In recent months, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with dozens of digital marketing leaders in the United States. Traveling to cities around the country, I sought to identify the challenges and opportunities faced by these leaders.
Each digital marketing team & organization is unique, and each leader has their point of view. But all agree that hiring and retaining skilled digital marketers is getting harder. As digital marketing jobs in the US are increasingly in demand, finding competent talent "onshore" gets harder.
Regardless of what is happening in the broader labor market, the pool of talented individuals skilled in digital marketing seems smaller than the demand for it. Larger companies and agencies can solve the problem by offering higher wages and benefits. But sometimes, this is not a viable option for organizations on tight budgets.
There is no single or simple solution to this problem, and all the options have pros and cons. One thing you could do is nearshore digital marketing or, in other words, hire digital marketers from Latin America. But you have to do it right to get your desired benefits and achieve your goals.
To get this right means careful scouting and vetting, robust onboarding, and, during the first weeks, getting plenty of feedback and conducting frequent assessments. These steps will increase your chances of successfully offshoring one or more digital marketing positions. Before we discuss the details, let’s ensure we understand the concept of nearshoring.
What is nearshoring?
Nearshoring is simply offshoring to nearby countries, sometimes regions with the same or almost the same time zone. For example, Mexico shares the Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific times zones with the United States. Most people in Mexico live in a Central Standard time zone. Colombia, on the other hand, is divided between Central Standard Time and Eastern Standard Time. Much of northern Latin America is at most two hours away from the continental United States.
Nearshored digital marketing thus means offshore some of your digital marketing processes to a team of marketers in Latin America, assuming you are in the US or Canada. If you are in Western Europe, then Digital Marketing Nearshoring would imply doing the same to eastern Europe, for example.
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Why do you need to be in the same time zone?
American companies have worked with many of India’s software developers for decades. Making software can be done asynchronously at different times. In some cases, the time difference can even be advantageous.
That’s not the case when it comes to digital marketing. Real-time collaboration is critical for most digital marketing operations. In our experience, the average digital marketer has four to eight meetings daily, plus plenty of ten-minute huddles, especially when following an agile methodology. You must make such collaboration possible whether your team members work on-site or remotely. To be sure, flexibility about working hours to cope with time differences has worked for some agencies—but not without sacrificing hours of real-time collaboration every single day.
Time-zone differences may be one of the most fundamental reasons that India is not the same powerhouse in offshored digital marketing as it is in offshored software development. People in other continents would have to work at night or very early in the morning to engage in real-time collaboration with India-based developers. But everywhere, top performers tend to prefer working during regular daytime hours. Since they usually have plenty of attractive work opportunities in their home countries, they don’t have to accept that kind of chronic inconvenience.
In the case of Latin American digital marketers, though, time-zone differences do not create a problem for US companies. Instead, it’s easier for talented marketers from both regions to engage in real-time daily collaboration. That's one of the reasons that Digital Marketing Nearshoring makes so much sense.
Why else is being geographically close necessary?
Many people have embraced remote work. Some employees don’t want to work in an office, not even part-time. But knowing colleagues in person and having at least some in-person interactions is something that many leaders regard as crucial.
Just as having an annual or semiannual off-site get-together can make a huge difference in an office, having at least a few in-person interactions with clients, and colleagues can help to foster an otherwise virtual relationship.
Being able to take short, inexpensive trips is one advantage of having any offshore members of the team in a nearby country.
For example, there are six daily nonstop flights between Monterrey, Mexico, and Dallas-Fort Worth, seven daily nonstop flights between Monterrey and Houston, and two daily nonstop flights between Monterrey and San Antonio. These flights last about one and a half hours. Mexico City has 15 daily nonstop flights to Houston and nine daily nonstop flights to Dallas-Forth Worth. Mexico’s most populous cities are just one or two flights away from most of the hundred or so most populous metropolitan areas in the United States. Colombia’s most important cities, Bogotá and Medellín, also have direct flights to several important cities in the United States.
The trips are affordable. On Viva Aerobus, one of Mexico’s main airlines, a round-trip ticket from Monterrey to Dallas costs about 200 USD.
Why do so few Latin American digital marketers work for US organizations?
If the benefits are huge, why are so few companies doing this? The better I understand why this is happening, the bigger the difference I can make for US companies. I have discovered many reasons, but the most important one is the fact that finding the right talent is hard, especially when you are conducting your search from abroad. Why is it hard?
Language barrier. Few people in Latin America speak English fluently—fewer than one would expect, given the geographical proximity to the United States and the extent to which Latin America and the United States are economically integrated. There are indeed enough fluent speakers of English to make a difference for US agencies. But they are just a little hard to find.
Evolution of the industry.
In Latin America, the digital marketing industry has been moving in a significantly different direction than that of the United States. One major reason is that many high performers eventually leave their jobs as digital marketing specialists to take on managerial roles. Or else they leave digital marketing altogether. In any case, the most skilled digital marketers—many of whom speak English fluently—end up as managers, not specialists. The challenge, then, is to find the right talent at the right time: top digital marketers while they are still practicing as specialists and have not yet moved on to management.
Local networks. More than the US job market, the Latin American job market relies on personal networks. Although platforms like LinkedIn have been growing in Latin America and are extensively used, they are not as effective a means of finding talent and jobs here as they are in the United States. As a result, Latin American headhunters tend to rely on personal networks and referrals to find the best talent. A good nearshore digital marketing partner should have these networks already developed.
What is the work of a digital marketing nearshore partner?
A company should find a partner that helps it achieve its goals by successfully integrating nearshore talent into its operational structure. There is no single way to do this, as it depends on every company's specific needs.
For example, something simple like filling one job opening with an offshore marketer would begin by understanding that digital marketing jobs description. Digital marketing jobs entry level are easier to fulfill, but most companies require more advanced positions, which require more intense recruitment processes.
SEO, paid media, and more
Offshore SEO services are an example of an activity that a nearshored team may execute. But, with digital marketing jobs salary raising for roles such as paid media and analytics, almost every single function could make sense to work through a nearshore digital marketing model.
Final thoughts on nearshore digital marketing
Nearshore digital marketing is still relatively new but very promising. In an age of globalization, companies are trying to be as competitive as possible, and leveraging international talent in markets with talented individuals and lower-cost structures could be a winning move.
Make sure you find the right partner for your nearshore digital marketing initiatives.