What is the Optimal B2B Marketing Team Structure?

Published on: | Updated on: | Trisha Miles

Imagine treating your marketing team like fantasy football: how would you organize the lineup to ensure maximum results while keeping costs at a minimum? 

This is essentially the challenge every B2B marketing leader faces when hiring and coordinating talent. There are a range of skills they need to reach their objectives, but there are also budget constraints – and balancing these two is essential to produce maximum return on investment (ROI) 

The following article explores how marketing and business leaders can respond to that challenge and organize their team to produce optimal results. 

Expect to learn: 

  • 10 key roles every B2B marketing team needs (Are you missing any?) 
  • 3 essential factors that impact marketing efficiency (Are you hitting them all?) 
  • 4 common pitfalls that waste time and money (Is your team falling victim to them?) 


10 Key Roles Every B2B Marketing Team Needs 

Few B2B marketing teams can produce optimal results without the following skill sets and expertise: 

1. Research & Strategy 

B2B marketing stems from a deep understanding of the audience and market you are targeting. The research, analysis and strategizing involved in producing clear, actionable insights and plans requires a specific set of skills. At the very least, the leader of your marketing teams needs to possess these skills and understand your market inside and out. 

2. Pay-Per-Click Advertising 

From Google PPC to LinkedIn paid social ads, the average B2B organization uses a range of paid advertising channels – and they need an expert who can ensure their budget is well spent and optimized over time. This includes everything from audience research and supporting the production of high-performing ad creatives to daily keyword management and bid adjustments 

3. SEO 

Organic traffic is a cornerstone of most B2B lead generation strategies – and few companies can rank highly on Google for their top priority keywords without expert search engine optimization (SEO) support. This covers everything from choosing the right keywords for content creation to analyzing technical performance to ensure load speeds and other key factors are optimized. 

4. Social Media

While LinkedIn is by far the most popular social platform for B2B marketing, most companies can benefit from a range of social media activities. Businesses that gain traction on these platforms need specialists that can identify trends, produce posts that are widely shared, and manage the account every day. 

5. Website and System Development and Maintenance

B2B marketers need a constant stream of new landing pages, custom analytics, and other deliverables which require development skills. Having a website and/or system developer oin the team ensures your marketing is never limited by what low-code platforms can deliver – or your own bandwidth will allow. 

6. Email Marketing & Automation 

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to nurture and convert leads – but it is not as simple as typing up a message to your colleague. Email marketing specialists know how to ensure email health and deliverability, effectively segment the database for hyper-targeted campaigns, and develop content that produce high open rates, clicks – and ultimately produce the desired results.  

7. Webinars 

73% of B2B marketers believe webinars are the best way to produce high-quality leads. But planning, promoting andrunning a webinar requires a wide range of specialized skills that many marketers lack, and overlooking the expertise required can lead to a very expensive waste of time. 

8. Content (Long & Short Form) 

Content is the fuel of most B2B marketing – from short-form ad copy and emails to long-form pillar pages and whitepapers designed to generate qualified leads. Every team therefore needs writers capable of covering this wide range of deliverables, synthesizing complex research and making your messaging persuasive and optimized for conversions.  

9. Digital Design 

Design is often overlooked in the context of B2B marketing, but the right aesthetic and branding has a big influence on buyers’ perceptions. From user experience (UX) to website design, your team needs full-stack designers capable of giving your marketing a consistent, high-quality look. It’s also crucial that your design resources are familiar with marketing best practices to ensure each deliverable is optimized for conversions. 

10. Data Analytics

Data is the only way to truly understand how your marketing is performing in order to optimize the results – and that requires a data analytics expert. The outputs here range from ensuring the right tracking tools are in place to analyzing the results to produce insights that can guide future marketing efforts.  


3 Ways to Structure a B2B Marketing Team 

The experience and skills discussed above can be organized in a few different ways: 

1. Specialists 

Every team member has a clearly defined specialism and works exclusively within their domain. 

