Does your Web team have a split personality?

Does your Web team have a split personality? Does half the reside in IT and half in Marketing?

I have worked with many organizations and most have tried having the Web team report within Marketing – I’ve run these departments. The problem is something just seems to be missing…so the decision is made to move the Web team to IT in the hopes that the technical knowledge contained in IT will boost the performance of the group.

Wait a few years and the poor Web team will be saying good-bye to all their new IT friends and returning to Marketing so they can push out the message and track reader responses.

Here are 5 reasons Web teams bounce between Marketing and IT like corporate ping-pong balls:

  1. Neither Marketing nor IT do what the Web team does – base their performance on an integrated mix of technology driven communications. Marketing MBAs and hard nosed practitioners alike are focused on creating the message and spreading the message and analyzing the results of the message, but not on leveraging the latest technology to entice the reader to follow the message through the Web site funnel.
  2. IT has a great understanding of the technical issues related to the Web server, intranet portal applications and security issues. These are important skills to include in a Web team. The IT group may even have php and javascript programmers, but they often lack an understanding of how people use the Web site.
  3. IT often plans and executes on week, month or even year horizons. Some Marketing organizations seem to live in constant crisis mode, bouncing from one idea to another. They come to pride themselves on the ability to dodge corporate bullets to the point that they aren’t carrying out campaigns but guerrilla tactics – and they do so with pride.
  4. When the CMS constrains the Website so it looks 5 years old, the Web team often is yanked out of Marketing and sent to IT. When sales or sign-ups dip, the team is sent over to Marketing.
  5. When the Director of Web Services is a creative who has no clue or budget to implement analytics the team is sent to the technical gurus. When the CIO is criticized for a site that is never hacked but also outdated in appearance and functionality, the team is sent back to Marketing.

There is an answer to this constant back and forth and it surprises me that to this day, very few organizations have figured out that it takes expertise in Marketing strategy, knowledge of marketing to move site users through the funnel AND the latest development in server technology, security and heavy programming to create a site that increases online sales revenue and sign-ups. It takes a group with the expertise of both marketing and the underlying technology to be effective. Organizations need a Chief Digital Officer to who can be an ally of both the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer. When the CDO is accepted, welcomed and advocated by the CMO and CIO because their colleague lets their teams do what they do best  – then the Web Services Group will finally be able turn out sites that will bring real value to the organization. Smart CIOs and CMOs will embrace their new colleague but the happiest of all will be the CEO/President because the Chairman of the Board of Trustees will be fielding all those calls from delighted stakeholders.