Internationalizing your marketing automation is a strategic decision if you want to expand your business to multiple countries. There are benefits and drawbacks to both centralizing and decentralizing your marketing efforts, so you’ll need to carefully consider which approach is best for your company.
There are two main types of marketing structures that companies can use, centralized or decentralized. Centralized marketing means applying a single strategy in all countries, while decentralized marketing means allowing regional marketing teams to create and set up campaigns specific to their states and countries. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Unfortunately there is no clear answer, it will always depend on the situation. You are doing well. Mainly four elements:
- your business model,
- your teams,
- your marketing automation solution,
- your budget.
The article is written as a dichotomy of centralization versus decentralization for practical reasons. In reality, this is of course a more complex spectrum and the cursor is not always right or left.
There is not one better solution than the other in the absolute sense, each of these strategies has advantages and disadvantages, but the best strategy for you depends on your business. Here is how to choose it.
Centralize Your Marketing Automation
If you recognize yourself in one or more of the following five affirmations, it is because your internationalization strategy can base on centralized marketing automation:
- My company sells the same products and services in all countries;
- My different markets have the same level of maturity;
- My Buyer Personas and their sales cycles do not vary from one country to another;
- I use the same Data Model in all countries (fields and forms);
- My regional teams are few;
- My local team is not trained in marketing automation.
A 2017 Marketo survey found that 65% of international companies would prefer centralized marketing automation.
The parent company creates the marketing strategy for Automation, and it is up to its subsidiaries to carry it out in their respective countries. It is often just a matter of copying and pasting the elements of the strategy (data model, forms, scoring, lead nurturing scenarios) and campaigns (landing pages, CTA, emails, workflows) into the Automation system. All that is usually necessary is to translate them for the different countries.
Although there may be some cultural adaptation, the strategy and content will largely stay the same.
The Benefits Of Centralization
The pros of centralized structures include:
The benefits of centralizing your international marketing automation are that you can deploy campaigns quickly and regularly. Once a campaign is created in a non-English country, you can clone and translate each element to launch the campaign in other countries.
If you want to create a campaign, it will be cheaper to translate a white paper and articles than to do it from scratch. It will also take less time.
If you clone your entire marketing automation strategy, you can save a lot of time and be more efficient.
Better data control and easier reporting
The data is all in one place, allowing for easy management and control. This is a big advantage when it comes to complying with laws and regulations, like the GDPR. In the future, companies will be required to have even more control over their data, and this centralized system will make it easier to meet those requirements.
The data model being the same makes reporting much easier because the data is centralized. This way we can see how each country is performing easily.
Improved Cost & Efficiency
Increased centralization in economies leads to greater standardization and economies of scale. This is particularly important for marketing efforts, which often utilize expensive and complicated technology, and require more data and high-impact content marketing assets. Having fewer silos and duplications of effort cuts costs.
A customer-centric orientation should not be limited to internal structures. For example, associations often have customers who overlap across their publishing, membership, and conference business units. Centralized marketing is usually best positioned to develop cross-product customer experiences, deliver customer-focused campaigns, and ensure customers are not overwhelmed with too much communication.
Organizations with centralized structures are better able to hire specialized roles for the new skills required in modern marketing. They are also better at retaining and growing talent, training employees, sharing best practices, and fostering collaboration across teams. Marketing is a learning organization where continual improvement is required.
Accountability & Measurement
Through standardized benchmarks, testing procedures, and a reporting infrastructure, central structures enable all marketing to be data driven and accountable.
It is advantageous to have a strong central brand that differentiates you from the competition. Having sub-brands (such as a Journal brand that is a sub-brand of the parent society brand) can be seen as beneficial, but what delivers the most value is having a unified brand architecture and strategy across the whole organization.
Decentralize Your Marketing Automation
If the following statements are right for your business, then decentralized marketing may be better suited:
- My company sells different products and services depending on the country;
- My Buyer Personas and their sales cycles vary from country to country;
- I need different Data Models depending on the country;
- My regional teams are numerous;
- My teams are autonomous and trained in marketing automation techniques in all countries.
The rule for whether to centralize or decentralize marketing automation is based on whether the company is the same in all countries or if it varies from country to country. If the products, services, and customers are the same, then the company is the same in all countries. However, if the products, services, and customers vary from country to country, then the company is different in each country.
Each regional subsidiary should be able to define its own marketing automation strategy. This means that there can be as many different Personas, sales cycles, data models, scoring, and lead nurturing programs as there are countries.
There’s no easy answer to this question, as it depends on a variety of factors specific to your business. However, if you’re finding that your marketing automation is becoming overly centralized, it may be time to consider decentralizing it. This can help to ensure that your marketing automation is more effective and efficient, as well as better able to meet the needs of your entire organization.
The Benefits Of Decentralization
The decentralization of Marketing Automation has four significant advantages.
A Tailor-Made Strategy by Country
If you decentralize your MA, you can consider each country’s specificities and its market, even if it is small.
You can meet the expectations of your local market for any product or service, regardless of level of maturity or specificity. This granularity in your strategy will lead to more efficient marketing and more qualified leads for salespeople.
A Team Dedicated to Each Country
By breaking up the company into regional teams, each team can focus solely on its market. This allows for a better understanding of the local culture and more time to create targeted campaigns.
