In-house or Agency Influencer Marketing: What’s best for your brand?

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In-house:

Managing the entirety of influencer campaigns internally, using a dedicated influencer marketing tool. 

Agency:

Outsourcing the organization and management of influencer campaigns to a marketing agency. 

If your first forays into influencer marketing are starting to pay off then it’s time to ask yourself (and your team) an important question: should we hire an agency to handle influencer marketing, or should we do it in-house? Depending on your company, resources, and goals, your choice can really make a difference to your success. 

Maybe you started off doing it in-house, but with ambitions to run even more campaigns, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Or perhaps you’re feeling frustrated with the back and forth of working with an agency and want to have more control over your campaigns. Whatever your situation, we’ll share the questions you should be asking and the pros and cons of each strategy to help you decide on your next step. 

Questions to ask when choosing which strategy is best-suited to your brand

  • What’s my budget? 

Your influencer marketing budget should factor in the external resources and tools you might need to run your campaigns. Running your campaign in-house might include using an influencer marketing software, legal fees, or freelancers. The right tool will give you everything you need to produce and manage winning campaigns. Working with an agency may be more costly, but it can be a wise investment for brands that don’t have the capacity to manage multiple large campaigns in-house, plus, you gain the added value and expertise of a ready-made team of experts. Knowing how much you are willing to spend up-front will make the decision process much easier! 

  • What resources and expertise do we have?

Is it realistic to have one person managing all influencer marketing efforts or will you need to hire a team? Maybe you already have several influencer marketing experts in the company. Depending on the size of your team, it might be wise to outsource influencer marketing to a team of industry experts at an agency. Carrying out top campaigns requires a certain amount of human resources and can be time-consuming. Be aware of the in-house resources you have before taking on too many campaigns. 

  • How much control/ownership do we want? 

This will definitely vary for each company. Depending on the nature of your service or product, especially if it’s in a niche industry or if you need to work closely with your legal team, you might feel more comfortable managing the entire influencer marketing process in-house using a robust and dedicated tool. Consider the type of relationship you want to have with your influencers. Perhaps you want to launch a brand ambassador program or work with organic influencers from your customer base. Brand affinity needs to be top of mind for authentic and long-lasting campaigns, so it can be more beneficial to nurture these relationships in-house, remember, whether you use Upfluence as your in-house tool or are benefiting from an Upfluence agency offering, we are uniquely positioned to help you find influential customers and ambassadors.  

in-house influencer marketing
Image credit: Vectorjuice via Freepik

Pros and cons of in-house influencer marketing 

  • Benefit #1: Internal operations & organization

The most prominent benefit of in-house influencer marketing is in the name itself: everything is internal. This means that you get to save on time and communication efforts with an external agency that needs to learn about your needs and goals from scratch. You’ll also have much more control over authorization, influencer vetting, approving, and relationship nurturing.

  • Benefit #2: You know your customer best

A great agency will do everything they can to understand your needs and customers, but let’s face it, no one will ever understand your goals and customers as much as you do. There will always be unspoken knowledge and trust when it comes to internal teams. An agency simply won’t know what they haven’t been explicitly told about your brand and objectives. Your team is best placed to co-create content that will appeal to your target audience. You’ll be able to finely tune comprehensive briefs and guide influencers throughout the campaign. You know your products and your target customers inside-out so you’ll be able to clearly communicate this to creators you work with directly. 

  • Benefit #3: Closer ties with influencers

Fruitful influencer partnerships require time and energy spent on nurturing relationships, co-creating content and sharing feedback. Having an agency manage these types of working relationships will save you a huge amount of time. But, if your company is planning to include influencer marketing as an ongoing marketing effort, having a designated person or team in-house who works closely with your influencers and nurtures these relationships one-to-one could benefit you in the long-run. Whether you choose to work with influencers directly or recruit them with an agency, be sure to invest time in getting to know your creators, offering constructive feedback and thanks for a job well done. A little goes a long way!  

  • Con #1: Manual influencer marketing is a drain on resources

This strategy may have worked just fine when you managed a handful of influencers, but as you decide to scale you need to evaluate the human and technical resources available to you. 

Without the right tools, influencer marketing is an overwhelming process – from sourcing, contacting, performance tracking, as well as service exchanging (be it shipping out sample products or paying influencers on time). 

Top tip: Get the right tools for in-house influencer marketing!

If on balance, you decide to choose in-house influencer marketing, make sure you’re equipped with the latest time-saving software solutions so you can run campaigns efficiently. This guide will help you decide if you’re ready to upgrade your in-house influencer marketing with a dedicated software. 

With a leading influencer marketing software such as Upfluence, you’ll have access to a huge influencer database, plus a ton of campaign management tools to help you manage every aspect of your campaign. Boost your campaigns with powerful integrations with tools you’re already using such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Klaviyo, and Refersion. Automation of key tasks will help your team focus their energy where it’s needed most. 

influencer marketing agency
Image credit: jcomp via Freepik

Pros and cons of working with an influencer marketing agency 

  • Benefit #1: Built-in relationships with influencers

Agencies will already have established relationships with influencers or influencer agencies. They’ll usually have access to a roster of creators or access to a large database of influencer profiles. This can create an efficient influencer selection process and save your team hours of searching! 

  • Benefit #2: Agencies know the ins and outs of influencer marketing

As with any marketing channel, influencer marketing comes with its own best practices and regulations. If you don’t have this expertise in-house, agencies can be a great help here,  they’ll have important knowledge on managing contracts, briefs, and even the FTC guidelines. 

Agencies also have expertise on industry trends. They keep up with industry trends and news which can be time-consuming for brands. They’ll ensure your campaigns stay relevant and leverage the latest trends. 

  • Benefit #3: Brands can focus on other tasks

The best thing about having someone else handle your campaign is… having someone else handling your campaign. This is especially true if your company needs to allocate time and resources to other projects, or during the busy times of the year when you simply don’t have enough bandwidth for so many different tasks.

  • Cons #1: Additional costs

Working with an agency will usually require significant up-front costs that you need to budget for if you take this route! You might save money in the short term by running influencer campaigns in-house, but if it ends up being a drain on resources it could be just as costly in the long run! 

Top tip: Negotiate how much control you want to have

Brands might understandably be worried about losing a certain amount of control over their marketing campaigns. But this is easily solved if you make it clear from the start about which decisions you’d need to sign off on and what the agency can decide. Remember, while you might not have direct control, you’ll get the added value of influencer marketing expertise and time saved for your team. If you’d like to learn more about how working with an agency can add value to your campaigns, read about Upfluence’s agency offering

With these considerations in mind, you’ll know which of these strategies is best-suited to your brand. However you decide to scale your influencer marketing efforts, the team at Upfluence is on-hand to help! Feel free to reach out to our team if you have any questions. 

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