Hire In-House or Outsource Marketing: Which Works Best?

Exec Summary@4x

Executive Summary

There are multiple ways to approach putting together the right marketing team, including hiring an in-house team, contracting an agency or freelancers, or taking a hybrid approach of having both an in-house team and outsourced contractors. In this blog, we’ll walk you through why companies choose to outsource, hire a team, or take a hybrid approach, and how you can figure out what works best for your company. 

When it comes to building and implementing a marketing strategy, there are multiple ways to approach putting together the right team. Many businesses choose to hire an in-house marketing team for most of their needs, looking for marketing experts in the areas they deem most important first and expanding from there. Other businesses, most often startups, smaller companies, or those with strong recommendation funnels, hire an agency or contractors and outsource some or all of their marketing activities. Then, some use a hybrid approach of an in-house team and outsourced contractors to achieve the companies’ goals.  

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the most common scenarios of why companies choose to outsource, hire a team, or take a hybrid approach, and how you can figure out what works best for your company. 

What Is Outsourced Marketing? 

Outsourced marketing involves hiring a third party to conduct all or some of your marketing activities. As such, an outsourced marketing team can replace the need for in-house staff entirely, or it can augment an existing in-house team. In contrast, in-house marketing is any marketing activity conducted by company employees. 

There are multiple ways to outsource marketing activities. For instance, you can outsource different areas of marketing, hire a consult to advise on a strategy, work with an agency on a project-based approach, or hire a remote team to augment your in-house staff, and the list goes on. With the plethora of professionals available today, it has never been easier, or more beneficial, to work with different marketing professionals in a variety of ways.  

Types of Outsourced Marketing Activities 

All marketing activities done in-house can be outsourced and vice versa, it just depends on what works best for you. To give you an idea of the types of services provided by outsourced marketing agencies, we’ve compiled a list of 

  • Market Research and Analysis 
  • Brand Voice 
  • SEO Audits and Planning 
  • Content Marketing 
  • Lead-to-Sale Process Analysis 
  • Campaign Development & Deployment 
  • Campaign Content 
  • Systems & Tools Audits 
  • Systems & Tools Planning and Implementation 
  • Marketing Automation 
  • Marketing Analytics and Dashboards 

Reasons to Outsource Marketing Team Roles 

There are multiple reasons a business may consider outsourcing some or all of its marketing team roles. Cost and effectiveness are the most commonly cited reasons for outsourcing.   

An in-house team already knows, and may have developed, a company’s brand, culture, and product, which is necessary for success across all channels. However, there are still occasions when outsourcing marketing team roles might be more beneficial to your company. Here are some common situations where outsourcing marketing might be right for your business.

You Don’t Have the In-House Marketing Expertise  

If your business hopes to achieve new results with its marketing efforts, it may need to try new marketing mediums or tactics. If this is the case, your business may not have the in-house marketing expertise needed to capitalize on those new techniques. Fortunately, outsourcing a specific marketing team role is usually more cost-effective than recruiting and employing a new staff member. Not only that, outsourcing can provide you with a fresh perspective on your marketing strategy. It can also provide a bit of a safety net in case you do not want to continue with the new tactic.

Additionally, an excellent outsourced marketing agency usually has access to an entire marketing team with specializations in content marketing, brand development, SEO strategy, and marketing analytics (just like, el LinKe). An agency may also have expertise in different tools such as CRMs, sales tools, and marketing platforms that can take years to cultivate. They also have a good understanding of the new tools available on the market and what will work best for your business.  

Having access to all that knowledge will get you the best results for your business often for less than what it would cost to hire an individual team member with one expertise. With an outsourced marketing agency, you can get cost-effective, significant results quickly over a variety of topics. 

You Don’t Want to Employ a Full-Time Marketer 

There are multiple scenarios for why a business may not want to hire a full-time marketer. Scenarios may include, a company in the middle of a fluctuating market, those actively soliciting funding, or those focused on other key elements of the business. Expanding and decreasing the size of an in-house marketing team is not only time-consuming but costly. In this scenario, outsourcing your marketing needs allows you to easily and quickly increase or decrease your marketing activity and spend as the market moves. 

Another scenario might be if your business is new to marketing. Outsourcing allows you to test the return on investment of marketing efforts before diving into the long-term commitment of employing more staff. New employees require recruitment, training, office equipment, and benefits. These costs can be eliminated with an outsourced marketing team structure as the agency or contractor takes on those costs. Outsourcing simply costs less, in both money and time, than employing a full-time staff member.

You Don’t Have the Time to Do It Yourself 

Maybe your in-house marketing team has the expertise, but they don’t have the time. The last two years (and counting) have been hard on all businesses and individuals — Hello, Great Resignation. In 2021, more companies than ever reported increased staff shortages due to sickness, worker burn-out, and other different economic factors. According to Forbes, 45% of workers claim that their hours have increased since going remote as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, 70% of newly remote workers have put in more time on weekends.  

