— Did you know that the average CEO spends up to $175,395 per year on an in-house chief marketing officer alone?
Businesses are outsourcing marketing services more than ever.
It’s an efficient way to access skilled marketing talent without having to hire in-house staff on expensive salaries.
But how do you know if your investment is yielding positive returns?
It’s hard, especially when agencies only present flashy reports showcasing how well they did.
Behind the smoke and mirrors of these jargony reports are metrics that tell you the truth.
But how do you know what they mean?
In this article, I’m going to show you how to take control and measure outsourced marketing teams to get the most results from their efforts.
Before you can measure, you need to know WHY you’re measuring
When looking to outsource your marketing tasks, it’s important to have realistic expectations and a plan in place.
There’s no use in hiring a team if you don’t know exactly what you’re hiring them for.
You need to have concrete goals and objectives that the team will work towards.
For example, if you’re looking to increase website traffic, set measurable objectives that can be tracked.
Is the goal to double web traffic in six months? Or is it to increase your conversion rate to double the number of sales you make on your website? — because these two goals require VERY different tactics.
In the same instance, you don’t want to hire an SEO team expecting short-term sales.
And you don’t want to hire a social media marketer expecting significant organic visibility on Google.
Once you have your objectives and goals in place, then it’s time to look at the metrics that indicate progress.
The metrics you should be tracking will depend on the goals you’ve set.
Here are some of the most common digital marketing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators):
1) Conversion Rate
Measures how many visitors to your website convert into customers or leads. It’s one of the most important KPIs in determining a successful ROI
2) Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
The amount of money spent to acquire each customer.
Once you figure out this number, you can literally predict how much money you need to invest in getting new customers.
This is sometimes interchangeably used with cost per acquisition (CPA), depending on the marketer.
3) Organic Traffic Value
The estimated value of organic traffic coming to your website.
This is important for SEO efforts as it can indicate whether your keywords are valuable and get you in front of the right audience.
You can associate each keyword with how much an advertiser would usually pay for it. Pretty cool, right?
4) Average Time on Page
The amount of time visitors spend on your page. This is especially important for content because it shows whether people are engaging with it or skimming.
You can use Google Analytics and engagement tracking software to measure this.
There are many more digital marketing KPIs, but these are some of the most important ones to be aware of when monitoring and measuring results from an outsourced marketing team.
Keep in mind that it’s not just about measuring results.
It’s also about making sure your outsourced team is working efficiently toward the goals you’ve decided upon.
Skilled marketers should know what metrics move the money needle
How to measure outsourced marketing managers
Investing in fractional CMOs is a great way to get the marketing support you need at a fraction of the cost, but it can be tricky to measure their outputs.
Seeing as they’re your holistic advocate for all your marketing efforts, they typically manage and oversee all of your marketing operations.
So with that said, you would need to have an agreed set of KPIs that revolve more around:
- Revenue generated from online marketing efforts
- Conversion rate increases on your website pages
- Organic traffic value increases (for SEO-orientated goals)
- Project management activity (tasks completed)
Seeing as outsourced CMOs aren’t siloed to a single channel (e.g. social media or SEO), they’re allowed more leeway on their goals due to their versatility in their role.
For example, if revenue didn’t increase as expected, you would need to ask why that was the case.
Maybe the CMO devoted more of their attention towards assembling a dedicated team for you, or there were unforeseen roadblocks that you’re not aware of.
In either case, a fractional CMO worth their salt will know how to measure their progress and give you detailed explanations (reporting).
How to measure SEO teams
There are a number of ways to measure the performance of an SEO team.
One of the most important is organic traffic value (briefly mentioned above).
It indicates how many people are finding your website on their own without spending anything on online ads.
This is actually one of the easiest metrics that you can track with the help of Ahrefs, Semrush and other tools like those.
These can lead you to make informed decisions about what content works best, which topics draw more visitors, where to invest in future content, and how people interact with different pages on the site.
This is the total value of all organic traffic that comes to a website.
It can be measured in terms of both the amount of traffic and the quality of that traffic.
Another important metric is your domain rating (DR).
Many SEO platforms use different words to describe this concept (e.g. domain authority), but they mean the same thing.
This metric tells you how authoritative a website is. Domains are ranked from 0-100, with a higher score indicating the website is of higher authority.
It’s beneficial to measure this because it allows you to gauge your website’s authority compared to other sites, which in turn affects your visibility and rankings on search engine results pages.
Although this DR isn’t the be-all and end-all of measuring your SEO, it can give you an indicator of how well you’re doing compared to your competition.
Other important metrics are the following:
- Number of new backlinks you’ve acquired vs lost
- Number of top 3 and top 10 keywords you’ve acquired.
- And how many new blog posts you’ve generated that bolster your brand as an authority.
With all of this said, when your outsourced SEO team delivers a report, be sure to look for these metrics in the reports.
Ignore everything else.
Because it’s likely fluff to make themselves look better.
How to measure Google Ads teams
Google Ads is a tough nut to crack. Many assume it’s very easy and straightforward — it’s anything but.
