Digital Marketing

In-House Marketing vs Agency: Which Is the Best Option for You?

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By David Tomas, on 8 October 2020

CMOs, CEOs, and Marketing Directors have all had to face this question of whether they should hire someone internally to expand the marketing team or invest in an agency? Basically, in-house marketing vs agency marketing.

Some may say it's better to hire someone directly, because they will be part of the company's DNA and the marketing will be better aligned with the objectives and the other teams. Everyone will understand what needs to be achieved because you will all speak the same language. However, the answer is a bit more complex.

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In-House Marketing vs Agency What Is the Best Option for You?

On the other hand, you may be tempted to go the agency route because you know they work with clients from different industries and can bring a fresh and innovative perspective to your marketing, as well as have experts in multiple marketing practices.

There are pros and cons to each situation, and making a decision can be difficult so we’ll weigh each option for you. We’ll explain the difference between in-house marketing and agency work, and point out what you need to look out for to ensure you reach success with either option.

Marketing Agency: Hire A Team With Multiple Experts

Investing in an in-house hire has its advantages, but there is always a risk. New team members may not be a great fit, or perhaps they are specialized in certain areas of marketing, but not others that you need. Maybe your company really needs an inbound expert, a SEM strategist, or someone to run email marketing campaigns.

If you stay in-house, that means that you will have to hire at least 2 or 3 people, making a significant investment. If you think about it, with that same budget you can hire a marketing agency and access a wide range of professionals, specialized in different techniques.

Depending on the agency you choose, you could have experts in content marketing, branded content, native advertising, video marketing, SEM, SEO, inbound marketing, email marketing, display, data science, design, and UX, all within reach. Agencies can offer you multiple perspectives to develop your campaigns and take them to another level of goal achievement and ROI.

Benefits of a Marketing Agency

Bill Gates once said "if your business is not on the Internet, your business does not exist." If you don't appear in search results, social networks, or marketplaces, you are invisible to consumers. People of all ages enter, make purchases and do their research online, making it essential to prioritize this side of your company.

A digital marketing agency can help establish or improve your presence online and develop campaigns that give you optimal results. They can even help you in the digital transformation of your team, if you are still in this process.

An agency can help you define your SEO strategy. They will be focused on getting the reach and visibility that your company needs, in order to attract more customers and improve sales. The process of identifying your potential keywords will be important for your SEO strategy and SEM campaigns, such as Google Ads. With the first technique you will work on the positioning in the medium-long term and with the second in the short term.

Agencies are also great for finding new campaign options or ideas. If you are very clear about your objective, but not about how to achieve it, an agency can advise you on this aspect thanks to its extensive experience. For example, you may want to capture leads using display advertising, but that's not the best option for your industry. Instead, an agency can advise you to try inbound marketing or a content strategy.

Hiring an agency usually gives you access to resources and tools that normally, if you hire them directly, can mean a significant financial investment with limited education on how to use these tools. For example, using Moz, Google Ads, or similar tools twice a month does not make much sense. In addition, your team avoids wasting time learning how to use them.

Another of agency marketing is their knowledge and staying up to date on trends. Digital marketing agencies move in a constantly changing environment and this forces them to be up to date and to know the most pioneering strategies, channels and trends that give the best results.

When an agency assembles the team for your project, it will integrate experts in different areas, adding richness, creativity and innovation to your campaigns. For example, at Cyberclick, if we have a client project to set up campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, at least one person specialized in social network campaigns will join the team, another from the development team, another from the design team, and one from account management and strategy. And that's the minimum!

Working with an agency also frees up your time. You and your team will be able to focus on contacting potential customers, working on the sales side, giving them personalized attention and focusing on the experience with your brand, while the agency will be responsible for attracting these consumers to you by deploying the campaigns and automating the processes.

If you are interested in starting multiple marketing activities, an agency will be able to develop a multi-channel strategy, where each of the actions has coherence and relationship with the others, transmitting the same message, objective and adapting the creativities to the specifications of each channel.

Ultimately, a marketing agency seeks to align with the company they work with so that marketing and sales are understood as a single team, regardless of them working outside of your company. An agency is just as motivated to ensure they are bringing in businesses to your company as you are.

