I recently asked folks to share their experiences on Linkedin: In house VS. Agency for Marketing + SEO. I asked In house people: why are agencies useful? And I asked the Agency people: why are in-house marketers useful?
Here’s the basic synopsis of the answers:
- With agency people you get access to a wide array of experts (with the right agency), in-depth expertise, and speed.
- With in-house people you get a stronger sense of ownership over KPI’s, intimacy with internal dynamics, and advocacy for resources based on the real priorities of the business.
In-house people had these positives to say about agencies:
It was great to hear a few people share about what they feel the value of agencies is – from people who are not our clients. We want to learn how to serve internal marketers better with our expertise, and as we grow – we know we’ll be collaborating more with smart folks like these.
Abbey McDonald – Standard Heating and Air Conditioning
“When it comes to small marketing teams…being I am a department of one, I find huge value when it comes to working with agencies! I don’t have the capacity to do it all on my own. Working with an agency not only brings in fresh ideas, but it gives me the support and different perspectives I need to create and deliver on high quality campaigns that are effective. It’s a plus getting to work with experts and learn from them along the way. Working with an agency that I can trust really is a necessity for me!”
Ammon Mckinley, Fresh Home Solutions
“I think the major benefit of having an agency is that they have different specialists in-house that you’d have to pay $4-5k/month minimum to have access to if you hired them in-house. Plus agencies have more data from working with multiple companies like yours. I’d say the benefit of having marketers in-house is the creativity and the collaboration that can take place. I honestly think a perfect mix would be for the agency to cover web dev, SEO, and PPC while working with the in-house team on branding, video, and strategy. Could be a glorious marriage if all egos and budgets were aligned!”
Ponara Eng, Cambria
“The Benefit of the right agency is depth of expertise. Most in-house digital marketing is tasked with covering lots of ground and truly dominating specific areas require serious depth.”
William Bravo, Seer Interactive (Not internal – but this is a solid perspective)
“When you work with a strong agency you gain access to the brain power of the entire hive, not just your account team. Imagine one person trying to solve a complex problem they have not faced while in-house vs an account manager pinging a div chat and immediately gaining 50 responses/ideas/case studies to support. Same goes for innovation, complex analysis, broader monitoring of trends across multiple industries etc. Basically, you get speed.”
Agency people had these positives to say about in-house people:
This is the perspective I’m personally much more familiar
Stephan Bajaio, Conductor
“Definitely depends on business maturity and size of business. For SMB I understand the reluctance to have an inhouse practitioner due to costs and commitment which is why so many just outsource completely to agencies. Any good agency though will tell you it’s best to have someone knowledgeable in-house to judge and manage these relationships and at least PM them. As for part time in-house practitioners like Jacks & Jills of all trades that also happen to do SEO, I’m not a fan. I think that gives a company a false sense of security as good SEO requires constant focus and development. Either get in and swim or don’t but dipping the toe method really never won a swim race. Also, I love having in-house resources that can rely on smart agencies to fill gaps in skill or throughput.”
Daniel Gottlieb, Gott Marketing
“You need both. No agency can accurately reflect the company without help from the inside and people on the inside can lose the forest for the trees. I think the perfect balance is somewhere in the middle with input from both sides.”
William Bravo, Seer Interactive
“Looking in, the in-house person is going to have a stronger sense of business priorities as well as internal/political/process related challenges. Often times there is a disconnect in communication with an agency team as to what is a realistic project plan based on the clients ability/bandwidth for implementation. That in-house person will have much stronger insight into how to optimize their time and effort toward items that will actually get moved forward at a reasonable rate.”
Matthias Clairiot, Dialekta
“In house SEO teams also need to work on evangelize SEO within the company. Developer, content creators. That’s one big mission”
How to Make the Decision – Agency vs. In-house SEO & Marketing:
In-house marketers have a major advantage when it comes to understanding the KPI’s of the business, and prioritizing based on that. They can move quicker in a lot of ways, and often wear a lot of hats for small businesses including sales enablement, vendor management, and often several disciplines within marketing – like social, graphic design, and writing.
In-house SEO’s in particular, have an advantage when sourcing subject matter experts, and it’s likely easier to have a finger on the pulse of what keywords drive the most closed deals.
1. Identify if you need a specialist first
2. If your need is more general – go in-house first.
3. Ensure you keep in-house persons objectives super clear if you go in-house. Use any available resources to vet the marketer – and go mid-level or more experience if you haven’t hired for that type of position before, vs. junior.