When asked recently ‘what digital services would you recommend outsourcing?’ the first part of my answer was that as these channels change along with mutating algorithms, you have to constantly assess this problem. 5 years ago, many big businesses would outsource SEO services, with huge retainers and varying levels of service. Now the big ticket SEO could be largely implemented in-house with consultants complimenting the effort and strategic direction. On this highly debated area, I would always recommend to have genuine SEO skills in-house, whether that knowledge resides in Marketing or IT (ideally both!) this should be the most cost effective part of your e-business.
An interesting area for me is pay-per-click. There are so many companies out there that have run PPC in-house for a number of years with average results that would not hesitate to pay high retainers for SEO…perhaps because the perception of ‘buying clicks’ is different to the ‘dark art’ of SEO. I would seriously recommend outsourcing PPC as it gets more complex, recent additions of ad extensions, mobile ads and modified broad match are all reasons to get yourself a decent agency.
Social media, online PR and SEO I think are great skills to build up in-house with high quality external strategists guiding you on your way. Ultimately all of these skills will be seen as ‘marketing skills’ as opposed to ‘digital’ in years to come so my view would be if you can do it yourself then do so with part time consultancy providing the holistic view to get the most out of your online marketing.