There’s a lot of nuance to how keywords work, the secrets of unlocking discounts, and tracking conversions accurately.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of sinning going on in this space, with many agencies reporting on false conversions and metrics that don’t matter.
I see this on a daily basis when auditing Google Ads teams.
So with that said, to save you from silver-tongue account managers and flashy reports, here are the metrics that you need to focus on:
1) Conversions — whenever I dig into a Google Ads account, I always check the conversions. How are they set up? Why are they being tracked? Are they primary or secondary?
These are important questions to ask yourself.
If you find that there are more than 2-6 conversion goals inside of your ad account, it’s time to question why and how they’re being triggered.
Many agencies I come across set all their conversions as ‘Primary’, which affects the algorithm’s performance for your ads. It’s a huge no-no. So check this first.
2) Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) — once the conversions have been set up properly, you’ll want to know how much it’s costing you to acquire a new lead or sale. This is where CPA comes in.
CPA is how much you have to invest for someone to take your desired action (e.g. submit a lead form or purchase a product).
It can take a while for Google’s algorithm to optimise this number, but as long as your Google Ads team is accurately tracking this, I’d say you’re in safe hands.
3) Quality Scores — many people still don’t know you can get discounts on your search ads. Google will reward you for having relevant/helpful ads and landing pages.
If you’re segmenting your ads correctly into topics and your website pages reflect the same keywords you’re bidding for on your ads, chances are that you could be eligible for up to 50% discounts on your clicks.
Improving your quality scores can be tricky, but there are a number of independent studies and helpful articles out there to guide you on this.
Either way, your Google Ads team should be optimising this if you’re running search campaigns.
4) Conversion Value — if you’re running an eCommerce store, measuring CPAs won’t cut it. You need to know how much each person spent at your store.
Enter conversion value. Google allows you to measure the value of each customer’s purchase to help you tweak the algorithm to find more people that are big buyers.
This will help you set your Google Ads campaigns to more ROAS-focused initiatives instead of just optimising for CPAs (which service businesses are limited to).
If you have an eCommerce store, it should be mandatory to track this.
So if your Google Ads team hasn’t set this up or hasn’t mentioned it in any reports, you should find another Google Ads specialist to take over.
How to measure Social media managers
This is a hard one because there are two types of social media managers (SMM) — paid and organic.
1) Organic social media managers
This is the most common type of social media manager.
They will write, design, and publish organic posts (non-paid) on your social media channels to elicit traction.
The only trouble here is that most social media networks only have good returns if you run paid ads.
There is a place for organic posts, but if you don’t already have a decent audience size already, it’s not reasonable to expect any returns from your social media if you’re not running ads.
The worst part is that most of these SMMs that you find don’t have real-life marketing experience, and they don’t know business metrics.
So they’ll sell you on vanity metrics (how many likes and followers they can get you).
In my experience, in most cases, vanity metrics are a pipedream and only make sense with micro to macro influencers that have engaged followers.
2) Paid social media managers
The majority of these kinds of providers are ad agencies.
They’ll typically run seasonal offers, promotions, and brand awareness across the meta-network (Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp etc.), LinkedIn, TikTok, and other platforms.
The success metrics are very similar to Google Ads.
And the main ones you’ll want to keep an eye out for are the number of conversions, conversion cost, and ROAS (depending if you’re an eCommerce business).
As I’ve already described these in principle earlier, I won’t reiterate them here — you get the idea.
That said, you’re essentially measuring your investment (hiring fees + commissions (if applicable) + ad spend costs).
At the end of the day, you’re running a business, so you need to be the final decision-maker on whether an investment is right for you.
Outsourced marketing questions
Can you outsource marketing?
Absolutely. Outsourcing marketing is a great option for many businesses.
It allows you to tap into the expertise and knowledge of experienced digital marketers without having to hire an expensive full-time CMO or marketing team.
Plus, outsourcing allows you to focus on what matters most — your core business operations — leaving the marketing work in the hands of proven professionals.
How much does it cost to outsource marketing?
It really depends on who you’re hiring and what services they offer. A freelancer may charge an hourly rate, while an agency may have a fixed project fee or subscription-based pricing.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to hire a fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), you can expect to pay around $4,000 per month.
This is a far cry from the median salary of a full-time CMO, which is about $175,395 annually.
By outsourcing your marketing to a fractional CMO or agency, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run — up to $127,395 a year.
Avoid costly mistakes of impatience — reset your expectations
Impatience is the number one killer of successful marketing.
Somewhere along the line, most businesses that have not run online marketing have blurred the lines of instant gratification with their marketing.
And I don’t know if it’s after seeing successful people on social media (with their Lamborghinis and supermodels) or high expectations with fast internet and hospitality service — this has somehow translated into the silver-bullet culture.
When in truth, marketing takes time and constant tweaking. Even Neil Patel — one of the greatest marketing minds in our lifetime — has said many times that even the largest companies don’t hit home runs because you need to tweak and revise strategies constantly.
Online marketing is truly about experimenting with things consistently until they work.
And if your outsourced marketing team isn’t achieving instant results, it doesn’t mean they’re a failure.
It may just mean that you need to adjust your strategy and allow them to have time to test it out.