The True Cost of Doing Inbound Marketing In-House

3 minute read

The True Cost of Doing Inbound Marketing In-House

When choosing the path of inbound marketing, many businesses struggle with the choice of choosing an agency vs. doing the marketing in-house. There are definitely factors that impact the success that each option can have on your marketing, however, what most businesses fail to take in account is cost. When we discuss cost, we don’t necessarily mean the monetary costs of running an inbound campaign (though that certainly is a component), but also non-monetary costs like time, resources, staff training, etc. Knowing the significance of these costs on an organization can be a challenge when deciding which option is best  for you. To understand this, you must first know what your costs are or will be.

Hiring and Training

Perhaps the largest cost to companies looking to do inbound in-house is staffing. This impacts teams without a marketing department, as well as those with an established one. The biggest concern businesses face is bringing a marketing team on-board to use a new strategy like inbound, or finding the talent that can implement it. If you already have a marketing team, it means spending money on the training and transition of your team to inbound methods, which can easily take months. If you don’t already have a team, it means hiring and onboarding new staff to implement your plan.

Hiring and training takes a significant amount of time, and adding staff salaries is pricey. The average national salary for a Marketing Manager is $80,898 per Glassdoor. If you choose to hire a Marketing Director, that salary can run you $121,744. Then you have to account for the rest of the team—designers, copywriters, strategists, and developers. Factor in the 2 – 3 months it will take for onboarding, and add that to those costs. Then consider turnover, additional hiring as needed, and additional training..

Quality and Quantity

Another factor to consider with in-house marketing is understanding the costs related to workflow variance and the amount of workflow at any given time. There are busy times and lulls, which will impact your team’s efficiency and productivity. This can affect the overall return on your marketing investment.

Quality is trickier to directly quantify or put a number value to, however, it is an equally important cost. The quality of your marketing efforts impacts the effectiveness of your strategy. With a newer team or new team members, a dip in quality will recover over time but may cost you leads or require additional efforts to meet goals. Ultimately, this means more time spent on the campaign than originally budgeted.

Managing Resources

An agency will have a number of proven inbound marketing resources, services, and software that  are efficient to their processes. Usually the agency covers the costs of these and will split and pass the cost amongst each client they work with. When doing inbound marketing in-house you will be forced to learn which resources work for you, and cover the entire cost yourself, which will likely be more overall than what the agency charges you for their resources.  

The reasons for this are widespread. First, you’ll likely have more trial and error associated with these resources as you learn the effectiveness of different tools over time. In addition, while an agency will pay a large cost for a high level tool or resource, that cost spread amongst a lot of clients will mean a small cost to you. There’s also the cost of learning and developing processes for a tool.  Finally, the time that goes into finding and researching a tool, learning that tool, and training staff is a cost to you.

Know Your Capabilities

While all these costs aren’t necessarily deterrents from in-house inbound marketing, they are often overlooked. When calculating the value of an agency vs. taking your inbound marketing in-house, it’s important to  analyze the cost and time factors in order to figure out the true impact to your company so you can make the best decision for your marketing needs. Only then will you truly capture the differential, and determine which method is most effective.


Cyndi Castle
Analytics Consultant