Consuming content has become an ingrained habit in our daily lives. Barely a moment goes by that we are not scrolling through social media, reading a blog post, listening to a podcast, glancing at an image or giggling at a video. Content consumption soared during the coronavirus pandemic and the average person now reportedly spends a quarter of his or her waking time on their mobile device.
Brands now understand why it is important to create content but the natural follow-up question is whether a business should create that content in-house or outsource it to a creative agency.
Producing high-quality content takes time and creative resources. The reality is that there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to marketing. Time, budget, resources, and skill sets are just some of the factors that need to be seriously considered. When a brand is deciding whether to build an in-house creative team or engage an agency or contractors, there are pros and cons that must be weighed. Ultimately, the size of a business and its content strategy will determine the best approach.
Below are some important factors to consider when deciding if your brand should insource or outsource content:
Competition to gain the attention of consumers has become fierce. In response, many businesses have decided to set up internal content teams. In 2020 there was a 10% decrease in the number of surveyed organisations outsourcing content marketing, suggesting that businesses increasingly prefer to create their content in-house. Some leading companies like Unilever preach the benefits of insourcing content. According to an annual report, insourcing content is far more efficient and has saved Unilever up to €500 million.
Insourcing content is the process of establishing a team within your business that is dedicated to content marketing. They will be responsible for managing the content strategy and the production of materials. The typical content team is rather small with 1-3 people and generally includes a content writer, SEO specialist and/or content strategist.
The benefits of insourcing
1. Cost: Many businesses find that it can be cheaper long-term to hire internally or create an in-house team. This is, of course, entirely dependent on the size of the brand and the consistency and volume of work required. For an ambitious marketing strategy with a high-volume of work it will inevitably be more cost-effective to pay a salary than outsource a lot of content to an expensive external agency. Insourcing also means a brand has a clear overview on time spent and can calculate the return on the investment.
2. Knowledge: An internal team will be far more familiar with the brand and its offerings than an external agency. An in-house team will inevitably have knowledge about the relevant industry and will not require an extensive brief.
3. Control: You can exercise more control over the process, from beginning to end. An insourced team is accountable to the brand that it works for.
4. Efficient: Having an internal team means that decisions can be made quickly. More or less time can easily be allocated to a project at short notice or as required. There is also immediate access to senior teams or managers for sign-off or approvals.
While there has been a reported trend toward insourcing content, many brands still see tangible value in outsourcing. Outsourcing content is the process of hiring an external agency or even contractors or freelancers to create compelling content on behalf of a business.
Quality content does require creativity and special skills that an expert might be far more equipped to provide. Great agencies are highly skilled in creating consistent and highly relevant content that nails the brief every single time. For some busy brand leaders, outsourcing content allows them to focus on the elements of the business that they care about most and leave the rest to the trained professionals.
The benefits of outsourcing
1. Cost: Once again this is entirely dependent on the content strategy and requirements of a brand. For a brand that is not putting out high volumes of content or that needs content on a project or seasonal basis, it makes far more economic sense to pay as needed for specific materials, rather than pay the ongoing costs of a salary.
2. Specialist Skills: While you can find great team members, it is very unlikely that an employee will have every specialised skill that is required for any given project. In contrast, agencies and contractors are specialists in their fields. You can choose to work with people that have expert skills in specific areas. This ultimately results in a high quality end product.
3. Flexibility: An advantage of working with an outsourced team is the flexibility to adapt your content and change your strategy quickly. You can hire more contractors for a specific urgent project and scale back to focus on other areas of the business at your leisure.
4. Variety: Because you are not beholden to a particular individual or team, you can work with various kinds of creators. You can specifically engage video production teams, strategist, PR gurus or SEO writers, ensuring your output has plenty of variety.
Which is better for your brand?
Brands have so many options when it comes to creating content. Deciding which model is best for a business comes down to understanding your content needs currently and thinking ahead to how you want to leverage content in the future. While a brand might question whether to set up an in-house team, outsource to an agency or even create a hybrid model – there is no question that investing in content marketing will drive growth for years to come.