Should you hire an internal marketing team or outsource your marketing needs? Here’s the scoop.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The difference between in-house vs. agency work
  • How an in-house marketing team can benefit your business
  • Why agencies are often more cost effective
  • How internal marketing teams and agencies work better together

For business owners who manage their own marketing campaigns or are looking to expand their existing marketing efforts, there comes a time to decide:

Hire an in-house marketing team or outsource to a marketing agency?

From pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) to social media management and everything in between, digital marketing success depends on a team of experts to drive the strategy and rigorously manage the marketing campaigns.  

To make matters more complicated, marketing in-house and working with an external agency each has their own sets of benefits. Here, we explain the perks of each — and why you may not have to choose between them after all.

What’s the difference between an agency vs. in-house marketing departments?

An in-house marketing team is made up of one or more marketing professionals who run a business’s marketing campaigns full-time. A digital marketing agency is an outsourced team of experts who provide marketing services on a retainer basis.

The benefits of working with an in-house marketing team

Hiring an in-house marketing team may appeal to certain brands for many reasons, including:

Instant internal updates

Because in-house marketing managers are employed by the business directly, these individuals are deeply intertwined with any daily happenings. From company-wide meetings to discussions in the workplace, an in-house marketer never has to play catch-up with important updates and quickly has a feel for the brand’s culture.

team communicating and working together

Whether in-person or remote, a team working in-house is easily reachable during your own working hours. (Image: Rawpixel)

Quick communication & decision making

For fast-paced environments and business owners who want maximum control over project management, an in-house marketing team allows for fast communication and decision making. Whether in-person or remote, a team working in-house is easily reachable during your own working hours. 

Integration with other departments

Not only do in-house marketing teams stay up to date with the most recent events of the business, they can also collaborate with other departments, like sales and customer service, for more effective marketing campaigns and unified messaging.

The benefits of working with a digital marketing agency

For many businesses, an agency offers more benefits at a lower cost. Let’s explain:


The average salary of one digital marketing manager is between $80,000-$95,000 (plus benefits, taxes, and ongoing training), putting businesses on the hook for about $10,000-$12,000 per month for one full-time marketing manager.

An agency, however, can cost between $2,500-$10,000 per month for a full team — not just one person. This includes search engine marketing (SEM), SEO, PPC, social media marketing, design, and tracking subject matter experts.

Insider access to the top platforms

Agencies often have developed partnerships with professionals at different platforms, from Google and Bing to Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. 

Not only do these partnerships help potentially expedite issues when troubleshooting or connecting with customer service reps, but they can also keep you ahead of the game when it comes to platform updates and news.

Since agencies generally have higher management status with the likes of search engine brands, they can often get access to beta testing before other companies. This means they’re sometimes testing out new automation and algorithms that could help your business down the road. 

Additional resources

Did we mention you get an entire team of experts when you hire an agency? With more diverse skill sets and strategists in the most prominent fields of digital marketing, businesses can tackle their marketing goals across the (many) available platforms out there. 

A bonus? Agencies also bring access to marketing tools and industry insights you would have to pay for otherwise.

Up-to-date education

Agencies have benchmarks and standards to maintain in order to stay competitive in their own industry. That means agency employees are typically up-to-date on the latest certifications, education, and trends on their own time (and with their own money). 

What’s more, agencies have experience working with different industries, which can provide valuable insight and accelerate results.

Working with an in-house team & an agency

Why choose one when you could have both? In many instances, an in-house team and an agency provide the best of both worlds when it comes to achieving your marketing goals

Do you already have a marketing manager or team? Here’s how the two could work together for increased results:

A broader view of your program

There’s a lot to be said for seeing both the forest and the trees. Seeing the big picture without letting details slip through the cracks is an underrated skill. 

One of the biggest benefits of partnering with an agency on top of an internal team is how it offers a broader view of your program as a whole, including its strengths and weaknesses.

HawkSEM blog: How Working with an Agency Improves Your In-House Team

Partnering with an agency often means you have access to a whole additional team of marketing pros. (Image: Unsplash)

It makes sense: when you’re part of an in-house marketing team, it’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day digital marketing initiatives. Agencies offer an outsider perspective and can address blind spots you didn’t know existed. With an agency and an internal team, you can ensure your messaging stays true to your brand without getting caught up in the details. 

Combined years of marketing industry experience

If you already have an internal marketing team, add up the years of experience your team members have. By working with an agency, you can instantly double or even triple that number — pretty appealing, right? 

Depending on the company, some of your account managers may have worked in the industry for several years in different roles across various industries to boot. 

By combining your knowledgeable team with another set of marketing experts, you’ve got that much more experience that will no doubt come in handy, especially when changes arise and tough decisions need to be made.

Less time spent experimenting and testing

You should always be honing your digital marketing strategy. Not only does that take time, but it involves brainstorming, testing, data gathering, and analyzing, among other tasks.

An agency can benefit your in-house team because they’ve been there. Depending on how many clients they’ve worked with, they’ve likely got the experience that will help fine-tune and iterate your program faster. 

What this means for you: less time spent on what isn’t working, and more time on what is. 

Keeping an eye on your competitors

Remember that tunnel vision we talked about? While you may not want to admit it, it’s easy for this to happen when it comes to your competitors, too. It’s understandable: you’re trying to make things happen for your company, so you don’t want to spend too much time looking at others.

But knowing what your competitors are up to helps you stay in the game and, more importantly, not fall behind. A good agency can keep an eye on your competition, from the keywords they’re bidding on and the content they’re creating to approaches you could adopt in your own way for success.

HawkSEM blog: How Working with an Agency Improves Your In-House Team

Whereas a consultant is often one person, agencies may have 3-4 people working on your account. (Image: Unsplash)

Connecting marketing to other teams

Your marketing team isn’t the only group that stands to benefit from an agency partnership. It can also help align other departments in your organization, resulting in better communication and a more streamlined process overall.

By implementing lead scoring, for example, an agency can create a more unified relationship between sales and marketing by putting more emphasis on the quality of a conversion. Or by putting cleaner data into your CRM, you can give your ecommerce or fulfillment teams a better understanding of order volumes to prepare for in the future.  

The takeaway

An in-house marketing team, an agency, or both?

If you already have an internal team, partnering with a marketing agency doesn’t mean your in-house team has failed or isn’t up to snuff. By adding the additional layer of knowledge, insight, and hands-on action that agencies provide, you can see a significant boost in how your current SEM and SEO programs perform. 

HawkSEM would love to be that game-changing agency for you — want to know more? Let’s chat.

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

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