SaaS marketing team members win together and lose together. Here’s how to structure your team for more wins.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why the structure of your SaaS marketing team is critical
  • Common mistakes SaaS companies make with team structure
  • What makes a good SaaS marketing team structure
  • Tips for building a well-structured team

Ever watched a basketball game with a top-performing team? It likely had excellent defenders grabbing rebounds, a point guard passing to open shooters, and shooting guards hitting shots from almost anywhere. 

Now, imagine a team with a bunch of gunners (players who love to shoot the ball). No one’s passing to open players and no one’s grabbing rebounds or blocking shots from the other team. 

Not only would this be boring to watch, but it’s ineffective for winning games. 

And it’s the same when designing your SaaS marketing team structure. Having the right players with the right skills on your team is critical to your business’s success. 

Let’s explore what it means to have a well-structured SaaS marketing team. 

Multiethnic Group of People Meeting and Discussing Innovative Id

There should be channel experts spearheading initiatives, while senior-level managers guide strategy (while still being hands-on). (Image: Adobe Stock)

Why is SaaS marketing team structure important?

A properly structured SaaS marketing team ensures you have team members who can manage the various parts of a marketing strategy. 

Without these key members, planning and executing your SaaS marketing team becomes significantly more difficult. 

“SaaS companies structure their sales team to have a fluid pipeline — from the initial touch point of a sales development rep to an account executive,” says Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM. “Their marketing teams should also have a funnel-based structure.”

Yadegar notes there should be channel experts spearheading initiatives, while senior-level managers guide strategy (while still being hands-on). Then everyone reports to a Director or CMO.

Not having the right team architecture can lead to miscommunication with marketing efforts. This could result in confusing the target audience, since there’s no unified approach to lead generation and sales pipelines.

Common mistakes when building a SaaS team

Who you bring (or don’t bring) aboard your SaaS marketing team can be the difference between launching effective campaigns and stalling your growth.

Here’s an overview of the most common mistakes SaaS companies make with their marketing team structures:

  1. Not having a clear goal or mission for the team: Some SaaS businesses are focused on growth, while others want to build a media-style company. These two require unique teams to make either strategy a success. 
  2. Not hiring enough people for the team: Lean marketing machines can work, but only if you have the right core people on the team. You can always expand your operations by bringing on an agency to fill in the gaps and scale output as needed.
  3. Not having the right mix of skill sets on the team: If your goal is to improve product marketing, then you need people on your team that know how to interview customers, analyze feedback, collaborate with the product team, and effectively communicate your product’s features, use cases, and case studies to prospective buyers. 

Yadegar also believes that having a single marketing manager or director overseeing and managing multiple channels — such as PPC, content, and email marketing — is a big no-no. 

“Instead, partnering with the right agency gives a concentrated effort to each channel,” he explains. “The internal in-house marketing manager can focus on strategy and business goals, while the right agency partner takes on digital strategy and execution. It’s also challenging (and costly) to build out your marketing team to have a dedicated member for each channel.” 

Your B2B SaaS marketing team doesn’t have to be entirely in-house. Hire who you need to keep your business goals on track and outsource to an agency that can execute those goals.

What makes a good SaaS marketing team structure?

A good SaaS marketing team structure should have dedicated teams and managers for each channel. For example, if you want to focus on growth, then you need a growth marketing team and manager. Or if you want to focus on content, then a content marketing team and content manager are necessary. 

This works best because it ensures the manager has focused goals and their team has the skill sets to reach them. You can’t take a growth marketer and put them into an inbound or product marketing team and expect them to perform as well as they did on the growth marketing team.

Here’s an overview of the key people and teams a SaaS marketing team should have (no matter the discipline):

  • Head of marketing
  • Marketing experts to execute the tasks
  • Agency partner for PPC (pay-per-click advertising) and SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Agency partner for product development work

With this setup, you have a lean in-house team doing the bare minimum to keep your SaaS marketing operations going. Then you save money by outsourcing PPC, SEO, and development to agencies, since this is something you want to scale up and down as markets and demand shift. 

