A growing body of evidence suggests that outsourcing digital marketing has some potential issues. For example, a study by PWC for the Association of National Advertisers indicates that 70% of programmatic media ad spend goes unseen by the customer. Said another way, potential customers see only 30% of paid ads. Another study by McKinsey suggests that business owners can double their revenue with the same budget by building a digital marketing team. Outsourcing your digital marketing to an agency may solve an immediate pain point. However, it could cost you dearly in the long run.

Five (5) questions to ask

Before outsourcing their digital marketing, business owners may consider building their team. Digital marketing adds new high-value capabilities to your business. Taking the time to consider the overall business strategy carefully and how digital marketing can align with those objectives is an excellent place to start. The following five questions help facilitate the decision-making process.

Outsourcing Digital Marketing Questions

Do you have clear strategic business objectives?

IMHO a prerequisite before making any decision on digital marketing is that you are clear on your overall business objectives. You will want to be clear on your strategy before deciding on the “how-to” of digital marketing.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu

Is digital marketing core to your business?

If your business has trade secrets or proprietary intellectual property, you will want to carefully consider who has access to your sales and marketing strategy. There is considerable knowledge and technical know-how associated with digital marketing. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to conduct a risk assessment to determine the risks of sharing information with a third party.

Figure-2 Digital marketing metrics framework

How will you measure success?

If you are clear on your business objectives, the next step would be to make sure you know how you will measure the success of strategic initiatives. Therefore, if you know how to measure strategic success, the next level would be to have digital marketing metrics that align with the overall strategic objectives. Finally, the digital marketing team must commit to the goals and deliver results. Please see

What is our budget for digital marketing?

Building a digital marketing team will take time, effort, and money. A great starting place is to think of digital marketing as an investment in future revenue. If you have that investment perspective, the decision becomes a return on investment calculation. One way to frame the decision is to consider if building a digital marketing team will generate a better return than outsourcing.

What resources can we commit to digital marketing?

Many businesses have existing resources to draw on. For example, you may already have a sales team, business development representatives, or customer support. All of these teams could contribute some time and effort to your new digital marketing capability. Repurposing roles in supporting digital marketing will have minimal impact on current positions while keeping costs down on implementation. Also, give some thought to how the digital marketing team will integrate into your existing business workflows.

Should you outsource digital marketing?

Whether outsourcing digital marketing or building a team depends on many factors. Adding digital marketing to your business is a strategic decision that can become a competitive advantage. Please consider the five questions in this blog post as a starting point to facilitate decision-making.

Ian Paul Graham
“I help business owners build digital demand teams.”