Compliance

Every ad network has policies that advertisers must follow. Imagine this situation: A new client has just finished setting up a campaign. He's spent minimal time learning how to use the ad network, but he feels confident that nothing could go wrong. Facebook (or Google, or Yahoo) wouldn't shut him down, would they? Reality strikes. What? He has 25 disapproved ads and Facebook has put his account on hold?! That's when he realizes how unprepared he really is.

 This occurrence happens frequently. Just after the account gets disabled is typically when the inexperienced advertiser will contact a specialist for help. In most cases, just a little bit of reading would have prepared him to advertise without getting disapproved. Sometimes, though, it takes a little bit more preparation. For example, Facebook places additional restrictions on campaigns advertising credit, employment, or housing opportunities. These are categories that give bad actors a lot of prospects, so Facebook is extra careful about them. There's no data to back this up, but anecdotal evidence suggests that more Facebook resources are put towards reviewing ads in these categories than others. That means ads are more likely to be disapproved when they're in them.

In cases where an employee is put in charge of conversion copywriting but has little or no experience with the ad network to be utilized (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads, etc.), he should at least take some time to look over some policies. It would be best to read over some best practices and tips as well. Lots of disapproved ads in a campaign are a sign of unpreparedness and lack of experience, all of which can typically be avoided if the responsibilities are outsourced

Tools

Every successful digital marketing service provider uses a number of tools to plan, to analyze data, and to perform other tasks. Some are free to use while others might be too expensive for businesses that aren't part of the marketing industry and don't have other uses for them. An agency with an array of tools at its disposal has more tactical firepower. Conversion rate optimization isn't just about driving purchases or form fills on a page. Targeting has a lot to do with it as well, which is why a variety of tools apply.

Commonly used statistical tools include Google Analytics, Moz's Keyword Explorer, Google Search Console, and others. Google's options are free to use and provide sufficient data for making decisions. The paid options are a little more automated in many ways, and provide a wider range of capabilities. Copywriters who are able to use these tools are a step ahead of those who are not.

A/B testing tools like Optimizely and Google Optimize are specifically for optimizing landing pages and other important pages for conversions. They make it easier to test variants of page elements, gather data, and make decisions based on statistically significant results. After content, layout, and copy decisions are made, most businesses use a CMS (content management system) to publish the new page version. Common CMS applications include WordPress and Drupal.

 

A Google Optimize experiment showing that a new design was more effective in generating conversions (source: Seer Interactive)
A Google Optimize experiment showing that a new design was more effective in generating conversions (source: Seer Interactive)

 

The important question regarding tools and applications is "does the business have the tools it needs and if not, is it worth it to obtain them and train employees to use them?" If the answer to both parts of that question is "no," outsourcing is the way to go. Answering the questions might be difficult and might depend upon the circumstances of a specific campaign. It's recommendable to speak with an expert. A consultation with an agency could be helpful.

Results and Tracking

In digital marketing services, "results" is almost synonymous with "conversions." Conversions are specific actions taken by site visitors which are considered important and beneficial to the business. They could be purchases, bookings, contact form submissions, or any other desired actions.

Conversions often refer to purchases or lead form submissions. Marketers need to know the source of every conversion in order to decide how to optimize and where to allocate funds. In order to log conversions that originate from paid ads and those that originate from organic searches separately, proper tracking needs to be set up.

A Google analytics report showing the source of conversions (goals)
A Google analytics report showing the source of conversions (goals)

 

And this is where it can get technical.

Sometimes setting up conversion tracking is easy. For example, Google Analytics integrates with several CMS applications. With a little bit of preparation, a novice advertiser can figure out how to track something like a lead form submission (assuming the leads are directed to a "thank you page" after submitting their information) with a mild to moderate learning curve. A business without a whole lot of CMS and Analytics expertise could set it up. So could a typical copywriter.

However, the level of complication increases from there. The tracking setup is not easy to do for a company that doesn't have basic CMS, Analytics, and web dev familiarity. For example, if a business is not using a common CMS system and needs to keep track of the value of every purchase transaction on their site, a web development expert might be needed.

