Insourcing vs. Outsourcing Digital Marketing: Exploring the Pros and Cons

Is it better to build an in-house team of marketers or to rely on the currently thriving outsource market for your business? Maybe it's both. Read on to find out.

Market in-house or outsource to a skilled marketing agency? Insourcing vs outsourcing digital marketing is a question that, these days, nearly every company in business asks themselves at one point or another.

Is it better to build an in-house team of marketers or to rely on the currently thriving outsource market for marketing? 

No doubt, there are some incredible benefits and worth-considering downsides to both options. On one hand, you have a personal team hand-picked and trained who are steeped in your brand and customer needs every single day. On the other hand, you have the cost-effective and always-goal-oriented services of an agency built to do nothing but provide excellent competitive marketing content.

For a small business, this question can be especially challenging. Which provides better results? Which is more cost-effective? What are the unseen downsides you may not have yet planned for?

Don't worry. We're here to answer all of your questions and help you make the right choice for your business with a comprehensive look at insourcing, outsourcing, and potential hybrid solutions.

Overview: Insourcing vs Outsourcing Digital Marketing

Most Cost-Effective: Outsourcing
Most Brand Focused: Insourcing
Most Flexible for Task Diversity: Insourcing
Most Streamlined for Deliverables: Outsourcing

Insourcing Digital Marketing

Insourcing is a funny new word meant to indicate the opposite of outsourcing. Insourcing is, essentially, building your own internal marketing team or perhaps hiring internally to stock a new marketing task-force for a specific project. It includes on-staff employees who are paid wages, given benefits, and are dedicated solely to your company.

RELATED: The four biggest marketing mistakes you’re making as a business owner.

Insourcing Pros

Knows Your Brand Inside and Out: Your on-staff team members were hired by the company and spends all their time immersed in the company culture. They will be deeply familiar with the company culture, style, and the desires of your customer base. Your marketing is more likely to be personalized without many onboarding meetings.

Easier Time Pairing with Sales: Your on-staff marketing team will have an easy time pairing with your on-staff sales team, working together to build an effective conversion funnel of content and actions.

Flexible for Diversity of Marketing Tasks: Your on-staff marketing team can always take a temporary reassignment to touch up a few product pages, build new landing pages, or focus on a specific campaign where outsourced marketing is far more rigid.

Can Rebuild Marketing Plan and Strategy from the Ground Up: Your on-staff marketing team can completely rebuild your marketing strategy to try something new without having to draw up a new contract.

Insourcing Cons

Difficulty Hiring a Perfect Team: There are many great things you can say about a theoretical marketing dream team. But the reality is that very few brands manage to hire and train a perfect marketing team. It's tough to build a team that is efficient, positive, on-brand, and who share the diverse marketing tasks effectively amongst the team members. Not to mention the cost and challenge of getting top talent in the industry.

The Expense of Employees vs Contract: It's undeniable that on-staff employees with wages, benefits, and time off cost the company more than contracting for a few pieces of content or campaign management services each month.

Tendency Toward Bloat: Many companies hire more marketers than they need in an attempt to cover all the bases. This leads to a bloated marketing team that is hard to pare down and streamline once the bloat begins.

Focus Lost to Delegation: In these bloated teams, over-much focus on managers, chiefs, leads, heads, and staff can unnecessarily lose focus through status and delegation rather than having a small, mostly-equal group focused only on the work.

Highly Influenced By Employee Turnover - Risk of Talent Loss or Poaching: If you do put together a dream-team, one person leaving or being promoted can change your perfect balance and productivity for an in-house team.

RELATED: Why a personalized marketing approach is essential today.

Outsourcing Digital Marketing

Outsourcing is currently the leading marketing strategy for both small businesses and large enterprises alike. Rather than working with in-house employees or even a specific team, you are contracting certain projects or specific batches of content from a marketing agency. Outsourcing is done with very specific contracts and meetings, highly focused on deliverables and completed goals rather than purely on brand building in its many forms.

Outsourcing Pros

Pay for Content, Not Employees: Outsourcing is well-known to be more cost-effective in terms of pay per content unit. When outsourcing, you're paying for the content and designer time, but not for the full cost of having an employee (or team of employees).

Agencies Tend to Concentrate Top Marketing Talent: While individual companies struggle to hire top talent, marketing agencies tend to become concentrations of top talent because there is always enough challenging and diverse work to attract the best in the industry. So you are more likely to get top-talent service from an agency than trying to hire on your own.

Highly Focused on Deliverable Content and Results: Rather than getting lost in position and group structure, outsourcing teams are highly focused on delivering your contracted content and delivering contract-specified results.

Savvy Contract-Building Can Be Flexible: Contracts tend to be rigid, but with savvy contract writing, you can get similar flexibility that an in-house team provides with an outsourcing contract.

Outsourcing Cons

Teams are Not Steeped in Company Culture and Client Need: An outsourced team is not a native part of your company culture and they do not initially understand your brand or customers. It takes many meetings and the right team to hone the targeting and personality of the content they provide.

Greater Challenge Integrating with Sales: Outsourcing teams generally prefer to work independently and then deliver content as contracted. This is less conducive to cooperating with sales to build conversion funnels, but it can be done with the right team.

All Planning Must be in Scheduled Meetings: You can't just pop in and confer with an outsourcing team. Everything must be planned in scheduled meetings.
Sharing Time with Other Outsourcing Companies: You will almost never get 100% of the time of an outsourced agency because they have other clients. This is often fine for a small business, but it may be a concern for some.

