What’s the Ideal Marketing Team Structure?
Marketing is essential to the success of a business. Many companies are confident with hiring talent and projections. But they’re uncertain how to design their marketing team’s structure to consistently deliver the most effective results.
The ideal team structure is the one that aligns with a company’s goals, but it also means understanding how different formulas can impact their success. All great marketing teams share one thing in common—a unified vision of the company’s brand, with a successful strategy that leads to more sales.
Each marketing team structure has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s never a one size fits all structure. Not only will we examine the most prominent marketing team structures, but also what types of businesses will benefit the most from each one.
6 Types of Marketing Department Structures
Today’s businesses must find ways to engage with customers while improving their online experience. By taking a closer look at the different ways marketing teams can be organized, companies can better grasp how these teams operate, and how they connect to other departments.
Many companies are now researching six primary models for structuring their marketing departments to decide the best structure.
6 Common Marketing Team Structures:
- Customer experience
- Operational teams
- Channel specific teams
- Product-based teams
A Deeper Examination of Marketing Team Structures
These models all aim their focus on the customer—seeking to understand their wants and needs better, pointing towards a “quality over quantity” mindset that seems to be working. Let’s examine how each one works.
Customer Experience Model
One of the most effective team structures marketing departments are shifting towards is a customer experience (CX) model.
CX-focused marketing isn’t just showing the best returns for companies that provide a service—but also for those selling products. This model incorporates brand management awareness methods that are tied to the customer’s interaction with the company.
Focusing on People Over Products: In the past, businesses have concentrated their efforts to compete against rival products, attempting to win over customers through features or reduced prices.
When companies focus their marketing efforts on a customer’s experience, they can build brand loyalty by treating their customers better than their competitors.
People like knowing they’re heard and appreciated. They have preferences for site features that cater to their interests and needs. Companies can study the negative experiences customers have faced with competitors, and also closely eye their metrics to cater to each visitor.
CX is especially powerful when customers are already familiar with products, so their interest is in showing loyalty to the platform that gives them the best service.
It Pays to Pay Attention
CX speaks to whether a company is paying attention to its customers. Their analytics should be able to answer the following:
- Was shopping a smooth experience?
- Was it easy to transition from seeking product information to completing checkout? Or, did they get frustrated somewhere along the way?
- Was there an automated chat, or a live person to answer questions? Even worse—was there just a “contact us” email that may get back to them in 48 hours?
For marketing teams, improving CX means gaining insight and applying it where people spend their time.
Social media is a perfect example of this. Social proof can help potential customers learn from prior experience and feedback. A key element of social proof is social listening, the number one method for marketing companies to focus on what people are saying about their brand, product, or related keywords.
This is the foundation to analyze how they can better target their customers. Companies can use social media for their brand marketing team structure, and for gaining honest, unbiased feedback from recent buyers.
CX is less about making a sale than it is about winning a loyal customer. Investing in their experience means the likelihood they’ll return and remain loyal for years. Every touchpoint in the customer’s experience is an opportunity to learn from past reviews and feedback, adaptable to an increasingly social internet marketplace.
A segment-focused marketing structure shares similarities with CX by being focused on the customer. However, in this instance, the marketing team looks to classify profiles that apply to different kinds of customers.
By grouping segmented lists of customers into profiles, they concentrate their marketing efforts around the interests and needs of different online personas. Instead of targeting and adapting the CX to an individual, they create profiles of online experiences to match categories of individuals—each group with its own unique messaging and content.
This segment-focused approach to marketing requires a deep knowledge of trends that interest unique groups of customers, adjusting to these interests and interactions. In this segment-based structure, marketing firms assign a separate team to specialize in custom-tailored content for their specific segment of customers.
A perfect example of a segment-focused marketing structure is Volkswagen, which considers the unique segment for every model in its product line, to market and brand towards the customers that fit the profile and lifestyle built around that specific car type.
When a company is large enough to support the resources and team members, each customer profile is served with engaging content that is highly specific and of interest to them. As a result, the marketing teams gain deep insight into each customer segment.
Smaller teams for each segment bring efficiency, and specific targeting yields high gain results, adapting quickly to new trends and interests for each segment.
4 Main Types of Market Segmentation
The segment-focused structure uses four primary types of market segmentation:
Demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic segmentation. There are also numerous variations a business can adapt under each of these main segmentations.
