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Agency vs in-house: the digital marketing decision

So, you’ve smashed your digital marketing exams and are ready to land that dream role?

Even when you can’t wait to get stuck in, it can be tricky to know whether to apply for agency roles – or go for a more hands on role in a smaller business. But what are the key differences? And how can you choose between the two? 

Decisions, decisions

We all love to have autonomy over what we are doing, so it’s worth considering where you’ll be able to do this best.  In fact, there’s plenty of research backing the fact that employees who have agency over their work are more satisfied in their jobs.

If you’re working for a small business whose marketing is in-house, you’re more likely to have freedom over your role and be able to get involved in the decision-making process.   On the flipside, if you’re working for an agency, there’s a good chance that you might be quite remote from the decision-making. Whilst you’ll probably always be informed of the decisions, you might find yourself getting frustrated at the lack of agency – pardon the pun. 



Party time 

If you work for a small company, you’re going to reap the rewards of team successes. Often there’s an amazing team spirit at smaller companies, which simply can’t be rivalled by the agency big-dogs.  Since successes in digital marketing can really affect business overall, you might find yourself being the popular guy at the office drinks if you’ve managed to up lead generation that month.

On the flip side, if things aren’t going so great in the role, an in-house digital marketing job can be intense. Pressure to generate leads can become stressful with in-house marketing, whereas at an agency there’s always enough distance between you and the issue to get you off the hook.



It’s no secret that stress is bad for us.

Recent US studies have shown that high levels of stress can negatively impact how we express emotion.  Not only that, but stress can affect everything from your reproductive system to how well your heart functions.

At an agency, your stress levels are likely to be pretty low providing that you do your job well. It’s unlikely that you’ll be staying up late stressing about leads, because there’ll be plenty of people who are in the firing line way before you.

However, if you work for an in-house marketing team, you’ll probably take your job home with you. When working for a smaller team, there’s a lot of responsibility to get things right. Of course, this varies depending on the working culture of the business and how much stress they put on you as an individual. As a general rule, working in-house means more responsibility, which can be more stressful.

But, don’t throw your in-house job application in the bin just yet… a little bit of stress can actually be good for us.  Recent studies have proven that in moderation, stress can improve mental performance.  

Variety is the spice of life

At a digital marketing agency, you’ll be working on different projects each day for different clients. This can be really exciting and give a good level of variety to your work. On the other hand, an in-house role will be working solely on marketing for your company which can get old. To flip that around, it’s often really rewarding to work on one brand, with one strategy for an extended period of time.

With this one it really depends what kind of person you are – if you’re happy to build one brand as opposed to many, then in-house might be for you. Alternatively, if you need variety in your working life, then agency side might be the right fit.


Personal Investment

If you work in-house, you’re going to be pretty invested in the cause and this can be really motivating.

Digital marketing is a really fun industry to be in – especially when you really care about what you are doing. Reaching out to your audience and trying to engage can be really fun when you genuinely have an interest in the business and its goals. At an agency, you might not feel so passionate about your work all of the time. Whilst there will be ample opportunity to work for brands you care about, a lot of your work might be for brands that you don’t care for or necessarily want to support. 

See also: Digital marketing trends to revise before your big interview

What next?

If you’re interested in a career in digital marketing, then a digital marketing course could give you the push you need to break into the industry. With demand for digital marketers exceeding supplyregardless of whether you go for agency work or in-house – the future will be bright.