The best department for CRO

Elise Maile
Nov 19, 2018 · 4 min read

If you’ve read my article on why you should be bringing your Conversion Rate Optimisation in-house (as opposed to hiring an agency) then you maybe wondering where to position CRO within your business. Let me suggest 4 departments your company probably already has and why CRO fits well within each of them (or none of them.)

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Analytics

Conversion Rate Optimisation uses data to determine what to test and how to measure whether an experiment was a success or failure. By positioning your CRO within an analytics team you’re creating a central point for all the data in your business.

I suspect your analytics department is already sharing reports about traffic numbers and conversions. Adding A/B test results to those reports means one less e-mail to send. It ensures that results are shared with all relevant parties, and it demonstrates how the business is working to improve the data they’re reporting on.

Being close to the number guys is a great place for a CRO specialist. It’s a department that already has tons of insight for optimisation to draw from. As an added bonus, analytic departments usually have stakeholder buy-in already, so adding CRO to the team ensures managerial support from an early stage.

Product

As experimentation processes within a business matures, many product managers want to test the viability of new products. Is there interest from the user? Does the new product function as expected? How can we get more users using the new product? Many A/B testing solutions now offer server-side testing solutions so it is possible for products to be switched on and off from the back-end. This allows product managers to actually measure the impact of one feature vs another or to cautiously launch new products.

There are also CRO methods to test new product ideas without requiring engineering to do months of work. Commonly known as ‘fake door’ tests, this involves gauging interest in a new feature by placing the call to action on the page, but after interacting the user is told this feature is still-to-come. It’s a way to find out if users would engage with the product before investing the time & money into building it.

CRO fits well within product teams because as a business develops a culture of experimentation, A/B testing becomes more aligned to product development. Optimising existing products and checking the viability of new products. Many tests are ran for product teams, so why not position them within the same team?

Marketing

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Personalisation is still big news. It’s a major aspect of conversion optimisation — 44% of consumers say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalised shopping experience. Marketing are already personalising e-mails and are looking for ways to continue those experiences onto the web. CRO can help to complete that cycle by re-targeting users and creating a personalised experience.

Campaigns are a huge focus for marketing departments. When large numbers of traffic are driven towards landing pages for campaigns, it offer a prime opportunity for A/B testing. If CRO optimises those landing pages, they can capture insights which can be reused and iterated upon for future campaigns. The fast paced nature of marketing sits perfectly with the ‘test & learn’ motto that many conversion rate optimisers live by.

IT/Engineering

There now exists evidence that more complex test variations win twice as often* as simpler tests. So it’s worth considering placing your optimisation specialist or team within your engineering department.

It’s well recognised that developers often distrust testing software, after all, the purpose is to manipulate the existing website. Any problems and A/B tests are (in my experience) the first to blame, no matter how open your communication has been. And with page speed being a hot topic, oftentimes the A/B testing solution is the first tool blamed for a slow load time.

By sitting optimisers next to developers those communication channels are left wide open. CRO can talk about what tests are running and why. Explaining how they are benefiting the engineering teams (ie no unnecessary development.) Code tips for speed and efficiency can be shared, and complex tests become a collaboration between CRO & developers.

Stand Alone

Alternatively, your Conversion Rate Optimisation specialist can simply sit under a broader ‘Digital’ title and own their own department. CRO has to work with many other teams as we’ve seen. Creating a central point for optimisation could be the most transparent and approachable way of running tests.

Conversion Rate Optimisation can ultimately grow to become its own team. Focusing on customer insights, UX, analytics, personalisation and testing. A utopia where any colleague can suggest an experiment or share something they’ve learnt. A place where data comes first and all hypothesis are fleshed out and tested before put into practice. This is the definition of a true culture of experimentation.

Conclusion

Whether you’re hiring your first conversion role, restructuring teams or managing a digital transformation, there is no perfect department for CRO. They will need to dip their toes into different areas of the business no matter who they sit next to in the office, so ensure communication channels are open. It’s up to you to determine the best fit for your teams and individual employees.

Elise Maile

Written by

Conversion Rate Optimisation and Personalisation specialist.

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