What Exactly Does A Digital Marketing Agency Do, And Why The Heck Do You Need To Hire One?

Mario Didier
Founder, East Side Mafia

A common question I get these days is, “What does a digital marketing agency do?”

If you’re a Marketing Manager, CEO, or Business Owner, or even a website developer in Singapore, and you’re wondering what goes on behind the scenes of a Digital Marketing Agency, this is for you.

In this article, I’m going to briefly explain what Inbound Marketing is (for those who aren’t sure) and also what’s required to run effective Inbound Marketing Campaigns.

After which I will go straight into the two biggest factors that are probably affecting your decision on whether to hire an agency: Time and Money.

Lastly, I will list out the pros and cons of Hiring An Agency.

My goal at the end of this post is to provide you with as much information so you can make a confident decision on whether your organization will be doing your digital marketing In-House, or hiring an agency to partner with.

Let’s get started.

Full Disclosure: I own a Digital Marketing Agency, therefore I have my own biases. However, for the purpose of this article, I will be taking off my agency hat to be as objective as possible.

A Clear Definition Of Inbound Marketing

To put it simply – Inbound Marketing is making use of content to:

  • attract targeted visitors to your website (Increase Website Traffic)
  • get their contact information (Lead Generation)
  • and subsequently, convert those visitors in Happy Customers (Conversions/Sales)

Digital Marketing Agencies normally make use of the following types of content to create value for your target audience:

  • Blog Articles (like this one)
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Whitepapers, Ebooks, User Guides etc

The fundamental belief of inbound marketing is not to hard sell.

Instead, we believe in providing your target audience with valuable information to assist them in their buying journey, so when they finally buy, it will be from you.

This is less intrusive than other methods and is largely based on winning trust and confidence from your prospects.

A List Of Services That A Digital Marketing Agency Provides

Google Adwords Management

Google Adwords is one of the fastest ROI generating methods that agencies normally use to get client campaigns started, as part of a broader marketing funnel. Expect to see ROI based results in 7-14 days with a top rated agency.

Value Added Services: Conversion Tracking, Landing Page Design, Google Analytics Custom Events, Retargeting, Dynamic Remarketing, Remarketing Lists For Search Ads(RLSA)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Getting your website to rank on Page One of Google Search for your targeted products or services, that is just one of the many aspects of SEO that an Agency will be working on.

They include:

– Improving CTR (Click Through Rate)
– Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
– Use of targeted landing pages for specific products or services etc.

Facebook Advertising

This is a major marketing channel that we see tons of clients failing at. Facebook’s powerful targeting features and their massively huge base of users from all walks of life make it one of the most powerful platforms for almost ANY business to generate a healthy ROI.

What does an agency typically do differently from an in-house team?

Examples are Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, Customer Persona Based Audiences, Interest-Based Audience Targeting, Advanced Use Of Facebook Pixel For Retargeting Ads, Video Ads, Facebook Lead Gen Ads, Facebook Messenger Targeted Sales Messages, And Many, many more.

Video Advertising

You’re already seeing your Facebook feed being blasted with videos. Facebook’s algorithm now favours video ads, which generally perform 469% better than image ads.

By 2019, 80% of the World’s Internet Traffic will be Video, according to this report by Cisco.

The engagement and ROI that we get from Video marketing is unlike any other.

A well-made video can catapult your company or brand to 7 or 8 figure status in a matter of months.

Agency Advantages: Access and partnerships with a wide network of professional video production houses, most top rated agencies (like ours) have in-house video production capabilities – our team produces 79% of the marketing videos for clients’ marketing campaigns.

Native Advertising

Ever seen those weird looking articles at the bottom of your favourite blog or random site? They look like the image below and are currently taking the media buying world by storm with their super high CTRs (click-through rates) and low CPCs (cost per clicks). Native ads are a really great way to get your business cheap and strong exposure to millions of users daily. The downside to native ads? Setting them up can be a real pain…




Mobile Marketing

The chances of you reading this article on your phone is 73%.

Over 50% of mobile searches lead to purchases. 78% of local mobile searches lead to offline purchases, and search terms indicate Extremely high commercial intent.

