The ROI of Outsourcing During Tough Economic Times: A Founder’s Guide
As a startup founder, you’ve likely got two things top-of-mind: optimizing costs and driving growth. Sounds great — except that all we keep hearing about lately is a pending recession, and the economy has been a rollercoaster for more than two years now.
Given the circumstances, then, it’s probably irresponsible to think about outsourcing content creation or other marketing activities. . . right?
Actually, wrong! The idea that outsourcing is a bad financial investment during times of uncertainty is a total myth. It’s in times like these that you need the consistency and expertise a content agency can deliver more than ever.
To boot, research has shown over time that the ROI of outsourcing content is much higher than trying to do it all on your own — it leads to reduced costs, time savings, faster growth, and more leads, conversions, and sales.
Partnering with a content agency like ours is one of the smartest, most cost-effective decisions you can make as a founder — one that can keep your business stable amidst uncertain and even volatile market conditions. For new startups in particular, great content can be what gives your marketing strategy a heartbeat, establishing your online presence and connecting you with the buyers who need your solutions.
In the sections that follow, we’ll dive deeper into the value of partnering with a content agency in times like these. We’ll cover:
- The state of B2B content outsourcing in 2022
- How a good content strategy drives business growth
- The ROI of outsourcing to a content agency
- How content agencies provide stability in tough times
- Nearly 90% of companies have achieved reduced costs this year through outsourcing.
- Content agencies provide bundled services that encompass what you’d pay for in full-time salaries (and other expensive line items) when hiring an internal content team.
- An effective content strategy requires publishing 4-16X per month — the equivalent of 60+ writing hours.
- When you hire a content agency, you gain access to a wide range of expertise including SEO, writing, editing, graphic design (and more).
- Content agencies prove their value through frequent performance reporting, meaning you’ll always have clear insight into the ROI of your strategy and how to improve.
The State of B2B Content Outsourcing
Before we dive in, consider the following: even amidst the rollercoaster markets we’ve dealt with over the past few years, 81% of companies now outsource writing — more than any other marketing-related business process.
Other related activities like search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing strategy are also outsourced often, and content agencies usually bundle them into one streamlined service.
Image Source: Statista
At the same time, content marketing has continued to grow in criticality for startup companies in 2022. B2B buyers do most of their research online before reaching out to potential providers, and nearly three-quarters (72%) consume 3+ pieces of content before making a decision.
In other words: without frequent, consistent, high-quality content being published online, your company is likely invisible to the very customers you’re working to serve. It’s a misstep growing startups can’t afford to make — and it’s one a content agency can help you avoid.
What goes into an exceptional content marketing strategy?
Executing a comprehensive, consistent, well-planned content marketing strategy is the hours-equivalent of multiple full-time jobs. Writing alone can take 15+ hours per week (if you’re publishing at the rate you should), and that doesn’t account for planning, SEO research, proofreading, publishing, and performance reporting.
Paying a team to do this in house means full-time salaries, benefits, equipment and other miscellaneous expenses. The alternative — trying to do it with a small team or just one person (and believe me, companies try) — isn’t practical and can even end up hurting your business when content doesn’t meet quality standards.
In a single sentence, the ROI of outsourcing to a content marketing agency lies in their delivery of a comprehensive, end-to-end strategy (and all of the time, resources, human capital, and expertise it requires) for one bundled fee. To understand what this entails, let’s take a deeper dive into the building blocks of a great content strategy.
We create the content that drives organic reach and social shares so you can bring TRAFFIC to all of the great content you’ve created around the buyer journey, to promote your products, and to celebrate your customers.
The core purpose of content marketing is to engage the audiences most in need of what you’re offering. This means that every step of the planning process — defining buyer personas, developing content pillars and topics, deciding on the right content types, perfecting your brand voice and tone (and more) — should all center around customer needs.
To this end, a common (and understandable) concern founders have about outsourcing content is whether or not a content agency can truly capture their brand as well as they can.
That’s why MIG (and any good content marketing agency) considers the client/agency working relationship to be more of a partnership — one in which the first order of business is getting to know you and your target audience.
When you hire a content agency, you can expect that they’ll walk you through a detailed briefing process (usually with a document resource to use as a guide — MIG’s is pictured below) to ensure they’re ready to craft content that resonates with your customer base.
Image Source: Marketing Insider Group
Publishing content without an SEO strategy behind it is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping for the best. SEO is what ensures your content will rank on search engines, and the ranking factors Google uses to evaluate content are constantly evolving and changing (there are hundreds that contribute to the algorithm).
