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Should I Hire an Inbound Marketer or Partner with a Marketing Agency? Understanding the ROI of Each.

May 25, 2017

By Andrew Macey

As the old saying goes “anything worth doing is worth doing well” and inbound marketing is certainly no exception to this rule. Ask any marketer and they would most likely agree, inbound is a full-time job. It does not always replace other marketing activities (paid media, events, account-based marketing), but instead it complements these items. Adopting inbound marketing requires planning, execution, and analysis, providing even the savviest marketer a full to-do list.

In most cases, businesses that are just starting with inbound, or who have recently implemented an inbound marketing tool such as HubSpot, have quickly realized that the resources needed are not always there. It is uncommon to find extra hours in the day to devote to new marketing initiatives without taking time and effort away from other items.  

In this case, businesses are required to look elsewhere to effectively execute inbound marketing. The two most common options are to hire an inbound marketer internally or to partner with an inbound marketing agency. This can be a difficult decision and most likely each marketer has his or her own opinion. In the end, it is all about results. Inbound is an investment and the focus should be on ROI. It’s important that this work is done correctly from the start as to build optimal momentum. In this article we will discuss both options and provide some additional insight to help make your decision easier.

Hiring an Internal Marketer

The first inclination might be to hire a marketer to join your full-time team. For many executives, keeping marketing completely in-house is a priority. This can be an effective option as you have complete control over the workload of this employee and can adjust as needed. Another important item here is this employee’s familiarity with your business and solutions. With an internal employee, he or she can complete the same new-hire company training that all employees go through, ensuring a high level of understanding of company vision, goals, and products.  

Another benefit to hiring an internal employee is the fact that you can allocate his or her time toward additional activities outside of inbound marketing. Although inbound does require much of one’s attention, there are other items that can become necessary and having another employee to allocate toward these needs can be helpful. Finally, internal employees are seen as a long-term investment. Hiring the right addition to your internal team is critical and finding the right person who fits your company’s culture and values can be of huge value.  

There are a number of reasons, however, that you may choose not to hire a full-time inbound marketer. The most common reason is cost. We all know that the cost of an employee is not simply the salary, but there are many additional line items that add up. These include benefits, computer or phone, vacation time, etc. Also, keep in mind that you’d probably be looking to hire an experienced marketer, so you will most likely be paying a premium. Additionally, any new hire will have a ramp-up period. Whether he or she is learning about your business, becoming familiar with your product, or even just settling into the new job routine, it is difficult to have them jump in from day 1. From a results perspective, you must factor in these first few months in order to set realistic KPIs and goals.

Finally, one often overlooked detriment to hiring a marketer in-house is that this new employee will not be a jack of all trades. He or she may be an expert marketer, but most likely will not have the expertise in design, web development, or paid search that may be required to yield optimal results. In that case, you might find yourself looking for additional resources and having to hire additional team members or outsource.

Partnering with an Inbound Marketing Agency

Just like the alternative, there are many positive attributes to outsourcing your inbound marketing to a certified agency. Using a directory such as HubSpot’s partner marketplace, you can identify a number of qualified partners and contact them right away. One major benefit is the fact that instead of hiring just one person, you are gaining a team of experts. Although you will have a main strategist on your account, that person is supported by a team of expert developers, designers, paid media managers, and SEO strategists, and has a wealth of knowledge and resources at his or her fingertips. Additionally, this team has expertise across multiple campaigns, industries, and clients. This is extremely valuable as an internal marketer most likely has narrow experience and continues to grow only through your individual campaigns. Working with an agency partner, creative marketing work is being executed daily and one can learn from these efforts and apply best practices and new results toward your work. Instead of learning on the job, there is a ton of experience constantly building up for you to leverage.

Another valuable asset when partnering with an inbound marketing agency is the ability to adapt and be creative on the fly. With a team of inbound marketing experts, your partner can effectively adjust the plan to yield optimal results. This can be seen as they are working to constantly outdo themselves and figure out the best plan of action. Having the ability to pivot as needed and constantly challenge the status quo is important as inbound marketing requires creativity and experimentation. With a team of experts, these changes can be implemented quickly and effectively.  

As you can imagine, there are a few alternative items here as well. One thing to consider is the fact that you are not the only client this agency works with. So, unlike hiring an inbound marketer in-house, a partner agency is unable to devote 100 percent of their time and attention to you and your business. That means that they are not always available to talk at the drop of a hat, as opposed to being able to walk over to a colleague’s desk. The best agency partners have open lines of communication with all clients and provide an exceptional level of customer service, so there is rarely any holdup or difficulty in reaching your strategist. Another item to consider is the fact that your partner will not be going through the new hire training that an employee would be. That being said, there is a high caliber of discovery and learning being done during the client onboarding process, however they may not fully understand the nuances of your business from the start. This may take a bit of time as they interview internal team members and continue to get to know your audience.

As you can see there are a number of factors to consider. Inbound marketing requires a large commitment in order to drive quality results. When deciding whether or not to hire an inbound marketer or partner with an agency, be sure to do your due diligence. Agencies have a number of case studies, references, and client examples for you to look at, all of which reflect their expertise and quality results.


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Topics: Inbound Marketing