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Full-Service vs. Specialist Offshore Agencies

Full service vs. specialist offshore digital marketing agencies ~ An honest comparison

Are you confused between a full-service digital marketing agency or a specialist one? This blog will walk you through the pros and cons of each....

So you have been burning the night oil, scrunched up over your accounts books, scrutinizing the company vision, and envisioning where you want to see your brand in the next five to ten years. 

You have finally decided to outsource some or all of your digital marketing activities instead of going the insourcing way. Now, you seek direction and guidance regarding which agency to partner with.

One that offers everything under one roof, or a specialist boutique digital marketing agency that claims expertise in only one segment of digital marketing, such as SEO or PPC, to name a few. 

We at Mavlers have 12+ years of experience catering to the offshore digital marketing needs of brands and agencies like yours. Though we are a full-service digital marketing agency, we will attempt to offer an honest and unbiased picture of the offerings of both full-service and specialist offshore digital marketing agencies.

In the blog that follows, you stand to gain clarity on:

  • What are full-service agencies? What services do they offer?
  • What are specialist offshore digital marketing agencies?
  • Pros and cons of full-service agencies
  • Pros and cons of specialist offshore digital marketing agencies
  • How do I decide between full-service and specialist?

Towards the end of the blog, you will be better equipped to make an outsourcing decision that best suits your unique marketing needs and business goals. 

What are full-service agencies? What services do they offer?

While the term “specialist” might make one think that full-service agencies are “generalists” of sorts, that misconception might be far from the truth!

True to their name, full-service integrated agencies offer a one-stop solution for all your digital marketing needs with a repertoire of experts catering to different segments of digital marketing under one roof. 

So here, you get to access the services of multiple experts at one single digital agency. 

Their services can range from and are not limited to:

  1. Strategy
  2. Branding
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  4. Social media marketing (SMM)
  5. Paid advertising
  6. Email marketing
  7. Web design and development
  8. Content creation
  9. Execution of your brand’s marketing strategies
  10. Marketing automation

What are specialist offshore digital marketing agencies?

On the other hand, a specialist digital marketing agency can be viewed in two ways: based on their specific area of expertise and on the basis of the industry segment they cater to. 

In the first case, specialist agencies offer only one specific digital marketing service. For example, an SEO agency that helps a business grow its online presence. Or a paid advertising agency that helps generate leads and conversions through Google AdWords. 

In the second case, a specialist digital marketing agency might cater to only clients from the finance industry based on their past experience and expertise in dealing with such clients.

The different types of specialist digital marketing agencies include:

  • Social media
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Web design & development
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics
  • Content

While the specialist agency might offer expertise in only one of the above digital marketing services, you might need to sign up with additional agencies if you wish to outsource your other marketing needs as and when they arise.

Pros and cons of full-service agencies

Pros

  1. Streamlined communication with one single point of contact

When you partner with a full-service agency and sign up for different digital marketing services, you are usually allotted a single Account Manager (AM) who is responsible for maintaining seamless communication with you as well as internally with the delivery and execution team across verticals. 

Now, this offers a two-pronged benefit for you. Firstly, you must explain your requirements or the brief only to one person. Secondly, they are the ones responsible for ensuring that the message gets transferred to everyone working on the project internally without you having to coordinate with multiple people trying to communicate the same requirements or message. 

However, this also comes with a caveat that the essence of the message gets lost in translation as it moves across from person to person! 

2. One-stop shop for almost all your digital marketing needs

A full-service agency offering a whole range of digital marketing services under one roof removes the need to partner with different agencies for different marketing needs. 

This not only ensures consistent brand messaging across channels but also saves you the hassle of finding, partnering, communicating, and collaborating with multiple agencies or third parties to cater to your marketing needs as your business grows. 

3. A wide repertoire of knowledge & expertise across different digital marketing segments

So, a full-service digital marketing agency will have subject matter experts for different services under one roof who can offer a collaborative approach to your brand’s marketing strategies and execution endeavors. 

With the sheer breadth of experience and expertise that this pool of professionals brings to the table, startups and small to medium-level businesses have a lot to gain partnering with such agencies. 

This onboard cross-section talent can help such firms at every stage of their branding and marketing journey. From getting leads from organic SEO campaigns to achieving improved and targeted conversions through paid media campaigns, such agencies can help offer a holistic approach to your firm’s digital marketing endeavors. 

4. Coherency & consistency

A marketing plan can only succeed if the brand messaging, tonality, and conviction stay consistent across channels. When you partner with a full-service agency, you can be assured that your brand’s messaging will be consistent and coherent across channels since it doesn’t risk dilution at the behest of multiple partners managing different campaigns. 

While even a single specialist agency can ensure consistency in the brand messaging, you always risk confusing your brand’s tonality and message the moment you collaborate with more specialists to look after different campaigns or platforms.

Another benefit is the fact that since full-service agencies work on different layers of marketing simultaneously, they gain a broader perspective of your brand and business and, therefore, usually don’t end up missing the woods for the trees!

5. Scalability

As your business grows with time, your marketing needs will grow proportionately. So, suppose you have got your business website designed and now seek to grow organically through social media marketing. 

When you sign up with a full-service digital marketing agency, they will usually have the personnel and the cross-channel expertise to grow and evolve your business as your needs multiply and diversify.

This will save you the hassle of hiring a new specialist agency or third party whenever a new need arises and allow you to maintain consistency and coherency across cross-channel marketing. Not to mention the reduced hassle in relationship management and fewer communication challenges. 

