Internal Marketing Alignment – The What, Why, and How Of It In B2B Businesses

This article was originally published in the Elevate Your Marketing newsletter and has been repurposed and republished here with the author’s permission. Here is the link to the original article. 

We all talk about cross-team alignment enough. We discuss marketing-sales alignment a lot. We share our thoughts on why the product and customer success teams should get along well.

In short, it doesn’t take enough talking to convince someone who has spent a fair amount of time in the corporate world that cross-functional alignment is a must for B2B businesses.

However, we tend to take intra-team alignment for granted. We assume that since we have weekly meetings and roundtables, everything will move smoothly. Some of us take pride in having those daily standup meetings to ‘take updates’ on what’s going on, and believe that all the teams work seamlessly like the components of a well-oiled engine.

But this is far from the truth, especially when it comes to marketing teams in the B2B world. And here is why:

Misalignment between different marketing functions is costing businesses much more than we think.

Hence, in this blog post, I break down:

  1. What internal marketing alignment is and what it means for B2B businesses.
  2. Why is it such a big deal? Am I exaggerating it, or are we all missing to notice the ‘hidden’ impact of misalignment between different teams within the marketing organization?
  3. Finally, some of the practical ways to ensure marketing alignment.


What is internal marketing alignment?

This is not a complex concept. As the term suggests,

Internal Marketing Alignment refers to the different arms of the marketing team working cohesively to achieve individual and team-based goals.

While this is more important for marketing teams in mid-sized to large companies, its relevance in small organizations – or even startups – cannot be ignored. This is because internal marketing alignment is not just about different people working together well. It is also about various marketing activities forming an engine that propels the marketing vehicle in the direction of success.

Now, to understand the concept better, let us learn the different functions within a B2B marketing team. This is how they are broadly defined in most organizations (though there could be slight variations from company to company):

  • Digital marketing/performance marketing
  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • Brand, communications, and PR
  • Creative design
  • Website development and maintenance
  • Market Research
  • Analyst Relations
  • Partnerships
  • Inside sales
  • Marketing operations/analytics
  • Event marketing

It is important to note that many large enterprises have dedicated divisions for some of the functions mentioned above (say Analyst relations). Also, depending on how your org structure looks like, certain functions can be under other departments like sales for instance. The inside sales function is an example of this.

In addition, some of the functions might be clubbed under a larger category. For example, in many companies, SEO comes under the purview of digital marketing, whereas in some firms it’s a dedicated function. Further, there might be some industry-specific functions as well (say in B2B SaaS companies, you would have teams for product marketing, customer marketing, segment marketing, etc).


Why internal marketing alignment is important?

First, let us quickly look at how misalignment within marketing can adversely impact your business. Then, we will go through a few examples that demonstrate this.

Not having alignment between different marketing functions can hurt you in the following ways:

  1. Reduced ROI from marketing activities. This can reflect in the form of reduced ROAS (Return On Ad Spend), an inflated CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), lower funnel conversion values, etc.
  2. Unorganized marketing calendar and campaign-related activities.
  3. Inconsistent positioning and messaging.
  4. Data management issues and privacy violations.
  5. Higher attrition rate.
  6. Misalignment between marketing and sales.

Let us now understand why each of the above happens (or could happen).

1. Reduced ROI

Alignment would mean different functions complementing each other. If one doesn’t ‘push’ the other, you end up compromising on your ROI.

To understand this, consider the below example.

Imagine your email marketing team ran a highly successful campaign recently where the click rate was very high. It generated more than 1000 clicks (from 800 users) to one of your landing pages (from the whole sequence of 5 emails). Assume that out of the 800, you converted 20.

As an intelligent marketer, you would want to keep the remaining 780 engaged.

Now, let us say your ABM (Account Based Marketing) team is running an integrated ABM program by combining multiple channels and platforms such as LinkedIn, Influ2, Google customer match ads, and cold calling.

To increase the success of this campaign, you would want to do the following:

  • Include the 780 engaged users from the previous campaign in your target list.
  • You would also probably want to have differentiated and personalized messaging for the 780 (you reduce your chances of conversion otherwise).

For you to do the above, the email marketing and ABM teams have to be in sync with respect to:

  • The campaigns each runs.
  • The list of accounts and contacts the two teams target.

But, this is possible only if there is proper data exchange and communication between them. In short, both teams need to ALIGN with each other to maximize the effectiveness of the two campaigns.

2. Unorganized marketing calendar and campaign-related activities

This is obvious. For you to build a coherent, consistent, and compounding marketing routine, you need different teams to function in an organized manner.

Ask yourself these questions:

Did the company launch a new product or service? Is every function not giving it a push in its outreach and promotions?

Does the company have a central target account list? If yes, are all marketing campaigns aimed at generating and capturing demand from those accounts?

Does the marketing team have an annual pipeline/lead target? If that’s the case, are every function’s activities aligned with that goal?

If the answer to one or more of the above is ‘NO’, then you have an internal marketing alignment problem.

3. Inconsistent positioning and messaging

When it comes to positioning and messaging, consistency is key. Your social media team should communicate the same benefits your content team does. Your ad copies should be consistent with your email copy.

If that’s not happening, the very first diagnosis would be that your marketing organization has an internal communication issue.

4. Data management issues and privacy violations

This is something that could have a huge impact on your business, especially given the heavy penalties data privacy regulations like the GDPR and SOC 2 Type 2 impose.

Are your outbound marketing/sales teams sending emails to a list of users who opted out of your campaigns?

