Outsourcing Search Marketing

  |  April 13, 2009   |  Comments

Effective search marketing requires specialized skills. Is your organization prepared or should it hire an agency?

It's the age-old question: should a business do everything in-house or should it outsource certain activities? Obviously there are advantages to each alternative, but in this time of economic uncertainty, more and more companies are looking to outsource non-core services and functions in hopes of saving money and improving operating efficiencies.

Currently, outsourcing is a pretty common practice for many information technology services. But when it comes to marketing, some companies seem hesitant to jump on the outsourcing bandwagon. Many maintain that they have in-house marketing departments that should be able to do anything a third-party specialist can do.

But what about online marketing, and search marketing in particular? Should companies be outsourcing these activities?

I say "absolutely" but I suppose I'm a little biased. However, there are some compelling reasons for doing so.

Rationale for Outsourcing Search Marketing Efforts

The top reason for considering outsourcing is that effective search marketing requires very specialized skills.

Not only does search marketing require a depth of understanding and experience in the field, it's rarely successfully accomplished on the shoulders of one single person.

In actuality, it takes a whole team of people to execute a search marketing strategy:

  • The marketing strategist to understand the brand and Web site business objectives and requirements, and communicate these to the team.

  • The user experience specialist to make sure the Web site is optimized for conversions, there is clear path for visitors, and there are no roadblocks or abandonment points in the site.

  • The search engine optimization specialist to undertake on-page and off-page SEO, including keyword research, selection and integration, and link building.

  • The paid search specialist to develop, execute, and manage the paid search or PPC campaigns.

  • The copywriter to ensure the site copy is tailored to the organic and paid keywords, as well as presents a strong call to action.

  • The Web developer to implement changes recommend by the usability and SEO specialists.

  • The Web administrator to ensure the Web site is fully functional, so that search engines are able to consistently access and crawl the site.

  • The Web analytics manager to implement tracking on the search campaign and to report on key metrics.

Still think you have the required skills to do everything in-house?

If you don't have all the above roles, it might necessitate some new hires or internal training to get where you need to be.

If you happen to have all of the above roles in your organization chart, congratulations! You may be among the few companies well positioned to do search in-house.

That said, there are often organizational constraints or barriers that encourage the use of outside assistance.

Because large organizations can often be multi-layered, they can sometimes face significant internal challenges for making search happen quickly and efficiently.

First, there may be internal disputes between functions regarding the importance of the search marketing initiative and it may be given lower priority, resulting in launch delays. For a search marketing vendor, search projects are their core business, so all of these projects are treated as priorities. These vendors can help you build a business case for search and champion the project within the organization.

Second, with the speed of change in search, a quick reaction time is vital. With search engine algorithms sometimes changing overnight and new advertisers entering the market place daily, successful search marketers must able to respond almost instantly.

As agencies don't tend to experience the same level of bureaucracy that a larger client-side organization might, they tend to be more flexible to meet tight deadlines or respond quickly to environmental changes.

Finally, one of the most important reasons to consider outsourcing search marketing is the potential for improved return on investment! Since seasoned search marketers have a wealth of experience to draw from, as well as industry tools and resources at their disposal, they stand to produce better results than a company doing it itself. Although the upfront investment to work with a pro might be hard to swallow, the end results will more than likely pay off.

To learn more about the benefits to outsourcing online marketing and how to go about finding the right e-marketing partner, join us on April 16, 2009 for a free Webinar on the topic!

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Julie Batten

Julie is a member of the senior strategy team at Klick Health, focused on online media and digital. Julie initially established and led the media practice at Klick for several years, relinquishing leadership to expand beyond media into additional digital tactics. She brings a wealth of experience in search marketing, digital media, and all facets of digital strategy to bear, helping Klick's clients develop innovative digital solutions. As her role has evolved, so have her contributions to ClickZ, which she has been writing for since 2007.

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