The goal is to improve marketing’s overall performance by providing more resources locally. This way, more advanced subsidiaries won’t be held back.
Local governance allows teams to be more responsive, thus more productive and faster in deploying campaigns. Regional marketing does not have to wait for headquarters to give the green light each time.
A Strategy Adapted to Local Legislation
With decentralized marketing automation, you can manage regional differences in legislation efficiently from an operational and technological point of view.
Because teams are more nimble and closer to their respective markets, they can more quickly take advantage of new business opportunities. For example, if you were to launch a new OA journal, the journal marketing team could quickly adapt their focus to align with this new priority.
“Local” teams are those who are close to the products, customers, and market dynamics of their specific business unit. It is difficult to market effectively if you are not close to your customers’ needs.
In a decentralized organization, there is more opportunity to tailor the approach to customer and market needs. Sometimes a centralized organization can force a generic or blunt approach in the name of standardization.
To Centralize or Not to Centralize
The question of what the optimal marketing organizational structure is has been a hot topic for many years. With brands pivoting to modern marketing, this topic is more relevant than ever. It is not enough to simply add new technology and data-driven capability to existing marketing structures. The organizational design needs to be updated to match modern marketing.
A common question about organizational design is whether to have centralized marketing or decentralized marketing. Centralized marketing means there is one marketing team, while decentralized marketing means there are separate marketing teams for different parts of the organization. Centralized marketing often has more control over branding, while decentralized marketing allows more local control.
Organizational structures are always a hot topic of discussion, with many membership organizations, publishers, and education companies debating which one is best. It’s not an easy decision to make, and often times an organization will switch back and forth between a centralized and decentralized structure a few times before finding the right fit. Both have their advantages, so it’s understandable why it’s such a tough decision to make.
When looking at two different and equally good options, it can be hard to decide which one to choose.
The “hub and spoke model” is an alternative to centralizing or decentralizing your marketing structure. With this model, you can get the best of both worlds by having a centralized hub that oversees marketing efforts while also allowing individual spokes to specialize in certain areas.
A hub-and-spoke structure is the best of both worlds. The central hub facilitates marketing excellence while the decentralization of the spokes allows for varied marketing strategies. The hubs are connected to the spokes through a central hub, which allows for communication and collaboration between marketing teams.
Previous attempts at a hub-and-spoke model have had mixed results. The current model is more successful because it focuses on Marketing Operations (MOPs).
Marketing Operations is essential to aligning marketing strategy with business goals. The modern version of Marketing Operations is a newer concept that emerged in response to increased emphasis on the customer, the importance of marketing accountability, the need for marketing specialization, and the rise of marketing technology. Marketing Operations improves marketing effectiveness and efficiency by focusing on people, processes, data, and technology. Marketing Operations is necessary to connect marketing strategy with business goals.
At a high level, MOPs focus on the following areas:
- Infrastructure: Marketing technology (MarTech) and data management.
- Analytics & Measurement: Analytical and reporting best practices and expertise.
- Intelligence: Insights and intelligence about customers, competitors, and the market.
- Planning: Departmental planning processes (strategic, budgetary, campaign, etc.) as well as associated workflows, and content / creative operations.
- Marketing Enablement: Training & skills development, process optimization, and project management support and expertise.
- Customer Targeting & Orchestration: Expertise and governance to effectively utilize customer data for segmentation, personalization, orchestration, and marketing automation.
The Marketing Operations team is not the only team in the hub. The “Shared Services” and “Enterprise Marketing” teams are also in the hub. The Shared Services team provides access to resources that the business unit alone could not afford or where it would be inefficient to split highly specialized resources (e.g., SEO specialists). The Enterprise Marketing team includes teams, such as branding and communications, that are focused on top-level organizational strategies and channels (e.g., an organization’s main website).
The “spoke” marketing team is responsible for overseeing the marketing strategy and execution for their specific business unit. They work closely with other team members in the business unit to ensure that everyone is focused on meeting the goals of the business.
Thetext is discussing how the hub (marking operation team) ensures coordination, alignment, and collaboration across marketing, while the spokes (business units) are focused on their own demands. MOPs help to improve the capabilities of the marketing team as a whole.
A hub-and-spoke structure involves a central hub that reports to a head of marketing, typically a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). The spoke reports to their respective business unit head and has a connection to the CMO through a second reporting line. The hub-and-spoke structure is successful when the marketing leader is high quality, receives adequate support, and is able to balance centralized and decentralized functions.
The shift to a hub-and-spoke structure is more complicated than just changing who reports to whom. Hubs can be very different in terms of size and shape, depending on an organization’s strategy, size, and culture. The first step is to create a “marketing operations core.” This is a team of experienced marketing professionals who can help develop a strategy and business case for the shift, and recommend the right infrastructure to meet the organization’s objectives.
There are some challenges that come with shifting to a hub-and-spoke model, but the benefits of doing so can be very beneficial. This model helps to balance efficiency and effectiveness while remaining agile and customer-focused. When done correctly, this type of structure can improve marketing and customer metrics. Additionally, it has the potential to unlock cost savings by streamlining technology, processes, and teams. Last but not least, a hub-and-spoke model can put an end to the debate of whether centralized or decentralized model is better.