Marketing and specifically digital marketing can become the most difficult part of scaling your business if you don’t have years of both tactical and strategic experience in it.
Most people will read 1-2 blog posts that tell them to do something (PPC, content marketing, or something else) and after some consideration will follow 1-2 of those paths.
What if there is not enough time for the founder to do them though?
Even if you have experience, marketing can easily become a full day job. Combine that with the sales and operations part a founder is usually running and it becomes obvious that you have to outsource something. Of course, it’s marketing (it’s much harder to outsource the other parts of the business, such as operations or sales).
However, the horror stories of business owners outsourcing marketing activities and getting no results or more problems than it solves are too many.
So, how can we do it right? What should we outsource, how and why?
Well, that’s what we are going to find out below!
Outsourcing Task #1: Images & Banners Creation
The number one mistake I see most businesses do is trying themselves to create their banners and images for social media pictures, ads, social media posts etc.
This is definitely the biggest time sucker activity because it can take a lot of time to create something worthwhile if you are not a designer and the impact it has is minimal as most of these images have a short lifetime.
The first logical thought people make here is that they need to hire a designer, but the next thought is that there is a problem: there is not enough work for a designer to qualify for a full-time job!
So, almost every time they end up having someone from their team make these images/banners, who are not a designer, they are taking them a lot of time when they could be doing something more productive and the end result is usually mediocre at best.
All of the above make it the number 1 marketing task to be outsourced. Let’s see now how to do it.
First, you have to design the exact workload this person will have. Try to keep it to a minimum and expand from there when you find the right fit. A good mix could be:
- 1-2 images for social media posts per week
- 1 banner in different dimensions for Google display per week
- 1 image for Facebook ads per week
These for starters should be enough and you could get those for less than $40 per week, maybe plus a stock photo subscription if the designer doesn’t have one, like Fotolia, Shutterstock etc (don’t cheap out on this one, it will save you a lot of time).
It’s easy to find a decent designer on Upwork or an agency that specializes in banner creation. The best way would be to see the portfolio of 20-30 of them, interview 5-10 that you like, work with 3-4 of them and keep 1-2 that you like.
We used to do that too at our price monitoring software, Altosight but now we have a freelance designer who creates our images.
Outsourcing Task #2: Newsletters
For an existing business, newsletters are an often underutilized channel with great potential. The reason I say “existing business” is because they already have the emails of customers, partners, leads, etc and chances are that at least some of them want to keep in touch with the said business.
Newsletters are often neglected because it can take some time to figure them out and streamline the process.
But, how can a freelancer write the newsletter of your business, without working for you full time? And, what do you say in these weekly newsletters?
First things first, if you don’t blog weekly, you might think that you don’t have anything to talk to your customers about. Wrong.
You can still share with them a news article of the week, along with some commentary and have a short section with news about your business or a new product you are launching. A great newsletter doing that is one by FE International.
Now, onto the next question, how can a freelancer write newsletter content for your business?
1) You decide first the outlay of the newsletter, along with industry sources from where to get the news stories.
It might be best for the first month to have a 10-minute weekly call with them to let them know the biggest news story in your industry, along with why it’s important, and an update regarding your business.
2) Give them clear-cut instructions on how to write the newsletter, its format and writing style. Word-count, if it will have images or not, text alignment, everything.
It might be better to find a freelancer in your country for easier communication, but it’s not necessary.
At first, you will have to manage the freelancer closely until they get a grasp of how to do it. Then after a month, the management needed should be decreasing substantially.
Outsourcing Task #3: Google Adwords
Now we are moving to the trickier task…
Google Adwords is very important for every business that people are searching for on Google. From Local businesses to international software startups, it can provide a steady stream of leads with a calculated budget.
But, how can you outsource such a big task that also needs some expertise and sophistication?
There are ways to do it safely, without breaking the bank, even if you want a small scale campaign.
First, how to choose who to outsource it to?
You either want to get a referral from another business in an industry similar to yours that work with someone who made them a successful Adwords campaign or search for an agency that specializes in Adwords.
Their site should be saying explicitly that AdWords is what they do and that it’s their core service. They might offer other services, but from the overall feeling of their site, you should get that Adwords is their bread and butter.
Now, let’s say that you want to start with a small scale campaign to test the waters.
You have to divide the tasks into 3 categories with your freelancer or agency:
- Keyword research
- Ad creation
You want them to create a list of highly relevant keywords for your business. Not closely-related, but rather spot on.
For example, if you are an inventory management software, you want to target keywords like:
“inventory management, inventory management software, online inventory management”
And you could also add your location at the end. Avoid, more generic keywords like “track products online” etc. You want the most expensive, most targeted keywords to minimize the chance for mistakes.
Once they have the keywords, they should run them by you and eliminate the ones that are not relevant.
After that, they should create some text ads and run them by you. Can they be improved or add a benefit for which your customers mostly buy from you that your competitors don’t have?
Then agree together on a max bid for each keyword. Don’t stress too much about the cost right now, you want it to run, gather some data and adjust it later.
Now, once they set it up as you have agreed, they should optimize it for at least a month, adding negative keywords after discussing them with you, removing terms that not highly relevant, etc.
After those optimizations, the campaign should be at a good stage where it can’t be improved much more.
At this stage you have 2 viable options:
1) You keep paying the agency a monthly fee to continue improving the campaigns, but mostly to expand to other countries and keep track of it all.
2) You tell them that the campaign is fine as it is and either pay them a minimum monthly retainer to manage it or you tell them you want to move it in-house and pay them a fee to train you or one of your teammates to manage it in 1 hour per week.
This should get you a viable Adwords campaign with minimal time investment from your part and without breaking the bank or ending up pausing your campaign because you can’t afford to pay the agency to manage a small-scale campaign.
All good and well, but what are some marketing tasks that you should avoid outsourcing?
Digital Marketing Tasks To Avoid Outsourcing
You should never outsource the overall digital marketing strategy of your business. The best way would be to hire a trusted consultant or marketing acquaintance to consult you on developing a strategy, but it should be clear that the strategy would go to someone else for implementation.
That way you will get an unbiased consultation.
The second strategy that’s hard to outsource is Facebook ads. Due to its nature as a channel, it can take a lot of time and expertise to outsource, manage and optimize successfully (aka profitable). You would almost always need someone in your team to manage the agency or freelancer.
When the team grows, the best way would be to outsource FB ad image creation and/or the copywriting of the ads and let your employee handle targeting, tracking, optimization etc.
Lastly, you want to avoid outsourcing SEO.
Most business owners don’t understand SEO deeply and what can get them banned. More importantly, it’s very hard to gauge if a freelancer will do the right SEO for the stage your business is in if they will get you into trouble if it will be effective etc.
It’s best to focus on Adwords which is like Paid SEO and leave its outsourcing for much later, where you can pay a consultant to train you and help you develop a strategy.
After that it’s best to have a mix of an outside agency helping you with link building (which you will monitor and manage closely in-house) and an in-house employee doing onsite SEO and agency management. It’s a tricky process and better left for much later.
To sum up, outsourcing some tasks, sometimes menial sometimes more complicated, that is required to run your marketing department, can be the difference between effective digital marketing and random-shots-marketing.
Having a marketing employee do everything is just not efficient and you can’t hire a specialized full-time employee for each role, especially when you are growing. It’s best to think in tasks and outsourcing buckets of them to different freelancers.
At first, it can be daunting, but over time you build your Rolodex and you will have a list of high-achieving, time-saving contractors to help you at all times!