Outsource or In-house?

Outsource or In-house? Learnings from the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 report

To outsource, or do it in-house? This is the enduring question for many businesses who simply cannot hire full time employees for each and every function. Even the largest enterprises may outsource their software development to specialists or their advertising to an agency. For Small- to Medium-sized Businesses (SMB) and startups, the answer is certainly to contract help for at least some projects. Marketing is a commonly outsourced role, with content marketing being particularly likely task to outsource.

The Content Marketing Institute surveyed marketers across ten industry sectors to learn how the trends in content marketing strategy in 2018. Their research focused on the B2B sector, though many of the learnings apply equally to consumer-facing brands.

Content Marketing is a must

First of all, the report found that almost all companies surveyed were using or planned to start content marketing. There was an 18% year-over-year increase in companies focusing on content marketing to build their audience through various subscriber bases, like social following, email list etc.

0 %
of companies surveyed ARE currently or plan to start utilizing content marketing
0 %
of companies NOT planning to use content marketing cited team size or time constraints as the reason

Only 8% of respondents were not currently active with content marketing, and more than half of those (54%) planned to start within 12 months. Of this small group, companies said they were held back by personnel limitations – 67% said their team was too small and 44% said they lack the time. Only 15% of the 8% answered either that content marketing was not important or not needed.

It is clear that the vast majority of marketers are either using or want to be using content marketing in their overall strategy. They understand that content marketing is a must when you want your users to WANT to hear from you. It is essential to offer something valuable to draw their interest.


Around half of respondents have small or one-person marketing teams serving the entire organization. Meanwhile, more than half (56%) of respondents outsource at least one content marketing activity.

Most commonly, companies enlist help with content creation (47%) and promotion and distribution (23%), followed by measurement (11%) and overall strategy (9%). It’s no wonder that the creation and distribution are difficult to do in-house – when you have a small or one-person marketing team, what are the chances of having an expert writer, designer, video producer, social media strategist with media relationships?

0 %
of respondents' have small or one-person marketing teams
0 %
of companies outsource at least one content marketing activity

Agencies have all of these specialists on staff. At UpChannels, we can build a custom marketing department to meet your needs – whether that’s a full time social media manager or a part time graphic designer, a two-hour writing project or a full marketing strategy.

With such easy and flexible outsourcing options, there is no reason to be in that 8% who is not taking advantage of this powerful channel. Take a look at our Solutions or Contact Us for a consultation!

Making sense of Paid, Owned and Earned media strategy

Here at UpChannels, we help our clients with paid, owned and earned media. Today we want to delve into what these terms mean, and in what situations to use each.

Paid Media

Paid media is most often what people think of when they consider hiring a marketing agency. Relatively easy to understand, it encompasses ads you buy on an impression, click or performance basis: search, social, display or native inventory across the web.

The biggest benefit of paid media is that you are guaranteed exposure. Buying ads on CPM (cost per mille, or 1000 impressions) means you are guaranteed a certain number of people will see your advertisement. CPM campaigns can be targeted to your predefined audience, with the goal of raising awareness among that group, or with a specific performance goal, such as tracking how many of these impressions later resulted in a purchase.

Many vendors also allow you to buy traffic on a performance basis, in which they buy the ad inventory and use their own targeting logic to drive ‘actions.’ Thus these campaigns are often referred to as CPA (cost per action), which encompasses a variety of other acronyms with their own goals, such as CPI (install), CPL (lead), CPS (sale) or CPE (engagement).  

CPM campaigns are used for both top-of-funnel branding efforts and bottom-of-funnel performance campaigns, while CPA campaigns focus on the bottom-of-funnel conversions.

Owned Media

Though you have more control over the reach of your paid media, it has its shortcomings. Aside from the high cost, paid media doesn’t have a long shelf life. It can push huge gains while it is running, then results dwindle quickly after the campaign ends. If you have spent time and money getting these customers to your site, make sure you capitalize on that attention and keep them engaged.

This is where owned media comes in. It refers to your company’s web properties, including your site, blog, mobile app, or anything that is completely under your control.

Sometimes social presence is referred to as owned media, but we like to call that ‘rented.’ Your Facebook page is ‘yours,’ but it is actually the property of Facebook – it’s unlikely, but you could lose this asset at any moment. Imagine if you had put all your time and energy into building your presence on Vine!

Of course, we are not recommending you eschew any particular social network. They offer unparalleled access to their huge audiences with granular targeting data and a propensity to engage with brands through these familiar platforms. Use your social presence wisely. Don’t rely entirely on any one platform, but use all platforms where your audience is active to publicize your owned media, and drive users there.

Once users come to your site from paid media or social sharing, use a strong content strategy to engage them, build loyalty, and keep them coming back. Compelling content can extend the life of your paid campaigns, and of course remain searchable for as long as you keep the page live.

Earned Media

Probably the most effective and cost effective way to drive users to your owned media is through earned media. This could include viral content from blogs or even just a tweet, or it could be a press mention in a major newspaper. The common thread is that it comes from a third party source. It’s not sales copy. It is a factual, newsworthy event, or the unbiased opinion of someone who doesn’t stand to gain from your publicity.

