How to structure your ecommerce marketing department (Free model)

If you have the task of structuring your team into the best ecommerce marketing department possible, congratulations on your success!

In this article, we are going to give you a framework for developing your own high performance, incredibly successful ecommerce marketing team designed to gain customers and keep customers coming back.

How to structure your ecommerce marketing department

Structure your ecommerce marketing department by first putting team members in places to focus on the biggest sources of customers, starting with; 1. Product branding, 2. Website, 3. Content, 4. Sales channels, 5. Digital Advertising, 6. Print / media advertising, 7. Social Media, 8. Email Marketing, 9. Fulfillment, 10. GTM & Conversions.  

How can I be so confident? That’s because this is exactly the most recent project I just completed for one of the best food manufacturing companies in the natural foods industry

This fantastic company is a successful eCommerce business and gains customers from both the business-to-business (B2B) world, and direct to consumer (DTC or B2C) markets.

And I am going to share with you now the exact framework I used to structure this company's department so you can use this, too. You will need to modify the important elements to best meet your needs so you can develop your own high performance eCommerce marketing team based on your business model. 

For example, if you have 250,000+ highly engaged social media followers on your favorite platform, and 80% of your website traffic and sales come from this source, then shift the structure of your marketing department accordingly.

Let’s now dig in and get started!

The best way to structure an ecommerce marketing team

Your eCommerce marketing team and marketing plan is focused on three main objectives at all times:

  1. Driving new traffic to your website
  2. Converting this traffic (visitors) into customers, and 
  3. Keeping these customers coming back for more!

Of course these are core objectives for any business, not just eCommerce.

As we get started, it is important that you apply a couple management tools so the team is on the same page. Regardless of what your big initiative is, its important to do a SWOT analysis each year, keep a strong focus on your Key Performance Indicators in marketing, work in line with the Law of 80 / 20 in marketing and master the art and science of Recency, Frequency, Money (RFM) analysis.

If you are not familiar with these, or if you’d simply like a refresher, here are these four tutorials for you to discover how these very important management tools work:

Let’s now get started and briefly work through each portion of your eCommerce marketing department (vs structuring a standard marketing department).

Your customer acquisition methods may require some alterations to this framework, but you can have confidence in knowing that this is a solid structure that you can always use. 

1. Your product

Since you probably already have a product or service and a database of customers, which is why you are needing a plan for your eCommerce marketing team, the first place to start is with your product. In 99.97% of the time, the best marketers start with the customer, but in this case we ensure the product, its packaging and its branding are in line with at least meeting the customers expectations. This is where the copywriters, the graphics department and the product developers need to huddle up and work together to deliver the product packaging that at least meets the customers expectations, in order to keep conversion rates at an optimal level.

2. Your website

Your website is how you actually do business, hence; eCommerce.  This is all about the customer. You could have a weak website that converts extremely high based on your customer base, the level of competition and or the inelastic nature of your product, i.e., how badly does your customer want your product or service. The point is: your website needs to at least meet the expectations set by your customers, as determined by your conversion rates. Your website developer(s) is the second element to your eCommerce marketing department. 

3. Your content 

Content educates your customers and sells your product. Whether your strategy is push marketing, pull marketing or both, content is the driving force of your product, website and all your marketing.  Whether product descriptions, blog content, social media, print ads, or digital media, content is core. Oftentimes, this element is handled by the marketing director who manages a team of writers for developing customer service scripts, telephone sales scripts,  print ad copy writers, label writers, content experts and digital ad writers. 

4. Sales channels

Your sales channels can cover a lot of ground. In house sales teams, outside sales, inbound phone sales, P.O.S. sales, and a variety of online sales could be considered your sales channels. Someone needs to manage the communications, the ease of customer navigation, the sales funnel and post purchase communications.  Managing the sales channels are core to eCommerce marketing departments. This also means Amazon, eBay and Walmart and others.

5. Digital advertising 

Digital advertising ecompases a wide set of skills. Pay per click (PPC) to video, to social advertising, native to advertorials, images, downloads and more are core to most eCommerce marketing plans.  Someone needs to manage and optimize these customer facing tools and advertisements.

