Org Design Stories: 360Learning

Org Design Stories: 360Learning

Stephanie Bowker Cofounder & CMO

December 2022

Today, we’re talking with Sophie Agosta, the former CMO at 360Learning—who recently left her post to kick up the dust on a healthcare startup (how exciting!). We wanted to learn more about the challenges she faced in growing the marketing team from 20 to 50 people during her tenure as 360Learning’s senior marketer leader. Here’s what she had to say. 

About 360Learning 

360Learning offers a Learning Management System (LMS) that helps companies crowdsource and design their employee training by leveraging wisdom and experience at every level of the organization. Founded in 2013, 360Learning has raised $240 million with 400+ team members across New York, Paris, and London and made a strategic acquisition of Looop in 2022 to secure its leading market position in Europe and the UK. 

What did the marketing team look like? 

There were four primary teams within the marketing organization at 360Learning, each with specific KPIs related to the creation, optimization, and conversion of our lead pipeline: 


  • Brand and Content: Building engagement within our communities and boosting both organic traffic and organic SQLs (sales qualified leads).

  • Demand Generation: Driving SQLs and managing SQL costs per channel.
  • Product Marketing: Managing ARR (annual recurring revenue) at the product level and increasing win rate (versus competitors).

  • Marketing Operations: Driving SQL and launching ABM (account-based marketing) SQL. 


The marketing team grew significantly in 2022 (see slides below), due to both the business’s international expansion and Marketing Ops officially becoming part of the marketing team. 


  • International Expansion: Oftentimes, when businesses scale their operations globally, they tend to organize teams by geography. We decided to take a different approach and, instead, organize our team by function. Because 360Learning’s pipeline is around 90% inbound, it was important for us to establish strong functional leadership and create a winning “playbook” that could be easily replicated in each country we operate. This was an effective approach for us because it saved us time from having to build new go-to-market strategies every time we launched in a new country.

    When we decided to make a huge investment in growing our presence in the UK and Germany, for example, we first looked to what worked best in the United States (where the business started) and then replicated it across the pond. For instance, in the Content and Demand Generation teams, we hired one team member per country (France, US, UK, Germany), but we didn’t want them to operate in a silo. Quite to the contrary, we encouraged them to regularly compare their experiences, share best practices, and benefit from ongoing coaching from a seasoned functional leader.

  • Marketing Ops Integration: For me, this was a no-brainer. Because Marketing Ops was central to marketing performance and productivity across all of our initiatives, bringing this team back under the marketing umbrella was one of the first things I did as CMO.

360Learning Marketing Org Structure: January 2022

360Learning Marketing Org Structure: June 2022

What were your biggest challenges?  

At the company level, we needed to get really clear about our big, overarching goals before we could trickle that down to specific KPIs at the org, team, and individual levels (including across multiple geographies). As a marketing team, to deliver on these goals, our focus was on 1) being the stewards of the collaborative learning movement and 2) driving revenue by fueling the lead pipeline and equipping the sales team with the right tools to close sales effectively. This helped ensure that everyone was working towards a shared vision of what success looked like. 

Now, how this trickled down into individual goals was a completely separate beast. We faced several challenges on this front, most notably: 


  • Not having a definitive “source of truth” for measuring success: Initially, we wasted a lot of time comparing conflicting data, debating the results of reports, and challenging the metrics we used to define success. So, I led the charge to create a “marketing source of truth” document that detailed what reports, definitions, and KPIs needed to be used to measure each team member’s performance. Not only did this create greater clarity and transparency across our team, but it also helped boost accountability in a big way.

  • Keeping team members focused on their KPIs: You can’t apply the same measures of success for team members in vastly different roles. But you can’t go overboard with KPIs either. So, we tried to find a happy medium where each team member had no more than three KPIs to stay focused on at any given time. This was a great way to ensure that team members were staying focused on what would drive the most value for the business while also enabling autonomy and creating a clearer way to celebrate success. This was especially challenging for top-of-the-funnel roles—like content, video, and social media—where measuring direct impact can be tricky. A great example of this was when our newly launched product page increased conversion by 7x. This was a huge accomplishment for the team and something that warranted a proper celebration!