Today, SEO effectiveness is about way more than stuffing keywords into blog articles. It requires extensive and granular research that includes auditing your current content, knowing the competitive landscape, developing the right topics, titles, and publishing calendar to maximize results, and using the right SEO tools along the way.
At MIG (and we think at any good agency) the content calendar is sacred. It includes your list of SEO titles, keywords, publishing schedule, and links to delivered content and published articles.
We plan our content for an entire year to stay focused. But allow our clients to make adjustments as we go. As you can see from our calendar template below, the content calendar is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about where your strategy stands from an execution standpoint. Building and maintaining this type of document takes time, and mismanaging it can lead to mistakes that negatively impact performance.
When you work with an agency like MIG, you have access to this document at all times, but you don’t have to worry about maintaining it (it’s always being handled by our team).
Image Source: Marketing Insider Group
Our research shows that frequent publishing (4-16X per month) earns more than triple the ROI than publishing less often. If you consider the average 3-4 hours it takes to write a single quality blog article, you’re talking about 60+ hours per month of writing time.
If you’re running a business or even overseeing an entire marketing strategy, you don’t have time like that to invest in writing at that volume. By working with an agency, you gain access to a full-time writer (or writers) for your content that meet both the quality and quantity standards your strategy needs.
Customers today are easily interacting with brands across multiple channels — websites, search engines, social media, email, and more. Research shows that customers use 3-5 channels during the purchase process and/or to resolve inquiries and requests.
It’s up to brands to provide a seamless content experience across channels, ensuring it’s visible on all platforms and optimized for accessibility (i.e. on multiple devices, for both traditional and voice search, etc.). A content agency can help you streamline and automate this process so you can execute a multichannel strategy without eating up time and resources.
The ROI of Outsourcing to a Content Agency
Time and cost savings
One of the most common barriers for brands considering outsourcing is the financial investment (and perceived higher cost) that comes with it. But industry research shows that the opposite is true — 88% of companies surveyed in Deloitte’s Services and Outsourcing Survey reported that they achieved reduced costs through outsourcing.
It makes sense when you consider it further. The average CMO earns a six-figure salary, plus they require executional support. You’re talking 3-5 salaries (at least) to get your content strategy off the ground or level it up to where it needs to be in order to make an impact.
In addition, when you work with a content marketing agency, you’re able to easily scale up and down as needed (which you can’t do with a handful of full-time staff).
Content agency teams have a wide range of expertise that contributes to executing a great content strategy — SEO research, writing, editing, graphic design, project management, and reporting (among others).
When you outsource with a content agency you never have to worry if those contributing to your strategy will meet expectations. Great agencies ensure every team member has the right knowledge and experience to make your strategy exceptional.
Great content agencies don’t just create content — they guide you through (and help you execute) every part of your strategy, from SEO research to calendar development to content creation to publishing to reporting and more.
With a content agency, you won’t be left putting together a piecemeal strategy. It’s all in one place, for one cost, with no gaps in execution.
Performance reporting is the way content agencies demonstrate their value to clients. That means when you outsource, you can expect frequent and high-quality reporting to show you exactly how your efforts are paying off (and how you can keep improving).
Most agencies report on results monthly, quarterly, and/or annually. Their KPI-focused reports include key insights that help you level up your strategy and gain buy-in from company leaders to continue and expand your efforts in the future.
We use Semrush Visibility Tracking to showcase our clients results from our content strategy directly. Here is an example of one we just proudly sent to one of our clients:
Pretty awesome, right?
The ultimate goal of every content strategy is to drive company growth. Over more than a decade of research on content marketing, the verdict is in on this one: it drives 3X the leads and 6X the conversions as other digital marketing strategies, all at a fraction of the cost.
Further, content marketing aligns with buyer behavior and preferences to research brands on their own and engage with valuable content that helps them make the right purchase.
The results take some time to show up in the beginning, but once you’ve established your online presence and continue to deliver high-value content, the impact is long-lasting. You’ll be able to withstand temporary setbacks or challenges out of your control (like recessions).
Because even in the absence of an actual purchase, your content demonstrates to your target audience that you’re an expert in your industry and you can deliver real, applicable value.
Our average client sees 10% monthly growth in traffic, with leads shortly to follow.
Level Up Your Content Strategy Today
Startup and small business founders are no strangers to adversity. If you’re ready to implement a content strategy that can drive growth even amidst economic turmoil, MIG can help. Our SEO Blog Writing Service includes weekly delivery of optimized, customer-focused, ready-to-publish content that drives real results.