This division of labor can produce a higher level of quality for your campaign deliverables, but there are two big drawbacks: 

  • Bottlenecks are common: If you have just one copywriter responsible for producing all campaign and evergreen marketing materials, their capacity puts a limit on when those deliverables can be launched. 
  • Marketing becomes disconnected: Specialists working within silos may lose track of the bigger picture and the team will likely miss opportunities where collaboration is vital. For example, content writers and SEO experts produce the results when they work together – but many specialist teams struggle to align in this way.
  •  Given these drawbacks, it’s critical to ensure a team of marketing specialists is managed by a marketing leader equipped with the expertise to align all team members around shared goals and objectives. 

2. Generalists

Every team member is expected to bring multiple skills to the table. 

Hiring a team of generalists solves the collaboration problem and enables greater agility within the team. There are fewer bottlenecks because multiple people can step in to take over a particular task, which means you can launch campaigns more quickly and with less capacity planning.  

However, the reality is generalists are likely: 

  • Less skilled in certain areas: The work produced will be of a lower quality because they lack the deep knowledge or experience a specialist offers. 
  • Less discerning: Specialists are not just producers – they also tend to have a stronger sense of quality control. A generalist may not see that your research is lacking or the SEO strategy is weak in the way an expert would.  

3. Hybrid (The Ideal Structure!) 

A hybrid team combines specialists and generalists to maximize the benefits. 

This ensures the team has access to higher quality output while maintaining the agility of generalists. For most B2B businesses, this is the optimal approach. But most in-house marketing teams will struggle to find the right balance, and most likely won’t be able to afford to hire full-time experts across all the areas they need. 

As a result, many companies will look to: 

  • Contingent labor: The generalist full-time team is supplemented by freelancers who can produce specialist output on an ad-hoc basis – keeping costs low while plugging specific skill gaps. 
  • Marketing agencies: The in-house team leverages an external agency that can provide both generalists and specialists, as well as help ensure the strategic and daily management aspects of marketing are taken care of efficiently. 

Regardless of the approach your business takes, there are a handful of factors that all marketing teams require for success.  

3 Factors That Increase Team Efficiency 

Whether you opt for a marketing team made up of specialists, generalists, or a perfect mix of both, you should always prioritize the following efficiency-boosting elements: 

1. Clear Communication Channel

A shared reality and common language are foundational for B2B marketing teams. You need to be able to clearly and frequently communicate about goals, strategy, messaging, and results of past campaigns to understand how to best develop and iterate on future campaigns. Shared definitions and agreement on terms (for example, what constitutes a marketing-qualified lead in your database?) is also critical for campaign success.  

All of this is only possible when communication is clear and effective. Most teams need: 

  • Regular meetings to share feedback and discuss problems 
  • Regular updates to ensure a shared view of progress and objectives 
  • Asynchronous communication, via messaging platform and/or email 

However, these must be balanced with the ability to engage in periods of deep focus. That is why clear expectations should be set: how often should your team check their messages? What can you do to signal whether an individual is available for discussions? 

Pro Tip: 

  • "Loom before Zoom”: Regular meetings are important, but it’s common for marketing teams to waste a lot of time and energy on meetings – when a simple voice note or video would have done the job. Before booking a meeting, ask yourself: “Can I communicate what I need to without setting up a meeting?”  

2. Shared Accountability 

It is not always easy to ensure accountability within a B2B marketing team. A single paid media campaign might involve ten different people: is the performance of a particular display ad the responsibility of the account manager, or the copywriter, or the designer, or the keyword researcher? 

The answer, of course, is all the above. However, many teams will play the "blame game” - and ultimately waste a lot of time while failing to address the root problem. This is a common problem with sales and marketing alignment: the narrow remit of specific roles clouds awareness of the larger strategic interdependence of all activities.  

A good B2B marketing team must take shared ownership of all performance, while maintaining clear individual roles and responsibilities.  

Pro Tip: 

  • “Pre-mortems”: Many marketing teams begin campaigns with a detailed discussion of everything that could go wrong. Imagining these worst-case scenarios can not only help you steer clear of problems, but it also helps the team feel a sense of shared ownership from the beginning – rather than assigning blame when things go wrong.  

