Should I Hire a Digital Marketing Agency or an In-House Marketer? (Cost Breakdown)

Your full breakdown on whether you should hire a digital marketing agency or an in-house marketer (full cost breakdown included).

Should you hire a digital marketing agency?

We can all agree that investing in marketing is important.

But how should you invest your digital marketing budget?

Is it better to hire a digital marketing agency or an in-house employee (or employees)?

Sure, you can take the do-it-yourself approach and run your own marketing campaigns for as long as you want. However, building and implementing a strategic marketing plan is time-consuming.

As your business grows, doesn’t it make more sense to hire an expert to help with your marketing?

Key takeaways:

  1. Hire an in-house marketing coordinator if you’re already a digital marketing expert and willing to vet, train, and manage that individual on an ongoing basis (highest time commitment).
  2. Hire an in-house marketing manager if you’re willing to pay a premium to vet and manage a person who will take marketing off of your plate completely, and invest several thousand additional dollars per month in additional marketing resources to help them.
  3. Hire us (a digital marketing agency) if you want a strategic growth partner with a proven process to help you generate more sales for your business at a lower cost than hiring a marketing manager. See what it looks like to work with us.

Once you’re ready to bring in expert help, there are two approaches you can take: build an in-house marketing team or partner with a digital marketing agency.

So how do you decide which option is right for you?

We get that question from business owners a lot. The answer is that it depends on your marketing needs. But don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you hanging with an answer like that.

Digital marketer laughing

Image credit to http://gph.is/2fIzLyx

We’ve built a full cost analysis and listed the pros and cons of hiring an in-house team or working with a marketing agency.

Our goal is to help you decide which is right for you.

In this article, we’ll break down which is right for you by evaluating marketing managers, marketing coordinators, full-service marketing agencies, and specialized marketing agencies.


Digital Marketing Agency vs. In-House Marketer: the Cost Breakdown

Annual Cost Breakdown

Marketing Manager Marketing Coordinator Our Enterprise Growth Service Our Rapid Growth Service Our Standard Growth Service
Recruiting $4,000¹ $4,0007 n/a n/a n/a
Onboarding $1,252² $1,2522 n/a  n/a n/a
Salary $83,2705 $48,1616 n/a n/a n/a
Bonus $8,498³ $3,2166 n/a n/a n/a
Benefits $24,9814 $14,4484 n/a n/a n/a
Total $122,001 $71,077 $107,000 $66,000 $45,000

Data sources

Cost to hire a marketing manager:

Note: we found a wide variety of national averages for marketing manager salaries. This number is based on the average of data compiled from Glassdoor, Indeed, Payscale, and Salary.com.

As seen above, the average marketing manager will cost you $115,110 per year ($9,593/month).

Cost to hire a marketing coordinator:

Similarly, data from Glassdoor listed the average marketing coordinator salary across the United States to be $48,655.

Cutting the annual bonus and benefits for a marketing manager in half, a marketing coordinator will still cost $66,837 per year after accounting for benefits and onboarding.

Cost to hire a digital marketing agency:

Your investment will vary significantly from one agency to the next, depending on the scope of work. Here, we broke down the pricing of our content marketing services based on the growth rate that we benchmark for our partners who see 10,000-20,000 website visitors per month.

We benchmark 100% annual growth for our Rapid Growth Content Marketing Service ($66,000/year) and 50% annual growth for our Standard Growth Content Marketing service ($45,000/year).

As you can see, hiring a full-time employee is more expensive than hiring our team. The exception to the rule is our Enterprise Growth Service, which converts businesses into the industry leader as fast as possible ($107,000/year).

proven process cta

Let’s take a look at each option to figure out which marketing solution is right for you.


How to Decide Which is Right for You

When should you hire a marketing manager?

A marketing manager is a great option if you can afford to invest heavily in your marketing team. Having a marketing manager on board will allow you to step away from marketing as a whole as you put your trust in one person who is fully devoted to overseeing your marketing efforts.

Having a marketing manager on board will allow you to step away from marketing as a whole as you put your trust in one person who is fully devoted to overseeing your marketing efforts and managing your KPIs.

As seen above, the average marketing manager will cost you $115,110 per year ($9,593/month). However, most marketing managers will also expect a team of marketers to help them with building and implementing their proposed marketing strategies.

On the low end, you might be able to get away with spending an additional $2,000/month on freelance digital marketers who will help with the implementation phase. On the high end, you could be looking at multiple full-time marketing specialists ($100,000+ per year).

And that’s just the financial cost of working with those other marketers. Then you have a dozen hours of vetting other marketers, plus dozens of additional hours of onboarding and admin work.

You’re also setting yourself up for the job of managing your in-house marketers and building the systems to help them succeed.

When should you hire a marketing coordinator?