Do you have multiple marketing/email automation tools that maintain disparate opt-out lists?

Do you have a team within your marketing department that is not aware of the rules and best practices to follow when it comes to data privacy?

If you are saying ‘YES’ to one or more of the above, you are setting yourself up for data privacy violations.

But what’s the role of alignment here?

Alignment not only means being aware of what’s happening in other teams. It also means having systems and processes in place that ensure an easy flow of data and information.

(More on GDPR here: GDPR guide for marketers).

5. Higher attrition rate

Misalignment leads to friction between teams and people. This could happen because of multiple factors such as:

  • Not having the right processes and documentation.
  • Not having clarity in approach from the marketing leadership.
  • The inability of marketing leaders and team leads to effectively manage their team members.
  • No proper KRAs and KPIs set for teams and individuals in marketing.

Any discomfort caused due to these will result in dissatisfied team members, which in turn could lead to high levels of attrition. Maintaining the right talent will become a challenge in such a scenario.

6. Misalignment between marketing and sales

We discussed how to ensure marketing-sales alignment in one of the other articles. Here is the link to the same:

Marketing And Sales Alignment – Making It Happen With A Business Angle

But, how can the lack of alignment between different marketing functions lead to misalignment between marketing and sales?

Well, for all the 7 steps to ensure marketing-sales alignment (that I discussed in the article given above) to be implemented effectively, all the marketing functions have to be on the same page.

For instance, take the case of the need for having all the data in one place (step #4- data management issues and privacy violations). You need the concerned marketing teams to share the right set of data points for the marketing analytics and RevOps teams to create relevant dashboards and visualizations.

Similar is the case with the other 6 points. If marketing has to align with sales (or any other department for that matter), there has to be alignment internally first.


How to make sure there is internal marketing alignment

This is a very tricky topic. That’s because the solution to this problem is not rocket science. It doesn’t require an Einstein to figure out how marketers can ‘be friends’ with each other. Not that they are fighting, but for sure in many organizations, alignment needs to be better.

And as I said in the beginning, it’s not just about people. Things could be smooth among the team members, but you could still have a misaligned and disoriented marketing team.

Now let’s come to the SOLUTION.

The way I would achieve alignment is with what I call the ‘Leadership Alignment Tree’.

Sounds like a fancy term, but the concept is fairly simple – you make sure that the CMO/Head of Marketing and team leads take steps for different sub-teams to align well with each other.

Given below is a representation of the Leadership Alignment Tree:

The Leadership Alignment Tree

The reason why I am calling it a tree is because the actions taken by the CMO and the leads trickle down the team to build a culture that is suitable for internal alignment. Visually, it looks similar to a team structure.

The role of the CMO or head of marketing in the Leadership Alignment Tree would be:

  • Set periodic goals for each function based on the team goals – For instance, if the organic channel has to contribute to 40% of the pipeline this financial year, the CMO has to sit with the SEO lead (or whoever is concerned) to decide what would that mean in terms of increase in website traffic.
  • Derive correlations between different functions and define common goals for them – This would mean identifying interplays between different marketing activities. Once this is done, define common goals for these functions wherever there is excessive overlap. For example, one of the objectives of the branding team is to improve awareness about your company (learn more about B2B brand awareness). And one of the ways to measure this is to look at brand keyword impressions and volumes (in Google Search Console). The role of the SEO team here is to make sure the website is optimized for the company name so that they don’t lose traffic to competition while a user is searching using brand keywords. So, impressions of brand keywords can be a common goal for both functions.
  • Define and implement an appraisal system (KRAs and KPIs) that supports alignment – An example would be for every team member to have a team-based incentive which they get only if the entire team meets a specific goal. This can lead to better teamwork and collaboration.
  • Walk the talk as a leader – This might sound philosophical. However, showing empathy and compassion towards the team members as the captain of the ship will encourage others to do the same. Make sure to develop a team culture that nurtures a helping mentality among the team members.
  • Facilitate easy communication and information sharing across different teams within marketing.
  • Have different functional leads or team members conduct knowledge sessions on the key tactics they are implementing. This step will help to ensure that every team has respect for the other.

We need to understand that many of these actions are not independent of each other. In fact, a vast majority of them (if not all of them) have to work together in tandem.

Now, let’s come to the role of the team leads. They have to:

  • Clearly communicate the goals laid out by the CMO or head of marketing to individual team members.
  • Get budget approvals required for the team to help achieve their goals.
  • Establishing rapport with other team leads to ease communication and information exchange.

Finally, the responsibility of the team members is to play by the rules. As they achieve their individual KPIs, they need to make sure they put in all their might to achieve the team goals as well.

That’s it for today. Hope you get a sense of how internal alignment is a necessity than a luxury for your marketing organization.

In this context, let us remember the Helen Keller quote;

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

So let’s create marketing teams where everyone moves with the ‘wind’ and not against it.


Skalegrow – B2B marketing agency

With marketing getting tougher and tougher, every wrong foot you make might hamper your growth. What you need is the right guidance and a helping hand. This is where Skalegrow can make a sea of difference.

Skalegrow helps IT, tech, SaaS, and embedded systems companies leverage new-age marketing tactics to grow their business. Check out the below intro video to learn more about what Skalegrow brings to the table:

Our services include content marketing, SEO, graphic design, video marketing, LinkedIn marketing, email marketing, performance marketing, and website management. Write to us at, or visit our services page for more details.


About the author

Naseef KPO

Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.

Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.

You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.