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By: Asad Butt
Last Updated: October 14, 2018

Content Marketing Strategy | Is It Better To Hire An In-House Team Or An Agency?

Content Marketing | In-House Vs Agency

High-Quality content is the uncontested King of the digital marketing world. Many businesses have in-house teams but many others look towards outsourcing to an agency for their content marketing needs. How to decide? Your questions answered.

Table Of Contents



Why Content Marketing?

First, the Good News: Content marketing is back on the driving seat and is the most important and effective type of digital marketing options available.

Bad news: Effective content marketing is getting difficult day, by day. If you don't have a content marketing strategy in place, you are likely to lose out.

In a CMI 2017 survey, we've learned:

Organizations which have a clear understanding of an effective, successful content marketing strategy are successful around 80% in achieving their marketing goals.

Organizations, well committed to content marketing, achieve 91% of their marketing goals.

Organizations which executed successful content marketing campaigns had 39% of the total marketing budget allocated to content marketing.

And statistics show that 89% Percentage of B2B Marketers consider content marketing as an important part of their digital marketing strategy.

On the downside, 30% of the organizations are still not clear, what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like and around 29% are unsure.

What Do These Statistics Tell Us?

Though the value of content marketing is quite clear, many organizations are struggling to create effective content consistently, that can serve user intent, add value and produce results.

Why are organizations struggling?

It's because, figuring out how to create enough, high-quality content in a right amount is still unclear.

Creating effective content involves creating content in several different formats :

  • Written: Informative articles, blogs, reports, news articles and guides, etc.
  • Multimedia: Videos, podcasts and infographics etc
  • Interactive: Polls, quizzes and online competitions, etc.

Creating effective, high-quality content may sound like an arduous and challenging task, but it can be achieved in the following ways:

  • An in-house content marketing team
  • Outsourcing content marketing needs to a freelancer(s)
  • Outsourcing content marketing needs to an agency
  • Or a hybrid of the above options

Each approach has its own merits and unique challenges as well.

In this article, we will compare, the pros and cons of executing a content marketing using an in-house team vs content marketing agency.

Quality Assurance

Content Marketing Agency:

An Agency normally consists of an entire team of creative professionals of varied skills, expertise, the right training, quality standards and quality guidelines.

Their experience also consists of lots of completed projects under their belt.

Most agencies have an internal quality control mechanism and quality guidelines which are strictly followed for optimum results.

An agency will also have a better understanding of competition and will have internal and competitive benchmarks in place for quality assurance.

An agency might take a little while to grasp your niche but when they are on it, quality is ensured.

In-house Team:

An in-house team is part of an organization so they better understand the brand, products, quality standards, organizational and marketing goals, and the culture and structure of the organization itself.

With an in-house team, you can have complete control over quality standards and outcomes but you will also have to own the responsibility for the results.

You will also need to spend considerable about of time and resources on management and execution of strategies and the team itself.

If you do not have a digital marketing background or experience, you might not be able to make full use of your in-house team, as you might not have the necessary skills to achieve it.

Analysis and Planning

Content Marketing Agency:

As I mentioned earlier, an agency is a team of skilled and experienced professionals.

Any successful marketing strategy requires thorough analysis and planning.

Analysis and planning phase might run into weeks or months, depending on your niche and competition.

The reason being, an accurate analysis can form the bedrock for a successful content marketing strategy.

It can involve:

  • Compiling an inventory of your competitors’ content such as:

Blog articles, Audio content, Webinars, E-books, white papers, Videos, Infographics, How-to guides, Presentations and E-newsletters etc

  • Evaluation of content quality, quantity
  • Evaluation of frequency of publications
  • Analysis of topics published
  • Keyword research for potential publications
  • Who’s visiting the content
  • Where traffic comes from etc

Before we have this information, we cannot really plan an effective marketing strategy.

An agency, like any other business, has a well-organised structure and departments which includes research and planning, who can carry out detailed analysis to figure out what will work and what won't.

In-house Team:

As we can see from the amount of work involved, it is clear that for an effective content marketing strategy, it's not enough to just write content on periodical bases. It takes much more than that.

If you want to rely on an in-house team, for optimum quality, you will need, a minimum of three types of professionals:

  • Content analyst(s) and strategy planner(s)
  • Content creator(s)
  • Distribution specialist(s)

On top of that, you, yourself will need to have a sound understanding of content marketing itself, for smooth execution of strategies and team management.

Delivery Timelines

Content Marketing Agency:

Delivery deadlines are crucial for the agencies as their reputation is on the line.

Agencies have numerous resources on their disposal and have connections and access to further outside resources, on when and where needed bases.

Agencies can suit projects of all sizes and time frames.

