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An organisational structure for marketing and digital

Carte blanche for organisational structure is a rare treat for executives. Often they inherit a team structure or have to shape a team within an existing organisation structure. But what would happen if we had to build a marketing and digital team without any legacy? How would the team be structured? What roles would be created?

This post is a response to Ashley Friedlein’s recent post: With a blank sheet, what organisational structure would you choose for marketing and digital? Highly recommend you read this too (after my post of course)!

My route to developing a structure is based on Peter R Scholte’s work in the Leader’s Handbook. The starting point – as shown in the diagram below – is to define the purpose or vision. This statment is an altruistic statement of what the organisation will do for others.


Once a purpose is set, the process for delivering that purpose can be created. The process then proceeds to shape the tasks that need to be carried out. From the tasks come capabilities which can then be translated into roles. Each role then becomes part of the organisation structure.

A structure for marketing and digital

Let me begin with the purpose for marketing and digital:

“Marketing and digital’s purpose is to create easy-to-use, memorable, engaging, and personalised customer experiences across web, mobile app, call centre and stores. Best endeavours will be made to help prospective customers discover our business and engage with it”

From this purpose a process can be designed. I’d shape this as:

  1. Design the customer experience
    • Customer research
    • UX design
    • Creative design
    • Prototyping
  2. Create the customer experience
    • Web development
    • Mobile app development
    • Content production
    • Quality control
    • Project management
  3. Measure and optimise the customer experience
    • Data analysis
    • Reporting
    • Testing
  4. Find customers
    • Search engine marketing
    • Social media marketing
    • Direct mail
    • Affiliates
    • Call centre
    • Sales force and account team
    • TV advertising
    • Other paid media
  5. Engage customers
    • Email marketing
    • Account team
    • Social media
    • Call centre
    • Mailings

There are supporting processes alongside this:

  • Team management
  • Financial control

The process above, highlights both the tasks and capabilities required in order to fulfil the process. From this I can draw out a simple set of roles:

Digital and marketing organisation structure

Digital and marketing organisation structure

This is my take on the structure, a single director of marketing and digital (potentially a Chief Customer/Marketing Officer) who either sits on or reports to the board. Below them is a set of operational heads who are responsible for the customer experience, acquisition of customers, and customer engagement.

Further Reading

First of you need to read Ashley’s original post: With a blank sheet, what organisational structure would you choose for marketing and digital?

I also recommend that you pick up a copy of Peter Scholtes’ book The Leader’s Handbook.

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Digital Value Chains

Digital transformation improves customer experience and business operations. It also supports the deployment of new business models that were previously too costly or technically infeasible. Porter’s Value Chain provides a framework opportunity to explore new opportunities for digital transformation in a business.

The Value Chain separates business activities across primary and supporting activities. Primary activities are those that relate to the manufacture, marketing, sales and support of a product or service. Support activities, do as the label implies, they support the primary activities. A great example is Human Resources supporting the staff working on the help desk.

The Digital Value Chain

Digital effect on the value chain

Digitisation can work across both the primary activities and the supporting ones. For instance the primary activities can be connected end-to-end through digital to speed up the transition from sales to manufacturing. Dell were once the leaders in this space, enabling customers to customise design their systems via the website. Similarly, Uber are using digital to provide an immediately link the customer with the driver

Vertically, digital can serve to improve efficiency but also to better connect supporting activities with primary ones. For instance internal micro-blogging can give HR and Accounting visibility of new project wins or spikes in workload that may have a downstream effect.

Creating the Digital Value Chain

Creating a digital value chain first requires a mapping of the business process as the customer sees it. Typically this process should look messy as you identify the different touch-points, departments and people the customer goes through.

When mapping this out, I will personally look at what information is being provided or uploaded by the customer. With the interaction mapped out redraw the process as a hard system relating to the stages a customer goes through. With this drawn out, it’s easy to create the primary activities list for the value chain. From these primary activities one can quickly draw out the supporting activities that are required throughout each stage of the chain.

Some strategic questions that can then be asked:

  • How would the primary activities run without human support? Can they be automated?
  • Where are the customer moments of truth? What can be done to replicate this experience online or using a mobile device?
  • How does information transfer between the primary activities and supporting activities? How can digital make this more efficient?
  • What would the experience look like as an iPhone app? What would it be like if email was banned?

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