6 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Your Digital Marketing and How to Do It

digital marketing team in action

Outsource Your Digital Marketing

We hear it all the time. Higher education marketing executives want to think big-picture, invest in strategy, plan for the future—but they’re stuck in the weeds. If you’re content with where you are and what you’re doing, that’s great. But if you want to grow your business and stand out in a competitive landscape, you need to stop being jack-of-all-trades and become the master of one: marketing your institution.

Here are the signs that you wear too many hats and it’s time to outsource your digital marketing:

1. What Strategy?

Even if you started with a fleshed-out strategy on January 1st, if you haven’t looked at it since then, it’s unlikely to be very effective. Your role as head of your institution’s marketing is to build a plan that closely aligns with and promotes your business goals. While you don’t need a single purpose, you do need a set of priorities. If you’re in the middle of a rebrand, that’s priority number one. But maybe you have new initiatives and programs you need to promote, or campus expansions. It’s up to you to set priorities and goals and a means to execute a strategy and measure success.

2. You’re in Charge of Typos

If you find yourself scrolling through your website, changing out copy, correcting typos, and poking around in Google Ads on a regular basis, ask yourself: what’s wrong with this picture? Kudos to you if you understand the mechanics of digital marketing enough to occasionally roll up your sleeves and dive into platforms and examine analytics. But that’s not what you should be doing. If you don’t have people to do that for you, you should! Your expertise is invaluable. Don’t waste your considerable talent and time when others could serve you well. Delegate.

3. Mishmash Marketing

There’s an email campaign for recruitment. Another for retention. There’s a social media push for alumni, a different one for prospects and students. But there isn’t a single page or plan. In fact, it seems that no one person is in charge of anything and that your overall marketing lacks cohesion. You’re hardly alone. Fragmented marketing is almost the norm on college campuses where every department and club has its own social media presence. It’s time to rein it all in. Regardless of the page, post, or platform, anyone who represents your institution needs to adhere to your branding guidelines and speak with a single voice, brand, and mission.

4. Dearth of Data

Regardless of who does your marketing and what they do, if they don’t provide you with data, it’s time to find a partner who will. And even if they do, if they’re unable to interpret results to give them meaning, you need a partner who truly understands your goals, the campaigns you run, your expectations, and what actually happens. Open communication is the rock-solid foundation of a good relationship. Bring on a higher education marketing agency that seems and acts like they’re part of your team; your mission is their mission.

5. Your Staff Feels Overwhelmed

That might be because you’re asking them to handle assignments that are out of their wheelhouse. You may have an always-be-learning approach to your job and theirs but when you continually ask people to perform tasks that are beyond the scope of their job, you make them feel inadequate, unprepared and overwhelmed.  And overworked. Eventually, they’ll need to catch up on the responsibilities for which you actually hired them—and they’ll be behind.

6. Interns Pick Up the Slack—barely

It’s great to staff up with interns. It gives you some free labor and them an opportunity to learn what you do and how you do it. But when you push off more and more marketing tasks to interns who come and go, you do a disservice to your brand. Interns simply don’t have the institutional memory of regular staff or hired experts. A common practice is to put interns in charge of social media. After all, they’re often young and knowledgeable about the social media platforms on which you want to appear to attract new students. But they don’t know you! Social media is another area where you can highlight the voice of your institution. Such an important responsibility should not be left to transient help.


If you recognize yourself or your institution in any of these signs that it’s time to outsource your digital marketing, call ESM Digital today. We know your industry as well as you do, and we know digital marketing better than anyone on your staff.


~Linda Emma