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How to Structure Your Digital Marketing Team

David Oltean | November 9, 2020 | Digital Marketing

Assembling a great digital marketing team can be tricky. It requires carefully defined roles and responsibilities, the right mix of talent, and strong leadership to keep the department in sync and aligned with the company’s goals.

At Climb Marketing, we’ve worked with marketing teams with a wide range of different organizational structures and configurations. While we believe there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for digital marketing team structure, there are essential functions that marketing departments should cover. Those functions typically include a mix of:

  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Budgeting and planning
  • Project management
  • Website management
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Search engine optimization
  • Digital advertising
  • Measurement and analytics
  • Procurement of software and supplies
  • Vendor management
  • Partnerships, sponsorships, and outreach

The optimal organization of your digital marketing team will depend greatly on the company’s marketing mix, internal proficiencies, and industry, but the size of the team and hiring budget are often the primary factors when assembling a marketing team. It’s also important to consider which services, if any, are being outsourced to third-party agencies or consultants. Below, we’ve outlined a few different configurations for digital marketing departments depending on the size of the team.

(Note: we discussed a similar topic to this on our monthly podcast: The Crux. You can listen to episode 8 of our podcast below where we discuss staffing your marketing team.)

The Marketing Department Duo: 2-Person Teams

Two-person digital marketing teams are quite common within smaller companies. Teams of this size are generally lead by a marketing manager who oversees a marketing coordinator. With only two individuals responsible for the entire digital marketing mix, in-house marketers within smaller departments are often stretched pretty thin, especially if they’re also responsible for traditional marketing efforts or in-person activities like trade shows and conferences.

Role: Reports To: Typical Duties:
Marketing Manager Leadership Team or CEO A mix of strategy, budgeting, procurement, project management, website management, content marketing, social media management, email marketing, SEO, digital advertising, measurement, vendor management, and/or partnerships, sponsorships, and outreach
Marketing Coordinator Marketing Manager A mix of website management, content marketing, social media management, graphic design, email marketing, and/or vendor collaboration

Teams of this size should generally be able to cover basic management of the company’s website, social media platforms, content marketing initiatives, email marketing, and measurement, though they often don’t have the bandwidth to focus deeply on particular channels. That’s often why smaller marketing teams look to “full-service” digital marketing agencies to assist with multiple digital services, as managing a single third-party engagement is typically less time-consuming and less expensive.

The marketing manager within smaller teams typically defines the budget and marketing strategy for the company, and they’re also responsible for managing the marketing coordinator along with any third-party agencies or consultants. However, unlike marketing leaders at bigger companies, marketing managers at smaller companies also have to be hands-on with marketing campaigns and initiatives. You’ll often see well-rounded marketing managers on smaller teams that can fill in the gaps where needed. It’s also helpful to have a more diverse skillset for managing any third-party vendors. It’s key for individuals in this type of role to have a solid grasp on measurement and reporting – budgets are generally tight for smaller companies so marketing teams must be prepared to track the ROI of individual channels and campaigns.

Digital marketing coordinators at smaller companies are typically responsible for a variety of activities, making multi-tasking and time management necessary skills. They often act as catch-all employees covering the basics of multiple marketing channels, including social media, email marketing, content marketing, and website management. They also may provide support with graphic design. However, coordinators at smaller companies may not have extensive experience with every digital marketing function, so teams of this size should be prepared to work with agencies or consultants to cover any gaps in proficiencies.

More Oversight and Strategy: 3 to 5 Team Members

Digital marketing teams with three to five employees are typically able to incorporate more strategic focus and proactive planning, and the additional employees allow for broader coverage of digital marketing channels. While teams of this size often still have their hands full in terms of multi-tasking and overall workload, having a bigger team allows for increased specialization in the most important marketing functions for the company.

