4 min

Should you In House or Outsource your Marketing Manager?

By David Lee

Deciding whether to in-house or outsource your marketing is is a complex decision that can be paralyzing because there are so many factors and what-if scenarios. 

Although there is no trusty magic 8-ball to find a quick answer, there is a framework to guide and simplify the outsourcing decision-making process.

A simple but effective framework to use is to approach the decision outsourcing vs in-house to two main factors:


In house or Outsource Decision Matrix

1. The strategic importance of the task: Does this activity give your company a competitive advantage?

2. The organizational expertise: Does your staff have the expertise to excel at these tasks?

Keep in house

  • In deciding on keeping the marketing function in house, there are two questions you need to ask:

    What output / result do you need from the marketing manager?
    Does it make financial sense to have an in house marketing manager?

    The role of a marketing manager is a blend of business management and technical skills.  Here is a typical job description:

Job Description of a marketing manager

  • Develop Annual Marketing Strategy        
  • Set Annual Sales Goals        
  • Develops Quarterly Marketing Campaigns        
  • Develops Monthly Marketing Campaigns        
  • Execute Monthly Marketing Campaigns        
  • Analyze and optimize Marketing Campaigns        
  • Annual, Quarterly & Monthly Reporting        
  • Manage Budget and P&L statement        
  • Manage e-commerce marketing team, including vendors        
  • Accountable for Sales Goals        
  • Manage Shopify Store        
  • Technical SEO
  • App Support
  • Shopify Web Support
  • Web Design / Development
  • Campaign Configuration
  • Store Configuration

  • Bachelors or Masters degree in marketing or business
  • 4+ years experience in digital marketing
  • 3 years in supervisory experience
  • Experience in managing e-commerce platforms

  • Analytical mindset, strong skills using excel and managing a budget, understands data and how to interpret results.
  • Exceptional organizational skills and is process driven
  • Solid communication skills, builds rapport with team and vendors, can influence and make data driven decisions. 

Typically, according to salary.com, the typical e-commerce manager salary is $116k with higher performers earning $150k.  You can probably add 25% to that figure to account for benefits, health insurance, payroll taxes, bonus, education/training and vacations.  So, in the end as an employee, you can expect the cost to run about $145k to $185k per year.  

You can find competitive information like this at Salary.com

For some larger e-commerce companies, the sales volumes support bringing on an internal resource. Here is an example of how you can visualize the cost of an e-commerce marketing manager as a percentage of revenue.

Gross Sales $2M $3M $4M
Salary $150k $160k $170k
% of Revenue 7.5% 5.3% 4.3%

For most e-commerce companies with annual revenue less than $5M, it might be a pretty big financial burden and risk to have this talent in house.

Find a Strategic Partner

This is the”Do it for you model”, where you, as the business owner, need to stop managing activities of the marketing agencies and start managing the results of a company that has a shared responsibility model and their financial success is dependent on yours.  The fundamental rules of engagement would be look like:

  1. Provide the same function as an e-commerce marketing manager
  2. Cost less
  3. Willing to be held accountable for results, just as an employee would

At Do What Works, our management fee is based on a percentage of revenue that is tied to the annual sales of your company, but it is around the 4% range.  Also, we have in place a performance incentive, just like you would put one into place for an employee for exceeding sales targets for the quarter. This allows you to tap our talent pool at a fraction of the cost of an employee.

The best way to scale your e-commerce business to to find a resource who can manage the Digital Commerce Department so that you can level up to managing results as the CEO of your company.
David Lee

David Lee

Leveraging 20+ years of experience with Fortune 500 companies including Toyota, Beckman Coulter, and Deloitte, I craft data-driven website and content strategies to help companies compete and win in the digital age. Explore my insight articles to learn what works and how to craft winning strategies and tactics to move the revenue needle for your company.