Digital Marketing: Should My Small Business Keep It In-House or Outsource?

When it comes to growing your small business, as you start to take marketing your brand more seriously, you simply have two options. You can either;

A) Hire internal members of staff to help you (or do this yourself would come under this, too)

B) Outsource to a digital marketing agency.

Being a start-up, I was in glee to see some of the job roles that some of the local businesses are hiring for. There was one company hiring three people; E-Commerce Manager, Digital Marketing Manager and Social Media Manager.

Depending on the size of your business, you may not have the resources to hire three employees that will looked to cost them £100,000 according to the salary of each vacancy. It may just be one employee, or a social media assistant for less than £20,000 a year – but what it gave me was the confidence that my packages were of massive value to organisations, and my skills were needed.

I must obviously then take the time state it is my true opinion (this may be a little biased) that outsourcing your digital marketing can save your company thousands of pounds throughout the year, and actually makes more sense than trying to build an in-house team to help market your brand online.

HOWEVER, today I want to put that to one side, and take an objective, unbiased and clinical view of the two sides of the coin: keeping your digital marketing efforts in house, or outsourcing them to a digital marketing agency.

For the point of this article, I will be looking at the pros and cons of each, and how that will translate to your real-world marketing efforts.


First off, let’s cover keeping your team in-house. So you’ve done some research, you know where you want to take your brand, now it’s time to build an internal team to take your company to the next level.

The positives

Increased control

The first benefit I will mention is an increased sense of control of your marketing, which for small businesses can be extremely important. Retaining control of your brand, your vision and your company is something everything small business owner can relate with.

The simple fact is, when you are hiring people in-house to control your digital marketing, you have more control over your digital marketing. Your employee are your employees. Technically, they sign a contract to do what you ask of them. You can be there, in person to critique, approve, praise and collaborate with your digital marketing team to ensure that your brand is being promoted the way in which you see best fit.

The company-insider

Alongside that fact would be that your team of in-house expert(s) would have direct access to your company and your brand. They are there every day, with your team, integrating into your business and getting to know the way in which you conduct business.

Let the truth be the truth; having an engaged team is one of the biggest advantages you have against your competitors within your marketing efforts. Imagine your social media manager taking a picture of you and the team out for a meal, and using that as a way to showcase your business ethic, principles and teamwork. That isn’t possible with an agency, certainly not.

An in-house team will always have a better understanding of your brand’s vision, mission, the history and all those little intricacies that can really work to showcase your brand’s story. Plus, if you have a culture that allows for open communication, innovation and where ideas are allowed to flow, your whole team can promote new ideas and ways to market your business.

Faster, more responsive

Research, strategy, execution, analysis, reiteration. There’s a lot that goes into a digital strategy, and the fact you have immediate access to members of your team to make informed decisions if another department needs to be consulted within a marketing campaign. Access to other teams in your organisation such as technology, product, business development can provide valuable insights into your processes to make more informed decisions much more seamless.

The negatives

Limited choice of expertise

The fact is, when you’re hiring within your business – you have access to the people who are available on the market and interested in working with you within your location and timeframe. Who is to say you can truly find the people you need to enhance your brand, and that they will be loyal, engaged employees?

As demands for digital marketing grow, it can be hard to source the right talent for any organisation. A skills gap exists in digital marketing due to the ever-changing and demanding environment in which we are in.

Furthermore, who is to say the people you hire today will be equipped to deal with the digital landscape tomorrow? That brings me to my next point..

Management & training

With digital being an evolving industry, people need to continually improve upon their skills to remain relevant in the market.

The fact is, some people don’t want to take it upon themselves to go seek out training and development, particularly if they’re working for your company. That means it becomes your responsibility to ensure that your team is up to date and trained to the latest standards across all disciplines of digital marketing; from strategy and planning, SEO, social media, content marketing, email marketing, digital display advertisement, analytics.

What happens then? It means you need a manager, or you need to manage the team, both of which can be costly both in terms of monetary expense and your own time as a business owner arranging the training and managing members of the team.


The fact is, hiring a team can cost businesses thousands. If we consider that each role may cost you upwards of £20,000 to £30,000 per year, putting together a team of digital marketing experts will certainly cost. That’s excluding the other costs of training, managing, staff perks and benefits.

The fact is, for a small business owner it could cost in excess of £100,000 per year to hire a team of marketers that are loyal to your brand and want to help you grow. If you want to hire just one capable individual within this field, you’re talking at least £25,000 for the year.

When you consider you can outsource the work for half of that price and get the same amount of hours, effort and dedicated from an outsourced team of specialists, what makes more sense? Let’s take a look at outsourcing..


