When traditional SMBs (small-to-medium-sized businesses) prepare to go O2O (from offline-to-online), they often face shortage in different types of Internet marketing skills. To begin with, before marketing your products via the World Wide Web, an SMB should consider:
- Target markets: The countries where your potential customers are based in which your products are most likely to sell well.
- Website: Design a website that includes all the important languages your targeted customers will use.
- Internet marketing: The channels to acquire new customers from and the skills required to plan the online marketing activities, operate the online marketing channels, and review the performance of each channel.
Internet marketing for a business includes paid search, search engine optimization, branding, social media marketing, mobile marketing, and email marketing. Web analytics also needs to be included for collecting web data and Internet marketing data for the day-to-day online operations and subsequent analysis.
1st Approach: Hire an all-rounded Internet marketer that possesses planning ability and hands-on experience to operate in all areas including paid search, search engine optimization, branding, social media marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing and web analytics, and put her in-house.
Pros: When the online marketing side of your business grows from very small to a larger organization, it’s easier for you to scale up the human resources to supplement as the workload grows.
Cons: It’s extremely difficult to hire an experienced, all-rounded Internet marketer for a specific market (or several markets). And the cost is very high if you’re to get this veteran from any well-known e-commerce business.
2nd Approach: Hire your own staff and put them in-house. For example, hire a specialist to handle paid search, a second specialist to handle SEO, a third specialist to handle social marketing, etc.
Pros: You’ll have each person operating in at least one role in their specialized skills and work responsibilities can be set up clearly.
Cons: You end up with many head counts and you’ll most likely have to hire a manager to manage the daily operations of all the specialists.
3rd Approach: Hire an agency to run the online marketing operations on behalf of your business.
Pros: When the agency accepts a set of performance targets for each operation type that’s predefined by you, what you need to do is have the agency report back to you the operations and results on a regular basis. At the end of the performance target period, review the overall results, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the agency and adjust support to your agency for improvement in weaker areas.
Cons: If the agency is one of those that just spend your marketing budgets for the sake of spending, then you may end up spending months or years finding the right agency that could perform to meet your targets.
4th Approach: Outsource to freelancers.
Pros: Lower long-term cost on your side, as you’ll only outsource on-demand tasks to freelancers that are qualified.
Cons: Quality of work produced by freelancers isn’t fully guaranteed.
5th Approach: A hybrid approach. Get a mix of the first 4 approaches. For example, hire an Internet marketing manager in-house to oversee the entire operation. You hire an agency to manage your paid search with a 6-month performance target. You hire a second agency to provide you a consulting solution on SEO. You hire an in-house specialist to handle your email marketing, branding and social marketing. You hire another in-house person to work closely with one of the mobile app developers and execute the mobile marketing plan. You find several freelancers to do on-demand content writing and translations.
Pros: How you want the team to work is highly flexible.
Cons: You need to handle the diversity and the flexibility.
Remember in the Internet world of crowdsourcing, not all the specialists in your Internet marketing team need to sit and work in your office and they can be remotely located in many different towns, cities, or even across several countries. Therefore, other minor problems may come up such as team communication issues or collaborative operation issues that are caused by working under different time zones. The bottom line is as long as your team members can deliver what’s required of them to deliver, those minor issues can often be overcome.
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