Hiring An In-House Team Vs Outsource | A Cost-Benefit Analysis
Wondering if it's better to outsource your content marketing needs or if an in-house team is a better solution? Let's do a cost-benefit analysis.
Table Of Contents
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8s6Y4mx9Vw
Creating great content
What Is Content?
"Content" is an umbrella term used to define many things as of 2018. Everyone has his own definition of content. Basically, content is anything, anything which is an information, in any form or whatsoever.
Defining “content” is not simple. We will try to stick to the definition or understanding that is relevant to "online content" and content that could be considered for ranking with search engines such as Google.
Brian Massey – My definition of content is “information with a purpose for a targeted audience.” Information may be text, video, audio, photos, etc. The purpose might be to educate, entertain, or persuade (convert).
Kathryn Aragon – Content is any information that builds trust and authority among your ideal customers.
If you ask Google, there is no straight answer but between the lines, this message is repeated every time.
"For almost any type of page or informational topic, there is a range of content quality. Remember that high-quality content is defined as content that takes time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill."
Google Quality Evaluator Guidelines, 2017
What the above statement and many of the similar ones from Google, translate into is:
Content is simply an answer to customers’ questions
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves research, planning, creating and sharing digital content that engages the audience, adds value, drives traffic and ultimately leads to conversions.
The goals for content marketing vary but mainly are:
- Develop a connection with the audience
- Develop credibility
- Create loyalty and trust
- Influence a shopping lifecycle
- Brand awareness
- Brand visibility
- Leads generation
- Decrease marketing cost
The main activity for content marketing includes different kinds of content creation, like writing for a company blogs, company newsletters, webcasts, podcasts, infographics, guides and advice, news, educational or entertainment videos etc
Along with content production, content marketing also involves some crucial tasks such as:
Content strategy planning
content strategy execution
Reporting and analysis
Content: Who Are The Stake Holders?
As of online content, there are three stakeholders.
- Content creators
- Search Engines
Audience Are The True Masters
You, me and everyone consuming any form of content, is an audience, in one way or another.
You are reading this article, spending your precious time, your satisfaction is crucial.
Ever heard these:
Customers come first?
The customer is an asset?
Make a customer, not a sale?
All these are absolutely true to an audience as well.
"The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you."
Derek Sivers, Founder CD Baby
Let me tell you a story to spice things up a bit.
"Ritz Carlton Hotel has a policy that any employee can spend up to $2000 a day (without requiring any authorization from management) to solve the need or concern of any of their customers. On his way to Hawaii to deliver an important presentation, a businessman realized he had accidentally left his portable computer at a Ritz Carlton in Atlanta. His presentation was stored on the computer. He placed a frantic call to the hotel and was routed to housekeeping. They had found his computer. Please send by Federal Express, he requested. I absolutely need it tomorrow morning for my presentation. Imagine his surprise when Mary from housekeeping showed up in Hawaii early the next morning to hand deliver his computer. Mary was quoted as saying, 'This was too important to trust FedEx with, so I decided to deliver it myself!"
Ritz Carlton Company Policy
Just put your self in this customer's shoes for a second and think
How would you feel?
How do you feel about the service, the brand?
How satisfied are you?
The One Of Their Kind, The Content Creators
I have written this article (and update it regularly). I have researched extensively using a lot of online content. I need to be satisfied with results.
What should be the definition of satisfaction for a content creator? Traffic? Not really, It is the loyal audience that connect, appreciate your content and spread the word.
You, me and anyone who engages in an activity for creating, curating, editing and or managing content that serves user's intent and provides valuable information to any degree and makes life a bit easier for the audience can be categorized as a content creator.
As of today, even Artificial Intelligence has joined the ranks of content creators to streamline the content creation and content research processes, quite successfully.
"There is a spiritual aspect to our lives — when we give, we receive — when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them!"
Ben Cohen, Co-Founder Ben & Jerry's
Search Engines, The Kingmakers
Third and major stakeholder is the search engines.
Before the internet, It was a matter between users and content creators.
Since the explosion of the internet, search engines have not only become stakeholders but also kingmakers in the world of content creation.
Search engines not only drive traffic, but they also define quality guidelines, redlines and best practices.
As they are the kingmakers or the "rank makers" precisely, one has to strictly follow them to win readership (search traffic) for their content.
We all three depend on each other.
