Hire A Marketing Agency or Run In-House Marketing?

Agency Marketing VS In-House Marketing Text Is Pictured Over A Purple Background

As a business owner, the key decisions you make shape how successful you are and nowhere is that truer than with digital marketing. Many find it difficult to decide whether to keep everything in-house or partner with an external digital agency - mainly because there are many variables to consider.

In this article, we aim to provide some clarity on the subject, so you can make an informed decision about where your marketing spend goes. We'll take a look at each one separately to get a feel of how the experience differs between the two.


The Pros & Cons of 'In-House' Marketing

An in-house marketing team is what you'd expect it to be - your own in-house team installed to create, manage and maintain your digital marketing efforts. It's a path that's become increasingly popular with companies in recent years, so there's clearly some appeal. Let's take a closer look at some of the advantages on offer.


Brand Authenticity

One of the primary benefits of operating an in-house marketing team is brand authenticity, and that comes from being so familiar with the products and services they see every day. As they work for the company directly, they know the company values and tone instinctively. 

Of course, an external agency can acquire a detailed understanding and feel of the business that employs them, but it takes time, and time is money.


Total & Complete Focus

The Young Woman Who Works As a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist Sitting On The Sofa And Holds Cup Of Tea And Checking Marketing Plan For Ecommerce Website

Another advantage of in-house marketing is the fact that your team focuses totally on marketing your business and no other. An external full-service digital marketing agency will typically have multiple clients, and while they will normally have a much bigger team, you're not always the center of attention. 

Most clients have no problem with this fact, so long as their needs are being given sufficient time, but you might just prefer a team for whom you're the sole focus.


Closer Collaboration

When you outsource your marketing to an agency, there's no doubt about the fact that you enjoy a more distant relationship with the team. That's primarily because they're not in the same building - or often even in the same state, so you can't just pop over to their desk for a chat about things. 

Having an in-house marketing team, however, allows for closer collaboration on your marketing campaigns. This means a greater say in the final outcome and, ultimately, more control.


And the Cons of In-housing

When you operate your own internal marketing team, you'll soon realize that there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome. The first point at which you'll notice these challenges is when it comes to recruitment.


Hiring the Right People Takes a Lot of Effort

It takes, on average, 44 days to fill an internal marketing position in the US, and a typical team will comprise 3-4 people. Whichever way you slice it, that's going to delay when you can begin marketing your company. The process of creating a job listing, vetting candidates and scheduling interviews all need to be carried out, meaning it could be 3 months before you can really get started.

Creating your own in-house marketing team represents a huge business investment, and that's before we start talking about maintenance, performance management and employee turnover.


Hiring the Right People Typically Costs a Lot, Too

Marketing Agency Team Are Creating Marketing Strategy For Online Shop In Their Office

Many businesses choose to take the in-house route because they want to lower costs, but the reality of the process illustrates that this view can be a little misplaced. This is evidenced by the average salaries that marketing professionals can command in the US. 

Here's what business owners typically have to pay annually:

  • Social Media Marketing Specialist - $49k
  • Digital Marketing Specialist - $63k
  • Digital Marketing Manager - $80k
  • SEO Specialist - $56k

As such, if you create an average-sized in-house, you're going to be paying northwards of $200k per year - so it's a tremendous amount of money that needs to be committed. Of course, marketing agencies charge for their services, but the cost is typically far lower.


Add in the Cost of Necessary Software

In addition to the cost of hiring your in-house digital marketing team, it's also necessary to factor in what needs to be spent on marketing software. SEO tools like SEMRush and BrightEdge are vital in allowing your team to carry out web development, SEO optimization and more. However, they can also cost a pretty penny to subscribe. 

Most often, you'll find that a full-service marketing agency has this toolset available as standard, meaning you won't have to pay for them yourself.


The Difficulty of Scaling Your Marketing Efforts

As your company grows, you need your marketing efforts to follow suit. The issue is that scaling an in-house marketing team can be very difficult to achieve. Even when you've got the best people in place, an in-house team will have limited resources and a finite amount of expertise and experience.

So, when you come to scale your campaigns, you'll usually need to stop working on another area of your marketing strategy to free up resources. Company growth can be held up as a result.


The Pros & Cons of Hiring a Marketing Agency

Now we look at what you get when you decide to entrust your marketing to an external agency. Putting their full weight of tools and resources to use, agencies offer the full array of services to get you exposure, traffic and sales. Here are the benefits and drawbacks that come with this choice.


Considerable, Diverse Expertise

When partnering with a good external digital marketing agency, you get immediate access to a diverse range of industry expertise and experience. You're spared the convoluted employee hiring process and get to choose from providers that have a background in your field if desired. 

An agency will be able to help you leverage the benefits of:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Display Advertising
  • Email Marketing

This expertise can be invaluable in achieving the results you're looking for, and professionals with considerable experience in marketing are best placed to help you get the best possible ROI.


Comparatively Low Cost

The price you'll pay for a full-service marketing agency can seem like a major investment - because it is. You can pay thousands of dollars a month to an agency, which is no small sum, however, when you compare it to the cost of an in-house team, it pales into insignificance.

Just employing a single in-house SEO specialist can cost you a lot more overall than an entire year's worth of work from an expert agency. The idea that partnering with an agency is the more costly option is simply not accurate.


Ease of Scalability

The Two Media Marketing Specialists Checking Sales Boosting On Their Tablet In The Office

The ability to quickly scale your marketing strategies up and down in line with industry changes is vital, but as we've seen, an in-house team can make that difficult. For example, if you experience a slow season and you need to pause your paid ads, you might have a paid employee sitting there with nothing to do with their time. 

With a digital agency, you can change tactics whenever you need to, as their teams can be plugged in or removed as needs change. On the flip side, you might want to scale up your social media presence, but if you haven't got the required staff, hiring - as we've seen - can slow things down to a snail's pace.

So, partnering with a digital marketing agency comes with a variety of benefits, but there are a couple of drawbacks to note. The first downside relates to location.


Scheduling Calls Can Be an Issue

When you take the time and trouble to find a good agency, it could be that they're located on the other side of the country or even on another continent. This can cause issues in terms of scheduling collaboration calls and get in the way of your progress.

The client/customer relationship is an important one, but it can take some effort to maintain it with these types of constraints. If the agency in question is flexible and eager to accommodate, however, the problem can be greatly reduced.


Decreased Control of Your Campaigns

There's an element of trust that needs to exist when working with an external agency, as most work best with a bit of freedom. Business owners that want complete control of every detail of their marketing campaigns can struggle in letting go of the reins.

Working with an agency doesn't mean you have no control, just less of it when it comes to those little tweaks to your ad copy. You still get the ultimate sign-off on the big decisions, but you do have to trust that the experts know what they're doing.


Determining the Best Option For Your Business Needs

Choosing the best marketing option for your business is a major decision. Try the in-house route, and you get increased brand authenticity, total focus and easier collaboration, but it comes with a high cost, a lot of stress and hard work, and a reduced ability to scale your business.

Opt for the more cost-effective path of partnering with a digital marketing agency, and you get more agility to scale and a wealth of expertise and experience, but a decreased amount of control. 

There's a lot to consider, and while many choose the agency route for cost and time reasons, the ultimate decision is yours to make.

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