Currently, digital marketing organizations are heavily augmented by consultants, agencies, vendors, or external teams who are already part of their organizational fabric. For these organizations, it’s not a big next-step to outsource elements of digital marketing programs and operations.
Q: Is the practice of digital marketing changing in a way that makes outsourcing of it viable?
A driving force in the increased adoption of digital marketing outsourcing is that marketing organizations simply can’t keep up. The demands are flowing from business expectations, staffing needs and challenges, the changing ways of going to market digitally, online visitors and their increasing expectations, the growing levels and types of competition, the market opportunities, and on and on. The question becomes, “Can I trust myself and my team to figure this out? That hill is way too big to climb with current needs, staff, and leadership, and we’ll be lucky if we can keep up with the market, so I’d like help.” Increasingly, this means more than just ordering up more agency or consulting services.
Q: How does the service provider dynamic change with a move to digital marketing outsourcing?
By the nature of the typical outsourcing relationship, the enterprise and the outsourcer have mutual increases in relationship equity and business commitment. The enterprise does not cede ownership of the outsourced digital marketing functions, but, a new shared-responsibility and shared-success model comes into play. The materiality of the outsourcing relationships we have seen breeds greater trust and more strategic relationships with the outsourcer who is seen much more as a partner than a vendor.
Q: What impact does the significant IT requirement in digital marketing programs play in the drive to outsourcing?
As digital marketing is entirely system-driven – thus, the “digital” in digital marketing – the IT foundation is a great enabler for digital marketing outsourcing. Digital marketing outsourcing is following a growth pattern traveled by similar applications and domains in the enterprise. Additionally, the common and standardized approach to the practice of digital marketing further increases the functions and capabilities that can be outsourced.
Q: Are there situations in which outsourcing does not make sense?
Digital marketing outsourcing is not for everyone, particularly in businesses where digital marketing innovation is a material driver of an organization’s business success. A good example is Amazon.com. As an online retailer and marketplace, Amazon.com considers itself more a software company than anything else, which means it’s not going to outsource that core capability.
Q: How should marketing executives look at owning vs. outsourcing digital marketing programs?
For certain digital marketing functions in the enterprise, it is analogous to owning a plane versus leasing or using a service that provides a plane. Owning a plane means large capital outlays, expensive maintenance, staff, and it’s fixed and rigid. Using aviation as a service like NetJets means none of the former – and you get the best planes, the most flexibility, the most experienced pilots – all on demand. So, the best of everything with more of an expense than capital-outlay model.
Q: Where are the largest potential gains in digital marketing outsourcing?
While digital marketing outsourcing is not for everyone, we have seen enterprise marketing leaders make significant strides with their digital marketing programs by tapping into deep, specialized skills in outsourcing organizations while also reducing staffing headaches. Further, the ability to stay current and more rapidly advance digital marketing program capabilities and performance has been a big win – as has the streamlining, sourcing and deployment of best-of-breed marketing technology. All of this adds to the strategic gain in the marketing leader and team’s increased ability to focus on the core marketing function.
About Andrew Dennis
Andrew Dennis is the founder and CEO of NorthPage, Inc.
In 2016, Andrew authored Digital Lift: Digital Success Principles for Marketing Leaders. The book reveals a series of concise digital marketing success principles that emerged from Andrew and NorthPage’s work with global marketing leaders on their journey to optimize their digital performance. The book is available on Amazon or by visiting NorthPage.com. Click here to learn more or to get your copy of Digital Lift.