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No matter the industry you’re in, you tend to see cyclical trends in business. Take marketing: Recent years have seen a trend toward brands bringing various marketing functions in-house, whether it’s programmatic media, creative, data analytics or technology. But look out for the tide turning in 2020. We’re seeing outsourcing of the marketing function on the rise again. Why is it happening? And is it the right thing to do?

What's impacting marketing teams today?

It all starts with data. The rise of AI and machine learning means marketers can understand who the customer is, what they’re doing and what their desires are, so that companies can hit their customers with the right offers at the right time. But it’s getting a little more complicated than that.

Marketers need to be thinking about leveraging all of that data to do a better job of offer management, providing and enhancing the customer experience. But, the art of using that data may be changing. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) swept over Europe like a tidal wave in 2018, and similar themes are making their way across the pond. This is making things more difficult for in-house marketers not only because the customer data free-for-all is grinding to a halt — Facebook breaches, credit card breaches and smart home devices listening in on our conversations make people extremely data-sensitive — but because there is no one standard for data privacy in the U.S. right now.

States are enacting laws and regulations on their own. Marketers need to be aware of the differing laws that are one way in California, one way in New Jersey, another way in New York and so on. Are we going to see a HIPAA-like federal regulation for customer marketing data? Maybe. But one thing is for sure — you need people on the marketing front lines to make sure you’re playing by the rules.

It’s the transparency that’s important here, and we’re seeing a greater push for it. Technology companies, data companies and agencies are starting to recognize this.

There’s also the matter of the job market to deal with. You may want to bring your marketing back in-house, but it’s not that easy. You need the technology and people to do it. Especially if you’re in a competitive market like New York, Austin or San Francisco, you'll find that recruiters struggle to fill key marketing positions. Data analytics is among the most sought-after skill out there right now, as is experience in social media and digital marketing. Assembling an in-house team with that breadth of experience is a challenge.

Another challenge: Once you find and hire great people for the job, how are you going to retain them? What is their career path going to look like? You need people who are going to run events, search campaigns and manage data on an ongoing basis but, according to Forbes, the average tenure for a CMO is 44 months.

Which brings us to the outsourcing versus insourcing question. There is a time and place for each approach.

When to outsource your marketing

Because of the above challenges, outsourcing becomes increasingly compelling. Agencies are on the leading edge of marketing trends and will not require training or extensive onboarding before taking action. When you need a project done quickly with skill, you should take a look at an agency's past projects and make sure the talent is the right fit for your project. 

If you don't like the results, you can simply move on: There's no obligation to retain an agency in the future. In addition, outsourcing is perfect when you need to focus on scaling or operating your business and don't have the time or resources to market it as well. 

Things to be aware of:

  • Agencies are on the outside: They don’t know your business as well as you do
  • It can be a costly in time and money to agency-hop if things don't work out
  • Agencies aren’t focused solely on marketing your business: They have other projects, too

When to look in-house

If you can find top marketing talent in your budget, consider hiring them full-time. You'll have an expert always on your team. This experienced marketer, dedicated to the company, can dive deep into your brand and enact impactful change. And urgent, last-minute jobs won’t cost you a speed premium.

Talent attracts talent: New marketers will be excited to join a growing team of smart individuals and learn from others on the team, building a positive work environment that retains talent.

Things to be aware of: 

  • Assembling a team from the ground up will cost time and money
  • In-house marketing members might be too attached to the work to see things with the fresh eyes of an agency
  • It's on you to worry about your team’s work-life balance and retain them

What’s the solution? We’re forecasting a shift back toward outsourcing, with third parties (including tech and data companies like Deluxe) offering more measurable, accountable and flexible services. The key is striking the right balance between outsourcing and keeping some functions in-house.

With this year's marketing trends, financial institutions will need data-driven marketing that achieves superior ROI as well as solutions that encompass data, analytics, technology and marketing execution. Whatever your priority, whether it be loans or deposits, consumers or small businesses, third-party marketing pros have the data, insights, strategies and execution capabilities to make it happen. Visit us here to learn more and decide if our solutions can help fill your outsourcing needs.

The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice.

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