In-House Vs. Marketing Agency?

We debunk your common myths and perceptions


The Truth About In-House Digital Marketing and Marketing Agencies

At one point, digital marketing was just a new and creative channel to market. It was just an expansion of existing forms of traditional media marketing, another way where people could sell their goods and services online.

Now digital marketing has grown to become much more than that. It’s become an integral and necessary part of brand identity to customers. Especially if you’re a small business, you want potential customers to connect immediately with your brand. With digital marketing, you can reach an enormous audience in a way that’s both cost-effective and measurable.

So where do you even begin when you’re developing your digital strategy?

Should you focus on social media advertising, SEO, search engine marketing, or a combination? There are so many permutations and possibilities that most businesses often get overwhelmed. In fact, one common question that many companies face is whether they should manage their marketing in-house or work with an agency.

In this article, we’re going to debunk some common myths and perceptions of both in-house marketing and agency marketing to better help you understand which approach may be best for your company.

Since the number one concern of most businesses is cost, let’s dive into the first myth:


Q: Is it really cheaper to have an in-house marketing team?

Traditionally, companies may house their own internal marketing team based on the belief that it is cheaper to hire a small team than to outsource.

Not True.

If anything, in-house marketing teams can cost an arm and a leg which can be a costly mistake for smaller businesses to allocate their limited seed money on. Since it will be a relatively small team, companies will require high level & experienced personnel to plan and execute digital marketing campaigns and such talent is extremely expensive.

Not convinced? Here’s a look at the numbers of a basic team of marketing professionals (excluding overheads & compensations): 

As of 2020, digital marketing managers earn an average monthly salary of $6,000. Digital strategist ($4k), Web Developer ($3k), Graphic Designer ($2.5k), SEO Specialist ($3k).

Total Combined Monthly Cost: $18,500 

Now compare this to a marketing agency’s average monthly cost from $2.5k to $10k for larger campaigns.

For the cost of employing one digital marketing manager, you can retain a professional digital marketing firm and gain access to a huge array of digital marketing experts.

In short, in-house marketing is indeed costly. Not to mention the associated costs with in-depth onboarding, training, compensations, and overhead costs. Finding the right people also requires time and money.

When you’re paying to outsource marketing, you’re not just paying for labour and content. You’re also paying for business access to premium-level services, softwares, and analytical data that marketing agencies know how to leverage. 

Outsourcing your marketing can save you about $40k annually on tools, softwares, platforms, marketplaces alone. In other words, agencies are your one-stop-shop for all things marketing. Of course, if you have the budget for it, you may prefer to hire your own team.


Q: Is your in-house marketing staff really more effective?

That depends.

In-house marketing teams typically have more direct control over the content generated. At every step of the way, you will have control over the design concept & timeline. However, as creativity can also stagnate overtime with a small internal team, infusing fresh thinking into marketing design can be a huge stumbling block.

In contrast, an external marketing agency can bring a much-needed infusion of fresh ideas. These agencies often work with other companies in the industry, so they have a good measure of success, of what has already been done and what is new and fresh. While they may come in without a complete understanding of your company's brand and history, this is advantageous because they can often identify opportunities that might have been overlooked.

You can also always count on marketing agencies to provide an objective second opinion. Marketing campaigns can sometimes prove to be heavily influenced by internal company leadership and stand in the way of the creative team’s space to take risks and experiment new ideas. Ultimately, as a business owner, you will still have control and autonomy on your campaign direction while working with an agency. Remember an external agency is not just a consultancy, it’s yours.


Q: Is it difficult to scale with an in-house team?

Most definitely.

With a traditional in-house team, the only way you can increase the output of your marketing team is to hire more employees. And we’ve already covered that it takes time to hire. In the world of digital marketing, it might be hard to plan ahead as a well crafted marketing campaign could bring about exponential growth and if you don’t jump onto the train quick enough, you could have already lost out on a range of opportunities, sales and brand exposure.

Agencies already have an extensive number of resources on hand that can be called on a moment’s notice if you want to employ a bigger, bolder strategy. They have many years of dedicated training and are well-connected with all the resources and diverse specialists necessary to provide limitless value to you at any rate.


Q: Will it be more time-consuming to engage marketing agencies?

Open and efficient communication is vital in keeping any business’ marketing plan running smoothly. And with any in-house team, this should be relatively easy. Brainstorming sessions, content approvals and meetings can be executed whenever the need arises, while ads can be monitored without a second line of communication which comes with agency reporting. But does this mean it’s not worthwhile to use marketing agencies?

Not necessarily.

Most agencies won’t be fully aware of your industry, brand, and audience, so it may take a little longer to get them familiar with your brand and goals. This can result in more meetings for detailed information about your brand. However, once a solid relationship between the client and the agency is built, agencies can effectively take on the marketing projects for their clients at an exponential rate.

Besides, since marketing agencies are built to jump in quickly and efficiently with their accumulated years of experience to minimise any roadblocks in the marketing process, they can easily get up to speed and deliver your marketing objectives efficiently.


Q: Do marketing agencies have competitive edge in terms of best practices?

Yes, yes and yes.

In 2020 alone, at least 40 number of changes were made in the digital marketing world. It’s constantly evolving. To remain competitive, marketing agencies must stay updated on the latest marketing trends and research. They are acclimatized with industry norms, including new marketing rules and regulations that govern the process of ad campaigns. They also work with many different clients and industries, which gives them exposure to new technologies and innovative tactics.

In-house teams may struggle to implement new softwares, keep up with SEO best practices and paid search trends. Take for example the ever-changing or newly discovered tricks and regulations surrounding SEO ranking, Google My Business, or even the latest iOS 14 privacy settings that greatly affect Facebook Pixel tracking. With limited exposure to the changing trends, in-house teams may be unaware of ill-advised practices which could greatly hamper efforts.

The Bottom Line...

Where the in-house team struggles in, lies the agencies’ strengths. Most companies prefer a hybrid approach - since in-house staff live and breathe the company brand, they may be better suited to propose content and brand messages to agencies. However, their range of resources and expertise may be limited.

Tapping into agencies could be immensely cost-effective especially if you’re on a tight budget and may not even have a team to begin with. For instance, agencies can optimize your webpages for target keywords, manage paid advertising campaigns, and design creative material, like brochures, videos, and ads.  Outsourcing and going it alone can both be the correct, cost-effective decision that generates the best results for your business. If you're having trouble deciding the best course of action, we'd love to discuss your marketing situation with you!


Maximise your business potential