We all love a great debate. A heroic battle. A fight between light and dark, good and evil, with a clear winner and a clear loser. In the marketing world, there are few battles more beloved than that of the in-house vs digital marketing agency debate. It’s a question that plagues thousands of business leaders every day: “Is it better to rely on in-house marketers, or work with a marketing agency?”

If you’re expecting me to launch into a take-no-prisoners argument for the agency side of the fight, you’ll be surprised. There’s really no one-size-fits-all answer to this. It depends on your company’s unique goals, strengths and weaknesses. What I will do is lay out all the pros and cons of each approach, so you can make the right decision for your business.

Here are three key factors to consider when deciding whether in-house or outsourced marketing is right for you:

1. You Want The Best Brain Power Available

Digital agencies have a breadth of knowledge, experience and resources that some in-house teams would be hard-pressed to match. Because agencies benefit from economies of scale, they’re well-versed in all things digital, have run projects for a wide range of businesses and understand what strategies work for what industries.

For the cost of hiring one full-time senior marketer you can access a wide collection of experienced marketing minds through a digital agency – and seven brains will nearly always be better than one when it comes to big ideas. This means that you won’t need to reinvent the wheel if you want to invest in digital, but can instead bolster your own team’s skills with the constantly evolving capabilities of an agency.

Of course, there are plenty of perks that come with hiring your own people, too. You get to handpick your team, train them exactly the way you want, and foster a unique company culture. However, you’ll also need to ensure your team stays sharp by providing regular reskilling – whereas an agency is responsible for the cost of training their own employees, not you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hiring your own people means you can handpick a team, train them the way you want, and grow a unique company culture.
  • Digital agencies have a vast range of knowledge, experience, and resources at your disposal.
  • For the cost of one full-time senior employee, you can access a whole team of agency-side marketing minds.

2. You Have A Need For Speedy Marketing

There might come a time when you need to ramp up your marketing efforts – and quick. Perhaps a competitor has launched an impressive new feature on their website that your team can’t match, and your site needs to be updated ASAP to avoid a revenue hit. On the one hand, you could post a job, review applications and find a candidate who can develop the correct solution. You’ll be filling a gap in your team’s capabilities and hopefully have found someone who can bring new thinking and digital innovation to your website for years to come.

On the other hand, the hiring process can be a lengthy one. If time is of the essence, you might want to consider outsourcing the work to an agency. While in-house teams can struggle with keeping up with the ever-changing digital industry, agencies have the resources and experience to turn projects around quickly, helping your company adapt to changes sooner rather than later. The key watch-out for this option is that a strong level of collaboration will be needed to ensure the agency aligns seamlessly with your business needs and goals.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s often hard for in-house teams to constantly keep up with industry and technological changes.
  • Agencies are built to handle tight deadlines at short notice.
  • When speed is of the essence, get your agency onboard. Work on filling the skill gaps in your in-house team when you have more time.
  • Make sure the agency you choose is a good culture fit with your team, because a poor culture fit kills the ability to collaborate effectively.

3. You Plan To Get Ahead Of The Curve

Say you have plans to grow your audience and expand your business, and have identified digital marketing as a clear way forward. Here, an internal team can provide invaluable historical knowledge of your brand, business goals, target audience and competitor activity. Being dedicated to one brand, available full-time, and with internally monitored KPIs, your in-house team will have a unique, long-term vision of your business and will be accountable for their successes and failures. However, there is a risk that an in-house team’s strategy and creative execution may become stale, repetitive, or out-of-touch over time. In addition, any of your project-specific or specialised employees may be short of work in-between projects.

While an in-house understanding of brand, customer and industry takes time and attention to develop, an agency can provide a more agile approach with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. To succeed, agencies are required to master the latest skills, technology, strategies and trends – often taking a specialist approach that puts the “best in the business” on your project.

By outsourcing your marketing needs to a dedicated digital agency, you will likely be receiving the most innovative and pioneering work available. In addition, experienced digital agencies will have likely seen every success and failure under the sun, making them more adept at identifying the best new opportunities for your business.

Key Takeaways:

  • In-house teams have a deep level of brand knowledge that’s invaluable.
  • There’s a risk that in-house strategy and creative may become repetitive.
  • Combine your in-house knowledge with the fresh perspective of an agency for the best results.

Getting The Best Of Both Worlds

In the end, the answer to this great debate will come down to your unique business needs, the capabilities of your current team and your vision for the future. But, as you’ve probably deduced, the best results will often come from a strategic combination of the two. Like peanut butter and jam. Or Beyoncé and Jay Z. Or Game of Thrones and spoiler alerts.

The odds that you’ll be able to find one unicorn employee skilled enough to do your SEO, manage your paid media campaign, conduct your UX research, develop your ongoing optimisation strategy, write engaging content, maintain your website and manage your overall marketing strategy is pretty unlikely. Businesses have always been outsourcing and collaborating in order to get the job done with the best resources available. By combining the deep level of brand knowledge and dedication of an in-house expert with the agility, speed and skills of an agency, you’ll be getting the best of both worlds.

Ideally, any digital agency you choose to engage should act as a strategic partner – working to understand your business, vision, customers and unique needs, just as well as you do. This requires a solid relationship built on trust, collaboration and a strong understanding of the opportunities that digital can provide your brand. That way, you can make informed, strategic decisions on the best way forward and avoid any shallow digital implementations that don’t align to your business needs in the long term.

Why The Real Winner Is Data

Yoghurt Digital exists to help companies solve digital challenges using real data – so none of our strategies will involve a superficial, one-size-fits-all solution. With services across Biddable, CRO & UX, SEO and Content, we have helped clients of all shapes and sizes, ranging from beauty and fashion, finance, education and technology. If you would like help in any of the above, get in touch with the experienced team at Yoghurt Digital to chat today.