Should We Hire an In-House Marketer or a Digital Marketing Agency?

Digital marketing agency

Brands have two main choices for marketing these days: They can do it in-house by hiring a marketing manager, or they can hire a digital marketing agency with specialists in multiple disciplines. 

We provide an overview of the two options below, then unpack the benefits and situations where each choice is ideal.  

The Cost of an In-House Marketer vs. a Digital Marketing Agency

Let’s cut to the chase: One of the most significant factors for companies when deciding whether to hire an in-house marketer or a digital marketing agency is the price. While how much you spend will vary, let’s look at some concrete data to see how they compare overall. 

According to Glassdoor, in 2022, the average marketing manager earned $78,039. Those on the lower end of the scale made about $62,000 annually, while those on the higher end earned nearly $100,000. But just over $78,000 is a good baseline for what you can expect to pay if you hire an expert to work in-house. 

Digital marketing agency

As for pricing for a digital marketing agency, retainers typically run between $2,000 – $7,500 a month. If it’s on the lower end, it’s significantly cheaper than hiring an in-house marketer. And if it’s on the higher end, it’s comparable in price. Either way, you get access to an entire team with a wide range of disciplines rather than only having one manager/generalist. 

When an In-House Marketer Makes Sense

There are three main benefits of the in-house route. 

One is brand familiarity. Any time you have someone intrinsically involved with your business operations and part of daily activities, they’ll inevitably better understand your culture, mission, values, style, tone, and so on. This isn’t to say that a digital marketing agency won’t have brand familiarity, but it won’t likely be on the same level as a marketing manager. 

Another advantage is accessibility. Whenever the person handling your marketing campaign works in-house, you have instant access to them whenever you need — something important to several companies. While most agencies are highly responsive, it can’t compare to being able to stop by a marketing manager’s office or have an impromptu meeting. 

Third, there’s control. If your business leaders want things done just so and want to maintain tight control every step of the way, it’s usually best to hire an in-house marketer if you can afford it. 

When a Digital Marketing Agency Makes Sense

One of the biggest advantages of partnering with a professional agency is that you work with specialists in multiple digital marketing disciplines. At 3.7 Designs, for example, we offer a wide array of digital marketing services, including SEO, PPC, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and more. 

Here’s a full list. 

Digital marketing agency

Access to multiple experts like this is valuable, allowing you to cast a wide net with your marketing efforts. The team members you partner with are constantly learning, training, and mastering the latest and most effective techniques, as that’s their primary focus. This expertise often leads to tangible results more quickly than if you only have one dedicated marketing manager overseeing everything. And having several points of view from a team not directly embedded within your company also offers a fresh perspective and a high level of objectivity that’s hard to replicate in-house. 

Another advantage is the added capabilities you get with a digital marketing agency. Again, when you partner with a team rather than an in-house individual, you have more workforce fueling your campaign. And that’s essential, especially when you’re implementing multiple strategies simultaneously. In reality, a single person only has so much time to devote to your marketing initiatives. If you go the in-house marketer route, it can limit the size and impact of your campaign. But if you have a digital marketing agency, you accomplish more in less time. 

There’s also the issue of scaling. While many marketing campaigns start relatively small while testing the water to come up with a winning formula, they often feel compelled to rev up their efforts over time. If you’re working with an agency, scaling up (or scaling down) is pretty simple because you always have adequate staffing. However, if you have an in-house marketer, you’ll likely be limited, putting limitations on your efforts. 

Besides that, you don’t have to worry about the problem of turnover with this approach. One of the biggest concerns of hiring an in-house marketer is the threat of them leaving for another company or things simply not working out. It’s a classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket; if the expert you hire leaves, you must replace them — which can be time-consuming and costly. By choosing an agency, turnover isn’t a concern because the infrastructure will allow them to absorb employees leaving without being overly disruptive to operations. 

And finally, as we discussed earlier, a digital marketing agency is usually the more affordable option. In 2022, the average in-house marketing manager’s salary was around $78,000, while it often costs much less for a digital marketing agency. For companies where budget is a key concern and don’t have the financial backing for a full-time salary, choosing an agency is usually the best bet. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re a company that doesn’t have a big budget for digital marketing, choosing a digital marketing agency is almost always the right choice. Choosing a reputable agency should help you get results at a far more affordable price than hiring an in-house marketer. 

For perspective, about half of today’s businesses go this route, with many being quite satisfied. 

The crucial benefits (like expertise across multiple areas of digital marketing, robust capabilities, easy scaling, and not having to deal with the hassle of turnover) make partnering with a digital marketing agency the natural choice for many businesses. The main reasons you would want to take the opposite approach and hire an in-house marketing manager are if:

  • You have a significant budget and can afford to pay around $78,000 per year
  • You’re seeking the utmost level of brand familiarity
  • You want maximum accessibility and control
  • You aren’t concerned with being a bit limited in terms of digital marketing strategy expertise
  • You aren’t concerned with scaling
  • You have a system in place to account for employee turnover

In that case, hiring someone to work directly at your company would likely make the most sense. 

Working with 3.7 Designs

If you’re interested in partnering with a professional agency to handle your digital marketing and want to learn more, 3.7 Designs will be happy to chat with you. We’ve helped numerous brands across various industries increase their traffic, generate more leads, and significantly boost sales. You can find case studies of specific clients we’ve worked with here

You can contact us through our online form or by calling 800-672-1714.