Working in digital – should I go agency or client-side?

23 March 2022

The ultimate decision in digital marketing – to work within an agency or to work in-house? Both options offer a variety of opportunities, but which suits you best? Let us take you through some of the top reasons for working in each environment to help you make your mind up.

First of all, if you are new to the world of digital marketing, working “client-side” or “in-house” means working exclusively for one company or business in their digital marketing department. A role within a digital marketing agency is different as you are working for a company dedicated to digital marketing on behalf of a wide range of clients.

Client variety

The main distinction between in-house roles and those within a digital marketing agency is client diversity. Working in-house means you are only working for that one company which limits the kind of experience offered. Working within an agency provides the opportunity to work with clients from a range of sectors resulting in a broader scope of professional experiences.

Due to working for various clients with unique needs, expectations and deadlines, working within an agency can be a faster-paced environment. Some people excel in an energetic agency environment, where no two days are the same. However, others may find the less predictable agency workload stressful and prefer a more traditionally structured working style.

Do you thrive in a vibrant atmosphere, working on diverse projects with a new challenge every day? Or do you yearn for long-term planning and giving your all to one organisation rather than splitting your focus on different clients’ needs? Take a moment to think about which digital marketing context suits your personality and your career goals best.

Tech and trends

If keeping up with trends and using cutting-edge technology is important to you, you may be best suited to a role within a digital marketing agency. This is not to say that companies with in-house marketing are falling behind, but due to the competitive nature of the digital industry, agencies need to be able to innovate and keep up to date to keep their clients happy.

Man looking at pie chart report on Organic Traffic etc

In-house departments typically only have a small team, or in some cases just one staff member dedicated to digital marketing rather than a whole company focused solely on digital. Due to the number of specialist staff and the culture of an agency environment, there is greater opportunity for creative exploration and collaboration.

Professional development opportunities

The potential for professional development within an in-house digital marketing role versus an agency can vary. Although in-house roles may not offer the same variety of experience as an agency, they do offer the unique opportunity for a deeper understanding of their sector.

Agencies have clearly defined specialist roles, whereas working on the client side may be more generalised, encompassing different digital aspects. This may be a plus or a minus, depending on your personal digital career goals.

There can be a faster track of career progression within an agency if you have the work ethic and dedication to push your career forward. Agencies have more of a “the more you put in the more you get out” attitude. In-house may not have as much of a progression route as you are only one member of a department or team with fewer available roles.

Digital marketing agencies offer more opportunity to specialise. An agency such as Wagada will dedicate the time to work with their staff to identify their specialism and support their professional development.

Structure and hours

The structure of a digital marketing agency differs from that of client-side companies due to the workload and culture of agencies.

As an in-house role will be dealing with similar tasks and expectations day to day, the working day can be more structured. In-house marketing roles can often have fewer hours and can be more of a traditional 9-5 style office job.

As digital marketing is a creative industry, offices tend to be designed with a bit more fun and creativity in mind than your everyday office building. You may also find more flexible work-at-home and freelance contracting within an agency than in-house.

Wagada office Feb 20

Agency work can vary greatly, and the working hours and company structure very much depends on the individual agency’s work culture. Our agency is not a typical one as we offer a great work-life balance with excellent benefits in our positive company culture that promotes staff development. This is where it is important to do your research as not all agencies will offer the same experience or job satisfaction.

Specific sector focus vs variety

If you are a person who enjoys structure, who is passionate about a specific sector and prefers to focus on one project’s needs, then an in-house role may be what you are looking for. Within an in-house role you can focus your energy on making the most of the digital marketing for that company and you’ll be guaranteed to see the results; by nature, agencies can lack this sort of continuity as clients come and go.

Keep in mind that there is the possibility that working client-side may result in less creative autonomy. Large companies and corporations can have strict policies directed at all departments, not just digital, which you may find restrictive. Digital agencies tend to have more creative freedom.

If variety and the excitement of a different challenge every week sounds like you, then a digital marketing agency is probably where you will find your ideal role. The wide range of diverse experience within an agency can be a huge benefit when building a career in digital.

If you feel like a career in a digital marketing agency sounds like your best fit, find out more about opportunities with Wagada.