Here’s who should be on your squad based on the type of marketing team you’re building:

  • Demand generation team: Focuses on building visibility and traffic for a new product or feature. This team should have experts in PPC, social media marketing, remarketing, and content marketing (consider hiring a digital marketing agency within your marketing budget to maximize results).
  • Product marketing team: Focuses on product positioning, messaging, and storytelling to increase interest. This team should include a product marketer, content strategist, and copywriter.
  • Growth marketing team: Focuses on customer acquisition and retention to maximize revenue. This team should include a growth marketer, data analyst, and UX designer.
  • Brand marketing team: Focuses on increasing brand awareness so your name comes up whenever prospects think of your industry. This team should include a brand strategist, creative assistant, graphic designer, and copywriter.
  • Inbound marketing team: Focuses on generating incoming traffic from prospects in all stages of the journey. This team should have a content strategist, digital marketer, analyst, graphic designer, and content writer. Some use marketing automation tools like HubSpot or Marketo to be more efficient

Since product marketing is the primary focus for most SaaS companies, we’ll delve into this further. 

How to build an effective SaaS marketing team

Software-as-a-service companies are selling digital products, so it only makes sense to have a team dedicated to promoting the heck out of it. 

With a product marketing team, you’ll have people who understand your product and its users, so their messaging is on point and more likely to convert. 

But who should be on this team — or better yet, how big should your product marketing team be? It depends on your budget and goals.

In a survey conducted by Swipe Files, 48% of SaaS companies have a marketing team of one to five people. And another 34% have no team at all (team of one). So it appears many like to keep their marketing team size lean. 

But this doesn’t mean they do it all themselves. 

The same survey finds 51% of SaaS companies outsource to one to three freelancers and contractors. 

Surprisingly, not many are leveraging agencies to maximize their outcomes (which we highly recommend). Only 18% work with one to five agencies. 

Should you be a part of the majority? Absolutely not. Partnering with an agency presents an opportunity to do what your competitors aren’t by scaling up your operations — whether it’s content output or advertising efforts. 

Whatever in-house team size you choose, you’ll need to instill a hierarchical structure to keep everyone in order. 

Designing the hierarchy of your team

Before you hire your marketing team, determine what structure will work best for your business. The typical organizational structure in a large company will look a little something like this:

  • Senior level role: Includes Vice presidents, Chief Marketing Officers, and Director roles that oversee all marketing teams. 
  • Manager level roles: Includes Digital Marketing Managers, Growth Marketing Managers, Content Marketing Managers, Marketing Operations Managers, Social Media Managers, and Product Marketing Managers that oversee the marketing efforts in their division.
  • Channel/division roles: Includes Digital Marketers, Product Marketers, Content Marketers, and Conversion Rate Specialists that perform the duties within their channel. 

Who each role reports is clearly defined: Teams in each channel report to the manager of that division, and the division manager reports to the senior level manager. 

According to the 2022 Product Marketing Report, over 65% of product marketers report to marketing. Another 16% report to product management. Makes sense to do both to align the efforts of product development and marketing with what’s happening in the product marketing department. 

What if your team size is small because you’re a startup?

In this case, you want a more linear structure than a hierarchical one. For example, you’ll have a generalist marketing manager who can oversee the tasks of cross-channel teams. This may include a content marketer, web designer, user experience (UX) designer, copywriter, and SEO specialist. 

Then as your SaaS company grows, you can use agencies and freelancers your marketing team members can leverage to maximize their efforts. They’ll need more hands on deck to push out more content, manage product and site optimization at a larger scale, and grow pay-per-click ad campaigns. 

Which roles to include in your SaaS product marketing team

The marketing roles you hire for will differ based on the type of team you’re building. For instance, a product marketing team may have the following team members:

  • Product marketing manager: Oversees every project and team member in this department.
  • Sales enablement specialist: Ensures the team creates content sales teams can use to convert more leads into customers (e.g., guides, product demos, tutorials).
  • Product designer: Designs the interface of the product to ensure it’s intuitive and easy to use, plus improves the product and bugs based on customer feedback.
  • UX writer: Works with the product designer to ensure the text on the product is accessible, easy to read, and intuitive for users.
  • Product owner: Manages the product roadmap and works with the developers to get it accomplished (based on customer feedback from customer support)
  • Service marketing manager: Keeps track of marketing metrics (e.g., launches, campaigns, customers, markets, etc.) to ensure everything’s on track with reaching company goals and provides insights to improve campaign outcomes.