Users need search engines to help them find the content they are looking for.
Content creators need to rely on search engines for their readers to find their content
And Search Engines need both users and content creators to keep the system (and their business) running smoothly.
"Content marketing industry to be worth $412bn by 2021 following four-year growth spurt."
"The effectiveness of traditional marketing is decreasing by the day. Companies must adopt the latest marketing trends to enhance their business and increase their consumer base. Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is focused on creating and sharing valuable, consistent, and relevant content to attract and retain the audience."
Ujjwal Doshi | Infiniti Research Ltd
What Is A Content Marketing Strategy:
Content marketing strategy is basically the management of any kind of content that you create and own:
- Or a combination
A content marketing strategy can vary depending on a lot of factors like the company size, the age of the company, the kind of industry, the type of audience and the marketing budget etc.
Say for a startup, a content marketing strategy might focus on creating content to increase their product and brand awareness.
For a more established company, like say, a search engine optimization (SEO) company, a content marketing strategy might invole more on educating people about the benefits of SEO and passively promote their SEO software or service.
Keyword Researh And Analysis
"What’s the difference between a blog post that receives hundreds of referrals from search engines or none at all? The right words."
Keyword Research | Copyblogger
Delivery of high-quality relevant content, your audience is seeking is not possible without an effort first to figure out the audience requirements.
Keyword research can help you understand how the audience is discovering not only your content but also your competitors content.
It can help you discover what and why some content is performing better than yours in search engine result pages (SERPs) and help you refine your content strategy and improve ROI.
"What’s the first step to creating unique, differentiated content? Analyze the content created in your market."
Content Marketing Analysis | CMI
Good content marketing strategy requires extensive homework.
Before you even start, you need to spend enough time to analyze:
- What the competitors are up to?
- What they are writing about?
- What is their publishing frequency?
- What is their social engagement?
- What topics and keywords are they addressing?
- What content is winning from their side and why?
- Where is their content living?
- A detailed content quality analysis
- Going through their blog articles, podcasts, webinars, e-books, videos, presentations, newsletters etc
Content Marketing Saves Costs In The Long Run.
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
42% of consumers look to blogs for information about potential purchases; 52% say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57% of marketers have acquired new customers with their blogs.
InboundWriter/LeadersWest Digital Marketing Journal
“The average buyer completes 57% of their buying process before ever contacting a salesperson.”
Corporate Execute Board
Google Adwords Analysis | Case 1
The average click-through rate (CTR) in AdWords across Finance & Insurance industries was 2.91% as of 2018.
The average cost per click (CPC) in AdWords across Finance & Insurance industries was $3.44 as of 2018.
Source: Google Ads Benchmarks for YOUR Industry By Mark Irvine
Say, an Insurance company wants to advertise on Google using Google Adwords.
As we know, competition in the insurance industry is fierce, and cost per click (CPC) is $3.44 (take and average) for a very important search term, “home insurance renewals.”
Each month, the company has to spend $3440 to drive $1000 people to a page on their website, in the hope that some visitors might end up filling in with their details. (Leads)
This is $12000 visitors to the company website each year for the cost of $3440 for a month, $41280 for a year.
Now, the Finance and Insurance industries conversion rate was 7.19% CVR on SEARCH and 1.75% CVR on Google Display Network (GDN).
This is 4.47% on average for both search and GDN.
This means for $3440 spend in a month on Google AdWords will bring in 1000 visitors, out of which 4.47% will convert into leads @ the cost of $76 / Lead
4.47% of 1000 = 44.7 leads
44.7 leads / Month @ $3440 = $76.95 / Lead
After spending around $77, the company still only at this point has the fish.
Cooking the fish is further down the road depending on how good is their sales team.
Content Marketing Analysis | Case 2
Average Content Writer Salary was $49608 per year as of 2018.
Now consider if the company employs a good content writer who understand well, On-Site and Off-Site SEO practices and produces well-informed content around home insurance topics, say 8-10 pieces of content every month, or 110 articles every year.
That's a lot of content.
100 pieces of content that serve user intent and adds value to their experience may help the company rank well on the Google search results with the “home insurance” related phrases, which has the search volume of between 30.3k-70.8k each month for the search phrase "home insurance" or similar or between 350k-750k search volume each year.
Hopefully, if the company website manages to bring in even 3000 visitors out of half a million searhes each month, this can be a huge cost difference from the very first year.
