The cost and benefits of outsourcing digital marketing for SMBs

Manager walking around desks at an in-house marketing agency.

So you’re finally thinking about outsourcing marketing for your business, but don’t know if it’s a good idea or where to start?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s walk through all the reasons why you should—or shouldn’t—outsource marketing for your business.

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Marketing for small to medium-sized business owners: When is it time to consider outsourcing?

Many small business owners get started by handling everything from marketing and sales to packing and delivering orders. After all, you are small, and saving on personnel costs can be necessary. Now, while it may work in the beginning, you may quickly realize that it isn’t sustainable. Late night after late night fighting with Facebook business manager, missing the kids’ soccer game to meet the tradeshow deadline. Not to mention, you are a business owner, you need to focus on growing your business! When you try to do everything yourself, you not only risk burnout, but you also risk your business becoming stagnant.

63% of small to medium businesses outsource all or part of their marketing efforts.

Marketing is no joke. Trends in advertising and promoting your business in the digital space are fast-moving and constantly changing. Therefore, it’s impossible to stay ahead when you’re simultaneously keeping an eye on everything else that’s going on in your company.

Still don’t want to let it go? Hubspot reports that nearly two-thirds of companies outsource lead generation, email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing to agencies.

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In-house marketing team or outsourced marketing: What’s more cost-efficient?

The first thing most small businesses consider when thinking about outsourcing is the cost. Digital marketing services are typically billed in one or more of three ways: hourly rates, project-specific prices, and monthly retainers. According to, most businesses will pay between $90 to $250 for hourly services or $3,500 to $10,000 per project.

While it may seem like you’d spend less by hiring your own marketing team, you’ll first have to consider a few things.

When you start creating an entire marketing department for your business, there are costs of hiring, training, sustaining salaries despite the lack of results or active work, as well as any equipment and tools needed to make everything happen.

Read More: Pros & cons of hiring in-house vs outsourcing digital marketing

But let’s look at salaries alone.

The average salary for a marketing head comes in at around $100k/year. And that’s just one employee. What are the chances that one employee is highly skilled at marketing strategy, copywriting, graphic design, and web development? It’s nearly impossible to find marketing managers that can do it all — especially one that does it all WELL. Just like finding a unicorn, your odds are pretty low.

Realistically, an in-house team would require experts in email, social media, copywriting, design, and more. Here’s a look at average salaries for some of the most common positions.

  • Marketing Director – $100,000
  • Marketing Manager – $70,000
  • Copywriter – $75,000
  • Graphic Designer – $60,000
  • Web Developer – $80,000
  • Social Media Specialist – $50,000
  • Email Marketing Specialist – $55,000

Don’t forget, that’s just base. You’ll need to account for benefits on top of that.

Now, let’s look at hiring and onboarding costs. A recent SHRM survey found that the average cost-per-hire was just over $4,000 with an average time of 40 days to fill the position. Most resources will tell you it takes 90 days to successfully onboard a new employee. What if they don’t work out? Realistically it could be another 3-4 months before that becomes clear and then you could be faced with delays in starting the search over again.

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Earlier we mentioned the tools and resources your marketing team will need in order to maintain a competitive edge. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • A good keyword and competitive intelligence tool like SEMrush at $4200/year
  • A quality lead generation resource like Zoominfo at roughly $15,000/year
  • A project management tool like Asana to keep your team on task at $1500/year
  • Production tools for your creative team like Adobe Creative Suite at $1000 annually/user

That’s around $20,000 a year on software alone. Not to mention, you won’t be able to use all these tools at full capacity unless you’re a large enterprise — even then, the ROI on these tools can be hard to properly estimate.

Benefits of outsourcing your digital marketing

On the other hand, outsourcing to a digital marketing agency can allow you to take advantage of numerous cost savings and a few other benefits:

Access to a Complete Marketing Team

When you work with an agency you are essentially sharing people and resources with other companies. Think of it as a fractional marketing team. You may not always have the work for a full-time designer and writer. Or, at times, you may need a photographer or videographer. Having an agency partner provides you with a flexible team of talent while allowing you to plan for a singular cost. You often pay a predetermined monthly fee and cancel whenever you want.

You’ll have access to an entire marketing team’s expertise for the average cost of a full-time marketing director. Think SEO experts, copywriters, graphic designers, developers, social media experts, project managers, creative directors, and marketing strategists.

Experience and Expertise

One of the most time-consuming aspects of hiring employees to become a part of your marketing department is training them for the job. No matter how experienced a candidate is, you might still end up wasting months in the process of trying to see if they’re the right fit.

Agencies typically have some of the top talent in the industry, so for your monthly fee, you can rest assured that vetted rock stars are working on your projects, and the recruiting and management all goes on behind the scenes. Let’s just say, it’s not your problem.

Ongoing Maintenance, Optimization, and Innovation

The marketing industry is highly dynamic. You’ll have to keep a close eye on new trends to make sure your strategy isn’t outdated. Marketing agencies do all the heavy lifting for you by making sure every aspect of your online marketing runs smoothly by pitching new ideas, optimizing existing content, and keeping up with trends.

New Insights and Perspective

Content creation, lead generation, email marketing, social media marketing, web design, and email marketing. These are only some of the services a marketing agency offers.

One of the biggest challenges when creating marketing campaigns is your perspective. As a business owner, you’re usually too close to the problem to solve it.

When you outsource to a marketing agency, their team looks at your business with fresh eyes. This way, they’ll be able to share ideas that you may not have thought of before.

Use of the Best Tools in the Industry

There are dozens of popular, top-ranking tools. Each may have a unique selling point, but there’s no denying that not all of them will work for you. Not to mention, if you want the best of the best, you may have to shell out a pretty penny for access to those tools.

Marketing agencies typically subscribe to top-notch tools and resources that you can gain access to or benefit from the data as part of your fees. Not to mention, they are responsible for vetting them and spending the time learning how to use them.

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How to outsource digital marketing?

It’s important to ask the right questions before hiring an agency. Marketing teams are best gauged by their previous work, which is why you should always ask to see their results from previous campaigns and clients.

If they’re a relatively new company, you can also give them a chance by looking at their marketing growth over the last few months. When vetting an agency, consider the following:

  • Are they targeting the right audience?
  • Do they have experience working with businesses in the same industry?
  • Are they fully equipped to meet your goals for scaling your business?
  • Can you see yourself working with them long-term? Would they make a good partner?

One tried and true way to gauge whether you’re entertaining the right company is by asking them what their strategy is. A professional team will not only have a rough visualization of how they plan to take on your project — they’ll know exactly how they can help you soar to great heights and perhaps even provide some insights you can take away from the meeting.

This is where Peer Sales Agency shines. Our commitment to seeing your business thrive is unmatched, and we won’t stop until we meet your scaling goals.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with us today and let’s work on maximizing your leads.

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Ryan Mack

Ryan Mack is the CEO and co-founder of Peer Sales Agency. Fueled by his drive to help companies reach their revenue goals, he puts his decades of experience in sales, private equity, and organization leadership to work for Peer’s clients.


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