Should I Outsource My Search Efforts?

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I was at the inaugural Internet Retailer conference in Chicago earlier this month and spoke with many people, most of whom were interested in talking shop on Search Marketing. It appears that the majority of major internet retailers are still in the “consideration phase” of outsourcing their Search efforts. When I inquired as to why some of these companies are not working with a partner currently, I received a wide variety of responses, ranging from, “we got burned by a few firms in the past,” to “we do it all in-house, but we are looking at what’s out there.”

As much as I cringe when I hear the “got burned” response, the “in-house, but looking to outsource” response prompted me to think more closely about why many companies are beginning to look outside of their offices for professional help when it comes to Search. Below are a few of my many thoughts on what may be causing this.

In-House Resources
Search Marketing involves an intricate level of knowledge across multiple disciplines such as marketing, copywriting, technology, creative, development and Web analytics. Management of SEM campaigns has very quickly become too much to handle in-house without the aid and support of an outside firm.

While most firms I talked to mentioned that they are still handling these services within their companies, on average, they are only employing one or two people to manage this daunting task. Meanwhile, many Search companies offer teams with collective knowledge and expertise generally 5 to 6 years deep, both within the Search space and across multiple industries. The clear benefit of partnering with a firm is that you are ultimately receiving consistent feedback, knowledge, training, and guidance on how to best plan and execute your Search campaign.

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