3. Continuous Training and Sharing Insight

B2B marketing constantly changes, and teams that stay ahead of trends are best positioned to benefit from them. All B2B marketing teams should therefore: 

  • Invest in training: Ensure all team members have the time and resources to undertake regular training and research to enhance their knowledge and develop new skills. 
  • Share insights: Create a specific knowledge hub or Slack channel to share trend pieces, industry reports and insights from recent campaigns. 
  • Store best practices: Develop and regularly update documentation about proven methods in specific channels or kinds of deliverables to ensure your experience translates into improvements over time. 
  • Attend industry events: When possible, send team members to relevant conferences that provide the opportunity for career and business growth. 

4 Common Pitfalls That Waste Time and Money 

Communication, accountability, and continuous training are hallmarks of a well-oiled marketing team; without them, you might fall victim to these common mistakes: 

1. Lack of Clear Strategy

With long, complicated buyer journeys and multiple personas to target, strategy is essential to organize, coordinate and produce optimal results from B2B marketing. But many teams treat strategy as a moving target, where the whims of the market or new ideas lead to wild changes of course – despite knowing that consistency is the core of effective B2B marketing.  

Don’t: Assume the strategy will “fall into place”. 

Do: Use a frameworkto produce a robust strategy at the start of your marketing process. 

2. B2B marketing is a long-term endeavor; it needs a strong and clear strategy, not just short-term tactics (ala lots of B2C marketing).Over-reliance on One Channel 

All B2B marketing teams have their standout strengths: they might be particularly skilled with PPC, or a specific kind of content. But focusing too heavily on that strength can lead to missed opportunities and wasted resources – because most B2B businesses need a wide range of channels and deliverables to produce optimal growth.  

Don’t: Let your teams’ strengths dictate the marketing strategy. 

Do: Leverage your strengths wherever possible, while ensuring a diverse approach that serves your strategic goals.  

3. Ignoring the Data 

Most marketers have strong gut intuitions – and these are often valuable sources of insight or ideas. But these intuitions are often given precedent over actual data, which either means not enough testing is done or the team simply waits too long to accept what the data is telling them. 

Don’t: Wait three months before begrudgingly accepting that your intuition was faulty. 

Do: Host regular meetings to examine data, develop hypotheses and plan more tests to see how your ideas are borne out in practice. 

4. Poor Collaboration with Sales

 87% of the language sales and marketing use to describe each other is negative. But each department needs the other to achieve its true goal: generating revenue. Marketing teams must therefore avoid complaining about sales. Instead, they should focus on improving hand-offs, creating a shared language and proactively seeking insights from salespeople to better understand how they can produce the right kind of leads. 

Don’t: Say “sales is our customer” 

Do: Say “sales is our strategic partner” 

How Will B2B Teams Change in the Future? 

While the fundamentals discussed above will stay the same, several factors will force B2B marketing teams to restructure and reskill. Three of the most urgent factors are: 

1. New Technologies 

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E will be inescapable in the coming years. However, their impact on B2B marketing rests not on the tech itself, but how marketing teams adapt their processes to integrate them. 

Leaders will need to consider: 

  • Reskilling: Do you need to hire “prompt engineers” or will your existing team develop the skills to leverage generative AI? 
  • Integration: Which tools will you use and where can they fit within your workflows to increase performance and efficiency without compromising quality? 
  • Future-proofing: What are you doing today to prepare for later iterations of these products? 

2. Changing B2B Buyer Behavior

The prospect of generative AI raises another question: how will buyers adapt to the new B2B marketing landscape? In the last few years, the number of digital channels the average buyer uses has doubled – and their behavior will continue to change as new channels appear and new marketing trends emerge. 

Leaders need to consider: 

  • Changing preferences: Are your buyers using new channels? And if so, do you need to restructure your team to reflect those changes? 
  • Competitive advantage: What opportunities are your competitors missing – and how can you ensure your team is prepared to exploit those gaps?  

3. Remote Collaboration 

Demand for flexible work has exploded in the aftermath of COVID-19 – and much of the strongest B2B marketing talent will now only be accessible remotely. This can be liberating and expand the pool of available talent, but it also presents serious challenges. 

Leaders need to consider: 

  • Managing communication: From different time zones to a lack of in-person engagement, building team dynamics is different when individuals are spread out geographically – and leaders need to bridge those gaps to ensure trust and collaboration. 
  • Remote coordination: Launching a campaign remotely presents a range of problems, from internet connectivity to synchronizing communication. How will your team ensure smooth deployment without being in the same office? 

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