Running a marketing agency can be hard work. We’d know! 😂
Clients can come and go, and it’s hard to know from month to month exactly how many “man hours” will be required.
Because of this, some people choose to outsource part of their clients’ marketing campaigns to other businesses, to cut costs and ensure they’re making money every month, even during quieter spells of the year.
And it makes sense. There are tons of benefits to outsourcing, including reduced staffing costs, a more consistent client service, a better quality service, improved customer support, and freeing up time for you to generate leads and find more clients to add to your roster.
Below, we’ve put together some of the ways that digital agencies can outsource their clients’ work, without damaging their reputation.
Find the right company to outsource to
Before you begin outsourcing your client work, it’s essential that you take the time to find the right company for your marketing agency.
Every business is different, and a company that works for one of your competitors might not work for you, whether that’s because of the pricing, quality, timeframes, location or level of service, so shop around and speak with different companies.
While price is obviously going to be a major concern – after all, you’re outsourcing client work and want to retain some of the profit – you should consider quality the most important element of your partnership.
If you’re not delivering the very best marketing services to your clients, they’re going to be disappointed and may choose to look elsewhere – including your direct competitors.
As well as researching and finding potential agencies to outsource client work to, get in touch and speak with a representative to get a feel for the company.
The time it takes for them to respond and their level of response will quickly determine whether or not they’re going to be a good match.
If a company takes three days to respond and only email back with short answers, then they’re probably not going to be the right company to work with, so keep your search going.
Other than reading reviews and asking for case studies, another way that you can determine the quality of the agency is to use their services yourself.
As a marketing agency, you’ll no doubt use content marketing, social media, pay-per-click and SEO as part of your marketing strategy, so get the agency to run a campaign based on your instructions to get a feel for their style.
Only then will you be able to tell whether they’re the right match to handle your clients’ campaigns.
Develop a close relationship with the company
Handing over the responsibility of your clients’ marketing campaigns to another company isn’t an easy thing to do.
You have to place your trust in another company and hope that they’re going to deliver the results you have promised your clients – if they don’t, it’s on your head.
Before you dive headfirst into a partnership, make sure that you take the time to build a proper business relationship.
Whether you visit the company in person or arrange a Skype call to ask questions about their business, it’s a wise decision that will work in your favour in the long-term.
Get to know the company that is going to be handling your client work; the more you know about who they are and what they do, the easier it will be to promote your services with confidence that they’ll be delivered to a high standard.
And if you get to know a manager on a personal level, you’ll even be able to offer your clients bespoke services and relay information back to the third-party company so that they can work on new custom campaigns that meet clients’ needs.
The single most important thing that you should do before you outsource your client work to another company is build a relationship with an account manager; one port of call that you can speak to whenever you want to place an order, get an update or ask for an amendment.
If you don’t have a single port or call, then communication can become murky and difficult, especially if the company is working on multiple client campaigns at the same time.
Knowing that you can get answers to all of your questions from one person will put your mind at ease.
Make your values and requirements clear
Marketing is a difficult business.
In a race to find and maintain clients, companies offer their services at bargain rates, promising the world. In the majority of cases, though, that leads to poor-quality services that scrape the barrel and don’t offer any long-term benefits to anyone.
As a marketing agency, you’ll no doubt have placed your company and its offerings away from the “cheap and cheerful” model, and you’ll be promoting your services as high-quality and bespoke, which means clients will be paying more and expect a better service as a result.
When you find a marketing company to outsource your work to, it’s important that you clearly define your brand values, ethos, and attitudes so that the company can deliver services in a way that best represents and suits your business.
If you don’t, they might use unethical practices that go against your values and ideas – and that will reflect badly when clients get to see their work.
For example, if you’re outsourcing SEO, then you should let the company know that you’re only interested in white-hat SEO techniques that won’t cause search engines like Google to penalise them.
