Should You Hire a Marketing Operations Agency or More Staff?

PUBLISHED: 11/14/2019

Finding – and retaining – the right marketing operations talent has always been a pain point for organizations. Experienced Marketo staff— even entry-level marketing operations staff— is hard to find, and, comes with a premium price tag.


Factor in recruitment time, training time and both your financial and opportunity costs begin to add up. So what is your best option?

Is it better to hire or outsource when additional marketing operations resources are needed?

Given the speed of business and the desire for an organization to keep pace amidst a tight marketing operations labor market, more and more organizations are seeking help from outside agencies. In fact, a reported 70% of marketing leaders now utilize specialized Marketo talent from outsourcing – a shift from the previous mentality that it’s better to hire.


This isn’t to say that in-house hiring will ever completely disappear, but rather that marketing operations leaders are carefully weighing their options when looking to increase capacity, fill vacant MOPS positions or otherwise streamline their organization’s workflow.

The Cost of In-House vs. External Talent By The Numbers


Aside from expertise and ability weighing into your workflow delegation decisions, cost is obviously a paramount factor for an organization. Oftentimes the hiring decision simply boils down to that age-old question: which option is more cost-effective?

Let’s look at the straight cost. Seemingly high hourly rates from outside consulting firms can feel steep when sitting down to talk numbers. With many of these firms starting around $200 per hour, we understand the initial shell shock.

Our tip? Don’t let that initial look scare you off.

While opting for an in-house employee may seem appealingly “cheap” on paper, there are a myriad of more-or-less hidden fees to consider as well. With the in-house option comes the responsibility to pay for consistent benefits, paid time off, potential sick days, and payroll taxes.

And if your company offers 401k matching, tuition assistance, and bonuses—  while these are great perks to attract and retain employees, they also add to the true fee of your new hire.

In fact, an employee can actually cost upwards of 2.7 times their base salary.

Yes, you read that correctly!

Let’s breakdown the real cost of an employee vs. the perceived cost.


Let’s say you hire a Marketo practitioner with 2-3 years of experience for $90,000 annually. Sure, you know that there are other costs associated with hiring an employee, but do understand just how much they are adding up?


Factor in benefits, hiring costs, training cost, management time, paid time off…when all is said and done, that $80,000 employee could really cost upwards of $200,000. When you look at the numbers this way, the cost of an outside agency may not seem so steep.

Talent Turnover


OK, you’ve made the decision to hire…great! But invariably, there’s turnover and it comes as no surprise. The marketing operations market is hot— skilled MOPS professionals are in demand, so you always run the risk of an employee leaving or simply not working out within your organization.


In fact, an astonishing 40% of new hires leave the company within one year, meaning your time and financial investment in high-level training has left.

Alternatively, let’s look at the agency solution.

Employee “fit” and turnover are no longer in the equation, bringing stability to your operations. From a pure cost standpoint, working with an outside firm usually comes with a straight-forward, contracted fee. The guesswork associated with cost will be minimal and deadlines are usually tighter.


Plus, you can choose not to commit to the higher hourly rate on a full-time basis, which could actually help you save big in the long-term, as work will be done faster and you’re not paying for the non-productive time of an employee. Essentially: define what you need so you can execute quickly.

Specialist vs. Generalist


Marketing— and the “rules” around it— are forever changing. Privacy regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and CASL compliance impact how we collect, store and use data. Consider too, the MarTech landscape is complex and growing. With approximately one-third of marketing budgets allocated to technology, navigating the MarTech universe, knowing how to use the tools in your tech stack and effectively integrating them, requires more specialized skills than a typical Marketo practitioner will have.


Thus, to meet your needs, you face having to hire a higher-level expert (and at a significantly higher price tag) AND a practitioner. An agency, on the other hand, will already have resources in place to effectively advise you and handle your various needs.

Remember too, agency consultants are deep experts in their fields— this is their full-time job vs. internal resources where Marketo may be one of the many responsibilities in their job description. As a result, agency resources are well-versed in best practices and usually execute faster and with greater accuracy than employees wearing multiple hats.

Intangible Costs of Talent Options


We all know that numbers speak. However, there are other important pieces to consider when deciding how to respond to the capacity question. For example:

  • Which direction will lead to the best outcome and ultimately do a better job?
  • Do internal candidates have resources to pull from when challenges arise?
  • Will a seemingly lower hourly rate cost your project time and risk the quality?
  • What’s the opportunity cost? Will a poorly done job ultimately force you into paying for the same project twice, should you have to re-do work?


Again, while an outside firm may look steep in pricing, their expertise is backed by a strong team of people with extensive resources at their disposal – resources that may not be available to your employees. Access to these resources alone may be enough of an incentive to go through with the agency hire.


So when looking at their quoted cost, consider what it would cost your organization to also invest in these resources, on top of paying for the work.

Is Outsourcing the Right Decision for My Organization?


Essentially, there is no blanket, straight-forward answer for any one circumstance. However, before assuming it’s cheaper to hire, it’s well worth looking at what an agency could actually save your organization in both time and resources plus what you’ll gain in efficiency and Marketo expertise.

Ready to discuss your situation and explore your options? Contact us and let’s get the conversation started!