6. Cost-effectiveness

Partnering with a full-service agency proves to be a cost-effective option in the long run, as you can add or remove services in accordance with your evolving needs. You have the flexibility to ramp up or reduce the services from the same provider that is aligned with your brand and can envision your brand journey. Therefore, you can expect a more tailored, holistic, and cost-effective approach to achieving your long-term business goals. 

Cons

  1. Might run the risk of a lack of internal coordination

When you partner with a full-service agency, there is a chance that the teams working on your different projects might lack communication internally, leading to a shortfall of cohesiveness across your projects. 

The siloed approach might reflect negatively on the overall results of simultaneously running campaigns that might have an interdependency. 

Therefore, you must check for the internal processes in place to ensure smooth cross-team collaboration and optimal results when you have outsourced multiple projects to the agency.

2. They might try to upsell their services

Full-service agencies might knowingly or unknowingly try to upsell or cross-sell their services to you. As an informed customer, you must take the final call after doing your own research and taking their advice on a consultation call regarding what you may need or might not need. 

3. You might not be able to communicate with the subject matter experts

The Account Manager allocated to you might have generalized knowledge about the different digital marketing services they offer. However, in case you need to contact a specialist or subject matter expert to communicate your unique needs, see if that can be arranged!

Pros and cons of specialist offshore digital marketing agencies

Pros

1. Offer high-quality expertise in their area of specialization

To stay on top of their game, specialist offshore digital marketing agencies stay updated on the latest industry trends and niche-related knowledge to offer their clients nothing but the best.

2. They won’t try to upsell or cross-sell services!

Staying true to their offering, you can be assured of the fact that their recommendations will come only from a place of concern and growth for your business rather than trying to sell other related services.

3. The ability to offer additional perspectives

Since many specialist agencies communicate with other agencies and freelancers on a daily basis, they tend to acquire a wider field of view across channels, platforms, and services. They can, therefore, offer more nuanced cross-spectrum perspectives in addition to the expertise in their own service offerings.

4. They are nimble and quick to respond!

Smaller specialty agencies may take less time to respond than their larger, more diversified counterparts. 

However, the opposite may not hold true for every full-service agency!

Cons

1. You are responsible for maintaining coordination across multiple specialty agencies

When you sign up for the services of different specialty agencies, you will be responsible for ensuring seamless messaging transfer, collaboration, communication, and the quality of the results, which will hugely depend on the previous factors. 

With multiple touchpoints across agencies, it will translate into extra work on your desk every day!

2. Costs may initially seem on the steeper side

Yes, investing in the services of different specialty agencies will cost you a lot more than a full-service agency that might offer reduced rates. But the litmus test remains the return on investments, being able to justify the initial costs. 

How do I decide between a full-service and a specialist digital marketing agency?

While the final call will always remain yours to take, we can help you decide with the following pointers.

1. The size of your firm

While startups, small and medium-sized businesses may benefit from partnering with a full-service agency as they can prove to be a cost-effective and scalable option, larger enterprises may stand to gain better results with specialist agencies. 

Such enterprises may already have an in-house marketing team to look after most of the strategic and execution tasks in-house. They may only need help with niche requirements or non-core endeavors such as app development and web designing, for which they can always reach out to boutique design agencies. 

However, they should be able to handle the communication challenges and build effective collaboration across multiple specialty agencies that they might choose to partner with.

2. Your marketing budget

The cost factor cannot be overlooked when making an outsourcing decision for your firm. 

If you have a smaller budget that doesn’t allow for multiple services across channels, and your main aim is to increase brand awareness organically, then you could try investing in the SEO services of a specialty agency. This is not to say that an integrated full-service agency is not a good choice. We are only trying to say that focussing on a single channel on a limited budget can help you achieve better ROIs than stretching your budget too thin!

3. Whether you want to run a one-time or a long-term marketing campaign

If you have an in-house marketing team and are facing bandwidth issues during peak season or have certain niche requirements to cater to, you might want to partner with a specialist agency.

However, if you seek a more long–term association, such as a six-month or longer PPC campaign, and also visualize an increase in the scope of services that you might need in the future, then you could try partnering with the right offshore full-service agency that understands your brand vision and works holistically towards achieving your goals. 

With this, you can avoid certain challenges, such as

  • Communication issues arising from collaborating with multiple agencies or partners
  • Dilution in the brand messaging across channels,
  • Find out how to split your marketing budget across suppliers, with each trying to upsell their services!

So, what’s ahead?

At Mavlers, we are committed to educating our customers with the truest and correct knowledge of offshore outsourcing and other technical aspects of digital marketing.

We hope you have gained deeper clarity on the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing to a full-service vs a specialist digital marketing agency.

You may now read our guide on the factors you must consider while choosing the right offshore outsourcing partner for your firm.

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Aejaz Zerdi

He is a Digital Marketer with over 12+ years of experience in 360 360-degree digital and integrated marketing, mainline advertising, brand communications & strategy, social media management & creative brand planning. He aims to ensure client success and empower the project management team to achieve the set goals and objectives for the allocated clients.

Naina Sandhir

A content writer at Mavlers, Naina pens quirky, inimitable, and damn relatable content after an in-depth and critical dissection of the topic in question. When not hiking across the Himalayas, she can be found buried in a book with spectacles dangling off her nose!

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