If you’re working with a cheap marketing agency, the chances are that they’ll “cheat the system” by buying links, paying for blog comments and doing very little else, so it pays to find a company that offers genuine link-building and onsite technical SEO that delivers safe results.
Set deadlines for work to be delivered
Time is one of the biggest challenges when outsourcing client work to another company, as you won’t be able to get minute-by-minute updates unless you constantly chase them on the phone.
That’s why setting strict and clear deadlines whenever you place an order is a good idea, as you’ll have the confidence that work will be delivered when you need it.
Remember that the tighter your deadlines are, the harder the company will have to work to get things ready on time, and in some cases, this may lead to substandard work that could ruin your reputation.
It’s a sensible idea to add a couple of days’ buffer between the time it takes for the company to deliver the work and the day your clients expect the work, just in case you run into any difficulties or changes and amends are required before the work can be sent to the client.
And being generous with your deadlines will allow the company to deliver the best services, rather than a speedy service.
Have a backup plan in place
Even if you choose the very best marketing company to help you with your clients’ campaigns, there are going to be times when they can’t deliver what you want in the timeframe you propose.
For example, if you receive a last-minute client order and they’re willing to pay you double, but the agency doesn’t have the time or the resources to complete the order in time, you’ll have to find another marketing professional who can complete the job at short notice, and that could result in a poor-quality service or a rushed job that doesn’t deliver the results you promised.
Always have a clear backup plan in place.
That could be another marketing company, that may do just as good a job but charge a slightly higher rate, or even a member of your team in-house who is able to drop everything and get to work on an order if the original company can’t deliver.
Offer some services in-house
It may seem hard to believe, but we’ve worked with marketing agencies in the past who have outsourced virtually every marketing task to another company.
While that was great for their bottom line and helped them deliver year-on-year profit increases, it meant that the actual team at the company knew very little about marketing, and were not able to deliver an effective service to clients because of their lack of knowledge and experience.
If you are planning on outsourcing some of your marketing tasks to another company, you should make sure that you do offer some services in-house.
Not only does this balance things out, as you’ll be able to make money using your own team rather than a third-party company, but it allows you to keep a toe in the digital marketing world, which is useful when promoting your services, recommending services to customers, or pitching to potential clients.
Say, for example, you choose to outsource your clients’ link building campaigns to another company; you could keep your copywriting and technical SEO in-house so that you create a synergy between the two companies and ensure that you always have an input in campaigns.
Keep customers in the loop
One of the biggest downsides to outsourcing your clients’ work to third parties is the fact that those people aren’t working for you directly, and they may not be able to answer your questions as soon as you’d like them to.
If you get a phone call from a client asking for an update on their copywriting order, for example, you won’t be able to give them an answer if you don’t know when you’ll get the delivery.
But keeping clients in the loop and showing them that you’re working hard is an important part of building and maintaining a loyal audience, so it’s essential that you learn how to deal with those types of scenarios before they occur.
A little bit of forward planning is all it takes.
Rather than waiting for a client to chase you for their content, you should be chasing the marketing company that’s providing the content so that you always have a clear idea of when and how projects will be delivered.
That way, you can give a clear and concise answer to your clients the first time around, like “The content will be with you in a few days – our writers are putting the final touches to your draft”.
And while it’s fine to say use phrases like “our copywriters”, you should avoid downright lying about the size of your team or the people you have working for you.
Doing so could cause you problems further down the line and damage your brand’s reputation if people were to find out that the majority of your work had been outsourced and completed by another company, so be very careful with the language that you use when referring to your team of experts.
Do you need help with agency outsourcing?
At Muffin Marketing, we’re proud to offer outsourced marketing for SEO agencies, alongside other services such as content writing, link building, and social media management.
If you’re a growing digital marketing agency and you need help managing your client projects, whether that’s because you’re just too busy to do it in-house or you don’t have the funds to hire a new member of staff, then make us your first point of call.
We’re an experienced, professional, UK-based marketing agency offering fully white labeled services to other agencies, and we can help you deliver the very best marketing services to your clients.