Calculating the ROI of Hiring a B2B Marketing Firm

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 15
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Digital Marketing: Lots of Work!digital-marketing-team-b2b-marketscale.jpg
This much is certain: The digital marketing landscape continues to evolve at a pace that far exceeds the bandwidth of a single in-house marketing manager—or even a small, in-house team. To maintain a competitive digital presence, marketers must collect and monitor data and analytics across multiple channels, track the performance of a range of content forms aimed at multiple target audiences along multiple stages of the sales cycle.  And this is just the beginning...

A competitive digital marketing presence requires regular content creation—the research/writing/editing of long and short-form content; video production, and graphic design for individual pieces of content as well as website resources.  Then there’s content curation, overseeing employee advocacy of marketing campaigns, soliciting user-generated content, adopting new technologies for initiatives like content distribution… the list goes on.

If this sounds like a lot of jargon, it is!                                                                          That’s the point—the digital marketing landscape has grown so complex and specialized that maintaining a viable online presence requires investing valuable time and skill on multiple fronts.

To meet these demands, in-house marketers are forced to take on multiple roles, part creative, part data analyst, part computer programmer, part manager—and all-parts stress case.  Realistically, marketing managers must function less as producers and more as conductors, orchestrators of an increasingly extended, and fragmented network of external, freelance resources. 

Managing freelance work becomes a whole new monster: Finding and overseeing contract work quickly turns into a massive juggling act.  Contract workers do not maintain regular hours and availability, forcing marketers to pursue an ever-expanding network of potential contract resources, often globally, across a range of time zones.  The latter process requires hours of vetting, followed by scheduling and coordination.  Soon, the work of contracting even a short written blog can turn into hours of management and administrative tasks. 

In short, the work required to maintain a competitive digital marketing campaign requires a full team.

And here’s the rub: Hiring a full in-house team is expensive. Businesses are rightfully concerned with the numbers, especially the ROI on any given investment. Increasing staff, in particular, is often a fraught point of discussion. Can your existing staff take on more responsibilities? Can you get by a little longer without hiring someone?

These hesitations are understandable. Hiring someone new, especially when it’s a high-paying position, is a significant investment. When a business hits a certain size, many of them dive into the hiring process for staff who are specifically dedicated to marketing. It’s a natural and necessary outgrowth of many previous decisions about scaling up that involved in-house hires for other positions.

However, while necessary, hiring a single in-house-marketing manager is, in many cases, not enough. Many in-house marketers are hired under the expectation that they can handle a full digital marketing campaign on their own—a misperception that places both marketing managers and the business that hire them into difficult positions. In-house marketing managers can’t run a digital marketing strategy alone. They need help.  In many cases, business need to equip their in-house marketing team with the added bandwidth and expertise of an outside agency.

To better understand the need, let’s breakdown the necessary roles and attendant hiring costs involved in developing and maintaining a competitive digital marketing campaign.


THE 7 ESSENTIAL ROLES OF A DIGITAL MARKETING TEAM                                     

Generally speaking, a digital marketing team requires 7 essential roles. While different companies use different titles for these positions, each of these 7 team members covers one of the following responsibilities:

1. The Director/Manager/Coach:

This is the leader who oversees and coordinates the efforts of the team. If your business already has an internal marketing manager, then you have this base covered.                                                                                                          

2. The Strategist:

Your marketing strategist is the person who’s ultimately responsible for deciding on, and planning, overseeing your digital promotion efforts. As a result, she or he needs to understand both your company and your buyer personas extremely well.              

3. The Social Media Manager: 

The Social Media Manager is responsible for putting the strategist’s social media marketing plan into action. He or she will engage customers and other stakeholders on social networking sites. They’re also staying informed about trends and shifts in social media demographics. Your social media manager should be an expert in knowing how to communicate your voice to the outside world in a way your customers will love.                                                

4. The Content Creator:

Your content creator will work closely with both your strategist and social media manager to create on-voice content for your company. As a result, the person you hire needs to be skilled at both written and verbal communication. Ideally, the employee should also be trained in copy writing so that he or she can create content for your website and landing pages.        

5. The Data Analyst:

Without somebody looking over your analytics data, you’ll have no way of knowing whether or not your marketing content is making a difference to your audience. That’s where your new data analyst comes into play. Your data analyst is responsible for knowing the goals of your marketing efforts and knowing how to measure the results of your social media, written, and video content compared to these target metrics. With the analyst’s help, your digital marketing team will be able to focus its efforts on creating content that connects with customers. They’ll also be able to avoid wasting time and money on things that aren’t effective.          

6. The Tech Expert

This digital marketing team member will be the technical implementer of your marketing strategies. Since most tools used in digital marketing these days require some level of coding, this person must be well-versed in HTML and CSS.  After joining your company, your technical specialist will work to create templates and help build out your campaigns. He or she must also stay engaged in the realm of emerging technologies and keep informed about the changing trends in digital media. With these skills, the technical specialist can add the polish that simple content, alone lacks.