Whatever the project may be, they can always accommodate, because they have an infrastructure in place to handle it.

Normally, an agency will offer a proposal and agree to a set of deliverables and get into a contract with a client. Agencies report periodically at set time frames on not only deliverable but goals and performances as well, for the tasks agreed and completed.

Agencies can provide uninterrupted services if you are looking for a solid content marketing strategy.

In-house Team:

With an in-house team, no one is going to summon you if you miss your deadlines for your strategies.

You also have complete flexibility with workload and timelines for your strategies. You know well about your performance at each stage of execution of your strategies, can tweak, modify, upgrade or downgrade where and when necessary.

On the other hand, if you fall behind, it is not easy to cover the gap by just taking in an extra pair of hands from outside, to meet the deadlines.

You can also get hit by unplanned disruptions like absence, annual leave or staff unavailability, like for health reasons or staff departures.

Along with, meeting content marketing deadlines requires complete focus, as like with any other business process. In case you have to concentrate on other, core aspects of running your business, your marketing strategy might take a toll because of your absence.

Workload Management

Content Marketing Agency:

As an agency has a pool of resources on their disposal, fluctuation in workload is easily manageable.

When marketing strategies expand, and they usually do and workloads increase as a result, an agency will be able to cope well because they already have the right teams in place for the type and size of projects.

It is easy for an agency to assemble or disassemble a team as per project requirements

When you hire an agency, you will also not need to worry about someone taking an annual leave or being unavailable due to health reasons.

In an agency, there is always someone else available, who can take over so things can run smooth.

In-house Team:

Your marketing team is always at your disposal. This enables you to fulfil your business marketing needs without delay, whenever they arise.

Having said that, this still very much depends on your own knowledge and expertise in marketing.

An in-house team can manage regular, uninterrupted processes very well but when the task list grows or there is an interruption, it can put pressure on remaining team members and quality can be affected or deadlines may be missed.

Remember, an in-house team has less room to manoeuvre.

No matter how experienced or skilled a team is, there are limits to the amount of work, they can handle.

Due to the interdependency of most of the content marketing tasks and subtasks, unavailability of a single team member can disrupt or delay the whole strategy.

Flexibility Issues

Content Marketing Agency:

Content marketing needs for an organization, always evolve.

There can be more than one content marketing strategies in execution at any one time, depending on your circumstances and other factors like:

  • Budgeting
  • Seasonal marketing
  • New product launch etc

Any significant amount of changes can be accommodated well when your content marketing needs are outsourced to an agency.

An agency can tailor their services to your changing needs, without interruption. Be it more work in relatively short time, added tasks lists or anything, agencies can handle.

Lack of time is considered as number one factor for inconsistent content production. Unplanned changes can add up to the problems for an in-house team.

Agencies always have an agile approach and are likely to adapt when it comes to changes in requirements, timelines or deliverables.

On the downside, though, changes can be accommodated smoothly when an agency is at work on your behalf, there may be added costs involved.

In-house Team:

With your in-house team, you don't need to worry about any extra costs.

You are free to change track, adopt new tactics, upgrade or downgrade whenever you like, without incurring any extra costs.

One thing to note is: You might think you can always bring extra staff to speed up your strategy execution but remember there is a learning curve involved before a new staff member can fully grasp your brand, your strategy and business goals. They will also need some time to integrate and become fully productive.

If there is a failure to integrate with the existing team, it may affect quality and results.

Costs Fundamentals


"Although nearly one-third of brands have $500,000 or more to spend on content marketing, not every company has money to burn. Content marketing outsourcing can be the more cost-effective choice. You can set your budget, then look for agencies ."

Content Marketing Outsourcing | IZEA


It is a myth that outsourcing content marketing to an agency can be costly as it is far from the truth.

Getting an agency to manage content marketing on your behalf can be more cost-effective if you factor in costs for having an in-house team like:

  • Costs for hiring new staff
  • Costs for training new staff
  • Costs to access specialized skills and knowledge
  • Costs for equipment
  • Costs for overheads like rent, utilities, subscriptions, licences

Another important cost-saving option you can have is with an agency is, by bundling up all your content marketing requirements together, like content creation and distribution, you can always win a huge discount from your agency.

Costs Comparison | In-House Vs Agency

In-house Team:

Average Content Writer Salary was $49608 per year as of 2018.

Now consider if a company employs a good content writer. You should also expect them to have added skills like

  • On-Site SEO
  • Off-Site SEO
  • BAsic social Media know how
  • Basic understanding of distribution channels etc

You also have to add certain benefits, taxes, national insurance, membership fees and your cost could rise up to $60000.

You still have to add the costs for things like rent, utilities, subscriptions, licences etc, say another $3000 / Month

Total costs can reach up to $100000 for an average content writer.