Contracts Can be Limiting and Not Tax-Flexible: If a contract is not built with flexibility in mind, you will only get exactly what the contract specifies.
Risk of Hiring Agency that is Not the Right Fit: Just like with hiring in-house, you need to find the right team that meshes well with your brand, goals, and marketing management style in order to get the best results.

RELATED: Read more from Nachum Langsner.

The Popular Hybrid Approach
Many companies, after considering the pros and cons of insourcing vs outsourcing digital marketing, decide on a hybrid approach. Often, the most practical approach is to have a few in-house marketing members (or just one for small businesses) tackling the custom work and coordinating the outsourced teams to suit the company's needs. Here are a few smart hybrid approaches:

Hybrid type 1: On-staff team coordinates outsourced marketing contracts
Hybrid type 2: Outsourced provides regular content
Hybrid type 3: On-staff team tackles flexible tasks
Hybrid type 4: On-staff team enables outsourced to integrate with sales

What is Right for Your Company?
So are you considering insourcing vs outsourcing digital marketing, or will you build a hybrid solution of both? For each company, the answer is different. But if you'd like to make a more informed and personalized decision, contact us today. Our team would be glad to consult with you on your business's needs and how our outsourcing solutions might fulfill or help support your marketing teams and campaigns.

Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.  

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  • Next up: Month in Review: January 2020

    Month in Review: January 2020

    From what you should know about internships to understanding digital harassment in the workplace, we’re bringing you a recap of January’s Mind Your Business articles.


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    Understanding Digital Harassment

    Harassment does not only come in the form of face-to-face contact. With a growing number and popularity of social media sites and forms of technology, digital harassment is becoming a real problem in and out of the workplace. Here is what you need to know.

    Insourcing vs. Outsourcing Digital Marketing: The Pros and Cons

    Is it better to build an in-house team of marketers or to rely on the currently thriving outsource market for your business? Maybe it's both. Read on to find out the pros and cons of insourcing vs. outsourcing your digital marketing.

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    3 Things to Know: Internship Programs

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    How Being a COSE Member Helped My Business in 2019

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    What was your favorite Mind Your Business article from January? Let us know on Twitter!

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  • Next up: Make Meetings Work

    Make Meetings Work

    A bad meeting is unbearable. Here are topics to consider and questions to ask yourself when planning meetings that are effective and… well, bearable.


    Ask any group of COSE members what they think about meetings at work. You’ll probably hear comments like “… too long … unorganized … #$%&*@# waste of time … always start late … no action … I hate meetings.”

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    As leaders, meetings are part of your work life. And just as work without meetings would be unthinkable – wonderful, but unthinkable – work loaded with terrible meetings is unbearable.

    RELATED: Why Your Meetings Suck part 1 and part 2

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    We all know that failing to plan is planning to fail with our businesses. Same goes for meetings. There are seven different topics you need to considering when planning meetings. Take a look at each topic and the questions to ask yourself regarding each one.

    Topic no. 1: Objective. What problem are you trying to solve? What’s your specific objective? What outcomes do you want to accomplish as a result of the meeting?

    Topic no. 2: Participants. Who needs to attend? Who is necessary to contribute, decide and implement as needed? If people are not helping to achieve the outcomes, why are they there?

    Topic no. 3: Agenda. Does your agenda include attendees, location, start and end times, topics to be discussed, time allotted for each one and specific assignments? If not, fix it. If you don’t have a good agenda, don’t meet.

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    RELATED: Read more by Phil Stella.

    Topic no. 6: Timing. What day and time are the least disruptive and most productive for your meeting? Your objectives, attendees and group dynamics will influence timing. When in doubt, ask the attendees for input.

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    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.   




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  • Next up: Make Your Vote Count in November and Learn More About the GCP PAC

    Make Your Vote Count in November and Learn More About the GCP PAC


    Election Day, November 5th, is fast approaching and the polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Using your vote to help determine the individuals that represent you and the public policies that impact your business is a key ingredient to advancing a prosperous environment that reaches all corners of our region.  If you are unable to cast your vote in-person, applications for absentee ballots for the November 5th General Election must be received by boards of elections three days before the election by noon.  For more information, please visit your county board of elections website today.

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) takes great pride in the fact that we are a non-partisan, member-driven organization, which helps us achieve significant public policy victories for over 12,000 large, mid-size and small businesses and their 250,000 employees. 

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    To learn more about how you can become involved with the GCP PAC and why it is so meaningful, click here to read our annual report.

    Please consider making your contribution of $50, $100, $500, or $1,000 to GCP PAC today, so we can continue to lead the conversation in the development of common-sense policy and regulatory reform.  

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  • Next up: Month in Review: August 2019

    Month in Review: August 2019

    From the benefits of working with contractors to the benefits of employee wellness programs, MYB explored a variety of topics that will benefit your small business.


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    Hiring Contract Remote Workers Can Benefit a Small Business if Done Right 
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    • RELATED: 3 Things to Know About Success in Sales

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    Could Your Professional Relationships Ruin Your Small Business Status?

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    What was your favorite Mind Your Business article from August? Let us know on Twitter!

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  • Next up: Month in Review: August 2020

    Month in Review: August 2020

    August was a hot month on the blog. Take a look at some of the standout articles and let us know your favorites from last month.

    The Importance of Training Employees During the Pandemic 
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    GCP Releases New Online Tool to Connect Business Owners with Assistance
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    Join a COSE Peer-to-Peer Group
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    If you are interested in learning more about joining a COSE Peer-to-Peer group, please email Jason Guyer for an introduction to appropriate group leader and please review these FAQs for more information.

    What was your favorite Mind Your Business article from August? Let us know on Twitter!

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