A marketing coordinator is a great option if:

  1. You are an expert in digital marketing and have already built out processes for scaling your business.
  2. You have the time and know-how to train the new hire on exactly how to do digital marketing to scale the business.
  3. You have the time to coach them continuously.
  4. You’re willing to pay them during the time that you’re training them to oversee your digital marketing.

Hiring a marketing coordinator is going to give you the most bang for your buck in terms of implementation. If you know what you’re looking for in marketing services and can train someone on how to do those marketing initiatives, then you should hire a marketing coordinator.

If you know what you’re looking for in marketing services and can train someone on how to do those marketing initiatives, then you should hire a marketing coordinator.

However, you still have to deal with the costs of bringing in outside help in the form of specialized experts.

Most marketing coordinators will be able to oversee a handful of marketing initiatives. However, it’s unlikely that a marketing coordinator will be able to confidently manage your content development, strategy, writing, technical SEO, social media marketing, link building, email marketing, and analytics reporting.

Taking the affordable route, you’ll still be paying at least $2,000/month in support from additional digital marketing experts.

When should you hire a digital marketing agency?

Marketing agencies are the ideal option for those who prefer to put facets of their online marketing on autopilot, without having to recruit and oversee full-time employees.

Marketing agencies bring subject-matter expertise and have the ability to look at your business from an outside perspective, which can help bring new ideas to your business. As a result, they charge a premium for their services. Most marketing agencies will charge $75-$200/hour.

Marketing agencies bring subject-matter expertise and have the ability to look at your business from an outside perspective, which can help bring new, innovative ideas to your business.

Marketing agencies typically come in 2 forms:

  1. Full-service agencies
  2. Specialized agencies

Full-service marketing agencies

Full-service agencies will serve in a role similar to the marketing manager. They’ll be the most expensive option, but will oversee large portions of your digital marketing strategy, such as PPC, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media.

They can be a great option for those that would rather have marketing on autopilot and would prefer not having to hire a full-time employee.

Specialized marketing agencies

Specialized digital agencies will offer 1-2 services that they’re highly experienced in (we’re a specialized agency that focuses on SEO consulting and SEO-centric content marketing). Specialized agencies will often provide higher-quality services than full-service agencies, but will only focus on one facet of your marketing efforts.

Specialized agencies will often have dedicated subject matter experts that focus on each stage of the process. For example, our team has 50 dedicated content marketers that either focus on content writing, content editing, content optimizations, publishing, content promotion, link building, and technical SEO.

When working with us, you get a team of 7-14 specialists working on each of those areas to help you grow your business.

Ok, so it sounds like I should hire a marketing agency. How do I find the right agency?

Marketer pointing to herself

Image credit to http://gph.is/1H1yF8m

But in all seriousness, we’re not the right partner for everyone. We’re a strategic business partner that helps you to drive more online revenue through education-centric content marketing.

Here’s a bit more about us to help you decide if we’re the right partner for you.

When should you work with us:

  • You’re looking to drastically grow your business over time
  • You’re willing to invest for the long term
  • Your customers are regularly reading about your industry, or often take the time to educate themselves before buying from you
  • You’re hunting for a strategic partner that will oversee your most essential marketing efforts

When shouldn’t you work with us:

  • If your total marketing budget is less than $10,000/month
  • If you have the free time to learn content marketing and would rather implement our content marketing framework on your own
  • If you’re content with your current growth rate
  • If you need results ASAP. Content marketing is a long-term investment that takes time to show return on investment (but the ROI of content marketing is undebatable)

But why trust us?

Customer reviews aside, we have measurable results to prove our quality.

Here are a few of the more recent examples of small businesses that we’ve helped:

  1. How we helped Streamline grow 284.4% (in 9 months)
  2. Helping Physicians Thrive grow their leads by 790% (in under 3 years)
  3. How We Helped Increase Now’s Organic Traffic by 942.7% (in 12 months)

Ready to meet our team? Fill out our get started form to schedule a call with one of our marketing experts to see if we’re the right team to help you out.

Still have questions about our team? We’ve outlined the most common questions businesses ask before working with us here.

Prefer to steal our biggest marketing secrets? Sign up to receive our monthly insights – one monthly email jam-packed with the best content that our team puts together every month.

Sources for Annual Cost Breakdown:

  1. https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/calculate-cost-per-hire/
  2. https://trainingmag.com/trgmag-article/2017-training-industry-report/
  3. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Marketing_Manager/Salary
  4. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecec.pdf
  5. Averaged data from these sources: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/marketing-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Marketing_Manager/Salary, https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Marketing-Manager-Salaries, and https://www1.salary.com/Marketing-Manager-Salary.html
  6. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/marketing-coordinator-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm
  7. Assumed costs based on data from sources above

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Should I Hire a Digital Marketing Agency or an In-House Marketer? (Cost Breakdown)