A lot of merchants and potential customers have a tough decision to make. Whether to go with the full service digital marketing agency or the specialized agency that focuses on SEO and PPC. Do you want to know which you should use? See our pros and cons of each, and the differences below.

The Rundown: Full Service

The full service agency is the classic digital agency, usually a team of 20-50 team members with a different head of each department, with different people working on different aspects. The pros are very apparent, but the cons are there just like with a specialized agency. This agency usually focuses on a certain niche, and provides the website design and development solutions with a general focus on a certain content management system.


They provide a lot of different solutions for different areas, and can provide a holistic view to marketing and digital marketing, compared to a specialized focus. It helps the client be able to have fewer account managers and people to email, with one source of contact for all questions and process management. It is easier to be able to have this, especially if the agency manages the website as the SEO team. Website teams can be integrated much better together and provide an “all-in-one” solution. Lastly, they bring a lot of different team members from different disciplines together to provide that holistic view and work together closely (most of the time).


It is usually more expensive than the specialized agency because they may not have their processes as streamlined and, therefore, cannot do volume work in one particular area, although this may be different if there is a particular service which is a loss leader. They generally do not have as much passion as the specialized agency, except for their focus, which generally is what they started out with or which it has become through time. A good example would be a website design agency which turns its focus to Magento development or pay per click management services. Sometimes their services may be an “additional” service, which generally is not as good as the specialized agency.

The Rundown: The Specialized Agency


The specialized agency generally is a little smaller—around 7-30 people—and focuses on certain select services. This can be a company focusing on pay per click management and CRO services, or on SEO and PPC services. They generally do not do many services outside of this to help with marketing, and mean more to clients who have a particular need, compared to a company trying to outsource their entire marketing department or marketing initiatives. They are generally chosen by companies and managers who know what they want, and who want the specialized efforts of the agencies.


Generally, it is cheaper than a general agency, because of the streamlined capabilities, and usually they have a specific focus, which, if small enough, can be a huge focal point and which even the ownership can take part of. There is a company culture focused on better learning of one particular niche, and you can even see smaller services within that niche.

For example, take a CRO agency that offers landing page optimization, A/B testing, and shopping cart abandonment services. Their services home in on specific problems, compared to one overlying solution a digital agency service offers. They are usually smaller and more flexible, and have experience dealing with very specific problems and situations.

Another example is a company that focuses on SEO for website “re-platforming”s or website migrations to new CMSs, such as Volusion to Magento. These specialists can also have more people in the agency focused on one offering, compared to a larger digital agency, which may have 2-3 people in the certain focus.


They cannot provide other solutions, or may offer them but do not provide a great service in that regard. If you are looking for a one-stop shop, they are not it, but generally have a large partnership network. Since they also do not do everything, or at least offer many solutions, they cannot provide guidance on different areas and, sometimes, can get lost in their specific niche.


Either one is good for a different situation and company. Companies with many needs or general needs can be a good fit for the all-in-one digital agency, as long as budgeting permits. However, if your needs are specific, the niche agencies or specialized agencies are generally a better fit, especially if it is something like a website design that results in a sudden drop of organic search traffic, or a specific website migration or CMS you want to use.

Some smaller agencies also work very well together. Our search marketing agency works very closely with an e-commerce design and development agencies. Generally, the specialized companies band together to provide a full-encompassing solution, although you might have a few different points of contact.