Working with an in-house marketing team can be a huge asset for SaaS businesses.
As business leaders increasingly look for ways to tighten their budgets, one question that comes up time and time again is: what are the benefits and drawbacks of an in-house marketing team, and when is it better to enlist external support?
What Is An In-House Marketing Team?
A business with an in-house marketing team has its digital marketing activities handled by full-time employees rather than external collaborators such as a fractional CMO, freelancers or a marketing agency.
Having an internal marketing department enables businesses to exert greater control over project management, workflows, marketing campaigns and distribution across marketing channels, from social media to email marketing to paid ad campaigns, ensuring that they’re aligned with the company culture and leadership’s vision for the future.
What Are The Benefits Of Moving Your Marketing Team In-House?
Michael Alexis, CEO of Teambuilding.com, provided his reasoning for moving marketing activities in-house.
“One of the first hires we made at our burgeoning startup was an in-house content marketing writer. I rightly predicted that our blog would be one of our best resources for inbound leads, as thousands of people managers suddenly working remotely Googled ways to connect their teams virtually.
Having an in-house copywriter ensured that we could produce content quickly and consistently to our standards. Because this writer was skilled and dependable, I could focus on other areas of growth and sales and managing the day-to-day of the business.”
Sudhir Khatwani, Director of The Money Mongers, Inc. sang the praises of starting his own marketing team, and how it enabled him to shape the team according to the demands of his business.
“Starting a B2B marketing team from scratch, I went for the essentials first: a wordsmith who knows our industry inside-out, a tech-savvy SEO guru, and a lead-gen wizard who can reel in prospects. These are the folks who turn your strategy into stories that get clicks and customers.
If you're a CMO looking to build your dream team, here's my two cents: hire for the mission, not just the position. Find people who can ride the B2B wave with flexibility and a knack for teamwork. It's not about just filling the room—it's about creating a crew that can pivot as fast as the market does and pushes your growth full throttle.”
Another fascinating insight Alexis provided was how this hire effectively enabled his business to develop its brand in a way that an external collaborator could not have done.
“Though our startup is a small but mighty team, as an executive with a deep marketing background I understood the importance of having at least one marketing team member in house. This hire was able to develop a deep understanding of our product and core audience, which enabled us to employ a consistent messaging that would not have been possible if we had relied entirely on freelancers.”
Done the right way, in-house marketing hires can help you cut down on costs and assert greater control of your marketing budget. According to Jason Smit, CEO of Contentellect, smart business leaders get creative to make their budget go further and consider other ways to provide compensation to employees. “There's no perfect formula—team building takes trial and error. But starting with your business objectives and iterating as you go lets you scale your marketing department intelligently even with limited resources. Leverage available budget creatively. Balance higher salaries for senior roles, and more juniors for volume. Incentives and perks also attract talent on a startup budget.”
Your In-House Digital Marketing Team Structure
Depending on the size of your organization, the structure of your marketing team can vary greatly. An enterprise business’s in-house marketing team structure would vary from the team structure of a Series A B2B SaaS startup.
According to Abhishek Shah, Founder of Testligy, aside from the size of your organization, the structure of your in-house marketing team will largely depend on your specific business goals and strategy.
“For CMOs looking to create a top-tier B2B marketing team, it's essential to align your team's skills with your strategic goals. To determine the necessary marketing roles, we started by defining our goals and strategy. This involved identifying key areas such as content creation, digital marketing, analytics, and brand development. We then carefully selected team members who possessed the skills and experience required to excel in these roles.”
Here are the roles you'll find in most digital marketing teams.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
The Chief Marketing Officer is a marketing specialist who heads off the entire marketing team, setting the tone and defining the vision that guides the overall marketing strategy, including planning, developing, and executing high-quality marketing initiatives to promote the company's products or services, enhance brand awareness, specifically within a company’s target audience, and drive overall business growth.
The brand team encompasses multiple roles and departments, including product, creative, and social, all of which play an important role in the ideation and construction of your business’s overall brand image.
Head of Brand Marketing
The Head of Brand Marketing is responsible for defining and building the brand of a business, setting it apart from its competitors
Head of Product Marketing
A strategic role, the Head of Product Marketing is responsible for taking the products developed by the business and devising a go-to-market strategy. They will also typically play a key role in structuring your product marketing team.