Because it comes from a third party, earned media lends unmatched credibility to your message, raising awareness, building reputation and reaching a potentially wide audience who may not have ever been targeted by paid or social efforts.

Another key benefit of earned media is its benefits can last much longer than either paid or owned media. Links from news or bloggers will likely stay up for a long time and maybe never be removed. Thus, earned media lends just as much credibility to the search algorithms as it does to the human readers.

A smart marketing strategy will utilize all three forms of media mentioned above. Paid media, while costly, provides reliable and fast bump in your traffic and can deliver instant ROI. Both paid and rented media can drive traffic to your owned and earned media. Owned and earned media create credibility and search benefits. Unsure where to start? Get in touch with UpChannels to design a plan to meet your marketing goals that fits your budget.

Get in the news

Imagine opening up your favorite tech blog and seeing a story about your startup’s successful recent investment round. Or reading an article about your expanded service into a local market in their printed paper. Or one of the top cryptocurrency publications did a writeup on your upcoming ICO. This is the kind of publicity you can’t buy – right?

It is true that the best coverage is free, voluntary coverage of your newsworthy developments. But the major tech publications are understandably picky about what they will print. They tend to prioritize the Unicorns who make splashy series-A announcements and high-profile hires. If you’re not quite Unicorn-status, how can you cut through?

The truth about press mentions is that they fit into two categories – journalistic and paid news outlets. 

Those that print what they believe to be real, compelling news that will excite their audience select their stories based on newsworthiness. They can’t be bought. They can, however, be accessed through PR agencies that have built up relationships with the journalists and editors over time. It can be worthwhile to hire a PR agency to help you get the word out, even though it means your free publicity isn’t actually free. Even the best PR agency can’t guarantee your story will appear in a specific publication. They can, however, help you reach the editor’s inbox to be considered.

The second category is paid news outlets that will print stories for a fee. In some verticals, such as the cryptocurrency and ICO media, nearly all publications charge a fee to print your content. Costs can range from 99 dollars to 2 bitcoins. The benefit here is that you are nearly guaranteed to get your article published. All of these publications (at least those worth reading) will still have standards of what is ‘newsworthy,’ but as long as you have some real, valid announcement that fits their audience, they will print it.

So what is ‘newsworthy?’ This of course varies by publication and is heavily dependent on the audience it attracts. As a rule of thumb, a press release should be about something that recently occurred. A key hire, a product release, expanding into a new market, landing a major investor or findings from a recent study. What is not news? The fact that “my company exists” is simply not enough to interest the average reader. Try to develop an angle that relates to a specific event, and you can tie information about your company as supporting facts.

If you need help developing ideas for your story, UpChannels can help! We have experience publishing hundreds of press releases and know what angles will stand out to editors. Not only that, we have relationships with both paid and journalistic publications to up your chances of getting printed, or get you a placement at a discounted rate. 

3 Reasons You Need a Business Blog

Does my business really need a blog?

It’s one of the most common questions clients ask us, almost always with an air of reluctance in their voices. Small business owners have enough on their plates. Maybe they have one marketing manager, who almost certainly wears a few hats as well. Medium size businesses may have a whole marketing department, busy creating branded materials, pouring over website analytics, running Facebook campaigns, planning tradeshows and optimizing email templates. Content creation can easily slip down the to do list.

Recently we published a post on Content Marketing for Your ICO that addressed some of unique challenges in marketing cryptocurrency. For example, the most prevalent online traffic channels restrict advertisements that direct users to invest in what is a still-unknown market. But the benefits of content marketing don’t stop there!

  1. First of all, content marketing is cheap. Anyone who has run a Facebook or Google Ads (FKA AdWords) campaign knows that paid traffic adds up fast. Of course, you can’t do without the massive scale and ROI paid traffic can bring, but you can jumpstart your lean marketing plan with budget-friendly unpaid traffic.
  1. Organic users are better for business. The purpose of content marketing is to draw people in with free content that appeals to them. It builds trust and communication with the people who need you most, those who are seeking out and consuming information about your chosen topic. By creating something of value, you start the conversation in a non-salesy way, so they know your brand is one they can turn to for help, without you asking anything in return.
  1. Valuable content can go viral. When people find something useful to their personal or professional life, they love to share it. Users want to help their friends, so if you can provide true value, they’ll pass it along to their network. Maybe they are just looking for some content to tweet about and build their own reputation as a thought leader!

But what am I supposed to write about?

To answer that question, you need to turn to your customers. If content marketing is all about creating value, then find out what value they are missing. If your customers are always asking your recruitment agency about best hiring practices, write a blog. If they want to make better use of your SaaS product’s reporting feature, host a webinar. If they ask your garden store what to plant in each season, create a calendar infographic.

Our customers ask us whether they really need a blog. We wanted to share some of the top reasons why content marketing is essential to small- and medium-sized businesses.

If you have questions about content marketing or any of the other Services we offer, please get in touch!