As your business expands so will your email marketing, bulk blasts, automation, AI and other email programs. How should you structure and organise your email marketing department to ensure long-term success with an ever-increasing reliance on the email channel? 

“Treat your email program as a movie. Give the customers a preview so they know what to expect.” – EmailOut

Creating an optimal email team is not an easy task. Businesses should consider all aspects carefully when developing it as it can affect their processes for years to come. Thus, when deciding what would be best for your organisation, you should consider your company’s size, structure and strategy. The two main methods of organising email teams businesses can choose between are centralised and decentralised.

In this article, we’ll cover the following aspects of organising email teams:

  1. What’s the difference between centralised and decentralised team structure?
  2. Pros and Cons of centralised email team
  3. Pros and Cons of decentralised email team
  4. What’s the best email team structure for your business? 

Ready to dig in?

Let’s say your business is already present in several countries, however, you are seeking to expand it even further. Organising your email teams is strategic for your business’s development. But, before you decide which method, centralised or decentralised,  is best suited for your company, you should examine all the pros and cons of both. After all, you want an optimally structured email department that would work best for you.

Centralised vs Decentralised Email Teams

Having the right structure for your email team is the key to delivering strong marketing results, balancing control, utilising member’s strengths and, overall, creating a well-oiled machine working towards increasing your business’s bottom line.

Centralised teams are a unified core group which serves multiple business functions, geographies or products/services. Basically, there’s one department that ‘rules them all’ (no all-powerful precious rings). A centralised team controls all marketing activities and initiatives as well as managing a unified brand image for the entire business.

Decentralised teams have a ‘divide and conquer’ approach. In order to cover different countries as well as the palette of products/services, separate teams and unique campaigns built. Essentially, choosing this method will result in multiple departments that are all separately responsible for their own marketing activities.

So, which method for organising email teams is the right one for your company? The answer to this question, frustratingly, is not as clear as you might hope. It all depends on your company’s size, structure, strategy and budget.

Both of the above methods have advantages and disadvantages. There is no one better solution than the other. So, before you jump to the decision-making stage, make sure you know all the pros and cons for each method.

Pros and Cons Of A Centralised Email Team

It’s all in the name. Thus, as you’ve probably guessed, one of the main advantages of having a centralised email team is that all of the strategies and copywriting, as well as designing, comes from one and the same group. Hence, you end up with more cohesive campaigns across different segments. 

Another advantage of using this method for organising email teams is that it drives not only consolidation; but also, brand consistency as it’s simply easier to maintain.

What’s possibly the most important benefit of having a centralised email team is that it provides economies of scale. When you have the skills, resources, systems, vendor management and all data housed in only one department, your marketing budget, as well as investment, can be easily managed and controlled. This method is not only streamlined but also cost-effective. Wondering why? Simple. It allows systems and tech-integration to be simplified and for costs to be cut.

With your company’s growth and the expansion of your email marketing program, your email teams will grow, too. Thus, comes the first disadvantage of having a centralised email team. 

Having too large a team and keeping its members in a specific line of work can ‘cripple’ creativity. According to stats, 23% of marketers find that their email approval process is too burdensome simply because there are too many people involved.

When organising your email teams, a poorly implemented centralisation is another disadvantage. According to the CEO of General Motors Alfred Sloan, a badly implemented centralisation can “smother initiative, limit the ability to customise products and services locally, and burden business divisions with high costs and poor service.

Overall, if structured correctly, a centralised email team will work smoothly when creating a repeatable process which will utilise all members’ strengths.

Pros and Cons Of Decentralised Email Teams

Since the decentralised team method is based on breaking up larger teams into smaller ones, it’s often chosen by larger companies.  The reason: it can be more agile and focused on the needs of unique customers. Thus resulting in more customised email campaigns and improved customer communications.

By organising your email teams using the decentralised method, you have the opportunity to create a tailor-made strategy based on the country you market in; as well as, having a designated regional team focused 100% on its market and overall, improving your marketing performance.

Another advantage of having a decentralised email team is that approvals happen faster since you have a smaller group working on the end-goal. It also makes it more likely for organisations to have the ability to A/B test new ideas fast.

Decentralised email teams are also an asset when it comes to legislation. Depending on the country in which your company operates, you’ll not be subjected to the same rules and regulations. Therefore, having a decentralised team – in this case – would be to your advantage because you’ll be able to effectively manage the differences and ensure compliance.

However, decentralised email teams come with their own challenges. With having more teams focused on ‘their own thing’, you can end up with a multitude of systems, strategies and campaigns. Thus, despite delivering highly relevant emails to subscribers, you risk losing your brand identity, inflating costs and basically, overcomplicating the workflow. Not to mention, you can also end up having duplicate work, poor performance tracking and providing an inconsistent subscriber experience.

What’s The Best Email Team Structure For Your Company?

Our friends at Litmus polled marketers at companies of all sizes on the topic of their team’s organisational structure. According to the survey, 67% of companies across the world prefer to use the centralised method while the rest 33% chose to use the decentralised one.

From the report, it is also evident that 86% of companies with less than 100 employees go for a centralised email team. Which makes sense considering there likely aren’t enough employees primarily focused on email to spread them across numerous different segments.

Companies with 500-999 employees and those with 1,000 – 1,999 still favour centralised email teams with 65% and 63% of companies respectively. From then on, based on the company’s size, the data starts to lean towards having decentralised email teams.

Organising Email Teams: Which Email Marketing Department Is Right For You? | - free email marketing

The breaking point comes when we get to companies with 10,000 or more employees. That is when centralised email teams become a bit too big to manage as one unit. Thus, medium-sized companies are presented with options. Maintain a centralised email team or switching to a decentralised one, with the latter being the prefered structure method.

Bottom line, stats show that 33% of email teams plan to spend more on personnel in 2020, thus deciding how to organise your email team is crucial for your end-goal. If your entire company serves a similar customer base then a centralised email team will help you in keeping a consistent subscriber experience. However, if you have distinctive units which serve unique markets, different geolocations and customer segments then a decentralised email team is what your business needs. Why? To keep the email team closer to the audience as well as delivering more relevant email campaigns.

Final Thoughts

When organising email teams, the decision of whether a business should opt for a centralised or a decentralised email team depends primarily on three things – the company’s size, structure and strategy.

To ensure you’ve chosen the most suitable email team structure, you should consider three things: a) what’s your primary goal – ex. driving revenue, delivering a consistent experience, getting more leads, etc.; b) how big is the market you want to cover – ex. local, regional, national or global; and, c) what’s your budget – i.e. Do you have enough funds to hire more employees to join the team?

Once you’ve decided on the email team structure, prioritise and assign the work accordingly. By achieving that, you will provide clarity and focus for your team. However, if you want to improve your email marketing team’s structure – and achieve better results – you might want to keep in mind a “both/and” approach. It’s way more useful than an “either/or” approach as it allows a bigger variety and scope of outcomes. Basically, instead of choosing between centralised or decentralised email teams, why not have both – if possible.

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