How do you know when expanding your marketing team to handle your community’s digital marketing makes sense and when it is better to contract an agency? When considering hiring a full-time employee vs. contracting a digital marketing agency, it’s helpful to understand both options’ advantages and disadvantages. There are many factors to consider including your goals, budget and current internal skill set before making an informed decision.

Full Time Employee vs. Digital Marketing Agency

Start with Your Goals

  • Clearly outline your marketing goals and objectives to determine whether hiring a marketing agency or internal talent aligns with your business needs. Do you need increased brand awareness, lead generation, database growth, or something else? Understanding your specific goals is crucial in determining what skill sets you need.
  • When your list is complete, assess if one person can fulfill the required competencies, and consider supplementing with contractors or hiring an agency if necessary.
  • What is your budget? When comparing the cost of a full-time employee vs. a digital marketing agency, remember to calculate the employee’s full compensation package, including benefits, office space, laptop, software subscriptions and other expenses. Keep in mind, not all agencies are created equal. Marketing agencies typically have a team of professionals with expertise in various marketing disciplines, including content creation, social media management, graphic design and SEO. But that level of expertise frequently comes at a cost and may not be a fit for your industry or budget.

Visualize the Numbers

  • Make a comprehensive list of the skills or services needed to meet your digital marketing goals and compare the costs of hiring a full-time employee vs. a digital marketing agency, including additional expenses like benefits, laptop, professional development and software subscriptions. Download our worksheet to get you started.
  • It is important to understand if you have more than one website, is the Agency fee for one site or many? Most of the time, the fees are per website. Conversely, the employee can usually handle work for multiple sites. You will need to determine the threshold before you need contractor support or an additional employee.

CDMS Cost Benefit Chart 2023

What are the Advantages of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency?

Once you have your budget set and if the agency looks like the right choice from a financial perspective, what else do you need to consider?

  • You should start with a clear understanding of what is included in the monthly fees, what the turnaround time is for completion, and what additional services cost.
  • Something businesses frequently forget to ask when hiring an agency is “who owns my digital platforms?” If your agency owns your website domain, LinkedIn profile, or Google Ad account it can make leaving that agency very difficult. Find out if they are designing your website, if the platform is a common one like WordPress or if it is proprietary to that agency. Make a list of collateral and platforms you will need access to before you begin the contract.

What are the Advantages of Hiring a Full-Time Marketing Employee?

  • Hiring an in-house marketing employee allows you direct control and alignment with the company’s culture, values and day-to-day operations. They typically can respond to changes quicker too, you aren’t competing with other clients as you would be with an agency.
  • Most importantly, your employee should have the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of your industry, demographic and target audience.
  • While agencies tend to be up-to-date in current marketing trends, you can provide opportunities to keep your internal employees trained and current as well. Just be sure to include that in the budget.

Finding the Right Digital Marketing Agency

What to look for in a digital marketing agency

When choosing a digital marketing agency, it is critical to find the right match. Budget is an important factor but shouldn’t be the only consideration.

  • Look for an agency with deep experience in your industry, transparent communication, and a track record of demonstrating expertise with metrics.
  • Consider the tools and resources the agency uses and its commitment to staying up-to-date with current marketing trends.

The decision to expand your digital marketing footprint by hiring a digital marketing agency or a full-time marketing employee depends on a careful evaluation of your specific goals, budget, and the expertise required to meet your digital marketing needs. It’s essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option and choose the one that best aligns with your business objectives and resources.

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About the Author

Robin Visser

Robin Visser serves as Director of Marketing and Digital Strategies at Christian Living Communities. Robin has a wealth of digital marketing experience both in senior living and global industries, along with a background in broadcast and video production. Her strengths are in digital strategies and innovative ideas.

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