And this is only for a content writer.

You will need, as we discussed earlier, the help of other professionals as well, for a successful content marketing strategy like:

  • Content analyst(s) and strategy planner(s)
  • Distribution specialist(s)

Will leave the further Maths with you but we are looking the north of $250000 plus.

Content Marketing Agency:

A content marketing agency will set a price per article, depending on the package you sign up for or set up a price per / word, if you would like to be more flexible.

To explain things, we will take our own example, here at quoracreative, where we offer high-quality content pieces:

4, average 2000 words articles / Month for $300
8, average 2000 words articles / Month for $600
12, average 2000 words articles / Month for $900
24, average 2000 words articles / Month for $1800

And these articles come with full competition analysis, On-Page and Off-Page SEO, keyword research and long-term content marketing strategy.

Let's compare both, In-house and agency costs.

We charge extra if you would like us to distribute your content on different channels like social media.

4 articles / Month for $300
8 articles / Month for $600
12 articles / Month for $900
24 articles / Month for $1800

8, 2000 words articles / Month for $600 is our most papular product with small business and startups.

Costs for 96, high-quality articles for one year is only $7200. Costs for the distribution for those 96, high-quality articles for one year is only $7200.

7200 + 7200 = 14600 / year for the a basic service

For medium to large organization, which require between 20 and 30 articles per month.

24, average 2000 words articles / Month  = $1800  
distribution for 24 articles / Month =  $1800

1800 + 1800 = $3600 / Month or
3600 * 12 = $43200 / year 

That's around 300 high-quality articles, which can make a huge, positive impact on your online presence and promotion.

$43200 is the fraction of $250000 you will pay for getting the same job done with your in-house.

It probably makes more sense to outsource your content marketing needs to an agency.

Reporting

Content Marketing Agency:

We know well that reporting is crucial for any content marketing campaign.

Agencies have very well-defined systems in place for periodic reviews and reporting.

These reviews provide an insight into what works and what doesn't and how things can be improved further for even better results.

Several Free tools are available like Google Search Console and Google Analytics which can give a detailed insight into the performance of a marketing campaign.

As an agency will provide regular analytics reports to clients on all of tasks, project and marketing campaigns, this can give clients, peace of mind and can help clients understand exactly what they have achieved for their investment.

In-house Team:

In-house teams can generate reports as well using similar tools and reporting software but these reports might lack the fine detail and explanation that a professional agency can compile on your behalf.

And it's not about reports only.

along with reports, an expert can also better translate the reports and provide the recommendations based on experience and comparative data which can help a business formalize a much better future strategy.

Conclusion | In-House Or Agency?

If you are still finding it difficult to decide, ask yourself these question:

  • What is your business size?
  • How clear are you about your content marketing needs?
  • Your well do you understand content marketing?
  • How well do you understand your competition?
  • Do you have well defined and refined goals for your content marketing strategy?
  • Do you have resources, like office space, to accommodate an in-house team?
  • What is your organizational structure and can an in-house team fit in?
  • What is your management style?
  • Do you have any experience with outsourcing? if so
  • What is Your prefered approach to outsourcing?

If you are new to content marketing, with a small company size and a limited budget, it is better to go with outsourcing to an agency.

If you are a startup and need to focus on your core business processes, it is better to leave content marketing with an agency, so you can focus on what you understand and do best.

If you already have an understanding of content marketing, have an in-house team and you want to scale up your strategy, for the only short term, then partially outsource your extra work to an agency.

If you have an in-house team, which are producing good results, and you want to scale up your strategy, for the long run, it's better to hire further and expand your in-house team.

If you decide to go for an agency, remember to query for the following information:

  • Ask for their quality metrics
  • Ask what industry guidelines they follow?
  • Can they provide a free report about your competition?
  • Do they handle research, execution, distribution under one roof?
  • Ask about their reporting mechanism
  • Ask about their reporting frequency
  • How about support and consultation, before and throughout the contract?
  • Ask for any samples of previous work
  • Independently look for reviews, feedbacks and recommendations
  • Do they offer performance-based contracts
  • Do they offer a money back guarantee?

We hope this article helps you better understand your options for content marketing. You can always advise us if we have missed something or something you find inaccurate or something we can improve on.


Before you leave, we would like you to know, at quoracreative we strive to provide an exceptional content marketing service, following strict Google Quality Guidelines, performance-based pricing, a dedicated content manager at very affordable prices.


Read more About Content Marketing:

Published Under: Content Marketing
Disclaimer: “Whilst we have made every effort to ensure that the information we have provided is accurate, it is not and advice. We cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions. Visit third party sites at your own risk. This article does not constitute legal advice.

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