If the question, “Name the department which owns your company’s website” were a Family Feud question, the number one answer would be different in every 100-person group surveyed. Some groups would say IT, some would say product marketing, some corporate marketing, and others brand, product management and even sales.
A passionate and principled argument can be made for any of these departments based on many factors, including company size, industry, product type, goals, resources and skills. However, the way to establish the best ownership model is through evaluating and answering a few key questions:
Where Are You Selling?
This is the most important question. If a company has a product that a customer can purchase online, then the owner of the website should be the person or team responsible for the ecommerce revenue budget. If the company is selling something offline through a sales organization, then the owner of the website should be the team responsible for the pipeline generation budget. Typically, this is the corporate marketing team, which also includes the design, creative or brand team.
Related Article: Can Your Website Still Be the Backbone of Your Digital Experience?
What Are the Capabilities of Your Web Platform?
This is going to be a controversial topic to address, but the technology that supports your website is going to determine who is capable of owning the website.
If you have a home-built website without modern web technology, it’s unlikely that the average marketer would even be capable of owning the website. In that case, you need an IT owner who can support the complex technical requirements.
If your website is built on a modern CMS or DXP with no or low-code capabilities, then it’s very possible that someone without any technical knowledge could easily manage the day-to-day operations of your website.
How Technical Is Your Marketing Team?
The modern marketer has been forced over the last five years to become increasingly more technical. This has resulted in more marketing departments taking over ownership of websites and more marketers becoming versed in basic coding languages like HTML and CSS. If your marketing team members have a development background, it’s much easier to consider handing ownership of the website to marketing.
Without a marketer with technical chops, it’s almost impossible to consider marketing the owner of the website. While marketing might own the copy and design, the true owner must be IT if IT is required for all updates, regardless of complexity. In companies where the most important component of the website is a portal, an IT ownership model may make the most sense.
Related Article: Do CDPs Really Make Marketers Independent of IT?
Do You Have an Internal or External Creative Team?
The reporting structure of your design and creative teams can be a big influence on who owns the website. The team that owns creative heavily influences the website, as design and user experience is such an important part of your website. As mentioned, design, creative, and brand often live within the corporate marketing department, however if this function is outsourced through product marketing, then that could be a deciding factor in who owns the website.
Website Ownership Deserves the Correct Team or Individual
Given how visible and public your website is, chances are that many employees throughout your organization want to claim ownership, or more likely, try to influence the content and strategy of your website. As with any key initiative, having well-defined roles and responsibilities leads to the successful accomplishment of business goals. For this reason, and those above, make sure that website ownership lives with the correct team and correct individual within your organization. This team or individual must have goals aligned with these responsibilities and must be someone who truly cares about your website visitor’s experience.
Justin Sharaf is Vice President of Marketing at Jahia Solutions, a global Digital Experience Platform (DXP) provider with customers in over 20 countries. With a background in analytics and technology, Justin believes that building a core foundation of data and technology helps optimize marketing programs and empowers marketers to be more effective and efficient in their jobs.