Content Creator salary = $49000 or $4083 / Month
Total traffic = 36000 / Year or 3000 / Month
Total cost per click (CPC) = 49000 / 36000 (year)
or 4083 / 3000 (Month) = $1.36
Remember Conversion rate is 4.47%
4.47 of 3000 = 134 leads / Month
134 Leads / Month @ $4083(Monthly salary) = $30 / Lead
44 leads Vs 134 Leads!
This is less than half of the cost the company has to pay for Google AdWords ($76/Lead).
Now, a point to note is, investment in good content production is evergreen.
The amount you pay for paid search is spent with no return for the following years. You have to allocate a new budget (depending on CPC price) every year to bring in a similar amount of leads.
On the other hand, with content, it's a different story.
You're content, if still relevant and up to date, keeps on bringing traffic, year on year bases.
Your new year budget for your content production will increase your traffic every year and older content will continue to bring in traffic alongside newer content.
In fact, if your content gets hold of top ranking position on merit, unless someone else produces better content than yours, you can keep that position(s), as long as it takes.
If at any time you notice your ranks are sliding, you can always revisit and improve those winning pieces of content and keep the top spot.
Google AdWords Vs Content Marketing
Now let's look at the bigger picture, the actual piece of cake.
Here is a quick comparison for three years costs, provided Google Adwords CPC cost remains constant.
For Google Adword:
3 Years cost = 41280 * 3 = $123840
3 Years traffic = 12000 * 3 = 36000 visitors
Total 3 Years leads = 536/Y * 3 = 1608
Or $76 / Lead
For Content Marketing:
3 Years cost (10% salary increament) = 49000 + 54000 + 60000 = $163000
3 Years traffic (33% increase Y on Y) =
36000 + 48000 + 64000 =
Total 3 Years leads = 1608 + 2138 + 2843 = 6589 Leads
Or $25 / Lead
That's 1608 Vs 6589 Leads
That's $75/Lead Vs $25/Lead
This is clearly three times less cost / three times more Leads as compared to Google AdWords.
Note: The projections for inbound traffic is based on the assumption that content produced is high quality, it adds more value than existing ranking content and follows Google Guidelines for SEO.
Content Marketing Outsource
In a survey conducted earlier this year by BusinessBolts.com, 74% of small businesses surveyed said they were using content marketing
Outsourcing Your Content Marketing | ducttapemarketing
If a business knows ins and outs of content marketing, is clear about their goals and requirements, having an in-house team is easier and it offers certain advantages.
On the other hand, if businesses prefer to concentrate on its core business functions and their own skill set lack expertise in content marketing.
Many companies might not even have a content marketing department or cannot allocate funds for a new one.
For such companies, it helps to outsource the task of content creation to an agency or freelance content writer.
We will discuss this shortly.
Hiring an In-House Content Marketing Expert
Content marketing is the best marketing strategy in terms of ROI but you need to know the cost and benefit of each resource you can put in place to maximize your output.
Installing an in-house, content marketing team or an individual content manager to work on a full-time basis can be an expensive route to take, especially if you are a startup or just beginning with content marketing itself.
You also have to take into account:
- Training time
- Necessary Office space
- Tools and resources
- Equipment like computers etc
You have to factor in all costs to avoid disappointment at the later stage.
However, if you know ins and outs of content marketing, have prior experience and adequate budget, this can be the most cost-effective long-term approach for content marketing needs.
The average pay for a Content Marketing Manager is $64,478 per year.
Salary: $43,495 - $92,178
Bonus: $1,003 - $10,236
Profit Sharing: $824 - $15,050
Total Pay: $42,615 - $96,067
Note: The salary varies from location to location and depends on the amount of experience a professional has.
If you decide to go for in-house team or individual, make sure they possess some extra skillsets like social media marketing and management, a thorough understanding of digital marketing and especially search engine optimization (SEO) etc.
Remember to thoroughly verify this, through references and sample work.
Outsource Content Marketing To A Freelancer(s)
The cost of content marketing for hiring a freelancer can also be variable and complicated depending on many factors such as:
- Quality of work required
- Amount of work required
- The speed of delivery required
- Experience level of the individual
- Other skillsets required such as "competitor analysis" etc
One way to hire a freelance is to make use of numerous websites like peopleperhour, upwork and freelancer where you can publish your content needs and budget and then evluate proposals from interested individuals.
