Should You Hire a Digital Marketing Agency (or In-House Marketer)?

We break down the different types of professional digital marketing help and their expected costs.

Let’s explore a rather common question today.

Which is better: A digital marketing agency or an in-house marketer?

In fact, it’s a consideration that we’ve encountered with quite a number of businesses.

And it’s understandable – after all, digital marketing can get very time-consuming. Attempting to plan and execute a strong strategy while juggling other parts of the business is a huge responsibility to take on.

For most companies, it makes sense to hire marketing help to hand over the baton. 

But with so much going on in a business, it can be difficult to know where exactly to invest your marketing dollars.

We’ll be breaking down the different types of professional marketing help, along with the expected costs in this article. But before that, we first need to address something important.

Designer ≠ digital marketer

This is not meant to be discriminating in any sense. We do work with a team of in-house designers, and there are already a ton of specializations within the design discipline itself such as graphic design, UI/UX design, and motion design. Plus, there are the neighbouring disciplines of photography and videography.

If you’re wondering why we’re even talking about this, it’s because several businesses we’ve met with seem to think that hiring a designer will solve all their digital marketing problems.

But just like design, there are many skills required for digital marketing. 

Here are just a few broad examples:

  • Ad Management: Ad set-up and optimization across popular ad platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Keyword research, on-page technical fixes, off-page link building, and web content management
  • Email Marketing: List cleaning & segmentation, content split-testing, and the setting up of automation campaigns 
  • Social Media Marketing: Content strategy & distribution, community management, and copywriting
  • Website Design & Development: Site architecture planning, UI/UX design, copywriting, frontend & backend development, and lots of miscellaneous technical work (e.g. domain name registration / migration, web hosting)

Naturally, there’s a need for analytics (analysis and actionable insights) for all of the above as well.

The point that we want to establish is: It’s extremely unlikely that a designer can be skilled in all aspects of digital marketing.

The cost breakdown

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the costs involved for the various types of digital marketing help. Our salary references are from two main sites: PayScale and Glassdoor.

Cost to hire a Marketing Manager

Hiring a full-time, in-house Marketing Manager is likely to set a business by a substantial sum. 

According to PayScale, the average Marketing Manager in Singapore makes SGD 71,115 per annum, or slightly below SGD 6,000 per month.

This sum is even higher on Glassdoor. SGD 98,000 a year translates to slightly above SGD 8,000 per month.

Cost to hire a Marketing Coordinator

A Marketing Coordinator, on the other hand, is a more affordable option. PayScale pegs a Marketing Coordinator’s average salary as SGD 39,984 a year, or slightly above SGD 3,300 per month.

Glassdoor has had less salary submissions for Marketing Coordinator positions in Singapore, but the figure of SGD 3,500 per month does come close to that of PayScale’s.

Cost to hire a digital marketing agency

Now that we’ve covered the costs of hiring in-house help, let’s talk about how much you need to set aside, to hire a digital marketing agency. 

We can’t speak for the prices of other agencies, but one thing is definite: Every business is different, and this means the digital marketing strategy, implementation plan, and acquisition channels will differ. 

As such, prices really boil down to the scope of work required. For our clients, prices can be anywhere from SGD 1,500 to SGD 8,000 per month.

It is quite a range, and if you need a more accurate quote, it’s best that you drop us a message so that we can get a better understanding of your business needs.

How do you decide which is right for you?

We’ve covered the costs involved, but how exactly do you know which is the right option for your business?

It’s a big question and the answer depends on your business needs. But don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you hanging!

When should you hire a Marketing Manager?

Assuming you’ve done your due diligence during the candidate screening and evaluation phase, having a full-time Marketing Manager on board means that you can step away from marketing and leave it in the hands of a directly responsible individual.

But wait, every Marketing Manager needs a team. We’ve met established businesses whose marketing department consisted of a single Marketing Manager, and that person is almost always half dead from the workload.

Marketing managers don’t work independently. They expect a team of marketers to assist them in their efforts, be it in-house Marketing Coordinators or external help from a digital marketing agency – so be sure to factor that in when doing budget planning.

And if you’re considering building a team of in-house Marketing Coordinators to support your manager, plan ahead because there will be extra work to build suitable systems, for your marketing team to succeed.

In a nutshell:

When should you hire a Marketing Coordinator?

Based on the figures above, the average Marketing Coordinator earns around 2 times lesser than a Marketing Manager – making this hire a more affordable option.

That makes sense. After all, a Marketing Coordinator is usually an entry-level position. 

Naturally, there are certain considerations for you to evaluate before deciding to hire one.

Do you have extensive knowledge in digital marketing? Do you already have a strategy and marketing processes set up for your business?

If you answered yes, then hiring a Marketing Coordinator is a great way to help you execute a process that’s already established. 

As Marketing Coordinators aren’t as knowledgeable or experienced as Marketing Managers, you’ll need to spend time to train them, so they can help you scale the business to your needs. 

Plus, there’s a high chance that you’ll need to train them in other areas of marketing that they aren’t familiar with. 

As most Marketing Coordinators are limited in their areas of expertise, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to oversee a large handful of initiatives. We’ve mentioned several aspects of digital marketing earlier on in this article, and there’s really a lot to juggle. 

Training a Marketing Coordinator isn’t just a one-off event either. Keep in mind that you’ll need to constantly manage and coach them on the next steps of the marketing strategy.

In a nutshell:

When should you hire a digital marketing agency?

Hiring a digital marketing agency is a great option for those who don’t have the time to recruit or manage full-time employees. Instead, you can leave it to the professionals to analyze your business from a fresh, outsider perspective – which often leads to a more informed and strategic way of doing things.

But before you go about searching for an agency, make sure you know the difference between the various types of marketing agencies.

Full-service agencies like ourselves will mimic the role of the Marketing Manager and oversee all aspects of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. While this is a more pricey option, it’s a viable investment for those who want to put their digital marketing on autopilot and leave it all to the professionals.

Specialized marketing agencies, on the other hand, will offer 1 – 2 services that they’re experienced in. For example, there are agencies that only specialize in web design & development, or only do SEO and digital advertising. 

If you’re certain that you only need a specific digital marketing service, specialized marketing agencies will work. 

But if you think your business will benefit from a more holistic digital marketing coverage and you prefer to communicate with a single point-of-contact, a full-service agency would be a better option.

Now, that all sounds great, but in all seriousness, a digital marketing agency may not be the right partner for all businesses.

In fact, if any of the below scenarios sound like you, you’re better off saving the money and not engaging an agency:

  • You are satisfied with your business growth rate
  • You have free time to learn about digital marketing and implement it yourself
  • You want results ASAP (digital marketing is a long-term investment that requires time to show ROI)
  • Your total marketing budget (not including salaries and CPF you pay to your marketing employees) is less than SGD 1,500 per month. 

In a nutshell:

Interested in hiring a digital marketing agency?

Alright! Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the marketing assistance you need for your business.

And if you think that hiring a digital marketing agency is the right option for you, feel free to reach out to us – we’d love to know more about your business 🙂

Lisa Tan

Lisa Tan

Lisa wears multiple hats at Appiloque - digital strategy, agency operations, and content marketing. To keep herself sane, her favourite form of entertainment is free and involves reframing reality, changing it up to something ridiculous and playing out imaginative scenarios. No, she's not mad. Yet.

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