audit ($500-$7,500), link profile audit ($500-$7,500), and social media site setup ($500-$3,000).
Project-based pricing: price variable. Since there are a variety of projects, there is a wide range of prices. Most projects cost from $1,000 to $30,000.
Hourly consulting rate: $100-300/hr. SEO consultants, whether individuals or agencies, usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour.

 

Things You Should Be Suspicious Of

Any discussion of SEO agencies and pricing isn’t complete without a few warnings.
To help you guard against indiscriminate SEO agencies with unethical business practices, read and take heed. Be suspicious of the following promises:

Guarantees. SEO firms generally can’t provide guarantees due to the constantly changing nature of the industry. Unless you find an agency of nothing but psychics, you’re never going to have effective guarantees.
Instant results. True, some SEO tactics can get “instant results” by gaming the system. Be warned that these can hurt you in the long run. Instant results often involve SEO practices that are against webmaster guidelines put out by search engines. Invariably, Google seeks out these techniques and penalizes them, resulting in lost rankings that can take months, even years, to recover.
#1 spot on Google. If an agency promises you the number one spot on Google, it sounds great. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get it. However, it’s not something that a firm can promise to hand over to you. Keep aspiring to reach that top spot, but be wearing of agencies that promise it.
Costs significantly lower per month than other agency quotes. When it comes to SEO, you aren’t shopping for the lowest price; you’re seeking the best level of service. Be wary of rock bottom prices or “unbelievable deals.” Unless you find an agency, such as InSilico Media Group, that offers low prices due to low operational overhead based on a strategic business structure to specifically work with small, local businesses, low prices may be a warning sign of poor quality.
Shady link building services. Link building is a crucial part of SEO. You can’t have a highly-ranked site without inbound links. But there’s a dark side of link building. Link trust is gaining importance to appear high in the rankings. Before you enter into an arrangement with an SEO agency for link building services, ensure that their link building services are ethical. Shotty links can also increase your spam score – so be careful.
Things to Keep in Mind

As you begin shopping for SEO agencies and making your decision, be mindful of the following points:

SEO takes time. A monthly retainer is best. Think of SEO as a long-term investment. Aggressive campaigns and major pushes may have their place, but the most enduring SEO results come from a long-term relationship. In SEW’s Mark Jackson wrote, “The real value of SEO efforts are, generally, not realized in the first month(s) of the effort.” It’s true. There’s no magic wand to wave to make SEO happen instantly. It takes time. So, be patient.
SEO changes, and your rankings will change, too. The field is full of competitors, and rankings rise and fall with the changing of algorithms and the entrance of new competitors. One-and-done SEO tricks simply don’t work. It takes constant monitoring to keep your website ranking well and performing at top-notch levels. On average, Google updates their search algorithms roughly 4-6 times each year. Find an agency that stays on top of these trends for best results.
Not all SEO services are created equal. Again, SEO isn’t about shopping around for the lowest prices. It’s about finding the finest agency you can. Look for an SEO agency that defines its scope of services, and takes the time to educate you. The best rule-of-thumb is to find a marketing agency that “practices what they preach” … if they show they are working on SEO for themselves, chances are they will be able to manage yours as well. Don’t rely on out-of-date techniques to get you where you want to be.
SEO is important. You have to do it. The point of your website is to increase and/or improve your business. Unless people are finding your website, it’s not even worth having one. Unless people are finding your business, why open your doors? The smart thing is to get on track and focus on growing your digital footprint.
Hiring an SEO agency is best. You may be thinking, “Can’t I just do this SEO thing on my own?” A tiny percentage of business owners or professionals have the skill and savvy to do their own SEO. Even more, comprehensive SEO takes way more time than most business owners can afford. Even an employee who “knows a lot about SEO,” will be hard-pressed to deliver the level of services and excellence found in a SEO agency. You’ll rarely come out on top if you try to go it alone, and you’ll never get the same level of ROI that you would with a competent SEO agency.
You Decide

For most businesses today, SEO is the highest ROI marketing effort. The benefits it provides exceed the value of other marketing approaches – direct mailing, broadcast advertising, online ads, etc.

You can decide how much that’s worth to you.

 

If you have questions, contact us today. We’re happy to help.