When making the jump into digital marketing, many businesses aren’t sure how to handle their marketing needs. For starters, they need to figure out whether to hire a single marketing expert, hire a digital marketing agency, or build their own in-house marketing team. As with any business decision, there are no easy answers. 

The decision to hire an internal digital marketing specialist or outsource marketing efforts depends on your situation. As much as we wish outsourcing digital marketing to marketing agencies was the only answer (since we are one), there are instances where you may be better off hiring full-time specialists. 

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons and your best option between freelancers vs. in-house vs. outsourced digital marketing.

Freelance Digital Marketing Expert

Some companies just want to dip their toes into digital marketing without committing to a full in-house team or agency. These companies will often seek out a freelance digital marketing expert. This is usually someone who works in the marketing field and now advertises themselves as a one-stop-shop for all marketing needs. 

Pros

  • Easy communication: Working with an individual expert makes communicating about your business’s needs and initiatives significantly easier. Any questions can be answered by that one person.
  • Lower costs: Paying a single person to do all your marketing work is clearly cheaper than paying for an entire in-house team. Additionally, this person can most often work from home, so you won’t need to accommodate them in your office space.
  • Better flexibility: Marketing teams can often have their preferred way of doing things and can be resistant to change. Individual experts may have more freedom and flexibility to tailor their approach to your business strategies.

Cons

  • A lot of (perhaps too much) responsibility: There’s a reason marketing is usually done by teams—there are a lot of things to juggle. Relying on a single person to accomplish all of those tasks can be risky.
  • More delays: When your marketing expert is overwhelmed, you will feel those repercussions with long delays, which can be costly. 
  • Stale tactics: Search engines are constantly improving and changing their algorithms, which can be a lot of information for a single person to take in. Therefore, working with a lone expert could lead to outdated practices.

In-House Digital Marketing Team

When you need to hire a full-time digital marketing specialist, the decision mostly comes down to what your goals are and what type of business you are running. If you are running a business where internet sales bring in a good portion of your income, you may need a full-time marketing specialist working for you.

Pros

  • Your marketing team is your own: You will have dedicated specialists to focus on your business’ needs. They can take the time to learn the ins and outs of your business and work alongside your web development team. 
  • More control: An in-house marketing team works for you and you alone—they won’t ever be caught up in another client’s work. Therefore, you can have significantly more control of your team’s schedule and strategies.
  • Better long-term planning: Many companies hop between marketing companies until they find one that works for them. Hiring a long-term in-house marketing team produces better stability and may help you stay on top of your industry for years to come.

Cons

  • Slow start-up: If you want to hire an in-house team, you’ll likely have to start from scratch. That means looking for new employees or hiring from within, depending on how much marketing-related work your employees have done in the past. It will take a few months before you have a team that starts showing results.
  • Less cost-efficient: It will likely be more expensive to run your own marketing team. Instead of paying on a project-to-project basis, your marketing budget will require hourly wages and salaries. Not to mention, your company will need to pay for various digital marketing tools if you want to gain a genuine competitive advantage.
  • Risk of bloat: Many companies will over-hire new teams to cover all their bases. But in that attempt, they will likely hire a few redundancies. To cut down on this bloat and increase efficiency, they may need to lay off some of the team in the future, which can be discouraging for those left on the team.

Outsourced Digital Marketing Agency

Hiring out your digital marketing to a specialized agency offers incredible advantages. After all, many companies have seen impressive results in the past. But of course, we would say that (we’re pretty biased towards agencies). Humor us as we try to take an objective look at outsourcing to a digital marketing agency.

Pros

  • More cost- and time-efficient: Perhaps the biggest difference between working with a digital marketing agency vs. an in-house team is how it fits into your budget. In short, you pay for the project, not the people. This helps keep overall costs down significantly. And while your outsourced agency is churning out optimized content, you can focus on other ways to make your company more profitable.
  • Access to top talent: Marketing agencies are always looking for the best strategists and creators to join their teams. When you work with those agencies, you get to reap the rewards of those experts.
  • Minimal management: Agencies are self-managers. All you need to do is establish expectations at the beginning of your professional relationship, and the agency will take care of the rest to deliver lasting results.
  • Additional marketing services: If you ever want to delve into other marketing tactics, agencies will often offer other services for you to try. For example, Big Leap also offers content marketing, conversion rate optimization, marketing automation, and social media marketing services in addition to our popular SEO package.

Cons

  • Difficult to coordinate: It pains us to admit, but it can be more difficult to coordinate marketing efforts with an outsourced team. Every decision you make must be communicated in meetings, which requires advanced planning to schedule since those marketing teams have other clients as well.
  • Limiting contracts: The contracts you sign can be rigid. This is mostly to protect you and the agency—it ensures that you get what you paid for, and they don’t go unpaid for any extra last-minute work. However, dealing with those contracts means time spent in negotiations while you’re trying to figure out what marketing initiatives you want to pursue.

You Can Have It Both Ways

In some cases, you don’t even have to choose either in-house or outsourced marketing—you can have both. Many companies will use outsourced marketing agencies to augment the capabilities of their in-house teams. These two entities can then communicate with each other to create a fully optimized marketing plan. Big Leap has done this dozens of times, including our optimization work with AlphaGraphics.

Find What’s Right for Your Company’s Needs

Hopefully, this article helped clear up the differences between working with an in-house marketing team vs. a digital marketing agency or a freelance digital marketing expert. The key to making the most of your internet marketing budget is efficiency. Make the choice that is the most efficient for your type of business and its marketing goals.

If you feel that working with a digital marketing agency is the best course of action for your needs, then you’re already in the right place. Get in touch with the experts at Big Leap today!

Jack Greaves