Role: Reports To: Typical Duties:
Marketing Director or VP Leadership Team or C-Suite Strategy and goal-setting, budgeting, measurement, collaboration with other departments, procurement, contract management, partnerships, and sponsorships
Digital Marketing Manager Marketing Director or VP A mix of strategy, project management, budgeting, website management, contract management, SEO, digital advertising, measurement, vendor management, and/or partnerships, sponsorships, and outreach
Digital Marketing Coordinator Digital Marketing Manager A mix of website management, content marketing, social media management, graphic design, SEO, digital advertising, blogging, outreach, email marketing, and/or vendor collaboration
Digital Marketing Specialist Digital Marketing Manager A specific focus on one of the following: website management, content marketing, graphic design, social media, or email marketing

Teams of this size are generally lead by a director or vice president of marketing that aligns the department with the strategic direction of the company and oversees the digital marketing budget and team. There is also usually a marketing manager or lead beneath the director-level position that oversees day-to-day marketing activities and ensures deliverables are fulfilled on schedule. If any work is being outsourced, the director-level employee typically defines the scope of work and budget, while the manager more often oversees the relationship and ensures the work is satisfactory and on schedule.

The other marketing team members are typically utility players, though there may be one specialist in a team of this size. A specialist might focus on tasks like social media management, website updates, or graphic design, where they have deeper proficiency in a particular digital field – usually one that’s a priority for the company. However, teams of this size usually require at least one team member with a broader skill set (often with a marketing coordinator title) to fill in any gaps in the marketing mix.

Deeper Specialization: 6+ Person Teams

With bigger in-house teams, marketing departments are afforded more flexibility to hire specialists, and often have a broader management group. Teams of this size typically have much larger budgets and broader marketing efforts to manage, which often requires more detailed collaboration internally and with other departments.

Role: Reports To: Typical Duties:
VP or CMO C-Suite or CEO Strategy and goal-setting, budgeting, collaboration with other departments, procurement, contract management, and partnerships
Marketing Director VP or CMO Strategy and goal-setting, budgeting, measurement, collaboration with other departments, procurement, vendor management, partnerships, and sponsorships
Digital Marketing Manager Digital Marketing Director A mix of channel strategy, budget management, project management, measurement, website management, vendor management, SEO, digital advertising, and/or partnerships, sponsorships, and outreach
Digital Marketing Coordinator Digital Marketing Manager A mix of content marketing, social media management, graphic design, blogging, email marketing, and/or vendor collaboration
Digital Marketing Specialist Digital Marketing Manager A specific focus on one of the following: website management, copywriting, graphic design, SEO, digital advertising, social media, CRM, marketing automation, or email marketing

Larger teams traditionally have a VP, Chief Marketing Officer, a Director, or some combination of those roles overseeing marketing strategy, the department, and its budget. With more team members beneath them, these roles are often afforded the time to focus on long-term strategy, execution, coordination across departments, and measurement of success. These roles typically report to the company’s leadership team, with significant collaboration between the sales and operations arms of the company.

In this size of a team, there may be multiple managers that focus on day-to-day execution and collaboration within the department. These managers can often be split between overseeing digital and traditional mediums, or you’ll occasionally see Product Marketing Managers that focus on a specific offering within the company. Managerial employees oversee coordinators and specialists on the team, and will report to the company’s marketing director.

With a larger department, non-managerial employees may vary between catch-all coordinators and specialists with specific focuses on the company’s high-priority marketing functions or channels. You’ll often see a mix of the following specialist roles on bigger teams:

  • Social Media Manager
  • Graphic Designer
  • Copywriter or Content Strategist
  • Email/Marketing Automation Specialist
  • Website Content Manager or Front-End Developer
  • SEO Specialist
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Digital Advertising Specialist

Even with a bigger team with more skilled, specialized employees, there’s still often a need for generalist marketing coordinators to fill in the gaps. Having more experienced employees and managers also allows for ongoing coaching and training for junior-level employees – a luxury that not all smaller companies can provide.

Unique Needs for Every Team

While there are typical marketing team structures that most departments tend to adhere to, every company’s marketing mix, needs, and internal proficiencies are different. Having a solid structure for your digital marketing department is ultimately about defining your budget, roles, responsibilities, and priorities, and delegating accordingly.

It’s often best to start with a responsibility matrix – determine all of the functions that should be fulfilled by your department and list them out. From there, identify any high-priority channels or mediums, or any functions your team may need external support for. Mapping out roles and responsibilities can be a very helpful exercise for defining responsibilities for each team member along with any strengths and weaknesses of your marketing department.

On a similar note, it’s also important to determine which digital marketing services, if any, will be outsourced to a third-party agency or consultant. In a previous blog post, we offered some guidance to help marketers determine which services should be outsourced and which functions should be left in house.

For more digital marketing tips, stay tuned to our blog and podcast! You can subscribe to our newsletter below to stay up to date on our latest articles.

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