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Chloë Thomas is the Author of Amazon Bestseller “eCommerce Marketing”, and host of the award-winning eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast.

Thank you, everyone, who sent in a question for me. There was a clear theme in the questions around expanding your digital marketing team which boiled down to these four:

  1. What should you keep in house? And what should be outsourced?
  2. What are the outsourcing options?
  3. How do you hire the right person/agency?
  4. How to do you manage outsourced marketers to get the best results?

Not a surprising theme when you consider all that’s happened so far this year, with many businesses seeing huge uplifts in sales and many others having to up their online game.

To cover all that in one column wouldn’t give any of the topics the space they deserve, so in this issue I’m tacking the first question and the next time we’ll get into outsourcing (unless of course there’s a more pressing subject in the postbag).

What digital marketing should you do in house? What should you outsource?

There’s no inhouse/outsourced mix that’s perfect for everyone. Instead, you should consider the following questions.

First, what skills do you already have inhouse?

Running the full range of digital marketing channels in house requires two core skill sets.

You need highly analytical people (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO – technical, and analysis of everything else) who are happy spending their workday in spreadsheets.

You need great copywriters who are happy interacting with customers and partners (Content marketing, Social media, SEO –link building, and keyword optimisation).

Human brains are not wired for us to be naturally great at both.

People do adapt over their career to do both but if you want to get the best marketing results you should not have someone who is naturally great at analysis in charge of your social media. Or expect a career copywriter to pick up Technical SEO.

Secondly consider how important the marketing channel is to the business, and how quickly you need it to perform.

If you urgently need to increase sales and you’ve never done Facebook Ads but all the signs are it could drive you a lot of business – then it probably makes sense to outsource that to someone who spends all their time running and learning about Facebook Ads.

If your brand and story are crucial to building relationships with your customers, and you live in fear of some non-brand content slipping through the cracks and appearing on social media then you should probably keep social media inhouse with your team – who are already experts on your brand.

Frequently the decision of whether to run in house or externally comes down to whether you have the time for your team to learn to do it well enough, or whether it’s safer to put it in the hands of someone who’s career is focused on just that one area of expertise.

A few rules of thumb:

–           It’s a lot easier to teach someone how to use a marketing channel, than it is to teach them your brand, your look, your tone of voice.

That means that if brand is crucial you probably want to keep anything that is copy and image heavy, or that involves speaking to customers, in house.

–           The advertising platforms are COMPLEX (Google, Facebook, Instagram), there is a lot to learn.

It takes months, if not years, to really learn how to drive the best results with Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Plus, they are constantly changing the tools and releasing new options that lead to new strategies and tactics to test. They are also two very different tools.

If you want to manage them inhouse, and they are big sales channels for you then be prepared to give your team member(s) time and budget to access the training they will need to drive you great results.

Thirdly, what’s the long term strategy?

Some businesses aim to have everything in house, other’s aim to keep the core team small and outsource wherever possible.

Which business are you?

If the long-term aim is to have everything in house then it will be worth the investment to hire and train people to do it all internally.

But if you want to keep the core team lean and get results fast right now – then it’s probably time to outsource.

There are now many ways to outsource your digital marketing and that is what I’ll be tackling in next month’s Ask Chloë column.

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