What’s The Difference Between In-House and Agency Costs? The Real Deal

Let's be honest here. 

You’re a strategic thinker, not a nitpicky click-through-rate geek.

When you sit down to plan for the future of your business you want to think in big picture, not dither around with mechanics. So when the ideas start flowing, you don’t want to get in their way by thinking about all those little details.

Not to mention the time factor. As in you can barely find the bandwidth to think strategically as it is, let alone want to think about spending more money.

But the tough choices come with all great growing businesses...

“Do we recruit an internal marketing team, or do we hire a marketing agency?”

You may have thought about this a time or two. Or it might be something that is keeping you from sleeping right now.

When you think about the future and discuss with all the stakeholders involved in your company, you want to take in all their considerations. But you also care about being perceived as intelligent and credible. And you’re smart enough to know that for your decision to be taken seriously, it needs to come across as polished and correct.

The problem is, the digital marketing landscape is quickly changing. And you were pretty hazy on the rules even back when you started. Maybe you've been around before Facebook or Instagram came into existence. 

In addition, there are also certain shifts that you need to be aware of as we come into the latter end of 2018. I believe, they will influence your decision to a great extent. 

Cutting through the crap and deciding what is right for your company is not an option. 

But that's not to say you don't have options, you do. 

Let me break it down in the simplest way I know how...

With a Game!

It's Called THIS or THAT. 

We'll jump into a little cost debate you need to be aware of before publishing that job post (or calling a digital agency)  and in this process, I hope you'll start to see things in a new, delicious way. 

AAAAAND: Check out the following downloadable cost calculator and quiz to further assist your decision-making process…


THIS OR THAT - Do you want to HIRE all this or OUTSOURCE all that? 

The digital marketing industry is expanding at a crazy rate. Here's what HubSpot had to say as the most common marketing job titles this year. 

source:  HubSpot

source: HubSpot

And our friends over at CryptoJobList, have even more interesting roles show up on their job board. 

I swear, we can't make this stuff up. 

source:  CryptoJobList

When you hire a full-time team ready to rock and roll on your business, you say goodbye to all those hidden costs that pile up from employing a staff. 

Just think of all the money you'll save on doughnuts. 

The truth is, the best talent costs top dollar... and a whole lot of doughnuts. 

In this section, we’re specifically looking at marketing costs and return — so here are a few core overheads to think about if you were to hire an extensive in-house team:

  • Online Content Creator earns an average salary of $46,635 per year

  • Content Strategist earns an average $60,405 per year

  • Median pay for Content Marketing Managers in the United States is around $65,359 per year

  • Digital Marketing Manager earns an average salary of $62,363 per year

  • Marketing Data Analysts in the United States take home an average $56,266 yearly

  • Social Media Coordinators have a median compensation is $39,004 per year

  • Social Media Strategists in the United States take home an average $53,004 per year

  • Community Manager average pay is $57,391 per year

  • Search Engine Optimization Specialists in the United States take home an average $43,501 per year

  • Manager of Paid Search is $60,866 per year

  • E-mail Marketing Specialists in the United States is around $50,599 per year

  • Web Developers make an average $58,222 per year

  • Marketing Automation Specialists take home approximately $55,666 per year on average

  • Augmented Reality/Software Development is $79,604 per year on average


    (note: all median salaries were taken from reputable online resources: glassdoor + payscale )


Annual costs to you, for this awesome in-house digital marketing team:

$845,151 excluding all other in-house costs

"What other costs could there be?" 

Well, you might have some cool perks like:

  • health insurance
  • dental insurance
  • 401 (K) 
  • relocation expenses
  • workspaces
  • technology

You get the idea. 

I even left out customer "happiness" roles and meme makers.

All in-house costs considered, we’re likely going to surpass the $1,000,000 mark. 

When everything is laid down, the costs add up quickly. It's quite scary, I know. 

But for me, I would rather be fired as an Agency than you having to lay off a staffed employee to keep the lights on. 


Now, let’s just say you need the bare minimum to get on track.

Content Marketing Manager

Digital Marketing Manager

SEO Manager

Paid Search


Monthly cost to you for this new lean in-house digital marketing team:

$24,750 excluding all other in-house costs


That's a little more reasonable, right? 

Now compare that to typical high tier agency cost which might run you at $17,000 per month to cover those social media bases before any ad spend. 

Agencies still beating the in-house team by 7,750 doughnuts. 

Now, back to my original question...

Do you want to HIRE all this or OUTSOURCE all that? 

If you need to crunch the numbers yourself, click on the button below to access the In-House vs Agency Cost Calculator. Play around a bit with the numbers to see if you can come up with something that suits your goals.