An important thing to remember is that achieving high-quality content creation through these low paid options could be extremely difficult.
As the quality is paramount for search engine ranking, it is strongly advisable to look for content marketing professionals with the added skillset, deep knowledge of your own industry, market and audience base.
It is very important to review references and sample work.
Along with, always do a trial first.
After the trial, review performance for both, the freelancer and the content they have produced before assigning a long-term work.
Review how well they communicate, before, during and after delivery.
Review how well they honor the agreed deadlines.
When you hire a freelancer, the price can start from as low as $50 for a single assignment to go up to a couple of thousands.
Outsource Content Marketing To An Agency
In most successful cases of content marketing strategies, It usually involves:
- Processing a mix of content types
- A detailed competitor analysis
- A detailed keyword research analysis
- Strategy planning and execution
Small or experimental strategies may be accomplished with fewer resources but in-depth, long-term strategies require more time to develop, execute and perform and could have a heavy strain on your budget and resources.
You also have to seriously consider the expertise of your team and challenge ahead.
With an agency, there are the three main advantages you need to consider.
- No hiring or training needed.
- An access to specialized skills and knowledge
- Complete flexibility with timeframes and deliverables
For long-term, in-depth strategies, to outsource can be a better approach if you do not have the material resources to execute one.
Content marketing, using a marketing agency to handle all aspects of content marketing is one way you can fulfill your content marketing goals.
In terms of price, content marketing outsource can cost from as low as $500 per month and can go up to $20000 or more per month for a small to medium project.
Normally, an agency a company would hire would evaluate which type and quantity and quality of content will be needed for the business to achieve its goals.
In case, If the business already has a defined set of requirements, the agency can quote and provide services as per demands.
Normally an agency will agree to schedule, duration, type and amount of content to produce and then agree to a calendar. Along with, the agency would also help with publishing and distribution of content on different channels like company blog or social media platforms.
Following are the advantages for content marketing outsource to an agency but are not limited to:
Hiring An Agency Is More Cost-Effective
If you are small to medium business or just starting up, outsourcing to an agency could be a better option in terms of cost.
In a recent survey, 42% of companies said that they currently did not have the expertise to use content marketing effectively.
Content marketing like any other section of any business needs skills, strategy, goals and budget.
A problem for startups and small to medium businesses, because they do not normally have big chunks of cash to burn and neither the human resource to manage.
Remember, all processes necessary for other sections of the business are necessary for content marketing as well, like
- Hiring the right staff
- Office space
- Team management
- Quality control
- Marketing strategy
- Strategy execution
- Market insight
- Market trends
- Competitor analysis
- Best practices
Like any other outsource, content marketing outsource can be the more cost-effective choice in many cases.
You can set your budget, find agencies and start small.
When you have a solid base online, and your business has the potential to afford an in-house team, provided you understand content marketing yourself by that time, you can always switch to an in-house team.
" Although nearly one-third of brands have $500,000 or more to spend on content marketing, not every company has money to burn. Content marketing outsourcing can be the more cost-effective choice. You can set your budget, then look for agencies ."
Content Marketing Outsourcing | IZEA
An Agency Can Do It All For You
Content marketing is not only about producing content. It involves a lot of skills, standards, processes to make that content work, before and after production, like:
- On-Site SEO
- Off-Site SEO
- Content Strategy
- Google Quality Guidelines
- Competitor analysis
- Content Publishing and Distribution
- Analysis and reporting
These are just some of the skills and tasks necessary to make your content work.
Content marketing outsource to an agency can help you make use of all the skills and experience which the content marketing agency personals posses.
This is the best approach if you want to leave content marketing for your business in the hands of professionals so you can focus core business activities and on what you do best.
An Agency Has More Insight And Access To Relevant Technology
To produce content which can rank in the top three of search results requires an extensive use of tools and technologies.
Though all of these are available for general use, the cost for individual licenses can be quite high and the skills to milk these resources is not everyone's cup of tea.
Consider "Keyword Analysis" for Topic Selection for an article.
Among the many tools available, we have two very powerful tools, SEMRush and Moz Keyword Explorer.
Now both basic SEMRush and Moz memberships start from $99/Month. This is an added cost you need to factor in because these tools are crucial for your research.
Along with, just having these tools is not enough. It takes a little while to learn to use them for maximum output.
