Is it Time to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency?

Published October 19, 2017
You may have a list of reasons for keeping your marketing in-house. Maybe it’s, “No one knows the business like my team.” True. “Agencies are expensive.” Also, true. Or maybe it’s just that there are so many vendors out there you have no idea how to pick the right one .
But every business at some point has to take a good, honest look at their resource allocation and decide if there are some things lacking in-house that are worth the expense of outside help. When that moment comes, an inevitable question becomes, “is it time to hire an outside marketing agency?”
In this post, we’ll cover a few of the reasons and scenarios that are a good sign that yes, it is in fact time to look to an agency for marketing help.



You (or your marketing team) is stretched too thin

No one strives to be a one-trick pony. We all want to be, and to work with, multi-faceted performers. While it’s healthy to want to diversify your talents and to hire strong people who can serve the organization in multiple capacities, everyone has limits. We’re not talking about limits on intelligence or capacity for growth. But limits of time, manpower and attention.

We talk about multi-tasking as a skill, but there are plenty of arguments against it. These points show that if you’re trying to split your focus between too many things, it doesn’t lead to great success on any one of them. The more we try to take on at once, the less we’re able to actually give to those projects. Yet, we only have to look at job descriptions for digital marketing roles to see the expectations being placed on single individuals.


Sample Job Ads


We expect one “proficient” individual to plan, manage, execute, measure and repeat strategies across channels like SEO, PPC, affiliates, mobile, email, social media, content, and public relations. No to mention, coordinating internally and externally to push these initiatives from conception to evaluation. It’s exhausting just to think about. If you have one person, or a small team, dedicated to these efforts there’s a solid chance they aren’t really excelling at all of them.

This isn’t to say you can’t find great people who have multi-channel experience or a deep enough understanding of digital to influence strategy in several specialties. It’s also not always feasible to hire people whose only job is to focus on only SEO or PPC or any other digital tactic. Budgets often demand multiple competencies from single individuals. But that makes it possible to overlook the fact that any single channel could be a full time job.

That’s where an agency can come in handy. Many agencies have individuals or teams who are completely devoted to mastering the finer points of one channel. These people have often spent years honing their craft, learning from trial and error, and living through the evolution of their channel. That kind of focus means that you have a better chance of developing more informed campaigns and achieving more impressive results.

When someone wears too many hats, it’s likely none of them fit perfectly. But an agency can provide desperately needed support to internal teams helping them to refine campaigns, or carry part of the load. This allows your staff to focus more on their strong suits and the specific business intelligence that only internal staff can achieve.

You Need Expertise You Don’t Have on Staff

We all like to think we can be good at anything we put our minds to. Some people can. We all have that friend or co-worker who just seems to kill it at whatever they try. If you are, or have one of those people on your team, you’re winning at life. But if, like most of us, you aren’t equally adept with Photoshop and Google Analytics then perhaps you need some assistance.

We showed a tiny sample of job ads that called for marketers with diverse skillsets. But let’s look at the application of those elements in terms of the coordination of a single display ad.


The Parts of a Display Ad


For that one banner ad, we see how all of those specialties must blend seamlessly together. The whole here is a representation of the sum of its parts, but each of the parts must be equally strong in order for it to be effective. For a single person or team within a small business, it’s likely that there will be a weak link somewhere in the production chain.

If you know where that weakness lies, an agency might be the best solution to help fill the gap. If design isn’t a strong suit in your business, an agency can serve a critical function there. This also applies to other marketing components like video production or a trade show presence. It may also be that you have an astute analyst or strategist who isn’t necessarily the best copy writer. Again, agencies often have dedicated writers who spend the bulk of their time helping brands define their brand identity and structure their voice. Whatever your pain point is, sometimes it makes the most sense to look externally to find the expertise you need.

Data and Technology Challenges

We all know that digital is constantly changing. A new platform that will be the future of public relations or a Google update may have launched while you’ve been reading this. Things happen that quickly in this world. There are also constant changes to data acquisition and attribution that allow us to measure more and measure it better. But how is a small team that is already over-tasked and trying to create cohesive campaigns going to stay ahead of the changes and beat the learning curve?

Restricting marketing to only an internal team may result in a silo of data and technology. There is a certain set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are measured, and that it how success is gauged. A certain set of tools or analytics is employed and that is the only data measured. While this will continue to provide valuable information to drive ongoing strategies, it is unlikely that the tried-and-true will yield revolutionary insights.

One of the functions of an agency is to live on the cutting edge of awareness and adeptness when it comes to data and technology. You’ll often find agencies among the early adopters for new user tracking programs, techniques and omni-channel data integration.

Why is this more common among agencies than companies? Simply put, agencies have no choice. They are in the business of selling a service in an increasingly saturated field. A marketing firm that is not able to learn and effectively apply new sources of data or new reporting or automation tools is not going to be able to remain competitive in their own space. That competition is a benefit to businesses that would rather spend their energies focusing on understanding their best customers than understanding the intricacies of segmenting and structuring lead nurturing sequences in an automation platform.

Agencies are also in a position to help you identify technology and data based solutions for your common problems. With multiple clients, often across different verticals, they have the opportunity to see how things work in a number of different circumstances. They have likely tried a number of solutions and have a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and applications. Their successes, and failures, can help save a business from having to overcome those obstacles on their own and build a short cut to the best answer for each brand’s unique marketing challenges.


Using an external marketing partner, if it’s the right company, can fundamentally change your business. We’re not just talking about the bottom line either. Obviously, more customers and more profit are always the ultimate goal, but collaborating with an objective, outside source can give you a brand new perspective on how people beyond your own team see and perceive your product and brand. They can also provide the valuable and versatile resources you need to become the best and most prolific version of your business.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.