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Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency vs. an In-House Marketer

As an e-commerce business, your entire storefront exists on the Web. Just as you can change offices offline, you can command different real estate online. It also requires a balance between managing your stock portfolio and various areas of investment for short and long term goals. One thing is for certain, your company needs to stay ahead of the curve on digital marketing.

As a digital marketing strategist, my mission is to prescribe marketing solutions aligning with these objectives. As business owners begin to focus more on their online marketing methods, I am often asked if it makes more sense to outsource to an agency or to hire someone in-house to manage individual aspects of their digital marketing strategies.

The biggest argument for hiring someone in-house is true face-to-face accountability. What business owners often find, though, is that the in-house marketer that looked great on paper cannot deliver the desired level of output. This is not to say that they do their job poorly, but that the ever-changing digital landscape requires constant juggling on the part of marketing strategists, and it is simply outside of a single team member’s wheelhouse to accomplish them all. On the other hand, it is a challenge for in-house marketers not to be surrounded by a thriving, exciting environment where those with the same passion for marketing can monitor success across multiple client examples as opposed to guessing and theorizing about what could work. For lack of a better phrase, you get what you pay for.


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Inbound marketing today requires several channels (i.e. paid & organic search, social media, email marketing, etc.). Within each channel there are several subsets of objectives, including web analytics and optimizing a clear path to conversion. SEO alone requires tasks like…

  • ongoing keyword and competitive research
  • proper on-site page optimization roll-outs
  • new search protocols (i.e. sitemap updating, schema markup, robots.txt files)
  • quality content blogging
  • social media
  • Google+ Acquisitions
  • backlink outreach
  • PR level content placement
  • video strategies
  • reputation tracking
  • page speed monitoring
  • improving overall user experience

In other words, everything the search engines are looking for in order to identify you as the most relevant and authoritative search result. In the end, it’s really all about attention and love—that, and aligning your goals and support for those initiatives (how profitable are we as indicated by our Return On Ad Spend, our Cost Per Acquisition, out lifetime customer value, etc.) with the big picture.

Now, you’ve got to ask yourself, if this is just one of the marketing channels I need to focus on, what about everything else? This is where the in-house marketer just can’t compete with an agency. The right agency has strategists and core task leaders overlooking each discipline. This should always be quarterbacked by someone experienced in both project management and deep domain expertise.

Although nothing is overnight, make sure to set reasonable and attainable goals for your marketing strategy along the way that everyone is accountable for. Establish open lines of communication and work in a collaborative, supportive way in order to excite both parties with upside opportunity potential so everyone has some skin in the game.

Brad Keys

As the Director of Sales at 180fusion, Brad Keys has lead the charge as being one of the top digital strategists at one of the top digital marketing agencies.  With a very strong digital marketing acumen that is ROI focused, Brad Keys continues to contribute and help businesses grow one tag at a time.

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