There’s no one way to hire for a product marketing team in a service-based business. Look at your particular needs to see what tasks must be performed and who are the best professionals to manage and execute them. 

girl wearing orange headphones working on a desktop computer

A successful SaaS marketing team should have a mix of skill sets tailored to the goals and objectives of the business. (Image: Unsplash)

How to structure your product marketing team

Now, there are several ways you can structure your product marketing team in a SaaS business. For instance, you can structure your marketing team based on:

  • Feature: Assigns teams to product features, which allows them to become experts in that area and zone in on the unique use cases, audience, and pain points related to that feature. Downside: it can lead to them not knowing much else, which can be counterintuitive and challenging to collaborate with. 
  • Function: Assigns teams to functions, such as sales enablement, product launches, and customer support. Downside: It can lead to silos within the marketing team. 
  • Segment: Assigns teams to customer segments, which is helpful if you have several core audiences you want to target in your marketing. 
  • Outcomes: Assigns teams with specific outcomes, such as product adoption, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. 
  • Objectives: Assigns teams with specific goals, such as increasing awareness, converting leads into customers, and reducing customer churn.
  • Funnel stage: Assigns teams to audiences at different funnel stages, such as awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty. 

Key team characteristics & skills

A successful SaaS marketing team should have a mix of skill sets tailored to the goals and objectives of the business. Based on the 2022 Product Marketing Report, this is the top skill to have: strong communication.

Roughly 82% believe communication is critical to building a successful SaaS marketing team. The survey also shows product marketing teams collaborate a lot with product, marketing, sales, and customer success teams. Then over 61% interact with colleagues 3-7 times per day. And nearly 20% engage with customers weekly.

So yeah, communication skills are crucial. 

Core characteristics and skills voted as essential build a successful SaaS marketing team:

  1. Collaboration with colleagues: Nearly 79% say being a team player with co-workers is a must. Makes sense — product marketers have to work with professionals across channels and departments to perform their roles.
  2. Strategic planning and business skills: Over 66% say the ability to strategize and understand business is key in product marketing. These are essential, since you must build and execute campaigns that meet company goals. 
  3. Problem-solving skills: Sometimes there are hiccups in product marketing campaigns that you must get creative to resolve. Likely why nearly 62% of product marketers say problem-solving is a must-have skill. 
  4. Empathy: Marketing is a team sport and sometimes people make mistakes. Having empathy is something nearly 55% of product managers say is essential. Showing empathy will ensure you’re a player your team doesn’t mind working with long-term.
  5. Research and analytical skills: The ability to research, analyze, and make data-driven decisions is critical in any marketing channel. And it’s why over 54% of product managers say it’s an important skill set. You’ll review lots of data (qualitative and quantitative) to determine the best next steps. 
  6. Content creation and copywriting skills: Product management is about showing, not telling, why your company’s product should be in your target customer’s tech stack. This is easier to do when you’re great at copywriting — nearly 40% of product marketers agree. 
  7. Persuasive and negotiation skills: Being persuasive comes in handy when developing marketing copy and content. But it’s also useful for negotiating with your team and stakeholders to get buy-in on a project. These skills are essential according to over 32% of product marketers. 

The takeaway

Your SaaS business is only as good as your marketing team. Without the right talents and characteristics, you’ll struggle with long-term success. 

Your team members should also be adept at taking constructive criticism. In marketing, there’s a lot of experimentation, which means things won’t always go according to plan. Those who hold grudges or take feedback personally won’t thrive in a marketing environment, especially in a B2B SaaS company receiving dynamic insights from customers and analytics tools. Things move fast, so the ability to keep up will be critical. 

Combining skills and characteristics will ensure you’re getting people who know what they’re doing and can play well together. 

If you need help fleshing out your SaaS marketing team and filling in gaps necessary to grow your company, then let’s talk

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Saphia Lanier

Saphia Lanier

Saphia Lanier is a content writer and strategist with 16+ years' experience working with B2B SaaS companies and marketing agencies. She uses an engaging journalistic style to craft thought leadership and educational content about digital marketing, technology, and entrepreneurship.