5 Ways Marketing Team Structures are Changing in 2019

By Jodie Byass



It’s become de rigeur for marketing team structures to change every couple of years, if not more frequently. These restructures can be as simple as a slight re-organisation to accommodate the addition of a new capability, or as complicated as a spill that requires everyone to reapply for their job.

There are several factors contributing to this state of flux: the relatively short tenure of many chief marketing officers; the influence that digital transformation at a business level has on marketing teams at the operational level; the changing nature of marketing communications with the evolution of new channels to market; the need to introduce technology to help manage marketing communications; and globalisation — to name just a few.

So how are marketing team structures changing, what are the key trends changing the shape of the marketing organisation, and how can you decide which of them should apply to you?

No one-size-fits-all model has emerged for the modern marketing department. Some companies favour a decentralised approach. Often the marketing function for multi-divisional teams is centralised, with core functions such as data and technology managed centrally.

Download our e-book: The Changing Structure of Marketing In the Age of Disruption 

Hub-and-spoke models are also becoming increasingly common, with core functions remaining centralised, but mirrored at the business unit level, where digital and social marketing team members may pair with brand and product marketers to execute locally.

In recent years digital teams have moved out of their silos and extended their digital reach across the marketing team at large, sales and marketing have moved closer together and marketing and product have also moved closer together. Now, more than ever, a successful marketing team structure depends on the right technology, communications and governance frameworks to prosper.

Whichever way your marketing team is set up, the winds of change are blowing and are likely to further change and disrupt your organisational structure in the next couple of years. Here are five of the biggest changes we’re seeing at Simple.



1. Marketing as data powerhouse

Go back a few years and many marketing teams were not in control of their customer data. Fast-forward to today, and a lot more companies have come to the realisation that their marketing needs to be more customer-centric.

To achieve that, data silos are being consolidated into centralised databases often held within marketing, which is charged with being the “insight generator” of the organisation, empowering it to connect in deeper and more powerful ways with customers.

In concert with this, companies are implementing customer personas and journey mapping, and implementing customer-centric marketing programs based on key moments in those journeys, informed by insights generated by marketing.


2. Guardians of the customer experience

Two in three marketers now say they are being charged with maintaining the customer experience, as well as marketing to the customer.

Read the study: MRM in the Age of Intelligence

This has led to the rise of the chief customer officer, which often takes in the role of marketing.
At some companies, marketing now includes responsibility for customer experience design, which may include the website user experience, call centre scripts and processes, form design and numerous other capabilities that may previously have rested with departments such as technology, customer service and product.

3. In-housing

No one should doubt the impact of a brilliant creative campaign on a brand or company’s health — witness the social media and online sales boost and share price rise that Nike experienced a week after it launched its controversial “Believe in something. Even if it means losing everything” campaign featuring controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Despite that, agencies are a little on the nose as global marketing trend-setters such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever consolidate agency rosters, cut production costs and bring media and digital programmatic buying in-house.

Also coming in-house are fast-turnaround creative services such as content and social marketing and business-as-usual digital campaigns.


4. Off-shoring

Following on from the in-housing trend — and in some cases, opposing it — is the trend towards offshoring.
It’s a brave new world out there and it’s no longer uncommon for companies to have digital teams in The Philippines and creative teams in Malaysia — or other labor supply markets.

Particularly when it comes to coding, design and content, the market is global and marketers willing to go the extra mile when it comes to sourcing, briefing and quality control can now buy more bang for their marketing buck.

Some companies are setting up bespoke off-shore divisions to service global marketing teams while others are merely tapping into the many global online freelance marketplaces that have emerged.


5. Agile marketing

Arguably the most disruptive trend affecting marketing team structures is the advent of agile marketing. Often driven by broad-reaching digital transformation programs, agile is becoming popular in the technology and financial services sectors, where the need to work in agile sprints to implement new business systems is upending traditional ways of working.

Download your free e-book: Hack Agile Marketing in 8 Simple Steps 

Marketing team structures in these organisations are being dismantled in favour of nimble, cross-functional teams and a data-driven approach to marketing, which is conducted in short cycles rather than according to a predetermined, long-term plan.

In some companies, the entire structure of the marketing department changes. The original cross-functional team, or squad, in which the marketing work is done may be a part of a broader ‘tribe’ under one manager or business sponsor — loyalty marketing, for instance. Broad principles, such as brand guidelines, may be set by ‘chapters’, which are then applied by numerous tribes, and deep skill sets required in each squad may be nurtured in ‘guilds’.

In committed agile marketing teams, it is not only the structure of marketing that changes; the entire cadence of a company’s marketing activity may be condensed from quarterly to monthly or fortnightly — if the team is running fortnightly agile ‘sprints’, for example. It not only requires a new mindset — there’s a whole new language to pick up as well.

Whatever your structure, change is now the one constant in marketing, so making the new structure and the change management process easy to follow and to get behind is critical to the success of any marketing restructure.

Also crucial is ensuring the right technology and processes are in place to facilitate the necessary communication and collaboration between all teams and players, to ensure governance frameworks are communicated, understood and followed, and to get your team producing the marketing activity and results your organisation requires.


From planning and review to optimisation, Simple’s Marketing Operations Cloud supports marketing teams of all shapes and sizes to reduce complexity and drive growth at every stage of the marketing process. Reach out to one of our consultants to see how it works.


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