In-House Vs Agency – Choosing Your Content Marketing Route
Who can create the best content strategy for my brand? If this question has kept you up for nights on end, you’re not alone – we totally understand. The mental “in-house vs agency” battle is enough to keep anyone awake.
Every business owner, at some point, has been there and asked themselves the very same question.
Do I choose a content marketing agency to create a strategy and implement it in-house? Should the content creation agency take control of the content entirely? Or is it a better option to hire experts who will make up a content dream team within the company?
It isn’t as straightforward as it may seem at first but you can analyze your needs against a number of factors to reach the right decision.
And we will share all these factors with you so you can make an informed choice.
Why is the Decision So Important?
According to insights by Meaningful Brands, a massive 84% of consumers expect to see content from brands that provides entertainment and solutions.
No matter what the medium, a large portion of your success is dependent on the way you use content to your advantage.
You likely know that – we all do.
Today’s consumer is smart and well-informed. When they want to buy a product, they will go online and read the reviews first.
They will appreciate a brand that not only sells them the product or service but also gives them additional tidbits of useful info.
They will applaud a good ad with a strong message and subsequently support the brand.
The list can go on but it is settled – content matters!
What many people don’t know, unfortunately, is HOW to leverage the full potential of content to further their aims.
Which gives rise to the need to choose an expert for the job.
This leads us to our next question:
What Are My Options?
As with any decision – or most decisions, at least – you have options to choose from.
You may think we are going to share the top content agencies with you but that is not the aim of this blog post. Today, we want to give you all the information you will require to reach the decision on your own.
You can pick one of three main roads that will help you create a stellar content strategy.
What are they?
Well, you can:
- Outsource your content to a content marketing agency.
- Create an in-house agency (extensive internal team) that will create and implement a strategy.
- Use a mix of both.
Before we go any further, let’s quickly take a look at what both the in-house and agency options comprise of.
Content Marketing Agency: A content marketing agency comprises of a group of experts in the field of content marketing with a diverse skill set that you outsource to.
In-House Content Marketing Team: An in-house team is a group of professionals that work for your company only. You are responsible for building and overseeing the activities of the team.
Coming back to our subject for today, all three of these courses of action are great – they can lead to amazing results, given that the right choice has been made.
Read on as we discuss all the considerations you should factor in when choosing your path.
Let’s dive right in!
Factors to Consider when Choosing between a Content Marketing Agency and In-House Team
“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.”
– Niels Bohr
Do you see where we are going with this?
An expert has given so much time to their particular niche that they have encountered all the hurdles, taken all the wrong steps, and, quite frankly, messed up in every way possible.
But what does all this mean?
It means that they have learned an IMMENSE amount from all their mistakes. An expert knows what to do, what to avoid, what shortcuts they can take when, and the list can go on. A content marketing expert knows JUST how to take your brand to the top with content.
So what does this mean for you?
You need the best of the best.
One way in which you can get that is by hiring the best professionals for each of the skillsets you require and creating a stellar in-house marketing team. Although we will discuss cost in more detail later, this will be quite expensive. In most cases, though, you will see a high ROI.
On the other hand, when you go for a good content marketing agency, you are automatically hiring the best professionals, those who have dedicated their lives to the art.
And while you might have gotten that with a top-notch in-house team, you pay a fraction of the cost here.
Some companies go for a very modest content strategy, focusing on one or two media to connect and engage with their consumers.
Other brands go all out and want a well-rounded strategy that makes use of multiple media and techniques to expand their reach.
Regardless of your needs, these are some of the services you need, whether from an in-house or outsourced team:
- Strategy creation
- Content creation and optimization
- Content sharing and management
- Quality Assurance
Each of these steps – and these are only a few! – have many other components. For example, you need SEO services when it comes to optimizing the content. Similarly, top-notch social media content management may be required, depending on what medium you use.
So what do you choose?
Well, a content marketing agency employs talented individuals with each of the skillsets you require for your strategy to take off. They work together to bring the strategy together and implement it.
An in-house marketing team can also produce the same results but you will need to hire a team with a diverse skillset. Even then, there may come a point where you get stuck somewhere because you need a professional you didn’t think to hire.
The marketing team at a content strategy agency comes up with brilliantly creative ideas every day. From that pool of brilliant ideas, they choose the best ones to include in their final strategy.
The end result is spectacular.
They do this all day, every day for multiple clients. They create different kinds of strategies for varying needs. Their brains are always buzzing with the next creative idea.
That is something the team at a content marketing agency can bring to the table. Their years of experience in thinking out of the box lets them pitch unique ideas for your brand.
Heck, they probably have a reserve of tons of ideas they rejected for other brands that would work perfectly for you.