The next option you have is to outsource your work. This would mean that you are giving control over to an external agency, who will work to build your brand and drive interest to your business online.

The positives

Fresh (outsider) perspective on your brand

When you hire someone in-house, they may not want to give you advise that would be against your current status-quo. In other words, they may want to just please you, without objectively looking at your brand, your business and your marketing efforts.

An agency on the other hand, they’re empirical, they have many clients and will have access to expertise and experience in order to advise you on the best route to marketing your business online.

Conducting an audit of your current marketing efforts, putting together a fresh new strategy and delivering some home-truths about your current practice may be much easier for an agency who is less detached and wants to ensure they provide you with the best advise according to the best practices of the industry is one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing your work.

Access to expertise and tools

The fact is, when you talk about expertise, the digital agency is going to win. This is a competitive field and any agency that is not doing what they can to ensure they are equipped with the latest knowledge, best practices and are qualified to do the job, well the fact is they won’t be in business long.

As a small business, you have much more of a choice when it comes to who you want to work with when you outsource you work, and you can ensure that you are getting the access to the expertise and tools you need in order to grow your business. This not only ensures that you are following best practices, but can also give you access to tools that you would otherwise have to pay monthly or yearly fees for, which the agency will already have at-hand.

Some of these tools include:

  • SproutSocial (I pay £100/month for a basic package right now)
  • HubSpot (It can range from £50 – £100’s of pounds per month)
  • SEMRush (it starts at $100 per month)

There’s plenty more useful tools that marketers are already probably paying for that will help you in your marketing efforts, and ultimately won’t have to pay for if you outsource your work.

It can be considerably cheaper

Considering the above, you can see how outsourcing your work can be much more cost-effective than hiring in-house staff and having to provide them with all the tools and resources to work with. Not to mention holidays, sick leave, paid breaks, staff talking to each other in halls about the Game of Thrones while they make a cup of tea (probably which you provided)… all of this adds up, considerably.

When you pay for work with an agency, it’s simple. You know the aims, you know what they will provide, and you know how much they pay. The fact is, when my clients pay me, they pay for results and the work I produce. They know that I am aiming to increase their online sales by 100% over the course of three months, and how I will look to do that through content and social media marketing.

They can see the results, they see the work and they only pay for what they get. No more, no less. They don’t pay me when I’m drinking tea, taking a break, on the toilet or when I don’t feel like coming in because I have a cold. That’s all my problem, and done on my time.

The last point; hiring an agency can probably save you 50% of your marketing budget that you can allocate to other things. What you would pay £30,000 a year to an employee for, I possibly offer more with my £1200 monthly package. That’s less than half price at £14,400 for the year.

The negatives

Less control

This can be overwhelming for a small business, particularly if you’re still new. Your brand becomes an extension of you as a business owner, and the fact is when you give access to your social media profiles, your company blog and your website design and development to an agency, you do lose a little bit of control in the sense that, you’re handing over the responsibility of your marketing to an external body.

I get it. With a team in place within your office, you can have meetings whenever you want, you can brief your team on the latest within your company at super-fast speed and provide constant feedback and reiterate your process. With an agency, they may have their opinions, and you may have yours. It’s up to you to find an agency that fits and will allow you to retain the amount of control you want within your business, if that’s the case.

Wrong fit

Not everyone agency will be a great fit for your business. I work within specific niches right now, and I am looking to increase my expertise across a few very niche and specific markets; Fibre Optics & Data Cabling, Sales Training, Cyber Security, IT and Recruitment.

This will help me when I am working on client’s content, as it helps me become an expert in their field as well as my own.

You can hire the wrong agency which does not resonate with your brand, have little knowledge of your industry (and therefore what your customers want) and cannot market your service or product appropriately. It happens, make sure if you do hire an agency, it’s the right one.

Overwhelming choice

Again, choosing an agency can be hard! There are millions out there, which would should you choose? And what do you want to concentrate on? When you are looking into companies within this landscape, it can be hard to understand what it is you’re actually looking for.

There’s so many agencies you can go with, each with their own specialism, experience and promises. Without an industry insider to explain exactly what SEO will do for you, or why a content marketing strategy is right for you, or why (and how) you need to be advertising across social media, sometimes it can be a bit confusing.

Making the right choice for your business. Outsource, or In-House?

Are you a local business looking to market your business online? What do you do, hire a team in-house or get in touch with someone like me to help you with your digital marketing at possibly a fraction of the price?

Get in touch today for a free consultation, I can give you some impartial advise moving forward in growing your brand online.

Call me on 07904008731