Algos

Math is an important part of all campaigns, but it's particularly impactful in PPC ad campaigns. Google Ads evaluates an ad's landing page and grades its quality based on several factors. The better the "landing page experience" score, the better the quality score will be. The better the quality score, the lower the cost per click will be. In other words, Google grades "landing page experiences" and factors those grades into an equation that determines the cost per click. That cost per click is a strong determiner of the campaign's cost per conversion or CPA. Quality score is represented as a number from 1 to 10, 10 being the best and 1 being the worst. Analyses reveal that for every point above 5, the keyword's CPA decreases around 16% to 22%. That means the CPA might be reduced by 80% if the quality score is increased from 5 to 10; a massive cost reduction and ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) improvement.

That's just one example of how algorithms affect KPIs. Here's the point: A copywriter who doesn't know the scientific stuff that happens behind the scenes is more likely to achieve poorer results. That could be a problem when profit margins are low or when the organization is sensitive to ROI. Likewise, what if nobody in the organization knows how to determine how much better a campaign could be performing and what to do to improve it? In that case, doing a little bit of work could go a long way, but someone's going to have to research to find out where to start.

Communication

"Is the team prepared to work effectively with remote members?" is a good question to ask before outsourcing. Teams that communicate and keep track of activities primarily offline may not be able to collaborate with people in another time zone or region. The problem could be resolved with some training, or it might be best to stick to that offline culture.

Another thing: We point out here that full-time employees sometimes develop a habit of letting emotions cloud their judgment. In other words, they develop an objectivity deficiency that can cause the sharing of inaccurate, unhelpful information from person to person. Most outsourced teams will not be as emotionally invested in a client's projects. They've worked with a variety of clients and they know how to get results without second-guessing.

Core Competencies

Something a consultant might bring up when discussing internal vs. external delegation is "core competencies." That is, the defining characteristics that give a business an advantage in the marketplace. As former IBM executive John Lutz said back in 2009, it's no longer about avoiding a situation where a core competency is outsourced. "[Businesses] are trying to figure out which things they can use to really differentiate by doing it themselves, whether it's core to their business or not."

In modern times, marketing and advertising are so multi-faceted and change so rapidly that a single business (or even corporation) rarely, if ever, has expertise in all of it. Marketing can be as simple as defining the target audience and developing a basic strategy to communicate with them, and that would make the outsourcing decision fairly easy with regard to competencies. More or less, the manager can just ask the question "Would keeping this internal help us to differentiate and maintain or create competitive advantages?"

Other businesses have such a large marketing budget that they sometimes need external help to perform as best they can and continue achieving financial goals. As Lutz puts it, "because of scale or expertise, someone else can do a better job than they can even if it's essential to their business." They might spend a bunch of funds on surveys and focus groups, for example, or they might team up with an agency to develop audiences to target using a new ad network.

As an example, consider Procter & Gamble. Here's their purpose, according to their own documentation:

"We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit, and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper."

We can assume one of P&G's competencies is marketing. However, the question for P&G is not "is marketing a core competency?" It might be more like "what help do we need to maintain our brand loyalty and differentiation in the market?" A CPG marketer as successful as P&G needs to take advantage of every marketing innovation to compete on the shelves in our local stores and on the pages of Amazon and other sites (Yes, P&G brands such as Downy have their own seller accounts on Amazon). As a journalist shared at Linkedin, P&G works with highly specialized agencies who do things like ethnographic studies, quantitative research, and advertising creative in order to keep a leg up on the competition.

In short, the outsourcing decision should be about what direction gives the company the best long-term benefits without causing undue risk. When the potential significantly outweighs the downsides, outsourcing is an opportunity. Copywriting can provide advantages in a number of ways, such as helping to create brand awareness, achieving a higher ad rank in a search engine results page, or simply having better-quality site content than competitors.

