Cory Schmidt
Cory Schmidt 29 January 2020

Should You Insource or Outsource Content Creation?

What does your marketing function look like? Recent research shows marketing teams intend to insource more of their content creation in 2020. Here are some considerations to help decide the right approach.

As head of marketing at a growing company, I manage a whole host of specialisms that provide our business a healthy mix of brand awareness and lead generation. I face many typical decisions around whether to recruit specialists into our in-house team, or draw upon the external expertise of agencies and freelancers.

Recent research among marketing decision-makers reveals the outlook for marketing content creation in 2020.

It found content creation will grow in significance, due to increase 9% on average – as it ups from 32% to 35% of total annual marketing spend.

The research also found the gap between in-house and outsourced content creation looks set to widen. 32% of respondents said they currently create more content in-house than they did a year ago, while only 23% said they outsource more of their marketing content creation. 

But for 2020, 36% of marketing teams plan to create more content in-house with outsourcing only set to rise for 18% of organisations. The remainder plan to insource and outsource content creation at about the same levels.

Both insourcing and outsourcing content have their benefits and drawbacks and no two marketing teams face exactly the same scenario. Here are some of the main points to consider, to help guide your decision-making:

When to insource:

  • Specialised or technical industry – if you operate in a niche or very fast-moving sector, embedding a content creator in your team means they will gain a deep understanding of the subtleties of your industry such as language and terminology, competitor activity and news developments. That can improve the relevancy and expertise of your content.
  • Customer immersion – working within the organisation, a content creator can more easily get close to Sales, Account and Service teams. Joining customer meetings and gaining first-hand feedback can become the norm and help ensure your content resonates with customers and prospects.
  • Agility – sales and marketing teams operate in fast-paced environments. Campaigns, reactive opportunities, last-minute changes and requests, and frequent deadlines mean content creators can provide high value when nimbly serving the plans and needs of the organisation. And if internal teams have the best tools to work together efficiently, the benefits can be magnified.
  • Cost reduction and long-term investment – regardless of seniority level, agencies and freelancers command higher rates than an equivalent in-house team member. If content is a part of your long-term strategy – and let’s face it, for most it’s a necessity – consider the value gained over time when building your team.

When to outsource:

  • Flexibility of project work and/or retained support – paying agency or freelancer fees means you can be very clear on your brief, your timescale and the KPIs for success. Increasingly, agencies are used to working on a project basis. With the right tools such as digital asset management, messaging and collaboration apps and project workflow platforms, it’s easy to blend external support.
  • No employment contracts and internal headcount – outsourcing is the ideal way to scale up and down, particularly for seasonal campaigns, or times where you need specialisms that aren’t a necessity all year round. Without the constraints of a lot of permanent employees, businesses can more easily adapt their strategy, which can be helpful in growth environments.
  • Benefit from a greater diversity of expertise and creativity – by insourcing you can be limited to the knowledge and approach of the individual or small team. Outsourcing allows you to tap into a bigger creative stream, with access to industry best practice, more diversity of experience and the ability to emulate success already trialled on another client.
  • Competition for talent – Where there is a shortage of local talent to bring in-house, outsourcing can offer both a local solution, as well as extend your horizons nationally and even internationally to find an individual or partner with the best experience suited to your requirements.

Clearly, whether to insource or outsource isn’t a case of one size fits all. But with marketers’ increased appetite to create content this year, it’s certainly time to decide what is the right strategy for your organisation?

Further insights on insourcing and marketing investment for this year can be found in the 2020 Content Trends Report.

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