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Hiring Internally vs. Outsourcing Marketing: Which is Right For Your Business?


Every business needs digital marketing. If you want to understand why, please read What is inbound marketing and why is it so important for your business?

So when you're thinking about the best way to organise your digital marketing function, you need to make some decisions about how you can best resource your efforts.

Deciding whether to hire a full-time digital marketing professional or team versus outsourcing marketing to an agency can be challenging. There are a lot of things to consider.

That’s why we've decided to compile this comparison for you. This post will help you make an informed decision about what the best path for you and your business is, by clearly outlining the pros and cons of hiring a full-time digital marketing employee or outsourcing to a marketing agency.

Full disclaimer: Method+Marketing is a marketing agency, but we recognise that our service is not right for every business and we've tried to create an unbiased post.


The Pros of Outsourcing to a Marketing Agency

You don't have to pay a marketing professional full-time salary. Salaries for mid-career marketing professionals can be quite expensive:

  • Digital Marketing Manager: $73K
  • Web Designer: $47K
  • Social Media Manager: $49K
  • SEO Marketer: $60K
  • Content Writer: $55K
  • Graphic Designer: $53K

The total cost of hiring all these staff members in-house would come to $337,000 a year, and don’t forget to tack on the cost of paid leave, super and training costs. In fact, many argue that outsourcing is half the cost.

You get access to a wider range of skills and expertise.  Hiring an agency means you get access to seasoned professionals and industry experts to develop your strategy. These experts are charged with keeping up with the latest trends, techniques and technologies, not an easy task provided the rapid advancements in the digital space.

Specialisation and focus. Since agencies perform the same tasks over and over, they become highly specialized in each component of your marketing method, which also makes their tactics more efficient. Hiring an agency means you get an expert in the areas you need – so you can get great output and only pay for what you need.

Decreased margin of error. Having an experienced and reliable outsourced marketing team decreases the margin of error. Using marketing professionals provides you with high caliber skill sets for a fraction of what an internal marketer with those skill sets would cost.

You gain access to the latest technology and tools. Marketing tools increase efficiency, productivity, and performance. Sure, there are tools you can dig up for free if you know where to look. But agencies will give their clients access to premium services, software, and analytical data reports without charge.

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You can easily scale-up your marketing. Under a traditional in-house operation, the only way you can increase the output of your marketing team is to hire more employees. An agency can easily scale up your marketing activity as your business grows.

Results you can track and measure. The best marketing agencies are results focused. They design their marketing activities based on hard outcomes. An outsourced team has the know-how and tools to analyse the key performance indicators and monitor your ROI. They continually use this information to test, optimise and improve your campaigns.


The Cons of Outsourcing to a Marketing Agency

Loss of control. Offloading your work to an agency makes it difficult to maintain as much control over your campaigns as you would if they were done internally. And an agency who takes projects and runs with them without keeping you in the loop can be very problematic. This typically means less access when and where you want it – you have to plan more and it becomes difficult to do things on the fly.

No full-time employees. Agencies have many clients, and you’re just one of them. They MAY be less available, or slow to complete work – it depends on who you work with. If you need to suddenly change something or have an urgent task, an agency may not have immediate capacity to help. On the other hand, full time employees are devoted to your needs and your needs alone – and you get a lot of control over what they do next.

Learning curb. A marketing agency is external so they may need some time to understand and absorb your business and how you operate.  It's important to have a cohesive marketing message on social media, paid advertising, blogs, and other platforms. Outsourcing can make it difficult to keep all your marketing activity integrated and complementing each other, unless you outsource the WHOLE function.


The Pros of Hiring Internally

Company culture. If you hire a full-time team member for your business, they can immerse in your culture and understand your company values. This means your employee will have greater buy-in to your company. Your brand has a unique history and vision that you’ll need to explain clearly to an outsourced team if they’re going to help convey it in your marketing message.

Niche specialisations. The kind of team you need will depend on your business and product, but building your own team gives you the opportunity to hire the right people. If you work in an industry that requires specific knowledge, software or skills, an external agency may not have those credentials.

Internal knowledge. Someone on your internal marketing team will have extensive internal business knowledge. This means they will have specific insights when performing analytics and interpreting your data, that an outsourced team would not be privy to.

Control and speed. Your internal employees will have the best understanding of your company, your products and customers. A team that’s in-tune with your business can respond faster to internal and market changes. Also, some marketing tasks require input from other departments (product, IT, etc). Internal team members will take less time to get up to speed. Outside agencies can only work with what you tell them.


The Cons of Hiring Internally

Expensive. Generally, outsourcing is considered more cost efficient. It is expensive to hire full-time employees and provide them the benefits, training and management the need to be successful marketers.

Lack of skills. Digital marketing requires many skills – the person who is good at writing is different from the person who is a good at design, web development or analytics. Finding an employee who is genuinely talented in a broad range of skills will be hard to find (and keep) and most likely expensive to hire.

Hard to find. Finding the right team member can be very time intensive. You may have to sort through a lot of resumes and conduct a lot of interviews to find someone who is a good fit. Not to mention, turnover can be quite expensive.

When you place the in-house and outsourcing scenarios side-by-side, it may be more efficient to hire an agency for lower volumes of work, while a more ambitious marketing strategies may require a marketing manager in-house. It's important to take an in-depth look at your budget, your goals and the costs (employment costs, overhead, software, training, etc.). Every business is different and you need to figure out what makes the most sense for you.

The good news is you don’t have to make an all-or-nothing choice between insourcing or outsourcing your marketing needs. Some businesses use a hybrid approach: They outsource certain marketing tasks to an agency while keeping other tasks internal, this way they can reap the benefits of both.

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