Is outsourcing marketing activities giving IT businesses a competitive advantage?

Outsourcing IT marketing
Claire Randall

IT companies are continuously seeking innovative ways to gain a competitive advantage and Motion’s recent research study sheds light on a strategy that seems to be giving IT businesses the edge they need: outsourcing IT marketing activities.

Motion’s independent Q1 2023 research study surveyed 150 IT businesses, specifically targeting marketing decision-makers. The research report uncovers the extent to which IT businesses rely on marketing, the marketing activities they outsource, their current investment priorities, and, most importantly, their satisfaction with the results.

A Growing Trend in Outsourcing IT Marketing

One of the standout findings from our research study revolves around the rise of IT companies embracing the practice of outsourcing IT marketing activities. It’s a trend that has gained significant traction in recent years and is reshaping the way IT businesses navigate the complex landscape of marketing in the digital age.

Over the last three years, 89% of the IT companies we surveyed have actively sought external expertise by partnering with specialised marketing agencies. This figure alone highlights the growing recognition among IT decision-makers that collaboration with industry experts can be a game-changer.

However, the true essence of this trend becomes evident when we examine the responses more closely. A clear and consistent pattern emerges – IT businesses that choose to entrust the majority of their marketing activities to external agencies are reaping substantial rewards. It’s not just about occasional outsourcing or dabbling in marketing partnerships; it’s about a holistic embrace of external expertise.

Why Outsourcing Prevails

The question naturally arises: why are IT companies increasingly turning to outsourcing, and what advantages does it bring?

First and foremost, the study reveals outsourcing IT marketing is primarily driven by the recognition of skills gaps (57%) and internal resource limitations (38%). With technologies and tactics continually evolving, keeping an in-house team up to date can be challenging. This recognition has led IT businesses to leverage the specialised skills and industry knowledge that dedicated marketing agencies provide.

The degree of success depends on how IT companies view their relationship with marketing agencies. Those that form partnerships with primary agencies, specialising in IT and outsourcing most of their marketing activities, experience superior business value compared to those handling everything in-house or outsourcing selectively. Intriguingly, senior decision-makers are more inclined to select industry specialist agencies.

What sets these businesses that outsource apart, is their willingness to embrace a holistic approach to marketing. Rather than treating marketing as a one-off initiative, they integrate it into the core structure of their operations. By entrusting specialised agencies with the majority of their marketing activities, these companies are creating a dynamic partnership—a collaboration that exceeds the conventional client-agency relationship.

In this synergy, the agency becomes an extension of the IT business, working in tandem to understand not only the products and services, but also the challenges of the business and solutions that define the industry. This level of integration allows for an enhanced understanding of the client’s objectives, target audience and unique value propositions.

Key Benefits of Outsourcing

The research study findings show that across multiple measures, the greater reliance on an agency went hand in hand with better performance and satisfaction levels. Interestingly, results from an identical survey taken by marketing decision-makers within the manufacturing industry supported these outcomes. That survey also highlights that IT is quite a bit ahead of manufacturing and engineering companies when it comes to marketing.

Some of the key benefits of outsourcing the research findings highlighted included:

  • Website Excellence: Businesses that outsource most of their marketing are twice as likely to rate their website as excellent (78% rate their website as Good/Excellent overall).
  • Lead Generation: They receive leads from their websites more frequently, with 72% reporting weekly or daily leads when outsourcing the majority of marketing activities.
  • Brand Advantage: These businesses believe more strongly that their visual brand identity gives them a competitive advantage in their marketplace (49% outsourced most vs. 17% that haven’t outsourced any).
  • Marketing Strategy: Interestingly, sales growth becomes a less urgent imperative when outsourcing is prevalent. This shift may be due to the enhanced performance of existing marketing efforts, enabling the pursuit of other strategic business initiatives.
  • Quality of Agency Work: Those who rate the quality of their agency’s work as excellent are much more likely to have outsourced most of their marketing activity rather than specific elements (75% would rate the quality of their agency’s work as Good or Excellent).

Strategic Partnerships for Success

In our role as a marketing agency deeply embedded in the IT sector, we’re happy to witness a trend that reinforces the value of industry specialist agencies and the effectiveness of outsourcing in marketing strategies. Over the years, our experience has solidified the belief that these partnerships can truly make a difference.

In our experience, the closer we align with a client’s operations, the more effectively we can grasp their solutions and challenges. This deep integration allows us to drive exceptional outcomes. We become not just an external agency but a strategic partner who comprehensively understands our clients’ objectives and the intricacies of their offerings.

For those IT companies who see their marketing agency as a strategic partner, the research demonstrates that, where they are accessing external technical expertise, they are more able to compete in the shifting landscape of digital communications, build a competitive edge and deliver sales leads. To explore the study’s findings in greater detail, you can download the full report here.

If you would like to learn more about how a B2B marketing consultancy could help drive your business forward, read our recent blog for 10 ways an agency can help, including external audits, getting the foundations right and persona analysis.

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