Insight: The in-housing gap – productivity and creativity expectations fab short – The DMA

Research unveils trends of in-housing as brands and agencies find new ways of working together more effectively. New marketing technologies designed to support team collaboration is critical to in-housing success.

A new research report exploring how brands are in-housing key marketing functions finds increased productivity (47%) and enhanced creativity (38%) are the top expected benefits, but these are not being achieved.

The report, ‘Understanding In-Housing: Bringing Marketing Functions Home’, conducted by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) with email marketing and transactional solution Mailjet, highlights some notable drops in increased productivity (-15%) and enhanced creativity (-11%) when marketers reported on the benefits they had actually realised.

Despite the gap, the majority of brands are currently in-housing and plan to continue in the future (86%). Email marketing is identified as the leading in-housed function (62%), with a wide range of marketing functions having been or being in-housed currently (on average, six per company.)

Closing the productivity gap

Brands face a range of challenges when implementing strategies to create an in-house marketing function, but the most significant among them are ‘limited budget’ (41%) and ‘adopting new technology’ (35%.)

The research shows that brands are heavily focused on investing in new technology to facilitate in-housing (69%). More than one in six (17%) of those surveyed cited a need for appropriate collaboration and communication tools specifically.

Judy Boniface-Chang, chief customer and marketing officer at Mailjet, comments: “Looking at some of the biggest challenges companies face, it’s notable how many of these could be resolved by improved communication and collaboration internally and with external partners. To address this, companies should focus on choosing tools that enable them to effectively collaborate in the creation and execution of their campaigns, reducing the number of iterations and maintaining a high level of control over their brand. So while only one in six cite this is a challenge, having the right solutions and tools in place for teams could help abate many more of the challenges of in-housing.”

Tim Bond, Head of Insight at the DMA, says: “In-housing is not a binary choice. It’s not either/or. Our research shows one in 12 organisations are using what we have called a ‘blended’ strategy – combining the two. The key for brands, whichever strategy they choose, is clear: bringing any marketing function in-house is just the first step. To achieve the results brands set out at the beginning of this process means investing in the skills, talent and technology within their organisations. The brands that are able to drive collaboration in this changing environment will be the ones that ultimately succeed.”

Maintaining creativity 

The report also highlighted the risks of creating an ‘echo-chamber’ of ideas through in-housing as a key concern among 37% of respondents.

Whilst companies show no signs of slowing down in-housing, 87% of brands are still committed to maintaining the same level of agency investment, with certain marketing functions – including ‘creative and design’ (46%) and ‘content and copywriting’ (39%) – still best executed by an agency partner.

Beyond just creativity concerns, 37% of marketers also worry about an absence of agency expertise in technical areas. ‘CRM and experience management’ (41%), and ‘search engine optimisation’ (37%) are also identified by respondents as areas where value still lies in the right agency partner to provide expert counsel.

Boniface-Chang concludes, “Despite the fact that email technology can be well managed in-house, we still see a high demand by our clients for outside training, coaching and monitoring of their email programs. It’s not specific to industry either; our customer success team works with brands ranging from Microsoft to LaLiga to make sure they know the latest email trends, best-practices and more to keep their marketing campaigns at the forefront and out of the echo-chamber.”

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