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  • Writer's pictureVicky Sidler

Agencies vs Freelancers vs Employees – Which Is Better For Integrated Digital Marketing In Business?

Discover the best direction to take when integrating content, social media, SEO, and digital marketing for your brand – weigh up the pros and cons for your business now.

Integrated Digital Marketing

The world of digital marketing can be fairly intimidating for business owners. Most businesses have a core focus that is very far removed from the world of social media marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and Pay Per Click (PPC). Many business owners have no clue how to best integrate strategies into marketing campaigns.

Yet, effective digital marketing strategies, including content marketing, SEO, and social media, are as essential for these businesses as they are to those of any other industry. These valuable marketing sectors are all specialised areas that businesses need for ongoing success in today’s digital world of commerce. When executed well and integrated correctly, they will help your brand to stand out in a crowded online marketplace.

Many companies separate the duties and responsibilities of digital marketing since doing so makes the most sense in a traditional business model. They tend to consider SEO in isolation, for example, without factoring in their social media strategy or content creation plan (if they even have these strategies and plans at all). However, there is another way – integrate them all without sacrificing the quality of any.

To begin, let’s go over the basics of each and how they complement and differentiate from one another.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is traditional marketing but using digital tools. Marketing is all about communicating your mission and values to your existing and potential customers – and with digital marketing, this is achieved online.

The assets used in digital marketing services include SEO, social media management, and content marketing (which are each expanded on below), but also include graphic design elements, such as your logo, infographics, product photos, Google Adwords or Pay-Per-Click (PPC), reviews and listings, as well as your business website.

Each of these assets should be approached with a marketing strategy – how can they be fully utilised to promote your business and brand?

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is a set of tools and best practices that help sites climb higher on search engine rankings. The idea is that good SEO will increase the number of organic visits (not paid) to your business website from search engines like Google. For digital marketing, this is important because you’ll earn “free” traffic if you do this correctly. Ranking higher than your competitors also implies superiority since most people trust Google to present them with the best option first.

There are a lot of factors that influence SEO, and if you’ve done any research at all into the subject, you’ll know that the amount of information is overwhelming. Many people can at least cover the basics of SEO themselves if they have the time to do it, but a more comprehensive SEO plan requires a specialist. Getting a page to rank takes a fair bit of time and effort, so SEO needs to be viewed as a long-term strategy, which you can pair with PPC for quicker wins.

Content Marketing

Content marketing often works hand-in-hand with SEO because it involves creating pages on your site that your audience will find interesting, which is something that Google and other search engines love to see. These pages can also be used to move potential buyers through the sales funnel.

The types of content you create will be in accordance with your audience and goals, including videos, infographics, guides, articles, blog posts, and more. Some of these content assets can be used for outreach as well, such as an infographic that’s shared on social media. Outreach marketing is a tool of its own, but it involves finding individuals or brands that will naturally share your content or recommend your brand.

Social Media Marketing

Social media offers businesses an excellent platform to connect with their target audience and build their brands in a way that is organic – and best of all, free. Effectively, social media marketing involves creating content that gets shared on social platforms in an effort to market your brand. It’s also great for collecting reviews and connecting with customers and potential clients.

Like SEO, building your brand on social media can be time-consuming, and it can be difficult for businesses to consistently run effective marketing campaigns. Many businesses don’t necessarily have a campaign or strategy in mind at all and will just randomly update their social pages with notices as needed. This usually happens when the business doesn’t have resources dedicated to social media marketing.

Which is best? Employees, Freelancers, or Agencies?

As you can see, a lot is involved for each of the different aspects of digital marketing, and so it makes sense that many companies choose to separate the different principles. However, that is not the only, or necessarily the best, choice. Each of these aspects needs to be well-integrated in order for your campaigns and marketing efforts to be successful.

Businesses have various options available to them, but the main ones include hiring an employee for each sector, sourcing freelancers, or partnering with an agency. Below, we briefly weigh these various options against each other to help you to decide the best way forward for your business.

Hiring An Employee

Many businesses choose to have the reliability of hiring someone full-time. However, this does come with a number of risks as well. For one, you will need to commit to this expense every month, making this a long-term investment. Still, if your business or brand is especially complex, it might be best to hire someone that already has in-depth knowledge and experience of the industry as well as experience in digital marketing.

