Digital Marketing Agency vs. In-House: Which To Choose?

Digital Marketing Agency vs. In-House: Which To Choose?

When starting a marketing campaign, you must first determine if you want to hire a marketing agency or do it in-house. This guide is here to help you choose.

Marketing is easily one of the most important aspects of business that too many smaller companies simply ignore early on. While you can technically find success without a planned-out marketing strategy, it’s significantly harder to do. So why do people skip it?

The reason often comes down to a lack of resources. Small companies and startups tend not to have much time to take on the projects that a marketing strategy entails, which means they usually decide to cut it out entirely.

However, there’s another option. You can hire an outside marketing agency to handle your advertising and SEO strategies for you. Regardless of what kind of marketing you want to do, there will be an agency out there willing to do it. You just have to decide if hiring a digital marketing agency or performing these functions in-house is better for you. To help you choose, we’ve created a guide that looks into the many aspects of marketing and which options are likely better for you.

Time Constraints

As mentioned, a big reason why many companies avoid marketing altogether is due to a lack of time. Smaller businesses simply don’t have the workforce available to them to run a full-scale marketing campaign. Depending on your size, you could maybe have a few people work on setting up some online ads, but they won’t have the time to do proper keyword research. If you want to pursue SEO, your employees definitely won’t have the time for that. You’d need to hire new people to specifically work on an SEO campaign.

This is why many people turn to marketing agencies. They already have all the workers they need to get your campaign up and running. All you need to do is pay them to do it. Because of this, agencies win this round, though the in-house route will become more viable as you expand.

Winner: Marketing agencies

Level of Control

However, control is one thing you’d potentially be giving up by sending your marketing work to an outside agency. Even though many groups will ask for your input and try their best to tailor your campaign according to your wants and desires, they’ll still make the executive call on what they should do for your campaign.

While this isn’t always a bad thing since they likely have industry knowledge you don’t, it can be difficult for your company to give up that kind of control. If you want to make sure your campaign runs exactly how you want it to, you’ll have to do it in-house.

Winner: In-house marketing

General Accessibility

No matter how you look at it, accessibility to your company and its assets will always be a struggle for marketing agencies. No one is going to have more access to crucial documents and website login information than you.

Agencies can ask for all the information they need, but you may eventually run into complications, especially when it comes to sensitive information. To give easy access to everything for the team working on your marketing campaign, you’ll need to keep it all in-house.

Winner: In-house marketing

Dedication to Campaigns

Even if the potential teams that will work on your marketing campaign have easy access to everything they need, the next question will be how dedicated they are to your company. Generally, the people you hire to work for you will be much more dedicated than the employees of an entirely different company.

However, that doesn’t mean you should count out marketing agencies. Many of them will fully bend over backward to ensure your campaign succeeds. Plus, in-house employees aren’t always loyal. Some of them are just working for the paycheck. In the end, this one is more of a toss-up, but we’ll give it to in-house marketing because we’ll assume you have spent lots of time finding employees who are just as passionate about your brand as you are.

Winner: In-house marketing

Brand Familiarity

Speaking of brands, another thing that your company will always know better than any outside agency is your identity. Getting the right brand image is challenging, and it’s hard to trust an agency that has hundreds or thousands of other clients to understand exactly what you’re looking for. Once again, agencies can really surprise you here, but no one knows you better than you.

Winner: In-house marketing

Marketing Knowledge

There have been lots of wins for in-house marketing so far, but you shouldn’t count out agencies just yet. One of the biggest advantages that marketing agencies have over any of their potential clients is a wide range of marketing knowledge. Even if you have had experience with marketing on your own, it simply can’t compare to an entire company full of people who do marketing every day for a wide variety of customers.

They’ve seen it all and have kept track of what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. Even if you hire a large team of marketing professionals, they won’t hold a candle to the number of employees a marketing agency will have. If you don’t know much about marketing and how to run a successful campaign, you really need to consider hiring a marketing agency.

Winner: Marketing agencies

Future Insight and Growth

Of course, the downside to hiring a group that knows everything about marketing is that your company won’t learn. If an outside group handles all your marketing campaigns, your business will never gain the knowledge needed to do it independently. For some companies, this isn’t a problem since they can keep paying an agency to handle these campaigns forever.

For those that want to do everything themselves someday, hiring an outside source will make it harder to do so. Sometimes, it’s better to learn and make mistakes early rather than try to figure things out later and make errors that have much more devastating effects. While this one depends on the company’s personal objectives, we’re going to give it to in-house marketing.

Winner: In-house marketing

Potential Scalability

Another big plus for marketing agencies is the ease of scalability. When you hire a company to do your marketing for you, all you have to do if you want them to increase production is pay them more money—that’s it.

If you want to scale in-house, you need to hire more employees, teach them new techniques, determine which strategies work best, and much more. This will take lots of time and effort, which you might not have, depending on your size. The upside to in-house scalability is it’ll become easier the larger your company is. However, it’ll always be much simpler to pay an agency more money to scale your campaigns.

Winner: Marketing agencies

Employee Turnover

On top of that, the more workers you have, the higher the likelihood of employee turnover you’ll experience. The thing that makes marketing difficult is that many of its aspects are creativity based. That means if you operate in a boring industry or things don’t change very often, some employees will grow disinterested and leave for more exciting careers. Of course, this completely ignores all the other reasons why a worker might leave your company.

As for marketing agencies, when an employee gets tired of a campaign or can’t come up with anything new for it, they simply move to another one, and a fresh marketer takes their place. Even if the agency experiences high rates of turnovers, it’ll likely be something you’ll never notice on your end. Because of that, this one goes to the agencies.

Winner: Marketing agencies

Overall Cost

Of course, the point that everyone cares about the most is how much each option will cost you. Unsurprisingly, the total amount will vary, but there are some consistent factors between each option.

Many companies believe that agencies will always be the more expensive route since you have to pay them to get anything in return. While the reoccurring payments can be rough, it all depends on the agency you go with. Smaller ones might give you a good deal on their services, but sometimes, you get what you pay for. Generally, if you pay more, you’ll get better-quality service, though that’s not always the case.

Still, if you feel the charges are too high, you have to remember what you’re paying for. It’s not just the service but the programs and people that are necessary for your campaigns to operate. If you run an in-house campaign, you must pay for these employees and tools yourself. Plus, you’ll need to determine which tools are best for driving organic traffic and other such things. This can be a massive upfront cost and hassle that not many businesses can handle. Because of this, we’re actually going to give this point to both of them.

Winner: Tie

Which Should You Choose?

Now that you’ve seen the differences between digital marketing agencies and in-house efforts, you’re likely wondering which to choose. While we can’t decide for you, we think the best option is usually to start with an agency and maybe move to in-house work once you have the resources to do so.

This will save you lots of time and money early on while giving you the opportunity to learn how to best market your company from trained professionals. Once you feel confident, you can bring your campaigns in-house and give them the close attention they need to thrive.

Digital Marketing Agency vs. In-House: Which To Choose?