Many companies still believe that they can effectively outsource all of their digital marketing activity to a digital marketing agency or consultant. But is this approach really fit for purpose in 2016?
Companies that are looking to digital marketing to help them achieve their lead generation and sales objectives already have a lot of the key elements that are needed for a successful digital marketing strategy in-house:
- Understanding of target market (and ability to understand this more deeply through analysis of historical data and customer surveys).
- Understanding of the business. For example, when you pick up the phone you get a “gut feel” for whether a customer is serious or not. This is a level of understanding that you build up over time and that can never be fully conveyed in the stats that you provide to a digital marketing agency.
- A deep understanding of the industry which is needed to create interesting, unique, helpful content and to interact effectively on social media channels and forums.
- Up to date understanding of industry news (or how the industry is responding to more general news) which helps to respond quickly with interesting content.
What many companies are missing is the confidence and experience that allows them to create a digital strategy that leverage the fantastic in-house resources that they already have. This is where an inbound strategy or digital marketing consultant will be able to help.
Initial Strategy & Planning
Hire a consultant to help you with your digital marketing strategy – combine their digital marketing expertise and experience with your industry knowledge and understanding.
This will usually include an initial workshop where your consultant will work with your team to:
- Understanding your business
- Understanding the services that you offerUnderstanding your business objectives
- Understanding the sectors that you sell each service to
- Understanding your buyer personas for each service and sector
This will usually be followed up with additional meetings as you work with your consultant to develop a 12 month content strategy that will include:
- Keyword research for each buyer persona for each stage of the inbound marketing sales funnel
- Key content to be created for each keyword
- Promotion strategy for each piece of content
Your consultant will probably recommend completing an SEO and CRO audit of your website to identify any potential penalties that might be affecting your position in search engine results and to identify any areas for improvement.
Delivering The Strategy
Now that you have a clear digital marketing strategy in place, it’s time to start delivering it. This will usually involve some work from your team combined with support from your digital marketing consultant and will likely include:
- Setting up analytics and tracking software on your website, emails and social channels
- Putting in place an online lead-generation and marketing automation system
- Fixing technical issues identified in the SEO and CRO audit
- Creating content including blog posts, videos, how-to guides, slide shows and eBooks in-line with the 12 month strategy.
- Promoting content in-line with the promotion strategy.
- Monthly or quarterly reporting and review of progress against the strategy and to adjust the strategy.
Your digital marketing consultant will be able to help you with some or all of this but the more input that you are able to give in terms of content and engaging with your audience the better.
It is at this point that things can go wrong – especially in companies that work in professional services where it is the fee earners who have the knowledge that will help to produce the content. Time is money – quite literally. But there are ways to keep that time commitment to a minimum. For example, using video interviews rather than writing long blog posts.
What Happens After 12 Months
You may choose to repeat the same process with your consultant fully supporting you but many companies feel that they now have the confidence to run things themselves in-house.
Usually, what results, is a combination where the digital marketing consultant supports with key decisions and inputs into the 12 month strategy with the company running the day-to-day delivery.
Other Digital Marketing Services
Other than support in developing and measuring your strategy, what other services will a digital marketing consultant provide?
- Website Design & Development
- User Testing
- SEO & Technical Audits
- Advice, recommendations and support in setting up third party services including marketing automation, lead tracking and site analysis software.