Mobile marketing is exploding, and chances are, if you’ve never partnered with an agency, or you aren’t a digital marketing professional, you’ve never really heard much about mobile marketing strategies.

Examples Of Mobile Marketing: Youtube ads, in-app advertising, Google click to call, FB mobile, Mobile DSPs etc.

Content Marketing

Mastering the art of content marketing has been the foundation that many multi-million dollar businesses have been built on.

Too many companies think that content marketing is simply writing a few blog posts and dumping them on a blog.

Even agencies get content marketing wrong these days, by focusing too much on vanity metrics like Facebook likes, followers, or social shares.

Agency expertise in Content marketing includes: Blog Post Creation, Editorial Calendar Planning, Social Media Calendar, Infographic Creation, SEO Writing, Influencer and Blogger Outreach, and Social Media Promotion.

Email Marketing

Easily the highest generating Digital Marketing activity in 2017, email marketing is the cheapest and most effective.

For every $1 spent, a typical email marketing campaign generates $38 in Return on Investment.

This is where agencies really shine on monetizing your email existing list if any.

Specialized Agency Expertise include: Email List Building, Opt-In Design and Strategy, Lead Magnets, Email Segmenting, Lead Nurturing, Autoresponder sequence, Drip Email Campaigns.


Website & Mobile App Design and Development

All the above won’t be possible without a well designed website that converts. Landing page design, User Interactions, New user onboarding, these are some of the services that a well rounded digital marketing agency offers.

Most of the time, when you retain an agency, especially in Singapore, Website and Mobile App Development is a service that’s provided free of charge, as part of your Digital Marketing package.

6 Keys to Run an Effective Inbound Marketing Campaign?

Inbound marketing is not exactly quantum physics(it’s not even physics). Anyone can get a solid digital marketing education online for absolutely no cost by reading the best blogs on Digital Marketing, and devoting time and effort to it.

You can find comprehensive, 100% actionable guides on almost any topic for free online.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do it well.

You can set up a Google Adwords Campaign right now, and start running paid traffic to your website, and probably get a few customers from it.

But does that mean you know what the hell you’re doing?

Most definitely not. Try reading this guide if you don’t believe me.

Step 1 – Understanding Inbound Marketing

The fundamentals of inbound marketing are centred around providing value to your consumers when they search for information online.

Because of this, a great inbound marketer needs to have a deep understanding of their target customer and their behaviours.

Example: Where do they hang out online? Facebook? Snapchat? Insta?

If you don’t understand this, your content will be shown to the wrong people, those people won’t care about what you have to say, and obviously, you won’t get any conversions or sales.

You’ll then think digital marketing is crap, and return to traditional means of generating leads and sales.

Step 2 – Processes and Workflows

Like any other form of marketing, a strong digital marketing campaign requires strict processes, workflows, and systems to be firmly in place before even writing the first ad.

Campaigns work more effectively when there are sound processes to guide your team members smoothly.

Step 3 – Have The Right Tools and Software

A typical digital marketers toolbox will contain a whole ton of programs and software to assist them in their tasks.

Competitive analysis, project management, keyword research, blogging tools, content management, social media editorial software, the list goes on.

Your tools will help you to write, analyze, design, and convert more effectively. (These tools don’t come cheap by the way)

Step 4 (Where Most Fail) – Consistency

If you’re planning to run a 3 month digital marketing campaign, don’t even bother starting.

You’d be doing yourself and your company a disservice, and the money is better off spent elsewhere.

The most successful inbound marketing campaigns are the ones that have been going on for years, with millions of dollars of revenue generated online.

Why is consistency so important?

Google rewards consistency greatly, and when you’re working online, it’s kind of hard to ignore Google.

That consistency will COMPOUND your online traffic over the years, and your organization will leapfrog your competitors who have not yet begun, or are running inconsistent campaigns.

Step 5 – Quality

This is a really difficult thing to do in Digital Marketing – producing high-value content to your users.

Provide your readers and users with great quality, and they WILL end up being your loyal customers in the end. (Sometimes not immediately)

Quality is what gets people talking about your brand, looking to you for accurate answers to their questions, sharing your content, and buying your stuff!