7. The Artist:

From user design, to infographics, to video, digital marketing is all about visual content. 74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing (Source). By 2017, video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic.  (Source).  Simply out, Digital marketing without expert video and visual media is like a stereo system without speakers. You need a creative manager with the combined skills in multi-media and user-design, along with the business experience and marketing savvy to produce work relevant to B2B verticals.

That’s 7 internal positions essential to maintaining an effective B2B digital marketing campaign.

And, when one considers the amount of work required to create a single professional-grade video, the above list really amounts to a skeleton crew.


Digital marketing without expert video and visual media is like a stereo system without speakers.



And how much would your internal marketing team cost? 


  1. Marketing Manager: $66, 090 - $175,060/year (Source)
  1. Digital Marketing Strategist: 50,000-79, 000/year (Source
  1. Social Media Manager: $41,577 - $108,800/year a year (Source)
  1. Entry-Level Content Writer: $26,203 - $101,816/year (Source)
  1. Marketing Data Analyst: $40,201 - $84,175/year (Source)
  1. Marketing Technology Manager: $89,000 – 120, 000/year (Source)
  1. Creative Marketing Manager: $33,026 - $83,191/year (Source)

 Total Salary Cost of an In-House Digital Marketing Team: $346,000 - $853, 858

Certainly the numbers demonstrate a wide range, based on variables such as location and experience.  However, if we were to err on the lower end of national averages, an in-house marketing team will cost a minimum of about $346,000 annually.  A more experienced in-house team could mean an annual cost of up to $853, 858.

But it’s not just an investment in the person’s salary, payroll taxes, benefits, etc. There’s the time investment of everyone who is involved in the hiring, interview, and training processes. Office real estate will be taken up by this individual and the space required to perform their duties. Equipment like a high-end computer, smartphone, and more are essential to a marketing professional. Tools like specialized software, subscriptions to services, organizational memberships, and more are indispensable to effective marketers. The list goes on.

When you add up these costs, add hiring new hires to you in-house team becomes a weighty investment. Many business are tempted to find a cheaper alternative, like hiring freelancers, but cost is only one of many factors to consider as you seek to improve your business’s marketing strategy.




When considering all the resources required to bring on and support an in-house marketing professional, it’s worth investigating whether or not that investment could go to better use and yield a higher ROI by partnering with an experienced marketing agency with a proven track record of success. Obviously, as Director of Content at a B2B digital firm, I have an inherent bias toward the agency partnership model, but the principles underlying the benefits of working with a marketing firm are straightforward:

Comprehensive Marketing Services:                                                                               A full-service marketing agency will not only have staff with more diverse skillsets, but also more qualified staff for specific marketing functions. They will have content marketing specialists who can create engaging, relevant, and optimized content for your website, blog, email, and more. They will have social media specialists who know which sites will benefit your law firm the most and who can optimize your profiles and keep you in the forefront of your audience’s mind. They will have paid advertising experts who can create and manage effective, results-driven advertising campaigns for your law firm. In short, an agency will have specialized and certified marketing professionals who are experts in each area of your marketing strategy that they are implementing.

Experience in B2B Industries:                                                                                           Find an agency with expertise marketing for the particular needs of companies operating in niche B2B industries. Firms with B2B the right industry and regional expertise will know how to communicate effectively to audiences in highly specialized industries.  Experienced firms will also have volumes of data about what works (and what doesn’t) for companies in similar markets and regions.

Familiarity with Your Firm:                                                                                               While an in-house marketing professional will certainly have a close familiarity with your firm, its business goals, its brand guidelines, and more, a quality B2B agency will provide you with individual team members dedicated specifically to your firm’s success. We have a thorough onboarding process to help your team become acquainted with every aspect of your firm—from your ideal client to your brand’s color palette. And as our partnership grows, we document all of your feedback so you don’t experience the exasperation of having to constantly re-align your marketing efforts with your business goals and standards.

Higher ROI:                                                                                                                             The gold standard by which to compare any investment to another, of course, is its concrete returns for your business. A quality firm will care about the numbers just as much as you do and will show you how the investment you make each month is making a positive impact on your bottom line.

In-House Marketing and Agency Partnerships Aren’t Mutually Exclusive           Partnering with an agency provides your in-house marketer exactly the support needed to give your marketing efforts a boost over your competition. Their intimacy with your firm combined with the expert assistance of dedicated marketing professionals is the perfect mix for success — at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire a full in-house team.

Questions?  Get in touch!

For more information about the benefits of hiring an outside firm, feel free to contact us. For resources (like our marketing playbook, below) and insights to help you get your digital marketing back on track.

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Topics: Video, Marketing Technology, Creative, Solutions, Business Communication, B2B Marketing, B2B Content, Content Strategy

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