Hiring digital marketing agency vs. in-house: The pros and cons

So you want to invest in marketing for your business? There are a lot of options out there and it...
Fran Watson

So you want to invest in marketing for your business? There are a lot of options out there and it can be confusing! Have you thought about hiring a digital marketing agency or an in-house marketer or maybe even a freelancer? If not we’re here to help break it down for you. 

We’ll look at the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency versus hiring an internal marketer. So you can make the right decision for you and your business.

Getting your marketing right is crucial to your success. You don’t want to make the wrong decision and not get the results you want. Or even worse make a costly decision! Finding the right match achieves the best outcome, as both options have their advantages and drawbacks.

A full-service agency is a company that assists with tasks such as website development, social media management, SEO and other marketing activities. You can hire them to build your website or handle your social media and SEO.

Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • The size and complexity of your business
  • Your budget
  • Your marketing goals
  • Your time constraints
  • Your comfort level with delegating tasks

But first, let’s look at the difference between an agency and an in-house marketer.

A digital agency is an outside source you hire either for projects like a website build or ongoing marketing such as managing your social media platforms or SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

To achieve your marketing and business goals, you will collaborate with numerous individuals. However, you will have a designated account manager as your primary point of contact.

An internal marketer is one of your employees or team members. They’re part of the business just like sales or customer service. They will look after all of your marketing needs from your social media to advertising to SEO.



A marketing agency has a whole team behind them, with each member specialising in a part of marketing. For example, expertise can include social media, PPC, blog posts, SEO or email, amongst a bunch of other marketing channels. 

This means you’re getting specialists. Their knowledge and skills in products or services will be massive. And this will be a huge benefit to help you achieve your business goals! 

They’ll have a variety of experiences working with other businesses. So they know what will and won’t work for you.

A bonus to working with an agency is the variety of resources they have at their fingertips. Programs, tools and data are all included in the price to help with marketing automation. This can help you save time and money, and get better results.


No one can be a specialist in every subject of marketing. There’s a lot to cover, and you don’t want someone who says otherwise handling your marketing. 

In-house marketers are often specialists in one marketing subject such as Google ads. They understand the different areas but may be unable to do some tasks. Which means you may need to outsource some help. Unless you are going to invest in a marketing team who have a variety of expertise. 

For example, you want a new website but your in-house marketer is no developer and has never worked with code. You will have to outsource this task and others when you need the help. Your online presence is important and you will want the task done correctly. This can be an added expense.



An agency is most likely going to cost you more than hiring a one-person marketing team. You’re hiring a whole team of experts when you start to work with an agency. If you want the expertise you will have to pay.

Remember, that the price of digital marketing services is not always the best indicator of quality. There are many affordable agencies and marketers that provide excellent services. It’s important to do your research and get quotes from several different agencies before making a decision.

Here are a few points to think about when deciding:

  • What am I getting for the money? Is the output worth the expenditure and will this get me the results I want?
  • Be clear about your needs and budget. This will help the agency tailor their proposal to your specific requirements.
  • The level of service you need. Do you want an agency that does everything for you, or are you okay doing some of the work yourself?

The average cost of hiring a digital marketing agency can vary depending on the scope of the project. According to Adzooma, the average UK cost for a monthly retainer for Organic Social Media is £1,120 per month. Many factors can affect this, including the size of the project, expected results, and time constraints.


Hiring an in-house marketer may appear cheaper! But remember to consider training costs, necessary programs, and outsourcing tasks they can’t handle. If you want to hire an in-house marketing team, it will take time, money, and effort to find the right fit, and don’t forget about managing them.

Relationship to business


An agency is going to need to take the time to understand your business to help you decide the best way to achieve your goals. This can take time and some trial and error to achieve this.

However, an agency can bring a fresh perspective to your business and see things from an outside view. Providing you with a different path to success.


An in-house marketer is a vital part of your team. They understand the business and the day-to-day intricacies. They know the people behind the curtain if you will. And will have a good understanding of the business goals and what you’re doing to achieve them.

Plus when an unexpected task appears an in-house marketer will hopefully be able to jump onto the task straight away. Unlike with an agency, this could mean an extra cost if the job isn’t part of the original scope.

You know the old saying complacency breeds failure? Well, it can be easy to become complacent when your marketing is going well! But that shouldn’t be a reason to stop innovating. If the number of tasks is increasing, someone is likely to neglect something.



An agency is going to bring a whole host of experiences to the table. They’ll understand your barriers and how to lead you to success from previous experience.


Your marketer knows your industry well because they work in it every day. They’ll know the ins and outs and the people. It becomes much easier to work with other departments and get the information you need when you’re familiar with the people involved.



You won’t be (hopefully) their only client. They’ll be juggling several existing customers. If you work with a good agency, this shouldn’t be a concern. But it’s worth thinking about when choosing between an agency and an in-house marketer.

The bright side is, an agency has a full team experienced in handling big marketing tasks!


With an in-house marketer, their sole focus is your business, which is great. They can react to tasks/requests much quicker than an agency.

When one person handles all your business’s marketing though, things can quickly get out of hand! The words “I want to try out this new social platform” will most likely send chills down their back. On the other hand, if there isn’t enough work for them you will still have to pay them, unlike an agency where you only pay for what you need.

Xpand team during strategy session

Finding the perfect digital marketing agency for you

You don’t want to hire just any agency! You want to make sure they can work well with your team and provide you with the results you want. 

Before you start to look for a marketing agency you’ll want to ask yourself and consider these points:

  • What are your business goals?

Think about how your marketing will be able to help you achieve these. Your business goals and marketing goals tend to go hand in hand. For example, do you want to reach new potential customers, increase brand awareness or increase sales?

  • Think about the timeframe you want to achieve these goals.

Do you need a quick turnaround? Are your expectations realistic?

  • If you’ve worked with an agency in the past what were the positives and negatives?

If you’ve had experience working with them you’ll have a better knowledge of what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy. This can help you make the decision on which agency to work with next.

  • What does success look like to you?

Think about your targets and how would you measure their success.

  • What marketing are you currently doing? Is it working?

Have you tried doing some marketing yourself, why did you choose to try that type of marketing?

Here are a few things to look at to help you make this decision:

Once you’ve found an Agency here are some questions you can ask to see if you will work well together:

  • How do you measure success?
  • Who will I be working with regularly?
  • What does my monthly retainer include?
  • Have you worked with a business like mine before?
  • Will you work with my competitors?
  • How do you assess what my marketing needs are?

Ultimately, the best decision for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. 

If you need expert-level marketing solutions, consider working with a digital marketing agency.

However, if you have a tight budget or want more control over your marketing campaigns, consider hiring an in-house marketer.

Whichever route you decide to take, Xpand can help! As a full digital agency, we are here to help with any of your marketing needs. If your internal marketer needs support, they can choose our Alfred service for monthly consultations, where they can pick our brains on a range of marketing disciplines.