Who owns Conversion Rate Optimisation in your company?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Homini:)

“Who owns the website?”

It’s a simple question, but one that is difficult to answer. I couldn’t say for sure, when I was asked it this week. If you asked the same question to people from different departments across your organisation, I expect you’d get many different answers. The majority of which would be along the lines of “I/we do”.

Perhaps the answers differ because each department has a different understanding of the question. IT builds and maintains the product/website, so they own it. Sales are selling the product, so they own it. Marketing are promoting and attracting the customers, so they own it.

So if it’s hard to answer the question at such a general level, how do you answer the second question:

Who owns conversion rate optimisation?

Who is responsible for making sure that your product is converting as many of your site visitors into customers?

Let’s look at what may go into adding a new product or feature to your website (this will vary considerably, of course, across companies. Use your imagination!).

A solution to a customer need is identified. It is evaluated (business / strategic fit, cost benefit analysis, etc.), a business requirement drawn up, a technical spec produced. Wireframes sketched, code written, design created. Tested. Launched.

Throughout that somewhat whirlwind tour of the development cycle, it touched people from multiple disciplines and departments. Commercial people, technical people and creative people.

So who is responsible for making sure the new product converts?


If you’re producing the wireframes for the process flow and the page layouts, you’re heavily involved in conversion rate optimisation. Do you own it?

IT Development

If you’re writing the code that produces the pages and functionality within a process, you’re heavily involved in conversion rate optimisation. Do you own it?


If you’re responsible for driving the traffic into your site and ensuring as many convert (register, buy, subscribe, etc.), then you’re heavily involved in conversion rate optimisation. Do you own it?

You’re probably sensing a trend here.

Conversion rate optimisation clearly affects people across many areas of a business, making it very difficult to pin ownership on one department or person.

And when no one owns an activity, it usually goes one of two ways.

1.       It either gets neglected and doesn’t happen, or

2.       You spend a lot of time arguing and achieved nothing

So, how do you determine who owns it?

I don’t have a definitive answer – though I do have an opinion – but I’d love to know how it’s done in other companies. I know there are some very bright people out there who must have gone through this thought process before, so it’d be great if you could share your opinion in the comments.

So, my opinion?

I think you need to go back to a question I asked earlier:

Who is responsible for making sure that your product is converting as many of your site visitors into customers?

Who actually tracks and is measured by site conversion performance? Find that person in your organisation and you have your answer.From one company to the next that person could sit in different departments. In my current organisation it is a Marketing person, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me something different.

The department doesn’t matter as much as the person. They need to have an inquisitive mind, a need to delve in and understand why. They need to understand cause and effect, and what makes people tick. They need to be excited about the concept of continuous optimisation and grin from ear to ear when their percentage points trek northwards.

No true journey is best done alone however.

Conversion optimisation is at its most effective when a business and its people are working together to achieve it. Not wasting time about who owns it – that has been decided – but bringing together their talents and skill-sets in a coordinated movement to improve processes and designs in the areas they touch. So it’s a cultural thing too.

So, who owns conversion rate optimisation in your company? I’d love to hear your thoughts or about your experiences overcoming the same question. Or maybe you have a totally different way of viewing it – I can’t wait to hear that 🙂

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Gary Robinson is a UK digital marketer, who fell into this tech world by accident and decided to stay and play. That was 1999. He's still here. His current loves are conversion optimisation, mobile and tinkering with new technology. He also has a fondness for coffee.

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Posted in Business Performance, Conversion Testing
  • Rayanne

    Great post, Gary.
    Marketing seems to get a lot of blame and very little credit when it comes to conversion or lack thereof. The departments – the team – has to work together. Sales needs to follow the trail of marketing or marketing’s work has been for naught. Too often the departments are mal-aligned in effort – and THAT is where the biggest problem exists.

    It is imperative that each team member / department knows what the other is contributing and respecting that. No one is going have conversion placed on their table on a silver platter – that expectation has ruined many a start-up, as well as major corporation.

    I think the answer will be different for each company, but in my thinking – a claim of ownership is a death knell. For unless you can do it ALL alone, it is a join venture.

    • ‘Ownership in #CRO is a death knell’ is an interesting perspective, Rayanne, and I understand your reasoning. I think strong communication and cooperation between departments is essential for conversion optimisation to be successful – or for any aspect of business, for that matter.

      I just think that you need someone (or some people) to be ultimately responsible for it. Whilst it requires many people to be involved, across different disciplines, you need someone who is looking at the big picture, aware of the objectives and goals, planning, monitoring and measure the tests. Without that there is no direction and progress with be hampered by miscommunication, overlap and conflicting activity.

      But as you say, this is a joint venture. There are many involved, you just need a head to steer the body.

      Thanks for your comment, Rayanne. I appreciate your contribution. Please feel to stop by and add your thoughts any time 🙂

  • Across the companies I’ve worked with over the last few years, usually it’s someone in either a ‘Head of Ecommerce’ or ‘Ecommerce Director’ who owns it on retail sites.

    One or two have had people whose job it is. That seems to be most successful where that person is willing to get involved in loads of projects & step on peoples toes. It seems to be less successful in companies where everyone has been ‘cogged down’ to very specific roles, and people are protective about their own projects.
    Sometimes individual projects/tactics are then owned by particular people (eg. A/B testing or MVT, basket abandonment, transactional email, ‘lines per order’ projects or responsibilities).Most I’ve worked with have been clever enough to realise that ‘conversion rate optimisation’ is a tactic among many others to increase revenue/profit from the site, and that in some circumstances, working purely to optimise the topline conversion rate can be counterproductive. For example, the ‘conversion rate’ of PPC for example is far less important if you’re managing it on a ‘cost per newly acquired customer’ basis, or on pure ‘ROI’.

    Though I’ve seen a couple of sites who have been silly enough to take it a dogmatic approach, and have ended up doing things like cutting off generic PPC as it doesn’t convert as well as brand, not realising how counterproductive this is.Across the job sites I’ve worked on, it has been the ‘Digital Director’ who has been responsible. I like the ‘average number of visits containing one or more job application’ number for job sites as a measure of conversion rate. It also highlights how the different channels all fit together nicely.

    •  Thanks for the comment Dan, that’s interesting insight.

      I do wonder if its taken more seriously on retail sites, where £ in and £ out are probably more closely monitored than on sites where the customer action is not always strictly financial.

      Where I’ve worked and the businesses I’ve encountered, its primarily been the responsibility of marketing people, but as a component of their role. For instance, PPC and email marketers do this as a matter of course. It’s product development that can be more challenging, as typically there are more people involved and from different disciplines.

      And as you’ve said, the more important things are 1) to be testing and 2) be testing / measuring the right things. That’s why I’m keen on having someone championing it, even if many people are involved.

      And I agree, for job sites that’s a good metric to track.

      Cheers Dan



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