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You Ask, I Answer: In House vs Agency KPIs?

Mara asks, “Can you touch upon expectations of an in-house marketer has on Social Media, vs Agency, like in terms of content and KPI’s for example?”

The expectations for an in-house marketer and an agency should be the same in terms of content and KPIs. The main difference is in resourcing. An employee costs less than an agency, but an agency should be able to generate more results. The key is to have clear KPIs that are aligned with the business goals.

You Ask, I Answer: In House vs Agency KPIs?

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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode Mara asks, Can you touch upon expectations of an in house marketer has on social media versus agencies like in terms of content and KPIs.

I would say the expectations are or should be the same, which is some kind of result, depending on what the mandate of social media is, will determine the metrics.

For example, if brand awareness is your KPI, then in your marketing mix model or your attribution model, you should have some kind of brand awareness outcome metric that says yes, we’re achieving brand awareness.

And then regardless of in house or agency, whoever’s doing the work should be hitting that number should be hitting whatever, whatever you agree brand awareness is.

And there are a variety of ways of doing that.

You can do it through attribution, modeling, marketing, mix, modeling, surveying, polling, etc.

The there’s no choice.

There’s no shortage of ways to do that.

But where the differences between in house and agency is typically in resourcing.

Right? So an employee costs x dollars an hour, like 40 an hour.

And they have presumably, dedicated a part or whole of their job towards doing the social media function at your company.

An agency will charge some kind of rate, retainer, and so on and so forth, and then deliver whatever is in the scope of work.

So the real question you have to say is, can you do an apples to apples comparison of both results that an agency gets versus as an employee and the costs of an agency versus an employee agencies are almost always gonna be more expensive than employees, almost always, the general rule of thumb that agencies operate on is sort of a 3x rule.

So whatever a person’s salary is, you need to build them out at 3x their salary in order for that employee to be profitable, because certain percentage of the time that employee is probably not billable for a client.

So if you’re paying Sally40 an hour as your in house Social Media Manager, then Tom at the agency is probably going to be billed out at 120 An hour assuming that Tom makes40 an hour that agency.

So the question is, for that money, can Tom generate 3x The results that Sally does? If the answer is no, then an agency is not worth it.


Then Then, in terms of KPIs, one of the things you have to think about is what is your cost per result, or as cost per outcome? If both Sally and Tom are assigned to improve the your brand recognition score by 4%.

And you’re paying Sally 1/3 of what you’re paying Tom, Tom had better create three of that 4% Right Sally create 1% of that lift, top bidder create 3% to be commensurate with the money that you’re spending on Tom versus Sally.

If they’re if that’s not clear, who’s doing what, then you’ve got to figure that out with a more sophisticated analytics solution to help you understand yes, this is what Tom generates is what Sally generates.

If you can’t do that, you may want to pause one or the other maybe reassigned Sally to some different work and then see, you know, how much of a Delta there is between the work the result that was happening when Tom and Sally were working together versus when we reassigned Sally maybe to organic search or email marketing.

And it’s just Tom at that point that at the agency generating the social media results, the KPIs you care about, if you do that, and you see that suddenly, instead of 4% left, because Sally was doing one and Tom was doing three, you should see, you know, 3% Social media lift because Sally’s gone Tom’s to cut the other 3%.

If you go down to 1%, then you know Tom wasn’t carrying his weight.

Right? You know that the agency was not doing what it was supposed to be doing.

That’s the that’s the trade off between an agency versus in house in house, like I said, is almost always going to be cheaper because you have the full time employee.

The challenge is, do you have the budget to maintain that headcount? Over the long period of time you need to make

Christopher Penn 4:50

social media KPIs worthwhile.

Social media KPIs, if you’re doing them well are going to be things like brand awareness are going to be things like lead Generation those metrics take time to create.

You can’t just hop on Twitter tomorrow, or put up stuff on Tiktok tomorrow and expect overnight results, that almost never happens.

More often than not, it takes sometimes a year, two years, three years to ramp up your production and work the kinks out so that you can create great results consistently.

And so, if you’re going to hire an in house social media marketer, one of the things you’ve have to ask is, can we maintain this presence for three years with this, you know, this full time employee, and you asked the same question of your agency to you may change agencies, but your expectations are that an agency will create that outcome in a commensurate with the budget you give it.

So maybe you allocate 5,000 A month internally for a social media resource, and you allocate10,000 a month for an agency resource.

It is not unreasonable to say the agency resource had better generate 2x The results, the in house resource does cover paying 2x The money if they don’t generate that result might be time to switch for different agency.

More important.

It’s great.

And important to be clear upfront to say like this is what we expect.

These are the results we’re trying to create.

And we want you agency to generate these can you achieve this 4% brand recognition lift? And if an agency says yes, we can, then you have them sign on the line.

And you hold them accountable, do that.


This is you wouldn’t employ it’s making sure that you have KPIs that are meaningful that contribute.

And that can be seen in an attribution model or a marketing mix models so that everybody’s held accountable to the same outcomes.

And the outcomes are commensurate with the resources you invest in them.

So those would be my expectations of content and KPIs for an agency versus in house.

It’s commensurate to the resources you invest.

And you choose the metrics based on the outcomes that makes sense to the business.

Thanks for asking.

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