Step 6 – Experience(Sometimes gained the hard way)

As with all lucrative tasks and endeavours, it takes a ton of failures to achieve success, and unfortunately, most of us give up along the way.

It takes a lot of testing, trial and error, and failing – to get good at Inbound Marketing. (We know from first hand experience)

Ok, Enough of Your Disguised Sales Pitch, How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Digital Marketing Agency?




Let’s consider that an average professional in Singapore gets paid at about $25/ Hour – that puts your in-house cost @ $6150

Hiring an Agency, with a whole team of experts at your disposal, will only cost you about $5300 (Agency retainer fees vary, you obviously get exactly what you pay for)

The table above is only meant to give you an idea of what it looks like from a cost and time perspective when comparing in-house vs agency.

Pros and Cons Of Hiring An Agency

We’ve covered quite a fair bit in this article so far, and now I’m going to go into the benefits and drawbacks of hiring an agency to do your bidding for you.


  • You have a team of specialized experts working on your online marketing for you, Google Adwords Optimizers, SEO Specialists, Facebook Experts and so on..
  • Your inbound campaign can get up and running faster simply because you have more people working concurrently on it.
  • Your time is freed up to devote more time to other critical business activities – closing more deals, forming new strategic partnerships, big picture activities
  • You don’t have to worry about hiring new marketing employees or losing RIDICULOUS amounts of money on bad hires
  • You know you’re dealing with a professional organization that has it’s reputation to uphold
  • Agencies are constantly updated and “in the know” when it comes to “what’s working now” in the digital marketing world
  • You get a fresh perspective on how to run your marketing – sometimes it’s hard to see clearly with our head stuck in the mud running the day to day operations
  • You have a dedicated design and development team at your disposal to make seasonal changes to your website design (which can cost you thousands)
  • The level of expertise you’ll have access to is way higher than if you were to hire in-house (A mid-level digital marketing executive’s salary starts at SGD$4800)

The ROI of a bad hire is -368%. And 66% of employers have reported that bad hires can cost them up to $58,948 each. That has got to be more expensive than hiring a digital agency.


  • The Biggest con is that most agencies are not able to deliver the unlimited promises they make
  • The agency industry is littered with one-man shows, and smaller agencies that take on WAY TOO MANY clients then they can handle
  • You will lose a certain amount of control over your marketing efforts(which may not be such a bad thing)
  • Hiring an Agency can be a significant financial commitment
  • You run the risk of choosing a wrong agency (your biggest worry)
  • You will be putting your organisation’s online marketing in the hands of people who don’t necessarily understand how your business works

Some Very Important Questions To Ask Yourself


  • How much time can you afford to devote to learning and executing online marketing strategies and techniques – (if you don’t have a firm grasp, your marketing team can give you silly excuses and justify their failures easily, and you won’t even know if they’re telling the truth)
  • Who will be writing and creating your content?
  • Who will be designing your marketing collaterals, and making changes to your website with every new campaign and promotion?
  • Do you have your KPI’s clearly defined before you start your campaign?


  • How much of your control are you willing to place in the hands of an outsider?
  • How comfortable are you in letting others run the show? Are you a micromanager who can’t seem to get your hands off anything and everything?
  • Are you the type that can work well with an agency, and have mutual respect and professionalism?
  • Are you open to receiving feedback and criticisms about your business, your processes and systems?
  • Are you patient enough to wait for the results to take effect?


I strongly believe that a combination of extensive research, and trusting your gut feeling is the best way to go when deciding if you should partner with an agency.

If you choose the wrong agency or make a wrong hire, cut your losses fast, and move on the next better choice.

If an agency doesn’t hit their KPIs in the first month, it’s a no brainer, cut them loose.

What You Should Do Now

If you’d like us to work on your digital marketing – to dramatically increase your conversion rates and profits (like we did for hundreds of our clients), then claim your FREE digital strategy session. During this session, our team of experts will discuss your business goals with you and suggest solid digital marketing strategies to double your leads and sales.

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