SEM: Outsourcing Versus In House Search Engine Marketing? How To Determine Your Best Option

After recently being involved in recruiting staff for a number of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) solutions it has become apparent that there is an increasing variation of skill set within the search marketing industry in the UK, as well as an increasing amount of competition, each vying for the best people available in the industry.

It has also become noticeable, by monitoring the UK recruitment boards, that many organisations are currently looking to bring their online marketing in-house, rather than outsourcing such work to a specialist search engine marketing or search engine optimisation company.

So what benefits can be leveraged from bringing SEO and SEM activity in-house, rather than outsourcing it to one of the many UK online marketing companies out there?

  • Integration! Most obviously, integration with other marketing activity is probably one of the biggest driving forces behind the philosophy of bringing search engine marketing in-house.
  • Focus! Search marketing organisations often work on a number of projects (for obvious economic reasons), juggling a number of campaigns and clients, and therefore not focussing clearly on any particular one. By bringing search marketing in-house, this focus can be ensured.
  • Understanding! Nobody knows an organisation better than the organisation itself and it's staff, which can be a very valuable asset when heading down the search-marketing route.

However despite the advantages of bringing search engine marketing and search engine optimisation in house, it is still surprising that so many companies consider this route, for the following reasons:

  • Economies of Scale! To effectively manage a full service digital marketing campaign an organisation would, in all probability, need a minimum of two key team members to effectively implement and manage on an ongoing basis. In today’s online marketing industry, such expertise could cost circa £60,000 in terms of annual salary alone, with this figure growing considerably when taking into account the direct costs involved.
  • Return on Investment (ROI)! It is doubtful that many organisations would see a significant return on investment on a £60-100,000 online marketing outlay. However outsourcing such campaigns, really can result in significant returns on investment. For example, a typical ongoing campaign with a reputable SEO or SEM company could cost you around one quarter of the investment mentioned above.
  • Utilisation of New Technologies! The benefit of focus, as mentioned earlier as an advantage, is a double-edged sword that could act to the detriment of a client. The incorporation of new methodologies, strategies, and technologies is often slower amongst in-house marketing teams than it is within SEM agencies.

Ultimately, organisations have to look towards the methods that they feel will benefit themselves. However in the haste to maintain control over all aspects of the business, is the potential for increased ROI through online marketing channels being overlooked because of naivety or bad planning?