Content creation is the cornerstone of content marketing. And when content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while generating 3 times as many leads, you can understand why companies of all shapes and sizes are doubling down on their content creation strategy to increase demand generation and sales.
There are typically two barriers when it comes to committing to a content creation strategy. No prizes for guessing correctly: time, and money.
If you find it difficult to make the time to create content, then you’re not alone. If you are someone that has a hard time justifying the cost to create content, there are plenty of people that know your pain.
This is where outsourcing is most attractive. By hiring an external company to handle your marketing, you can handing off many of the tasks that you would normally do with your team. On the surface, outsourcing content creation can seem like the perfect solution – give it to the writing experts, and wait for the results to pour in.
But digging a little deeper, this strategy is not a one size fits all approach. And like with most things in life, it depends on your needs.
In this article we wanted to explore some of the positives of having a more hands on approach with your content creation strategy. As well as how to bring this strategy in-house in a cost and time effective way.
We’ll also take a look at how a lot of companies employ a hybrid approach, to get the both of best worlds.
Perfect for a company with an ambitious appetite and bite size budget 🥖
Let’s start with with strengths of your team, and why they can be the best positioned to deliver your message to your customers.
You know your brand
Kicking it off with the obvious – the people that had a hand in building your company, know your company intimately.
To create content that represents your company, it is imperative that the creator knows the company’s customers, history, vision, goals, and the competitive space, to be able to create content that matches the brand voice and values, for their target customer.
Who better to write this than those that live and breathe all of the above already?
When your company invests in creating its own content, you are in complete control of the narrative and build your own unique voice.
You are the experts in your industry
You most likely have a wealth of in-house experts, full to the brim with intricate knowledge about the space your product/service operates in. From product and marketing, to customer service and technicians, the amount of knowledge at your fingertips is astounding.
Leveraging the knowledge that you have in-house ensures that your content is relevant and delivers tangible value to your (potential) customers. It also adds to your credibility, and presents an opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry.
And the benefits of establishing a reputation as a thought leader can be huge.
Then consider that what you’re doing today is not what you’ll be doing tomorrow.
Your offering will evolve, customer needs will change, new competitors will emerge and the market you’re operating in will shift. A culture of continuous learning and a customer centric mindset is vital if you want to stay one step ahead of the competition.
And the benefits of adopting a customer centric mindset are well documented:
- increased customer satisfaction
- increased customer loyalty (and customer lifetime value)
- referral marketing increases, positive reviews, and peer recommendations (decrease in customer acquisition cost)
All of which lead to an increase in demand generation, profitability, and increased sales.
Creating content with your customer in mind is your chance to solidify your relationship with them – building on all those core KPI’s at the same time.
When creating the narrative that you deliver to your customers, who better to ask than those speaking with your customers everyday? These are the people that know your customer needs best, and therefore best positioned to speak to their evolving needs.
Quick approval processes
The people that we need to approve content (to make sure we are striking the right tone, that it fits in with our messaging, our values, that it’s correct with our market position) could be sitting next to you. If not, they’re seldom more than an email or a Slack message away.
This ease of access to stakeholders across the company, can make the approval process throughout the different stages of a content marketing campaign much faster.
Stay in control
Content marketing can be fire. And your relationship with content creation is going to determine how you interpret that. The right piece of content can develop unrivalled brand awareness, spreading the good world across every marketing channel imaginable.
On the flip side of that, your content can easily go viral for all the wrong reasons.
When controlling your content, you keep control of the narrative and ensure consistency.
Consistency in your brand voice, style, and pitch across all distribution channels, establishes your credibility, builds trust, and strengthens your reputation. And the more consistent, high-quality content you produce, the better it’ll be for your SEO efforts.
When putting together a campaign, the team internally puts together a brief covering things like:
- Why we are creating this content campaign?
- What pieces of content do we need to support this narrative?
- How do we measure the success of this campaign?
- Distribution channels
After delivering the brief to the person charged with writing it, there is seldom a lot of communication involved until this is delivered back. Unfortunately, because they work with multiple clients at a time, it can be difficult to know where your project fits into their list of priorities.
Once the back and forth rounds of feedback have finished, often you’ll still need to apply the finishing touches yourselves, to make sure that it matches your brand exactly. Especially true if there’s any mis-interpretation of the brief.
In an ideal world, an external company would deliver projects on time every time. unfortunately part of the risk of outsourcing is there are so many factors you will not have visibility on that determine how fast a project is delivered.
When outsourcing your content externally, this comes with a confidentiality risk if there is any sensitive company information involved. If working in an industry which typically has sensitive information or client information, for example finance, biomedical, etc; keeping your content internal can be a much safer bet.
They are writing experts, so know how to put together nice stories
First things first – when outsourcing content, you are putting it in the hands of a professional writer most of the time. They are storytellers, so telling a story that is compelling and engaging is their bread and butter.
While you might have expertise in a particular area, they will be looking at your company through a new set of eyes, potentially providing you with a different perspective.
