The changing make-up of a marketing department

The changing make-up of a marketing department

There was a time when it was quite easy to define – and identify – a great marketer.

Yes, the roles within a marketing team were still varied. You’d need creative minds, great wordsmiths, design geniuses and project managers. But collectively, these multi-disciplined skill sets would produce solid campaigns that reaped results.

However, as the world of marketing – and business – has evolved, so too have the demands being placed on marketing departments. Budgets are rising, and so are expectations from the board. Channels are opening up and customers’ paths to purchase are becoming increasingly complex. That’s before we even think about the wealth of big – or should that be gigantic – data that is now available.

There can be no disputing the fact that the ‘make-up’ of a marketing department is changing as a result. So, what is required to build an awesome team?

Designers, content writers and project managers are still important. But there’s more to modern marketing success.

A number of marketing teams are being distracted by vanity metrics, for example. They’re hungry for stats, such as email open rates, unique visitors and media coverage column inches. But what value do these figures really add? It is far more important to measure KPIs that are truly relevant to the organisation, whether that’s new business revenue, cost per acquisition or the latest net promoter score. A marketing analyst is a crucial team member in this respect. They’ll drill down into the metrics that matter and triangulate meaningful findings into actionable insights. They’ll utilise predictive not just retrospective analytics. They’ll ensure a marketing department is ready for an AI future.

This person may also take on the role of marketing technologist, or this could be a standalone position within a bigger firm. Admittedly not a classic marketer, the technologist is often from a different mould, with an IT-related business degree perhaps. This person will be the team’s CRM, marketing automation and Excel guru, to help achieve further data-driven ROI.

There also needs to be a sense-checker – someone who can ensure that SEO, A/B testing and template restrictions don’t get in the way of creativity. If a campaign isn’t engaging, for instance, it is simply adding to the dearth of online content that nobody finds the time to read. The sense-checker can, therefore, ensure that headlines and executions are admittedly arrived at via testing and optimisation, but without performance marketing blindness.

Someone within the team also needs to own agility. Yes, agility is a mind-set, a culture and an approach that should be embraced on a department-wide level, and ideally be respected throughout the organisation. But it helps if it is championed, too. That’s because, like it or not, the annual marketing plan is practically kaput. A rolling, fluid and collaborative programme of work is now acknowledged as far more effective, especially for medium-sized companies. So, whilst long-term vision is important, tactics and strategies need to evolve, at least on a quarterly basis, to respond to business drivers and market conditions.

Finally, a marketing department can only really fulfil their potential if they are integral to the business. It starts with a head of marketing or CMO with a board position, but the team can often be the conduit to being heard by the senior management team, too.

Nick Ashmore is a knowledgeable marketer with 20 years’ industry experience. Having kick-started his career with advertising agencies in London, he has since held senior roles with cutting-edge tech firms including mobile payments brand Monitise and marketing automation provider Force24. He is now head of marketing at the worldwide call tracking specialist ResponseTap. 

Nick Ashmore Head of Marketing ResponseTap
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