The decision on whether to outsource specific digital marketing activities is impacted by a range of factors, but in general it comes down to resource and business priorities.

Some channels clearly benefit from being brought in-house, such as social media and content marketing, but others are just as effective when operated by a third-party.

The new UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report published by Econsultancy and Latitude investigates which digital marketing activities are most commonly outsourced, with the results showing that three in 10 companies are conducting their paid search (30%) and display (28%) advertising entirely through an agency.

In contrast, three-quarters of companies handle their analytics (75%) and social media marketing (73%) in-house.

These results tally with a separate survey carried out as part of Econsultancy’s Organisational Structures and Resourcing Best Practice Guide.

Alongside a general trend towards more capability being developed in-house, the report found that social (76%), analytics (71%), email (60%) and content marketing (60%) were the channels most likely to be dealt with in-house.

Do you carry out the following digital marketing activities in-house or via an agency?


This year’s UK Search Report was the first time that companies have been asked about the resourcing of their analytics and CRO (conversion rate optimisation) activities.

It’s worth noting that a significant proportion of companies are not even doing any CRO, with 24% selecting “not relevant” as their answer.

According to Latitude MD Richard Gregory:

The fact many brands still struggle to identify conversion as the quick win in every campaign is the eighth wonder of the digital world.

To truly optimise campaigns across paid search, natural and every other channel, you need a strategic roadmap of analytics testing and projects to interrogate the data you do have and make the most from it.

Any decent agency will put their own necks on the line to deliver a performance-based model where the risk all lies with them.

The UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report 2014 contains a comprehensive analysis of the UK search marketing environment.

The report, covering search engine optimisation (SEO or natural search), paid search (PPC), social media marketing and display advertising, is based on an online survey of more than 700 client-side digital marketers and agencies.