It’s also tempting to hire someone in-house if you have a large volume of digital marketing that could get expensive to outsource. Although, the accompanying disadvantage is that the tasks required for successful digital marketing are often too varied for just one employee to manage – or at least, for one employee to manage well.

Ideally, you’d need to hire multiple employees with different expertise to form a digital marketing team. And, of course, this will quickly become more expensive than outsourcing. This is especially true if you want your team to be made up of competent or expert employees. Few companies would consider hiring a dedicated employee to run their monthly PPC campaigns, simply because such experts are pricey, and the business simply doesn’t need someone full-time and in-house.

Another significant disadvantage to having an in-house employee (or even a team of them, for that matter) is that many tasks only need to be attended to once or twice a month. Most businesses don’t add graphic designers to their payroll, for example, because their graphic design needs don’t require someone full-time.

To get around this, many businesses hire one or two marketing professionals and then attempt to upskill them through training. This can be effective to a point, but the reality is that not every employee is going to enjoy every digital marketing task – nor will they necessarily be good at it, even with training. A dedicated SEO professional, for example, likely enjoys SEO and has an aptitude for it that makes him particularly good at his job. Your in-house designer or content writer may agree to SEO training, but might not enjoy it or feel particularly invested in excelling at it.

Sourcing A Freelancer

Another attractive option for many businesses is the option of contracting a freelancer. Freelancers usually are self-employed people who often work for several clients at a time. The benefit of freelancers is the lack of commitment required from the business. In most cases, you can hire them ad-hoc without any set contract in place.

Furthermore, they are often cheaper than what it would cost you to hire someone full time, making this an attractive option for businesses without a big marketing budget. They also don’t require any professional investment, such as training. Much like an independent contractor, freelancers have their way of getting things done and don’t depend on a company to give processes for them to obtain their results.

The downside, however, is that it’s not easy to find individuals you can trust to call on when needed and who will give you consistently good results. If you’ve ever visited a freelance hub, you’ll already know that real talent is hard to find.

Furthermore, the lack of commitment goes both ways – if a freelancer doesn’t enjoy working with you or gets too busy with bigger clients, they can just as easily stop offering their service to you. A freelancer is also limited to the number of hours available for work each day, so an in-demand freelancer (and rest assured, the good ones will be in high demand) might not always have the capacity to take on additional work.

A certain amount of consideration is required, therefore, when weighing up the cost-saving factors versus the reliability of an employee.

Again, even with freelancers, it’s rare that you will find one capable enough to handle your SEO, social media, content marketing, and other digital marketing needs. It’s likely you’ll need the services of several freelancers, which not only ends up accumulating costs but administrative tasks as well.

Working With An Agency

In contrast to the previous two options, an agency will have the in-house expertise to integrate content, SEO, social media campaigns, PPC, and all other aspects of digital marketing into your business rather than handle (and charge for) these areas separately. Their teams are made up of specialists who work together to build successful campaigns.

Dealing directly with an agency also means less legwork when it comes to the hiring process and less administration when their services are needed. With just one phone call and one point of contact, all your tasks will be assigned and dealt with. You’ll also only receive a single invoice to pay for a bundle of services.

Agencies also aren’t restricted by a certain number of manhours since their dedicated teams allow them to take on larger amounts of work than an employee or freelancer is able to. In your busiest months, you can easily scale up the service that you receive from an agency. This enables your business to grow without restriction.

The downside of using an agency, however, is that you’re likely to be tied into a contract, so if the agency’s service isn’t working for you or your budgets get cut for any reason, you can’t easily cancel their service. Depending on your needs and how many services and campaigns you need to run, agency fees can also add up quite a bit.

At theContenTribe, we’ve addressed these issues by offering packages at different price points to ensure that clients have affordable options, and we offer discounts when signing up for multiple services (such as SEO and social media management). We also have a number of ad-hoc services that customers can purchase as needed, such as blog posts or logo design. Most importantly, however, we don’t require our customers to sign a single contract with us – not even for our monthly services. We rely on our professionalism and results-driven service to ensure repeat business.

The question is, then, would you prefer to put in the effort to build up a team of reliable employees or to research and find quality freelancers for tasks that could be handled under one agency invoice? Or would it be easier for you to work with a highly-accomplished digital marketing agency that’s able to ensure your success?

If you’re looking for an agency you can trust, get in touch with theContenTribe today.


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