Profiles of different customer profiles can be segmented based on demographics, spending behavior, and numerous other metrics. Customers of a certain age range, education, and yearly earnings tend to respond to content in predictable ways or share common interests.
Everything from lifestyles to values, similar interests to healthy habits can be successfully segmented, with marketing that targets these qualities and uses results to fine-tune for accuracy and conversions.
Operational Teams Model
The operational teams model is designed to place specific marketing resources toward departmental tasks. In this marketing organization structure, each team deals with its specialty without overlap. For instance, one team is trained to focus on advertising, a second specifically on social media, and yet another devoted to research.
The operational team’s marketing structure is effective for achieving goals in each specific field but also requires the ability to work collaboratively to align different teams towards a single, unified goal.
The marketing department may have a content creation team, management, and performance measurement, where each focuses solely on their specialized tasks. They also meet to coordinate their efforts based on tracking data.
Taking performance data from one department’s work and comparing it to the response in another, management can assign corrective measures to keep the big picture on course.
It’s a great structure when a company can excel because of its expert talent in specific fields. The challenge is to have excellent management that can run a very tight ship. Departments must be able to communicate with one another, or at a minimum, management must be able to keep departments on highly specific courses of action.
Dividing the specific tasks of a marketing team into geographical targets may be the right structure for large, international companies with widely known brands. This is because the accuracy and relevance of a marketing campaign can vary based on location.
One approach to geographical marketing is to hire experts who are native to the regions you’re targeting. They may be able to find the voice of their homeland or seek out demographics that aren’t immediately obvious to outsiders.
The internet is global, and a company may not be well-adjusted to the potential cultural differences of a broad, diverse online population.
Geographical differences can mean different groups share unique values and may also respond to your message better with individualized tone and language. You can use surveys and polls to build data to strengthen regional campaigns.
Other Factors Affecting Geography-Focused Marketing
A geography-focused model divides the target market into segments based on where they live. But there are numerous other factors involved in regional marketing, including a region’s economics, food habits, clothing habits, traditions, and other traits.
When companies are international, they may need to be divided into teams that focus on specific geographical areas of operation.
For example, the temperature from one region to the next can mean people are buying different clothes at the same time of year. If you’re trying to sell swimming trunks where it’s snowing, you can understand just one of the many benefits of restructuring to a geographical segmentation for better accuracy in messaging.
Companies that structure their marketing department based on geography can design their strategies around localized economics, traditions, and behaviors that tend to change from one region to the next.
This is especially true for international companies catering to different countries—they need a way to target their messaging to the interests of people living according to different beliefs and cultural norms.
This can be challenging to present a unified voice for the company, keeping branding consistent but modified to appeal to different regions. It’s also hard to target markets in an appropriate manner—accurate, but without stereotyping or pandering.
Channel-specific Teams Model
Many companies are trying to improve their marketing results by restructuring to channel-specific teams.
A channel-specific teams model involves professionals in different disciplines overseeing your various marketing channels. For example, these marketing channels can include social media platforms, website marketing, email marketing, print, and video.
With a channel-specific marketing company structure, the department is divided into teams who each work on the messaging in their specific channel. There can be a team that focuses solely on email marketing, and another that deals specifically with social media, while a third only works with the press.
This is unique from the operational teams model, where teams are broken down into different areas of expertise. With channel-specific models, each team works on a specific channel they are marketing to. Every team essentially requires the full range of skills of the entire department, specialized to achieve results only on their targeted platforms or field.
The actual channels themselves will vary dramatically from one company to another. If, for example, a company has a product catalog and advertises on TV and radio, they may divide these into two markets.
Another company may focus on its website and social media only, in which case it might have a marketing channel specifically for content and SEO, with separate, individual teams treating each social media site as a distinct channel.
It can be a challenge for many businesses to keep their messaging consistent across different channels, but if managed properly, they can enjoy the benefit of launching a coordinated campaign across numerous channels quickly and efficiently.
Product-based Teams Model
You might guess this marketing team structure by the name—with a product-based teams model, the marketing department is divided into specialized groups that each focus on a single product. This means each team manages the user experience (UX), marketing, analytics, and everything involving that one product.
In this case, every segment, demographic, and platform can be tailored toward engagement for that single product. The focus remains on the customer and their interactions, but only as it involves a single product. This can be extremely effective, but also challenging when it comes to branding a unified message across all channels.
