Here are the top 11 advantages of hiring a healthcare digital marketing agency compared to bringing a full-time equivalent (FTE) employee on board or using freelance resources.
The insourcing vs. outsourcing dilemma is among the most common decisions a healthcare marketer faces. With increasing cost and competitive pressures, combined with evolving digital platforms and the level of expertise needed to be effective, hiring an experienced partner is often the best path to success. Here’s an overview of the financial, strategic and "jobs to be done" advantages of hiring a healthcare digital marketing agency compared to bringing an FTE on board or using freelance resources.
Having partnered with hundreds of hospitals and health systems of all sizes and types, our team fully understands the pros and cons of outsourcing marketing services. We even have several former hospital and health system marketing professionals on staff who have worked on both sides of the agency/partner equation.
Having an in-house team of strategists, project managers, media buyers and creative professionals makes sense for larger systems. However, it often comes at a price—both in terms of economics and strategic expertise—that isn’t palatable to most organizations.
Plus, in this post-pandemic environment, the job market is intense. Strong digital marketing talent is hard to find and even more difficult to keep.
The Advantages of Hiring a Healthcare Digital Marketing Agency
To guide your decisions, here are our top 11 advantages of hiring a healthcare digital marketing agency:
Depth of knowledge
By working with multiple clients in diverse markets, agencies have developed best practices that are applied to each client’s campaign. From targeting and budget to underemphasized creative elements like frequency and format, a healthcare digital marketing agency can draw from practical experience to make critical decisions that make or break success.
Real-time pivots as platforms evolve
In digital marketing, the only constant is change. Agencies are heavily invested in keeping up with must-know digital marketing trends to survive and thrive. This includes updates to search and social algorithms, privacy policies and other issues that often go live without notice.
Rather than having to research and implement these changes on your own, an agency partner will proactively alert you to updates and guide you through the process of optimizing digital content and campaigns based on hands-on experience.
Continuous improvement at scale
There’s no guarantee that every digital initiative will deliver on the desired outcomes. Agencies can apply learnings from less effective campaigns to future campaign work. By testing and identifying the levers that influence performance and optimizing them for future campaigns, an agency partner can wring the most value out of your investment.
Agencies have to earn each client’s business every day; otherwise, contracts aren't renewed and referrals (a significant source of new business) are nonexistent. Moving the needle on performance metrics is imperative for client retention and advocacy. This is especially critical now with patient acquisition the mandate for healthcare marketers, and generating service line revenue a requirement for modern healthcare marketing teams.
Subject matter expertise in multiple disciplines
From strategy and analytics to copywriting and design, the right healthcare digital marketing agency will bring a turnkey approach and Swiss-army knife of tools to the table for your campaigns. This is a distinct advantage as most healthcare marketing budgets can support entry-level talent across the board or seasoned veterans in specific areas, while agencies must invest in proven experience within multiple functions to effectively guide clients.
Zero-waste media buying
Hospitals and health systems can no longer afford to invest marketing dollars into campaigns that aren’t generating results (or worse, aren’t measured at all). A healthcare digital marketing agency with proven experience understands how to optimize the audience, budget, copy and other campaign elements to outsmart the competition with limited resources in a competitive market.
No two healthcare organizations are exactly the same. The bandwidth, budget and level of sophistication can be drastically different across an agency’s client base. This reality results in partners who know how to evaluate, implement and integrate the right tools based on each client’s goals, target price point and existing IT infrastructure.
Having perfected the “art of the pitch,” an agency partner can guide your efforts to share marketing plans, performance reports and other key messages to your executive team. Speaking the language of leadership requires a strategic mindset and a clear, direct approach to communication. Agencies can demonstrate best practices and access third-party data that visually and succinctly presents ideas and recommendations to an often-skeptical audience.
Connectivity and continuity
While this used to be a disadvantage to working with a digital agency instead of in-house resources, remote work and virtual meetings are now normal. We're more connected with our clients and colleagues than ever. A good agency should “meet” with partners weekly and conduct monthly reporting calls based on the client’s desired cadence. This approach leads to high satisfaction and long-term relationships. In fact, our average client tenure is more than six years. We’re building relationships that often span a decade or more.
Professional and network development
By design, agencies usually hire for culture along with strategic fit. That means they’re filled with warm, friendly people eager to solve clients’ problems. These relationships can go beyond the workplace. On several occasions, we’ve introduced two clients who eventually became close friends and colleagues. These added benefits don’t factor into an RFP, but they certainly add value to the investment.
Compared with the salary and benefits package of an FTE, partnering with a healthcare digital marketing agency yields the highest value—especially in the current climate as healthcare organizations rebound from the pandemic’s financial impact.