How much time did you spend on team design?  

An org is constantly changing; it’s never just “one and done.” This is especially true when a business is undergoing rapid growth. That’s why, during my time as CMO, I felt like we were constantly having conversations about how to optimize the marketing org every single day. If I had to put a number to it, I’d say that I spent at least two hours per day thinking about it.

Sometimes it was about finding solutions for new organizational issues that popped up as we were scaling our team across the US and Europe. Sometimes it was about identifying which teams were in charge of different tactics and deliverables. Sometimes it was about ensuring that specific resources weren’t being spread too thin across multiple teams—within the marketing org and across the company as a whole. Here are some questions we had to ask ourselves:


  • What resources do we need to boost productivity? 
  • Who should the BDRs (business development reps) report to—marketing or sales? 
  • Who should our copywriter report to—Demand Gen, Product Marketing, or Brand? 
  • How can we create better alignment between Design and Marketing to ensure that 1) resources aren’t spread too thin, 2) designers can stay focused on priorities, and 3) each marketing team has a dedicated design resource to reach out to consistently? 
  • How much did we want to invest in events and what kind of ROI could we expect?
  • How should we organize the Marketing Ops team for maximum effectiveness? 
  • How can we do a better job of syncing Product Marketing with Product Squads? 

 As you can see, there was really never a dull moment—and as a result, there was never a time when I wasn’t thinking about how to make the marketing org operate more efficiently.

Who were your key stakeholders in the process? 

I worked quite closely with our CEO to develop the scope and key objectives for the entire marketing org. This included setting clear expectations as to what every role within the org played towards helping us achieve our goals. 360Learning is a very objectives-driven organization, so much so that we’d always work with the hiring managers for the new roles to detail one-, three-, and six-month goals in all of our job descriptions. For us, it was important to ensure that new employees were not only excited about taking on a new challenge with us but also crystal clear up front as to what would be expected of them from day one.


Now, when it came time to tackle org-wide-related issues, I worked with key stakeholders within my team (related to each issue) to solicit input, explore what options we had to work with, weigh the pros and cons, and then make a decision that worked best for the org as a whole. We never wanted to create an org structure that no one actually wanted to be in—so we took the time to ensure that we got buy-in and support from the right people to build a marketing org that would be a win-win for all. In fact, this is one of the reasons why, I believe, we had a very low attrition rate: We took into consideration our team’s career motivations, including how they wanted to develop and grow, in order to create an environment that would fuel their success.

What were the biggest points of friction?

We did a lot of work to minimize frictions across the marketing org, but there were a couple of areas where I think we still had a few wrinkles to iron out: 


  1. Case Studies: This was one of those cases where no one wanted to own the development and distribution of case studies, but we had to find the right home for them—which could have feasibly lived in a few different teams. What it came down to was figuring out how to measure the impact of case studies over the long term to determine which team would make the most sense as the “owner” of this deliverable.

  2. Campaigns: When I first took on the marketing role at 360Learning, everyone worked in silos across the marketing team. Although this was intentional—because the company was growing rapidly and we needed everyone to be focused 100% on their goals—we knew that needed to change. So, we decided to embrace a “campaign” mentality in order to coordinate activities across the entire org, especially around key milestones like product launches, new content series, awards, and so on.

    Although everyone was enthusiastic about this approach, in theory, it was a bit harder to execute than we had hoped. Why? Because every person on our team had their own KPIs and OKRs to deliver on. Campaigns, initially, weren’t a part of these goals and, as a result, became an unwanted distraction that got in the way of getting priority work done. That’s one of the reasons why we ended up creating OKRs for campaigns to ensure that this was a priority for everyone. And in hindsight, having a single person to coordinate all campaign-related activities probably would have helped this run smoothly.

If you could do it over again, what would you do differently? 

Truth be told, I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Could our team have reached certain goals faster? Sure, there’s always room for improvement. But working towards objectives—and identifying solutions to get your team over sometimes unexpected hurdles— often requires making a few mistakes along the way. The truth is, you really can’t take shortcuts here; every failure was an opportunity to learn something new that ultimately helped us optimize the marketing org for success in the long run.