Companies with numerous products may benefit from using a product-based teams model. Each major product gets a team of marketing specialists that can promote it effectively when and where it’s needed. The biggest benefit is, every product can stand on its own, placed with the segment that wants it.
This approach can be healthy for each product’s exposure, but it can also shed light on products that are outperforming other items, helping them allocate marketing budget where it is needed most.
How to Choose the Right Marketing Team Structure
Choosing the right marketing team structure depends heavily on how your company needs to operate. For instance, product-based businesses need to sell products based on volume or value. If it’s an expensive product, the company can succeed by focusing on the quality of transactions, even if they sell fewer items. If a company largely sells less expensive items, it must be able to push a high volume of sales.
Service-based companies must focus on CX, regardless of their structure. They need to focus on curating experiences that match the needs of their target audience.
A company selling high-value products might excel with a product-based teams model. They may have fewer customers that spend a lot with their company. Focusing on their segment demographics and centering around those products is important, but they can also customize that experience to cater to the customer.
Companies with a diverse collection of channels and mediums should either use the channel-specific teams model or the operational teams model. Both provide flexibility and infrastructure for addressing specific platforms. Often, companies will incorporate elements of both structures to accommodate the needs of the company.
Many companies, like those in the Software as a Service (SaaS) field, may seek to retain ongoing relationships with their buyers through subscription models. Their ongoing interaction with customers can have a deep impact on what other potential customers learn about their user experience.
International brands may need to focus on a geography-focused model. This gives them the best options for adjusting to the needs of different markets. For example, Microsoft uses this model. Microsoft requires unique marketing strategies for different countries and regions, to focus on their specific interests and needs.
Any company that needs to solve a range of problems specific to a group of related customers, should use a segment-focused model. Apple is a prime example of this model. They cover an entire segment of tech users. By offering its line of products to tech enthusiasts, the company can focus on improving the lives of customers across that segment through technology.
Every Successful Marketing Team Knows When to Outsource Talent
Each of these team structures allows a business to focus on the customer, and how to attract their attention to their specific qualities. To best utilize their resources, every marketing team knows when it’s time to outsource their content needs.
By partnering with a professional writing agency that can match their brand message, marketing teams can keep up with the heavy workload today’s digital marketplace requires.
Choose the Marketing Team Structure That’s Right for Your Company
The best way to restructure your marketing team is to assess your company’s goals, its mission, and identify how it can better connect with customers.
Consider the types of products and services you provide—how can you center your focus and resources to engage with people who have the greatest need for what you offer?
Once you see which structure helps make a stronger connection with your customers, the marketing team can emphasize ways to constantly improve their experience.
The result should be a dramatic change for the better—how you restructure your team’s focus on customer relationships will ultimately drive sales.
Commonly Asked Questions:
What is the structure of a marketing team?
The structure of a marketing team relates to how the department utilizes its resources to organize its focus on the challenges and benefits of its specific company.
As we’ve seen, there are different marketing team structures to fit different needs.
What roles do I need in a marketing team?
While every marketing team can have its unique structure, every successful marketing department needs highly skilled management to oversee the team and coordinate efforts. Marketing teams need people with insight into analytics, content marketing, and experts in writing for blogs, social media, and their website pages.
Who are the core marketing team members?
At a minimum, a marketing department needs to have a marketing director, a customer service specialist, a sales representative, a brand manager, content management and associated writers and editors, and a product manager. These specific needs are unique to each company, where different companies require artistic talent and the ability to properly target social media and other specific brand-related tasks.
How many people should be on a marketing team?
The number of people on a marketing team can vary widely from one company to the next. Therefore, the answer is that there needs to be at least enough employees to focus on the messaging that serves the company best.
Marketing departments are moving in a direction of structuring their staff into teams that have unique specialties that can be coordinated by management, so there may be dozens or more, depending on the size of the company.
How big should the marketing team be at a startup?
Startups often try to keep their staff at a minimum. Many begin with only one or two people making up the entire marketing team. Eventually, a company needs to scale its marketing department to the size of the company, so that marketing staff can manage each demographic, product, and service involved in the company.
Having only one or two people in marketing means there are aspects of business that tie directly to growth and analytics that will likely get overlooked.
How do you structure a sales and marketing team?
You can structure your sales and marketing team using numerous different models, but six distinct marketing team structures have become the most successful in focusing on the customer.
They are referred to as customer experience (CX), segment-focused, operational teams, geography-focused, channel-specific teams, and product-based teams.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been completely updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.