Search engine marketing is one of the lowest cost ways to increase traffic to an e-commerce site, but it is not without its complications. In fact, there is SO much info out there about SEM these days that it can be hard to even know where to begin, let alone how to navigate your options. It can be one of the most labor intensive components of marketing. Start with deciding what to keep in house and what to outsource. That will help to cut costs and to maximize productivity for both marketing and IT staff.
When SEM is done in-house, teams are extraordinarily accessible. Communications happen in real time. SEM teams will immediately know about product updates so that they can begin to prepare campaigns quickly. Also, in-house teams know the company’s culture and branding message and will communicate it consistently across all campaigns (hopefully!) Testing in-house means that your company has a built-in audience for crafting the message and language that you use to connect with your customers. You also avoid the hassle of vetting and selecting the right SEM agency.
When your company outsources to an agency, you are able to tap the expertise of people who focus on SEM for a living. People who really get SEM, and sometimes ONLY do SEM. They work across a variety of industries, which exposes them to many different ideas and enhances their creativity. Also, they understand SEM best practices, which helps them to avoid long periods of trial and error.
Using an outside agency will also prevent the need to hire internal staff for the job, which can help to save on costs. If a company starts with an agency, marketing teams can learn the SEM craft and then move operations in-house at a later date (or at least migrate some practices) once the company understands what works and what does not.
How about Consultants?
In many cases, SEM consultants and in-house marketing teams can work together for positive results. An in-house team will probably create the highest-quality content for a website, landing page or press release, but an SEM consultant will let the in-house team know exactly how to format the content and what keywords to include. In some cases, a consultant may be the best option to train an in-house marketing team to eventually take over SEM operations.
Whatever path you take, make sure you’ve done a full evaluation of your budget and the landscape you’re facing before you dive in. As always, you want to be fully prepared and informed. You don’t want to make a decision that gets you wrapped up in something you weren’t expecting.