Creativity comes naturally to them and the result is innovation. And when your content strategies are wonderfully different from anything your consumers have seen before, well, you’ll see the result for yourself.
This is one aspect in which an in-house team lacks. They do not have the kind of experience and exposure content creation agencies gain by working with big brands.
So while they may have brilliant minds, their juices just don’t flow as freely and the creativity of your content can take a hit.
The cost is a major factor when it comes to taking your pick.
No matter how badly you want a killer strategy, you HAVE to stay within your budget!
When you outsource to an agency, you have a wide range of pricing options in front of you. These generally depend on the:
- Reputation of the agency
- Expertise of its employees
- Extent of the strategy
- Content requirement and goals
- And so on
Most agencies are willing to create a custom package that fits your requirements perfectly. Depending on all the specifics mentioned above, these packages can vary immensely.
On the other hand, with an in-house team, you have to consider all the following:
- Recruitment costs for building a talented team (writers, SEO experts, editors, graphic designers, etc.)
- Monthly compensation
- And so on
If you have a large budget and a lot of content to produce on a regular basis, you can go for an in-house team but this is not the option most small- to medium-sized corporations go for.
Choosing an agency often is the more affordable option – it provides more value for a smaller amount of money.
Knowledge of the Brand
What does your brand represent?
What is your ideology?
What do you want to achieve in the short- and long-term?
Who is your main target audience?
What do they want?
Having COMPLETE knowledge of your brand gives you an edge when it comes to putting together a strategy to promote it.
A marketer needs to have an in-depth understanding of the brand if they are going to produce content that reflects it.
That makes perfect sense, right?
So who do you think will have better knowledge of your brand?
The best content marketing agencies make sure they know all the ins and outs of your brand before they get to work. They will conduct an in-depth analysis and ask all the right questions to get all the important information.
But they cannot beat the knowledge of the in-house team regarding the company. Your own employees will understand the brand – your vision, mission, goals, future plans – much better than anyone else. And that is a major plus.
Some other factors we would like to quickly point out are:
Industry Tools, Technology, and Knowledge
An outsourced team from an agency makes use of the best tools in the market all day, every day. They have all the right subscriptions, have purchased the latest updates and are up to date with the latest trends and best practices.
It is their job.
An in-house team has to do all this from scratch. On top of that, you have to keep training costs as part of the equation.
Ease of communication
Your in-house team is a single tap on the shoulder away. You can call a meeting whenever you need and have a discussion.
With a marketing agency, it is not as simple as that. You have to set up appointments and wait for long periods of time between conversations.
You are one of many clients a content marketing company has at any given time. So while they will put their expertise and skill set to the best use and dedicate the promised amount of time and effort to your content needs, they will only be able to dedicate a certain part of the day to your work.
The only job your in-house team has is to focus on your content. And so they are able to give it a lot more time.
In-house vs agency.
The battle of the content maestros, internal and external, can be an intense one – in your mind at least.
But if you factor in all considerations and decide your course of action keeping all the variables in mind, you can implement the content strategy of your dreams.
Our advice: If you are a small or medium-sized business, outsourcing your content needs to an excellent agency is a great choice. It brings in a lot more talent, expertise, and creativity at a very reasonable price!
OR you could go for a combination of both.
So, which one is it going to be?
Does content marketing really work?
This may seem like a strange question but before we can even get to the in-house vs agency battle, many business owners need convincing to actually employ content marketing.
We’re here to tell you that there are no two opinions about it – you absolutely need content marketing if you are to see your business go anywhere.
Content marketing is how you share important information with your current and potential consumers. Without it, how would your customers ever know about new products, services, and updates regarding the company?
But the informational aspect isn’t the only one that matters – content marketing is what helps you connect with your consumers and provide them value. And that is the most important thing in the customer-centric world of today.
Whether you are welcoming and positively responding to criticism on your social media channels or regularly updating your blog with useful information, you are building a relationship with the audience. And that is what will help you build a loyal customer base.
To gain customer trust, traffic, leads, and conversions, you need exceptional content marketing.
How long does it take content marketing to work?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to seeing results in the digital world – it varies immensely. But know this: you will not begin to see results immediately.
A lot of businesses get disheartened when they don’t see any substantial changes in their fan bases, traffic, or conversions within the first few months of their content marketing efforts.
The truth is, it takes time to build and implement your content strategy to the point where it actually starts to take you somewhere.
What you should focus on is how much better you did this month than the previous month. And we’re talking about a data-centric analysis, not guesswork. If there is a positive, upward trend there, know that you are moving in the right direction.
What are the different types of content marketing?
Content marketing includes, but is not limited to, the following content types:
- Case studies
- Influencer posts
- Social media content
The best strategy, when creating a content marketing plan is to use a combination of these content types.