6. Social media 

Social is a driver of sales, leads, brand building, awareness and community. This core element is crucial to push out a wide variety of advertising and communications. The more social accounts you choose, the more resources you will need to manage this element of your department.  Start with the social platforms that your customers most enjoy using. Muscle Milk does a great job in keeping this simple. Notice three social platforms in the upper right corner: 

7. Print and media 

Print and media advertising is crucial. And no it's not dead. In fact, offline marketing campaigns can be massively successful as defined as cost per acquisition. Plus it can create a strategic advantage for you to gain customers in places where your competition are not competing. The options are endless and you need to regularly be focused on searching for offline opportunities to advertise.

8. Email marketing 

As your customer base grows, at a certain point in your business email marketing could possibly be the largest driver of sales revenue for your business. In the beginning, your digital ads team could easily manage this role, but as you ramp up communications to 100 emails per year (or more!), you will find that your email team will work closely with your graphics team and your marketing writers, as well as your product developers and GTM tracking and website conversions team.

9. Fulfillment 

You might be asking, what the heck is a fulfillment element doing in my marketing department?! Yes, this important element is crucial to delivering more value to your customers. This key role ensures customers are not just coming back, via coupons and added advertising in their deliveries, but this role is also tasked with Google forms surveys, follow ups, customer feedback and support.

10. GTM and conversions 

Ok, we know you were waiting for this. You probably know that Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a popular method to install code which lets you track campaigns and more. And you probably use Google Analytics to get trends, set goal conversions and get some insight into eCommerce data. Without the previous nine elements in your marketing structure, you won’t have many sales and conversions to track which is why this is last!  I am being a little dramatic in this statement, but you do need to do a lot of marketing activities to find out what is working the best, what isnt working at all, and where the sales are coming from.

Keep in mind, especially in the beginning, that you do not need one dedicated person for each element. Some tasks can easily be handled by one person, such as the content writer can do social media and fulfillment. Or the digital marketing person handles PPC ads, fulfillment, email marketing and some web design. With marketing, the skill sets have a lot of overlap.

Ok, let’s close this out with a very important set of tasks to help keep the team together and sales revenue revved up. 

4 Key Elements of the eCommerce Marketing Department

Now that you have your marketing department structure together, its time to bring it full circle with four very important components.

The four important components keep your eCommerce marketing department focus on success are:

  1. The marketing goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  2. The marketing budget
  3. The marketing calendar, and
  4. The marketing plan

These four very important components are typically documents and they are usually managed by the marketing director. But, the entire team uses these documents at least in some part to carry out their objectives. Let’s briefly review each and then you can get started building your eCommerce marketing department.

1. Marketing goals for your eCommerce department

The marketing goals are very simple. Don't overthink these. Choose 3-5 high level initiatives that will be the main initiatives for the eCommerce department this year.  These goals are typically tracked year over year as your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in marketing. They are up to you and your team to develop as a good time to build them is as a result of your annual SWOT analysis. Some goals could be: 

  • To increase website traffic to 50% over last year
  • To increase website conversion rates by 25% over last years conversion rates
  • To increase average order value by 10% over last year
  • To double the average number of transactions customers make this year over last

Goals like these will help you develop your marketing plan, identify your Key Performance Indicators in marketing and guide your most important Law of 80 / 20 activities in your marketing.

Here are two very important resources to help you set goals and track and measure your KPIs:

What is Data Driven Marketing?

5 Important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in Marketing

2. Marketing budget for your eCommerce department

The marketing budget is your guiding document for how you allocate your resources in your marketing plan, based on your goals.

For more information on building your budget, here is a helpful resource:

Why Is Budgeting Important to a Business? (+free template)

3. Marketing calendar for your eCommerce department

The marketing calendar is your guiding document for how you allocate your activities in a short burst of time, usually per month, and looking out 90 days. Of course you can go longer than this, but I like 90 day action focused increments.

Here’s a sample of how you can build your strategic marketing plan:

Step #4: Develop Your Strategic Action Plan

4. Marketing plan (the 4 P’s of marketing) for your eCommerce department

The marketing plan consists of your product, price, place and promotion. And it coincides with your goals, your budget, and your calendar. To learn more about building your Marketing Mix, and building your eCommerce Marketing plan, here are two very helpful resources:

What is the marketing mix and why is it important? | The 4 P’s of marketing

Best Strategies for Ecommerce Marketing (Free template)

As always, if you need any assistance, we are happy to help!

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