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It’s a battle many businesses contend with when looking for the right digital strategy to improve visibility and sales. Choosing between in-house vs. outsourced marketing can be challenging, and there are key considerations that should be made before making such an important decision.

This blog post outlines the advantages and disadvantages of using an in-house marketing team and an outsourced marketing agency, helping you to understand what’s right for your business. (Spoiler alert: we think outsourced marketing comes out on top, but we would say that wouldn’t we?)

What is in-house marketing?

In-house marketing means that all marketing activities (both online and offline) are managed by an internal team who has been hired by the business they are working for. In-house marketing can be handled by one single representative (often referred to as a marketing manager, marketing assistant or ecommerce manager) or, if budget allows, a business may recruit an in-house team to replicate the digital agency model. 

In-house marketing

Advantages

1.     Control of the individuals who are working for you. You may want to know exactly who is running your digital marketing campaigns, and if you want to stick with in-house, you can handpick your team members right from the very start. However, you have to be prepared to invest lots of time and resources on recruitment to ensure you’ve got the right people representing your brand.

2.    Strong understanding of your business. They’re paid to be devoted to your brand and can spend every single day understanding exactly how your business works. They will also have a deeper understanding of your closest competition because they have the time to keep a watchful eye on what they’re up to. 

3.    Strong communication. If you opt for in-house, you’re not required to travel far to communicate with your team. You can tap the shoulder of your desk neighbour or wave from the other side of the office to get the attention of your marketing team. As they are in the same building, timelines can be moved, and new decisions can be adapted to quickly as communication is simpler.

4.   Cheaper for smaller businesses. Choosing to go in-house is often favoured amongst smaller businesses and start-ups. Their budget is tight, and a smaller company may want tighter reins on what’s going on in terms of marketing spend. Understanding how to manage your digital marketing budget is important before making your decision to ensure you make the right choice.

Disadvantages

1.     Limited creativity. Having a team devoted to your business is all well and good; however, hiring individuals to work on your brand day in day out may hinder overall creativity. If a team is so involved with the day to day running of the business, it may be challenging to step outside of those activities, develop a broader perspective, and strategise how to grow the business.

2.    Underdeveloped skills and experience. If you use an in-house team, your business may suffer from a limited skill set. Although you may hire individuals based on their digital marketing skills and experience, once they are embedded into the in-house team, they will not have the time and resources available to continue and develop their skills. You also only have access to a limited range of skills by going in-house, so you may have to compromise on some of the expertise you were hoping to utilise. 

3.    Often overworked. If your business can only afford one or two members of an in-house marketing team, there’s a limit to what can be achieved in any given week. As well as the ideation and strategy time involved before a campaign can go live, there’s also the creation, development, and optimisation of campaigns, not forgetting the management and performance tracking required too. That’s a lot of work for a small in-house team to cope with, and it’s also common that they are dragged into other day to day tasks of the business too which can slowly diminish the focus of campaigns and dedication to the digital marketing strategy. 

What is an outsourced marketing agency?

Using an outsourced marketing agency often requires a full handover of digital marketing activities to a specialised agency partner. A digital agency acts as an extension of your business but relies solely on an expert team of digital strategists, analysts, and creatives who put brands in the right place at the right time in front of the right people in the digital marketplace to cultivate growth online.

Digital Marketing Agency

Choosing the right digital marketing agency can be difficult, and there are a number of different agency types that can be used. In the simplest terms, opting for an outsourced marketing solution puts an experienced team of digital specialists at your disposal. 

Advantages

1.     A wider and more advanced skillset. Digital agency marketers are experts at what they do. They devote time to industry training and keep abreast of the latest digital marketing trends to develop professionally and provide you with a better service. 

2.    Increased creativity. If you opt to outsource your marketing, you can benefit hugely from an ‘outsider’ perspective. The agency specialist works with numerous unique client accounts, and every day is different. This helps their minds to stay fresh, alert, and most importantly, creative. They are continually exposed to a huge range of businesses and industries so they can step outside of the confines of monotonous routine and offer innovation.

3.    Agencies are good at time management. Agency marketers are naturally good at being adaptable to changing tasks – it’s really part of the job description. Working on a number of different client accounts requires an agile way of thinking to ensure the smooth workflow of the agency overall.

4.   Equipped with adequate resources to perform effectively. In-house marketing teams are typically small and consist of one or two people who, although may have knowledge and expertise in a particular area of digital marketing, will be limited in others. Working with a digital marketing agency means you have access to specialists in every area of digital marketing with the added benefit of an account management team who can strategise and advise you on how to make the best use of your budget for the biggest return on investment.

5.    Cost-effective in the long-term. Choosing to outsource your marketing means you have access to a bigger and more diverse team without spending money recruiting a huge in-house equivalent. While hiring an agency may seem more expensive at first, you benefit from more expertise and knowledge to grow your campaigns for more of those all-important sales.

Disadvantages:

1.     It may take a little time for an agency to align with your brand. Unlike an in-house team, agencies have to work harder to ensure they fully understand the business and your target customers. Strong communication and a close working relationship can resolve this, and as soon as we sign up a new client, we hold an immersion meeting. Immersion meetings are a great way to get a grasp of how a business truly works and meet the key team members.

2.    They may have a conflict of interest. Agencies have lots of clients in their portfolio and there are some agencies out there who pride themselves on being specialised in a particular sector (food, beauty, fashion, etc.) This industry focus can mean that some digital agencies are dealing with a number of clients who are actually in direct competition with each other, leading to a conflict of interest. That’s exactly why we don’t work with anyone in the same sector. Before starting a relationship with any new client, we ensure we can focus entirely on that client as we always have one objective in mind – to help our clients be industry leaders.

3.    Requests may not be actioned immediately. Outsourced marketing agencies deal with lots of different client requests on a daily basis, so occasionally, you may have to wait. However, digital marketing agencies are extremely well-practiced in prioritising tasks, and if something should require immediate attention, you can feel reassured that an account manager will always be on hand to get the job done. 

Choosing between in-house vs. agency can be difficult, but once you know the pros and cons of each, it’s easy to see where your business sits and what is required for your brand to really grow online. If you would like to speak to one of your specialists about managing your next digital marketing campaign, get in touch, and see how we can help.