The Experts Inside a Marketing Agency

Agencies typically have many different teams and people dedicated to specific strategies, methodologies, or fields within marketing. When you work with an agency, you have access to a wide variety of skills and knowledge in one organization. Here are some common positions and experts found in a marketing agency.

  • CEO: The person who leads the company and has that global vision that unifies all areas. He is the external image of the agency and the one who deals with the client in the first stages until the deal is closed. Then, the day-to-day management is passed on to an agency account executive and the company's internal team.
  • Account executive: These professionals are more experienced in the day to day up-keep with clients. They develop global strategies and coordinate the different professionals who make the campaigns effective. They focus on the analysis of results, looking for the best way to distribute the budget and make it as profitable as possible, as well as reporting to the client and coordinating next steps.
  • Design and UX: The design team makes the creative concept visible. They design the creativities for the campaigns, adapting to the advertising formats of each platform.
  • Social Ads: Professionals who make magic with the various social networks’ advertising platforms. They are able to reach the right people for each client’s campaign, while obtaining sales and leads in social environments.
  • Google Ads: SEM and Google Ads specialists are skilled in the world's largest search engine ad campaigns. It is a complex channel that offers very good results, because you respond to the search needs of potential customers with your advertising.
  • Data Science: Data analysis must be managed intelligently and with scientific vision. We live in the era of Big Data and it is necessary to learn how to put order to the information and obtain reliable conclusions and predictions based on the numbers to improve the marketing results.
  • Innovation and development: The most technological team in an agency. Focused on back-end development and solutions that help automate and improve the processes of creating campaigns.
  • Inbound: Inbound marketers focus on developing inbound marketing strategies for customers. They must control several areas of digital marketing and implement them simultaneously to attract potential customers with valuable content, automate contact processes, and detect when the time is right for sales.
  • Video: A digital marketing agency must have an area of video marketing. Video is the most consumed format on the Internet and the one that generates the best engagement at the advertising level.
  • SEO: The artists of web positioning and how your contents can get to be in the first position in Google and attract qualified traffic.
  • Finance: The area that solves and manages the economic part of all transactions between agency and company.
  • Creative: In a digital agency, all the professionals who are part of it are creative and contribute with their ideas to improve the strategy and the derived campaigns day by day.

Internal Marketing: When to Hire a Marketing Professional

Although working with an agency gives you access to many different teams and possibilities, there are also some benefits to working with an in-house team.

When you hire someone directly to your company, the employee will likely be more aligned with the global vision, culture, and values of the team. In addition, someone hired full time is usually more involved in the success and growth of the organization.

Another benefit to in-house marketing is clear and quick communication. Transparent and efficient communication is absolutely necessary to keep a marketing plan running smoothly. This is always easier to achieve with an internal team because you have access to information directly and instantly. With agencies, on the other hand, you have to wait for them to send it to you. Therefore, it is important that if you work with an agency, transparency is one of its values.

If your company has a large volume of workers and branches, then it may be worthwhile to internalize the marketing team as much as possible, at least for the essential functions and channels. Then, this internal work can be combined with agency collaboration, meaning the strategy is designed in-house and the agency provides support in the development and implementation.

If you have a small company, hiring an agency may be an expensive investment. Then, it may be worthwhile to hire a person responsible for marketing who performs different actions on a small scale: emailing, content writing, inbound strategy, social network management, creation of advertising campaigns on social platforms or Google, event organization, media, etc. As you grow, you can hire more team members or begin to branch out to an agency. Another hiring option could be a freelancer. They are not an agency, nor a direct hire, but they are experts in their specific field and can be an economical option for specialized jobs, like design, content writing, or email campaigns.

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David Tomas

CEO y cofundador de Cyberclick. Cuenta con más de 20 años de experiencia en el mundo online. Es ingeniero y cursó un programa de Entrepreneurship en MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. En 2012 fue nombrado uno de los 20 emprendedores más influyentes en España, menores de 40 años, según la Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 e IESE. Autor de "La empresa más feliz del mundo" y "Diario de un Millennial".

CEO and co-founder of Cyberclick. David Tomas has more than 20 years of experience in the online world. He is an engineer and completed an Entrepreneurship program at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2012 he was named one of the 20 most influential entrepreneurs in Spain, under the age of 40, according to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 and IESE. Author of "The Happiest Company in the World" and "Diary of a Millennial".