How Your Digital Agency Can Work with An In-House Marketing Team

How Your Digital Agency Can Work with An In-House Marketing Team

If you’ve worked on the agency side in digital marketing for any length of time, you’ve likely encountered this scenario: a mid to-large-size company with an in-house marketing team has contracted your agency to partner with them on a digital campaign.

Marketing research firm Forrester estimates that companies will allocate over $103b combined (yes, that’s billion, with a “b”) per year to digital marketing efforts by 2019, outpacing traditional media spending for traditional broadcast channels.

What’s more, the full-scale digital marketing efforts that are fueled by these ballooning budgets require specialized training and expertise that many in-house marketing teams lack. Even teams that have digitally savvy members on the inside will likely struggle to scale up their efforts to keep apace with growth. When in-house teams lack the resources for training or the patience/time needed to hire a professional digital marketer, the best solution is often to bring in an outside agency to bridge the gap.

“The pace and scale of modern marketing means that marketing leaders must combine in-house and outsourced labor to efficiently and effectively respond to shifting customer demand, market competition and budget pressures. Picking the right agency partners and evaluating new technology solutions to help offload the heavy lifting are critical.”

Depending on where the directive to partner with the digital agency originated, interactions with the on-site marketing team can range anywhere from chilly to enthusiastic.

If you have a receptive marketing manager who understands how best to merge assets with an outside provider, you will likely have a good working relationship.

Whereas, if you’re dealing with a marketing manager that has been directed to partner with an outside agency (possibly against his or her will), you may find yourself facing off against someone who is less-than-enthusiastic about the situation because they view you as a rival.

Most likely, you’ll find yourself somewhere in the middle, where some members of the internal team see the value in the partnership, and others do not.

Here are some ways you can make your team invaluable to your new in-house partners and cement the bond between your team and theirs.

A Fresh Perspective

Opposition from in-house marketing teams to collaboration with an agency will often point to the value of a company’s culture in formulating their marketing messages, and that’s not an argument without a modicum of merit.

However, marketing teams are not hiring an outside agency because they need more experts in their field. They’re hiring you because you’re an expert in YOUR own field.

That’s an important distinction and one that is often forgotten.

However, there is an unforeseen benefit to this exchange of ideas. If a marketing team cannot distill its business’s messaging and focus into a primer for the agency to understand, how can they reasonably expect their customers to do the same?

Sometimes, having to distill a company’s message into its essence provides a level of clarity and uniformity that is missing from a corporate identity. Living and breathing that culture daily can cause tunnel vision.


Transparency can make or break a relationship with a client. It may be tempting to show off results that look dramatic but don’t directly relate to the bottom line. Reject that temptation.

Transparency in reporting builds trust and you won’t wind up with a client that’s annoyed because you’ve buried them in industry jargon and double-speak.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Rather than focus your results and reporting on data that your client may find confusing or obtuse, stick with measurable metrics that have real-world applications. Many times, you’re being hired to show results where the in-house team was unable to do so, so focusing on the value of their investment has two effects.

First, should you be working with a team leader or stakeholder that is pushing back on the hiring of your agency, the fastest (and easiest) way to demonstrate value is to show exactly how your efforts affect the bottom line. Understandably, this can be difficult with some social media and digital efforts, but making the effort to put your value in terms that the in-house team can relate to will serve you far better than delivering reporting that is full of metrics that seem to have little relation to overall company success.

Second, if you’re working with a more receptive internal stakeholder, you buoy their reputation in-house by giving them the tools they need to demonstrate your own value. It never hurts to make your biggest advocate look like a genius.


Contracting with a digital marketing agency can be cheaper than hiring a single digital marketing expert in-house.

“…outsource marketing resources don’t require a full-time salary and certainly don’t require benefits or other overhead. Outsource resources may work on a retainer, hourly or project basis, with costs that may range from $2,000 to 8,000 per month for a senior-level professional ($24,000 – 96,000 per year), depending on the amount and type of work that needs to be outsourced.”

Because they work in volume, agencies are far more efficient at bringing their resources to bear on tasks for your in-house team. To get the same effect from an in-house team, you’d likely have to hire SEVERAL people to get the same spread of skills that an agency offers, at a lower price.

There’s also the opportunity costs to be considered. The resources required to interview, hire, and train a new employee can be allocated elsewhere, saving the business money.

Diverse Skills

Digital marketing is a discipline that is constantly evolving. From the regular ebbs and flows of SEO strategy to the rise of content marketing and the constantly shifting landscape of social media platforms, there are a lot of diverse but necessary sub-sets of skills that comprise an overall digital campaign.

It would be difficult for any small team to keep up with these volatile disciplines, and doubly so if being informed of newer strategies and platforms isn’t their ONLY job (it never is.)

Partnering with an agency means that an in-house team can stick to what they’re already good at.

There are many reasons why working with an outside agency can help an in-house team. Hopefully, these tips can help you demonstrate your value quickly and win over stakeholders so you can get down to the business of helping their business succeed.



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