The number of search queries for the term ‘content marketing’ has more than doubled in the past two years, reflecting an obvious fact: despite the fact that content marketing isn’t new, it’s of increasing interest to a growing number of companies.

Just how much interest is there? According to research by the Custom Content Council and ContentWise, marketers are increasing how much of their budgets they devote to content marketing and all told, 79% of marketers report moving into branded content “at a moderate or aggressive pace.”

They’re not doing it alone, however. To scale their content marketing efforts, companies are increasingly finding ways to outsource associated tasks.

Time is money

According to the Custom Content Council and ContentWise, “Record high outsourcing dollars are being spent on external agencies such as custom publishers, PR/social media firms, design firms, ad agencies, and interactive agencies which are handling aspects of branded content.” For companies that outsource, nearly $1m of the $1.72m being spent on average on content marketing is going to external vendors.

Which isn’t surprising given that, for digital content marketing, over half (57%) of spending is tied to personnel costs. Time is money, and it’s clear that many companies would rather spend money than internal staff time.

But just how wise is this?

Maximizing the content marketing opportunity

There is no doubt opportunity to outsource certain tasks associated with content marketing. But companies should think twice before going too far.

Outsourcing the development of content, for instance, is a tough proposition. After all, external vendors are far less likely to understand a client’s business, and they’re far less likely to have broad access to the knowledge that exists within the organization. That knowledge is absolutely crucial to maximizing the content marketing opportunity, as it will not only serve as the foundation for the type of high-quality content that produces results, it will inform what content is actually worth developing in the first place.

Even on the distribution side, companies should be cautious about how much they outsource. Although the Custom Content Council and ContentWise found that “66% -74% of content created for print, electronic and other marketing ends up being used in social media efforts,” and many companies have agencies working on their behalf in the social realm, businesses might want to consider that who is delivering content can often matter just as much as what the content is. Employees with a social presence and ‘thought leader’ status can be powerful distribution assets for content marketing.

Move fast, but don’t rush

At the end of the day, companies with an ROI case for content marketing should seek to move as fast as they can to take advantage of content marketing opportunities. But they don’t want to rush. As with all marketing efforts, the name of the game is to move the needle, not to simply scale the marketing machine.

When outsourcing is employed to achieve the latter and not the former, it’s time to take a step back.