Not only have workers increased their hours, but there has also been a surge in responsibility. The result is that many in-house marketing experts may have the know-how but not the time to take on additional marketing tasks. If this is the case, outsourcing is an excellent answer. You can hire an outsourced marketing agency to tackle the hard work you don’t have time for anymore.  

You Aren’t Getting Leads or Sales  

Digital marketing strategies and practices have dramatically evolved over the last few years.  Tactics and tools that may have worked for your business two years ago may no longer generate enough qualified leads. The good news is that new marketing project management tools and automation services are released frequently. Staying on top of the latest digital marketing best practices is at the core of what an agency does. They are also the first to try out ground-breaking marketing technologies — which in-house marketing teams do not always have access to or the time to explore. With an agency’s in-depth knowledge of the shifting marketplace, they can help you identify new and easier ways to convert leads and boost revenue streams. 

You Need to Ramp Up Marketing Quickly 

Consider this scenario. Your traditional way of getting B2B clients involves attending trade shows and demoing your product. Then 2020 happened. In-person conferences around the world were canceled and you needed a new way to get your product in front of potential customers, and quick! Hiring a new in-house marketing role to take on the task would not be a fast solution. Think about the lengthy process: posting a marketing job, reviewing resumes, conducting online interviews, and setting up a remote working arrangement. Outsourcing the task to a marketing agency will allow you to pivot quickly and draw on their expertise. Marketing agencies are already set up, have experience running campaigns, and can jump in quickly to implement on changes in your marketing strategy that need quick results.  

Reasons to Hire In-House 

It might seem that outsourcing marketing teams is the easiest and most cost-effective way to hire a team, and that can certainly hold true in many instances. However, there are more factors at play that need to be considered as there are valid reasons for hiring in-house marketing roles.  

You Want to Retain Institutional Knowledge 

With outsourcing, all the institutional marketing and brand knowledge, best practices, challenges, successes, failures, and more, stays with the agency. In order to retain and manage that knowledge, you might consider hiring an in-house team or individual. In this case, an in-house marketing team would be able to clearly articulate and drive the evolution of the brand in response to the market and company goals. Additionally, having in-house marketers is incredibly important in case anything happens with the agency or contractor and you have to disengage. With an in-house team, you have someone available to give direction and share the necessary institutional knowledge with the new contractor. 

You Do Not Want to Be Dependent on a Third Party 

Somewhat similar to the reason listed previously, you do not want to be 100% dependent on a third party to manage your marketing. This can be partially avoided by implementing a hybrid approach to outsourcing. The goal would be to retain at least one person at your company to manage the overall marketing strategy and direction and contract with a marketing agency to fill some of the gaps.  

Your Company Plans to Grow Quickly 

Sometimes it just makes sense to hire a dedicated in-house team, especially if you have the means and the growth trajectory to support it. With an in-house team, you are the only client. Big companies often have big marketing teams that can cover all areas of marketing that they need to be successful, ie: SEO, social media, website, advertising and more. Other times, this is when the hybrid approach works best. For instance, you could have an in-house team augmented by an agency specializing in one area. 

Costs and ROI of Outsourcing Marketing and Hiring In-House 

Hiring an outside agency to outsource marketing may look expensive at first glance. However, outsourced marketing solutions typically cost much less than hiring a full-time, in-house marketing team. Moreover, with outsourcing, you only have to pay for the marketing expertise, project, or campaign that you need. This flexibility makes outsource marketing very cost-effective and suitable for any budget.  

On the flip side, while it might seem like an in-house team is more expensive, and it could be, you might actually see a higher return over time because of the dedicated nature of the team. An in-house marketing team becomes less expensive over time and can be very efficient as they only have one client. Ultimately, the cost will depend on the marketing team roles you want to outsource or hire for and your business goals. 

All costs should always be weighed against the return on investment (ROI). The choice between hiring in-house marketing vs outsourcing marketing often comes down to staff expertise, staff time, budget, and growth plans. This requires an understanding of your baseline activities and a willingness to set goals and measure success against those goals. No matter which direction you take, measuring the ROI gives you an idea of what your teams, whether outsourced or in-house, are able to achieve and if you need more help. 

Overall, outsourcing your digital marketing or taking a hybrid approach are cost-effective ways to achieve growth, save time, and enhance return on marketing investment.  

Deciding What Is Right for Your Business 

Deciding to outsource your marketing activities is a big decision. Ultimately, you must weigh the pros and cons of having an in-house marketing team, an outsourced marketing team, or a combination of the two. As you map out your strategy for the year, look at your options, and make sure that your money is invested where your brand will see the greatest return. 

Still not sure how outsourcing marketing can help you increase leads, close deals and grow your business? Then contact el LinKe. Our marketing experts can help you create holistic inbound and outbound marketing solutions that achieve results. Contact us today for more information.  

We’ll partner with you to close the missing LinKes in your sales and marketing pipelines and provide value beyond traditional marketing frameworks.