January 31, 2022

4 Marketing Team Dysfunctions That Harm Performance

By Matt Pilon, Content Specialist


Successful marketing teams today are more nimble and data-driven than ever before, launching minimum viable products and then utilizing performance data to tweak and optimize their strategies. This strategy is part of an agile marketing methodology, which can boost productivity and accelerate time to market.

Teamwork is a crucial element of agile marketing and many other disciplines, but in recent years employers have intensified their reliance on cross-functional and team-based projects - and with good reason. High-performing companies are 1.5 times more likely to leverage collaboration to achieve desired business outcomes, and research has also shown that employees invited to work with colleagues stay engaged with tasks longer, feel less fatigued, and enjoy greater success. 

However, not all collaboration efforts are worthwhile. In fact, 86% of executives and employees identify ineffective collaboration and communication as major causes of failure in business.

Poor performance by a marketing team may be the result of relying on ineffective, non-agile approaches, while others may be simply falling victim to competing priorities, misaligned incentives, hierarchical decision making, cumbersome approval processes, and an inability to prioritize high-value tasks.

Are your marketing efforts missing the mark? If so, here are four marketing team dysfunctions to watch out for.

Dysfunction 1: Internal Silos

Each members of a marketing team has varying skill sets and roles, but to meet your marketing goals they all need to work together rather than retreat to their own respective bubbles. For example, 93% of marketers believe collaboration between marketing and data analytics is essential to driving results.

The importance of breaking down collaborative silos can extend more broadly too. For example, in order to properly qualify and nurture leads, B2B marketers need to be aligned with their sales team counterparts.

B2B organizations with aligned marketing and sales teams – such as those who share data and insights through regular meetings and the use of CRM software – achieve faster revenue growth and higher customer retention rates.

Dysfunction 2: Process bottlenecks

Marketing teams work on a wide range of projects and tasks, including content creation, paid ad campaigns, SEO optimization, and more. Finishing work on time can be a challenge in any job, and for marketing teams, a frequent culprit behind missed deadlines is the review and approval process. 

In a recent survey, 42% of marketing leaders said not getting feedback and comments from internal stakeholders in a timely fashion is a top cause of production delays. And nearly half of marketers shared frustrations over receiving requests from a reviewer to make changes to a project after another reviewer had already signed off. 

Those delays can hinder a marketing team’s ability to launch campaigns on time and bog down iteration efforts. If your marketing team is consistently missing deadlines, you should consider streamlining the review process, increasing staff resources, and reducing their overall workload and project review by prioritizing the highest-impact projects.

Dysfunction 3: Lack of clearly defined goals

Aligning around clear, achievable goals and metrics is crucial for successful marketing teams.

Defining desired targets – such as qualified leads, cost per lead, and other KPIs – should be the first piece of any collaborative marketing project. This way, the team can evaluate its ongoing performance and adapt accordingly if it’s falling short.

Research has revealed the positive gains businesses can reap by defining and tracking goals.

Goal-setting B2B marketers are 503% more likely to report success than marketers who set goals never, rarely, or sometimes. Meanwhile, high performing organizations are more than twice as likely as lower performers to base their team projects on specific business needs or goals.

Dysfunction 4: Lack of data-driven decision making

Marketing strategies based on hunches or past habits can harm a marketing  team’s chances of achieving its performance goals. Compiling and analyzing data using CRM software and other technology allows marketers to trace customer behavior and engagement and make data-driven decisions about specific campaigns, like extending or ending them, shifting messaging, and adjusting budgets or delivery channels. Those are powerful abilities, and they can produce significant benefits.

Leaders in data-driven marketing are more than six times more likely than laggards to report increasing profitability from those activities, and five times more likely to report better customer retention.

Empower your marketing team to succeed

If you find your marketing team consistently missing deadlines and not reaching their goals, looking at the way they are functioning together as a team can give you insight into why it’s happening. Addressing these dysfunctions will empower your team to do their best work, adjust their strategy when they need to, and meet their goals.


Harvard Business Review, How to Make Sure Agile Teams Can Work Together, May 15, 2018 

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Cues of working together fuel intrinsic motivation, 2014 

Fierce Inc., Workplace Communication Survey, 2011 

MIT Sloan Management Review, When Collaboration Fails and How To Fix It, 2021 

Google, Better together: Why integrating data strategy, teams, and technology leads to marketing success, June 2017, 

Wheelhouse Advisors, How to Align Sales & Marketing to Boost Revenue by 208%, [infographic], February 2015

Ziflow, 2020 Creative Production Survey Results [webinar recording], November 2020

Coschedule, State of B2B Marketing Strategy Report, 2019

Forbes Insights, Data Driven and Digitally Savvy: The Rise of the New Marketing Organization, January 2015

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