A well-rounded digital marketing strategy is the backbone for anyone looking to succeed in their respective industry. However, marketing is also one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. One of the first questions you need to ask is, “Agency vs. in-house marketing — what’s the difference, and which works best for me?”
Marketing in-house is the way to go for many companies, but a marketing agency can bring a lot more to the table. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each option and how the right marketing team can keep your business on the road to success.
What’s the Difference Between In-house Marketing and a Marketing Agency?
When it comes to marketing, you have two primary options: in-house or agency. In-house marketing requires internal employees to handle your company’s digital marketing strategies. Meanwhile, agency marketing relies on an external, outsourced team to market your company.
In other words, you can either manage marketing yourself or hire someone else to do it. Internal marketing is doing it yourself. Agency marketing is having someone do it for you.
Choosing an Agency or In-house Marketing Team
You can probably already see several advantages and disadvantages of agency versus in-house marketing teams. Having an internal marketing team comes with many distinct benefits, and businesses are leaning in that direction more and more these days. However, you’ll want to weigh all the pros and cons before finalizing a decision.
Digital Marketing Budget
Money is the first thing you must consider when choosing between in-house and agency marketing. Spending too much on digital marketing can detract funds from other departments and lead to long-term financial troubles. On the flip side, spending too little can mean fewer leads and lower conversion rates.
Establishing and maintaining an internal marketing team is a significant investment. You’ll need to adjust your budget to cover overhead costs and ensure everyone receives adequate pay. Besides that, you may have to calculate costs related to the following:
- Employee turnover: Losing team members can hurt your business in more ways than one. It may leave you paying to train candidates for marketing roles and covering errors made by remaining staff or missed deadlines.
- Software purchases: Buying cutting-edge marketing tools for your team is another factor to consider. Even if you know exactly what software you need at present, you never know what you might need to upgrade or install in the future.
If staying cost-effective is your highest priority, consider hiring a team from a digital marketing agency. Agencies enable you to only pay for the services you need and achieve a higher marketing ROI. You also don’t have to worry about purchasing new software or fighting to keep your employees.
Internal and external marketing teams may vary according to expertise. Every business wants a top-quality marketing strategy that reaches the target audience and drives results. However, finding a team to get you there can be challenging.
With an in-house marketing team, your pool of prospective employees may be limited. You may struggle to attract candidates with the ideal marketing experience, skill level, and education. And, if you do land a world-class marketer, you might be unable to provide the tools they require.
Contrast that with agency marketing. A well-established marketing company recruits top-notch professionals from various cities, states, and even countries. Outsourced marketing teams have a broad range of knowledge and skills pertaining to areas like the following:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Content creation and editing
- Ad campaign management
- Link organization
In short, an internal department might lack the expertise to grow your business as fast and cost-effectively as possible. However, marketing agencies have a team of experts who can take your business to the next level.
Communication and Availability
Communication is essential in any corporate sector, including digital marketing. Web designers, content creators, SEO specialists, and other team members must stay on the same page throughout the marketing process. Slip-ups don’t usually come out of nowhere; you can often trace them to miscommunication.
Many businesses prefer marketing in-house because of factors like communication and better access. Many agencies have clearly outlined processes and design paths which allow clients working with them to know for certain where their money is going. For example, you can just walk over to the digital marketing department for updates on an upcoming PPC ad campaign. You see your team every day and have no difficulty getting ahold of them when necessary.
On the other hand, communicating with an external marketing department can be challenging for several reasons:
- Multiple clients: Agencies provide services for various companies simultaneously. If technical issues arise or you have questions, you might have to take a number and have a seat.
- Different time zones: Many agencies operate in different time zones from their clients. This means a meeting time that works great for you might be outside business hours for them.
- Virtual interactions: Talking via Zoom or a phone call is less efficient than meeting in person. While you can tap your in-house marketers on the shoulder anytime, you might never shake hands with marketers from an outsourced company.
Trust and Control
Do you want to maintain complete control of your company’s marketing function? Or are you indifferent to project management? Answering questions about trust and control can help you choose between in-house vs. agency marketing.
One of the biggest benefits of in-house teams is brand familiarity and commitment. Your employees understand your company better than anyone else and can design marketing material to match the brand perfectly. They don’t divide services among multiple clients, and you maintain control of the entire department.
A good agency balances seizing control with taking the initiative. However, some agencies prefer to handle everything themselves and only share the results to keep you in the loop. Third-party companies also don’t have the same level of ingrained commitment to your brand as your employees.