Product Marketing Manager
A product marketing manager determines how to tell the story of a product and how it is positioned to the market.
The creative team is made up of individuals who bring an artistic flair to a marketing campaign. They help to convey the image of the brand and the product and tell a story through visual means.
Creates marketing materials like logos and other visual elements to help communicate information about the product.
The video producer creates video content for distribution across social media and other marketing channels.
The growth team relies on data and qualitative research to create a strategy with the goal of scaling a product.
Head of Growth
The Head of Growth is a data-driven role that involves testing marketing tactics to determine which are most effective for growing the business through customer acquisition and retention.
Head of Content Marketing
The Head of Content, or content manager, leads the content team, determining how the product will be positioned in written marketing materials, including topic ideation and overall content marketing strategy.
Also known as a copywriter, this individual is both a creative and a strategist producing written marketing materials such as blog posts, case studies, webinars, and email marketing campaigns to promote the image of the product and the business.
Head of SEO
The Head of search engine optimization (SEO) is responsible for creating a digital marketing strategy that enhances a business’s online presence and optimizes your website to improve ranking on search engine results pages.
Working under the Head of SEO, an SEO specialist analyzes all elements of a company’s website, including landing page analysis and keyword research to improve user experience and help grow traffic.
Social Media Manager
A social media manager typically leads a social media team and is responsible for planning, implementing, and managing an organization's presence on social media platforms. Their role includes creating and curating content, engaging with the audience, monitoring social media marketing metrics, and developing strategies to enhance the brand's online visibility and community interaction.
The ultimate goal of the acquisition team is to help a business acquire new customers through targeted marketing efforts.
Head of Acquisition
This leadership role is responsible for developing acquisition strategies and spearheading all acquisition marketing initiatives, helping a business to meet its revenue goals and expand brand awareness.
A CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) manager is responsible for improving the effectiveness of a website or online platform in converting visitors into customers or achieving other desired actions, often through data analysis, A/B testing, and optimization strategies.
A content designer creates and structures digital content, ensuring it is user-centric, accessible, and aligns with the overall design and communication goals.
A content analyst uses analytical tools and methodologies to analyze content for purposes such as market research, SEO optimization, or information categorization.
A web designer specializes in creating the visual and interactive elements of a website, including designing layouts, graphics, and overall aesthetics to enhance user experience.
A UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience) designer is responsible for designing the overall look and feel (UI) and enhancing the user experience (UX) of digital products, such as websites or applications.
Hiring Tips To Guarantee Success
To get the best possible talent through the door, you need to consider the following:
Hire with Existing Leverage Points in Mind
With your team structure in mind, create specific job descriptions for each role. The required abilities, experience, and qualifications should be detailed in these descriptions. This rigorous strategy will help attract the best applicants and guarantee they have the skills to help your team succeed.
Alexis’s top tip? “If you head marketing at a startup with a small headcount and rapidly evolving needs, I think it is smart to hire in-house for your top marketing priority or skills gap, but make sure that hire is versatile and leave the possibility open for them to shift to other roles.”
Prioritize Hiring Based on Growth Stage
Small businesses are likely to be more reticent to hire than businesses that are further along on their growth journey. Before hiring for a specific role, consider why you are prioritizing this role over another one. It’s important to remain flexible and aware that the needs of your marketing department, and consequently, your marketing team structure may change over time.
Align Your Structure with Company Culture
Sammie Ellard-King, founder of the personal finance website Up The Gains, doubles down on the importance of hiring not solely based on skill set, “When hiring, prioritize individuals who have the skills and experience and fit your company's culture and values. Strong team cultures improve collaboration, creativity, and performance.”
Embrace Digital Transformation
David Reid, Sales Director at VEM Tooling stresses the importance of playing the long game and embracing new tools and technologies. “Looking forward, other CMOs must focus on agility, adapting swiftly to market shifts. Embrace digital transformation, invest in AI for data analysis and customer insights, and prioritize customer experience. Building a diverse team is pivotal; varied perspectives foster innovation. Enhance skill sets continuously, promoting a culture of learning. Additionally, ethical marketing should be at the core, ensuring transparency and customer trust.”
After Hiring, What Next?
Once you’ve got your in-house marketing team sorted, how do you know you’re on the right track with your marketing activities? Melissa Glazar’s recent article helps CMOs understand what KPIs they should be tracking specifically for B2B SaaS.
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