When you hire an agency, they have access to many more tools which can enhance their quality and also would be able to use it in a better way than a novice.
And that's just about keyword selection. As we mentioned earlier, there are many dimensions to successful content marketing.
We need skills and more tools, just to name a few:
To learn more about Tools for content marketing:
Should You Outsource Content Marketing Or Not?
To answer this question, you need to assess your in-house team, if you have one and answer these questions:
Is your in-house team producing results?
How tough is the competition and is your team good enough for the challenge?
Could increasing manpower help or improving skills help? or maybe both?
Are your goals realistic in the first place?
Is your budget realistic for the kind of challenge you have?
There could be many reasons you can address to make your in-house team more productive.
If you think you have an in-house team but to meet the challenge and competition you will have to scale up, resulting in higher costs which you may not be able to afford, then it's better to move your goal post closer.
This may take you longer to achieve your bigger target but you won't run out of cash.
You may also consider outsourcing partial tasks like handling strategy, content distribution and amplification or reporting.
Partial outsource for one or a few goals would not tie up your resources in the long run.
Or you may completely outsource your whole content marketing needs to an agency, enter a contract with them on a performance basis.
If the results are as per expectations, you can extend the contract further, if not, you always have an option to opt out.
If you do not have an in-house team, you may consider the following before making a decision.
Do you understand yourself what effective content marketing is?
Do you understand the challenges and competition?
Do you have the skills to manage an in-house content marketing team?
Do you have resources for the in-house team like office space, budget, and tool?
If you are considering an in-house team you have to keep in mind that you will need them to produce a substantial amount of good quality content or there is no logic in assembling a team and produce a few pieces or low-quality content.
If any or of the answers are negative, you should consider taking help from an agency.
In the meantime, you can try learning a bit about content marketing, be involved in every detail with your agency and when you think the time is right and you can afford it, start building an in-house team.
Summarizing, If you have any of these constraints:
- You have a small budget
- Your team cannot match the competition out there
- You need to be flexible with your content marketing goals
- You want to focus on your business goals instead
- You want to experiment first
- You would like to learn about the content marketing first
- You cannot handle all content marketing tasks with current team
Content marketing outsource would be a better choice.
How To Select A Content Marketing Agency?
If you decide you will outsource the whole content marketing needs for your business to an agency, you should carefully consider the following when selecting one:
How transparent is your agency in terms of the processes they apply for content marketing? You need to discuss things like Quality Content Guidelines and White, Grey or Black hat SEO techniques employed by the company.
What are their quality metrics and guidelines?
Can they provide a report about competition and challenges your company faces for your content marketing needs?
What is their distribution strategy and channels?
What do they understand about your industry?
Do they handle the complete process from research to distribution?
How well is their reporting?
Do they offer dedicated support and consultation, before and throughout the contract?
Do they have any samples of previous work or recommendations?
How good is their communication? Even responsiveness at the first point of contact speaks volume about a business.
How well they explain the process and services to help you understand the ROI, deliverables, and costs.
Do they offer performance-based contracts or money back guarantee?
We would like you to know, at quoracreative we strive to provide a exceptional content marketing service, following strict Google Quality Guidelines, performance-based pricing, a dedicated content manager at very affordable prices.
Every organization has different needs and there is no one size fits all when it comes to a content marketing strategy.
Always remember that a focus on High-Quality content leads to user satisfaction, better traffic, brand awareness, customer engagement and ultimately to sales and profits.
You may achieve your content marketing strategy results through an in-house team, outsource your content marketing needs to an agency or a freelancer(s), as long as it serves the purpose.
The key is to try, test and retain content marketing professionals, like any other human resource, who you can rely on to execute your strategies.
Always keep a back up when you are outsoure, just in case, as agencies and freelancers have prebooked orders and schedules.
Communicate well with your plans and strategies, before, during and after completion and always keep track of analytics and performance.
Relying on keeping the tested agencies or freelancer(s) has huge befits as they would have learned and understood your business and audience well.
Content marketing is a long-term process. Be open to experiments, learn and evolve your strategy and models for best results.
A Case For Content Marketing In 2018
High Quality Content | A Digital Marketing Strategy
About the Author:
Asad Likes anything creative, but mainly, developing web-applications, optmizing websites for search engine algorithms and writing about all stuff creative.
He could be reached at LinkedIn or Twitter. He is also an active contributor at stackovrflow.com