One of the main differences between in-house marketing and marketing agencies involves scalability. Scalability refers to the ability to increase or decrease marketing production as necessary. It’s a critical factor that helps your business grow and adjust to reach potential customers.
Scalability (or lack thereof) is one of the cons of in-house marketing. An in-house marketing department has a limited number of team members operating with limited resources, making it almost impossible to increase digital marketing activity without adding employees to the payroll or taking personnel from other departments. You’ll be in a bind when you decide to shift gears.
Digital marketing agencies can scale your business quickly and effortlessly. Do you want to ramp up the social media ads or scale back on blogging? Your marketing agency has the staff and resources to make it happen.
Recruiting members for an in-house marketing team takes time. You have to create job listings, sift through applications, conduct interviews, draw up contracts, and provide training as needed; that’s if you’re lucky. Many small and mid-sized businesses struggle just to get applications.
Talent recruitment is a non-factor if you choose to outsource your marketing efforts to agencies. Digital marketing agencies already have the right team and tools for every project, so all you need to do is reach out. With a marketing agency, you can rest assured that your marketing strategies stay in good hands.
What About Just Hiring a Freelancer?
Agency and in-house marketing both have advantages and disadvantages. You might enjoy having more control over business functions, but you might not like the costs associated with establishing and maintaining an in-house marketing team. You might like the scalability of a marketing agency, but poorer communication and less availability might be a significant turn-off.
Deciding whether to work in-house or outsource a marketing campaign can be a complicated task. You must measure the pros and cons against your marketing needs and goals. With so much to consider, you may wonder, “Why don’t I just hire a freelancer?”
Hiring a freelancer is a viable option with numerous benefits for many companies and organizations. However, freelance digital marketing does have some drawbacks.
Advantages of Freelance Marketing
Here are three common reasons to hire a freelancer to market your business:
- Cost-effectiveness: Do you need help with a specific marketing campaign? A freelancer can join your marketing team to handle it with a one-time payment — no lengthy contracts or paying for services you don’t need.
- Flexibility: Different freelancers have different specialized skills. For example, you can hire one to design your website, another to create content, and another to keep track of data and analytics. Your in-house marketing team might not have this level of flexibility.
- Fresh perspectives: Getting a second opinion is always beneficial. Freelancers bring a fresh perspective to your marketing campaign, enabling you to see them in a new light. On top of that, a freelancer can help spark your creativity and point your business toward success.
Disadvantages of Freelance Marketing
That said, here are a few downsides to going with freelance marketing:
- Lack of supervision: Freelancers work on their own time, making it challenging for clients to supervise their projects. You probably won’t know what tools they use or how long it actually takes to complete a job.
- Lack of commitment: Freelancers are not company employees, which means they don’t have the same level of commitment to you and your brand. This can create problems like failing to prioritize your marketing efforts and neglecting communication.
- Lack of security: Freelance marketing comes with certain risks, including those related to security. You may worry about money transfers and wonder if a freelancer is sharing private information with another organization. Unfortunately, some individuals who offer digital marketing services are scammers.
Creating a Hybrid Setup
If you’re struggling to pick between agency versus in-house marketing, you’re not alone. Many business owners review the pros and cons of both options but still can’t settle on one or the other. Thankfully, you might not need to. The hybrid setup is a happy medium between internal teams and external resources, giving you the best of both worlds.
Hybrid marketing isn’t as complex as it might sound at first. Here are some examples of how it can work with your company’s organization:
- Your in-house team works on most projects, but you outsource larger ones to an agency.
- Your in-house team handles communication, but you outsource most projects to an agency.
- Your in-house team designs marketing campaigns, but your agency scales and distributes them.
With a hybrid approach to marketing, your internal and external teams collaborate to give your business strategy a much-needed edge. This model offers several key benefits, including:
- Added security: Hybrid marketing enables you to make data-backed decisions without sharing sensitive information from current customers.
- Better capabilities: Hybrid marketing merges the trust and reliability of in-house marketers with the tools and expertise of a marketing agency.
- More perspectives: Your internal team and marketing agency work together as one large team, giving you a well-rounded view of the big-picture plan.
In-house vs. Agency Marketing: Main Takeaways
Effective marketing starts with building the right team and having the right tools. As you look into agency versus in-house marketing, consider the pros and cons to determine which model works best for your business. Don’t forget that a combination of both might be the way to go!
At Connective, our team of experts has a deep understanding of marketing trends, techniques, and strategies. We have the resources and tools you need to stand out from the competition and achieve your business goals. Call us at (888) 831-6095 or contact us using our contact form to get started with an initial consultation.