And while it might be tempting to hire a wordsmith to do the job for you, it’s important to remember that what you’re really doing is outsourcing a process.
Content writing is a highly skilled craft and as we mentioned earlier, the last thing you want to do is hand over the keys to your brand narrative to someone who doesn’t understand your business, or worse, has no idea how to tell a compelling story.
Most outsourced companies pride themselves on having a long list of services they provide. Some of these are essential to growing your business, some aren’t, some might be right for you at a later stage.
It can be tricky to tell what is required, and what is an upsell.
No need to recruit talent for your team
Outsourcing your content takes away the need to hire internally for a role, if the amount of content you want to create can’t be managed by the team currently in place. This saves on hiring costs (if applicable), and allows you to be more flexible – increasing how much you are spending on consultants as you need.
If there’s a downside to be had here, it’s that you need to recruit a company instead, which can be tricky.
Forbes highlighted this risk well – the average annual agency turnover rates is around 30%. The only industry with a worse employee turnover rate is tourism.
So these people that you hire to understand your business, brand, industry, values, customers, all those good things – there’s a good chance they may not be around for too long. Meaning more time and resources spent getting that next person up to speed.
Perception is that you save time
The benefits of outsourcing are entered around them taking things off your plate that you would other wise not have time for. Which you can understand when you think about the amount of time that goes into creating your article – topic research, outlines, keyword research, etc.
Not to mention the time required to create the brief (which covers most of the above).
AI tools are helping to bridge that gap. Whereas previously outsourcing to content creators would take care of the heavy lifting, AI can do a lot this content creation in a fraction of the time. Idea creation, blog content (seo optimised titles, outlines, talking points, introductions, even entire first drafts of articles in minutes), ad creation, social media posts, content calendars, etc.
AI tools are helping teams bring their content creation strategy in house by reducing the amount of time it takes to create.
It is difficult to give an indication on how much outsourcing costs, as there are so many variables. Most work with a retainer (flat monthly fee), but other pricing models include per project, per hour, or per word (for text content such as blog posts or ebooks). Some offer a hybrid pricing model with a retainer and per project pricing.
Moz performed a study collected from over 600 sources that offered some insights into pricing, and to how much content is typically produced:
Two thirds of companies are producing between 0-9 pieces of content a month for their clients. Over one third are making 5 or less a month.
Interestingly, over 50% of the content ordered is for written content – so likely isn’t using videographers, or designers to produce.
41% of monthly retainers are between 10,000 and 100,000 per month, with 59% of retainers between 1,000 and 10,000 per month. So something to fit most budgets.
However, keep in mind with external agencies you may have to run with other supporting strategies they come up with – (PPC, Social Media costs, SEO for example) – in addition to this retainer fee, bringing them closer to the larger budgets.
In addition to retainer fees, the biggest cost is time. The time it takes the team to produce briefs, to go back and forth until the content is close enough, then time taken to put the finishing touches on content in house that know the intricacies of your brand, your industry, your customers.
So if looking to outsource some or all of your content strategy, make sure you are able to find an agency that is open and honest about its pricing structure. Find out if they bill on a fixed rate, an hourly basis, or a results-based price.
Bringing this process in-house comes with it’s own costs. Cost associated are normally to do with recruiting, salaries, etc. With smaller companies wearing many hats, hiring a large team may not be needed.
Especially if starting out with your content creation strategy, and producing less than 10 pieces of content each month as 67% of outsourced companies do.
But if you decide to hire someone to help out, according to Glassdoor, this is what we’re looking at:
This is around $4,000 per month on average for a full time person dedicated to your company and strategy. Working with external consultants, their time is divided between many clients and projects.
Next to this is any additional tooling required. The right tool stack is essential to help the team execute your content creation strategy, and harness the knowledge you have in-house.
Most of the tools required to help you with this process have both free and paid plans – so you’re able to scale features as you need. Some of our favourites:
- Asana – project management tool
- Mark Copy AI – AI powered writing assistant
- SproutSocial – social media scheduling & publishing
- Canva – design tool
- MailChimp – email automation platform
- Google Analytics – data analysis
Chances are pockets of your colleagues are using a combination of these tools or similar tools at the moment.
The best of both worlds
Like a lot of things in life, the right answer probably falls somewhere in the middle. Because of the flexibility of external consultants, and the rise of content creation and planning tools, having your cake and eating it too isn’t a pipe dream.
The best part about outsourcing content, is that you can use the expertise of a range of specialists, without needing to hire them full time. A marketing agency will often have an SEO specialist, a videographer, and a professional web developer in-house, whose knowledge you can tap into through the agency, without needing to hire full time staff members.
Leaving you and your leaner team as the experts on your brand, company, values, product, competition, industry, etc; to keep control of the narrative and create written content in house.
The savings on this could be massive. You wouldn’t need to hire for several roles internally (saving on recruiting costs), and using external companies for their more niche skill sets – avoiding large retainer costs, and reducing the impact of their high turnover rate.