Language Skills

A copywriter should not only be able to convey a message "correctly," he should be able to wear the reader's shoes and predict the interpreted meaning of the message as it is written. That requires understanding the significance of semantics, grammar, and lexicon. Ideally, he also understands the culture in which the target audience exists.

Sometimes, incorrect grammar or spelling works great (e.g. "I'm lovin' it"). The marketing team has to know when that is the case, which can be difficult when a concept (or multiple concepts) must be conveyed in a space the length of a typical social media headline. Language skills are worth a reasonable premium.

General Benefits of Outsourcing

Some of the considerations involved in the decision to outsource copywriting or keep it internal don't have much to do with copywriting, or even digital marketing services, at all. There are benefits (and disadvantages) to outsourcing that apply to every industry and function. Some are especially significant with regard to marketing. We'll follow up this section with some disadvantages to consider.

As we outline here, the economic benefits of outsourcing include:

Cost Savings

Having lots of options at different rates and schedules, plus the ability to employ a team or team member part-time can be much more cost-effective than hiring or promoting full-time employees.

Time Savings

For conversion copywriting, sometimes no internal team member is readily prepared to write the kind of copy the business needs without making revisions and spending avoidable man-hours. A manager won't need to provide extensive training to an outsourced team member.

Optimized Management

Especially when an outsourced or “nearsourced” team or team member is at the manager's disposal, the manager won't need to spend much time coordinating activities.

Experience

A manager may not even know the right questions to ask to vet a copywriter before hiring. Marketing agencies not only know those questions but have already used them to hire a talented team. Now they're at your service. For freelancers, there's usually a rating system in place wherever they are found (upwork.com, freelancer.com, etc.). Ratings make it reasonably simple to find qualified help when training a current employee isn't the right solution.

General Insourcing Benefits

Yes, shipping the job overseas or to another city might be cheaper, but what potential exists within the organization? Here are the potential economic benefits of insourcing.

Industry Knowledge

Agencies sometimes boast their experience working for clients in a particular industry, such as higher education or auto sales. That's great, but it's not always easy to find a compatible agency that is knowledgeable about the right industry. In some cases, the business is very foreign to almost everyone except its own market.

For example, few agencies are knowledgeable about aeronautical sensors and alarms. It would take most of us some time to learn about these products and their uses. An agency might not be motivated to spend that time, which could lead to disappointing results. Read reviews to find out how well agencies were able to familiarize themselves with products and business models. When in doubt, hire a trainer to prepare a knowledgeable employee for the new copywriting duties.

Cost

Cost savings can be achieved by outsourcing in many cases, but it's also possible to save money by taking care of things internally. This scenario becomes more likely as the need for training and the cost of promoting an employee decreases.

Company Culture

An organization's culture is important. It's what generates loyalty from employees and customers alike. Especially when a lot of cooperation between the copywriter and other team members is required, culture and compatibility are important. Outsourcing could lead to a mismatch. That situation is avoided when current employees provide the services. When a promotion is offered to them, it can be a psychological boost.

Shared Vision

A business's leaders know where the organization is headed. Their vision guides their top-level decisions and keeps things moving forward. Decisions regarding every function are informed by that vision. An outsourced service provider probably won't be able to work towards that vision the way the client can. They serve a variety of clients and, therefore, are not able to focus on a single vision every day. On the other hand, when goals are communicated effectively, positive results will serve the vision nonetheless.

Conclusion

When a manager is faced with the decision to outsource copywriting or keep it internal, it can be difficult. An organization's unique characteristics might persuade managers to make very different decisions than their competitors will, which is fine. The decision comes down to understanding the prerequisites of a successful campaign, the resources available, and the potential benefits gained by outsourcing vs. insourcing. A thorough analysis should steer managers in the right direction.

Keep in mind that "outsourcing" and "insourcing" are not the only options managers have. When a marketing team is already in place but cannot provide sufficient output, nearsourcing should be considered. A remote fractional team is like having full-fledged agency resources without paying for them full time, allowing businesses to grow without making huge time and money investments. We publish a free guide to fractional marketing services, downloadable here.