3 Reasons I'm Not a Web Analyst

I’ve been proud to call myself a web analyst ever since I realized there was a title for it. It’s an emerging field full of talented people. Frankly, it’s the future of business management, and a web analyst possesses a critical skill set and mentality for any company to have.

I’ve come to realize, however, that I can no longer call myself a web analyst. There are three main reasons for this conclusion. Continue reading “3 Reasons I'm Not a Web Analyst”

Future of the Web Analyst

Tomorrow’s web analysts will look very different from today’s.

Being a web analyst today usually means being lonely. Most companies don’t hire full-time analysts to work onsite. They hire consulting agencies or they hire a web analyst and make them do SEM work on the side (or vice versa). In the few companies that do hire a full-time analyst, that person ends up being by themselves. That means being lumped into an existing organization that doesn’t make sense (IT, marketing, new media, etc.) and needing to defend analysis and recommendations alone. Continue reading “Future of the Web Analyst”

Web Analytics Careers: 4 Great Blog Resources

Career chat has always interested me.  When I was a new college grad I spent a fair amount of time in my alma mater’s career services office, getting advice as I prepared to make a start for myself.  I’m glad I did it.  The career counselors liked me enough to use my resume as an example for other new grads, and I managed to land an internship at a multimedia CD-ROM publishing company (which, back in 1995, was so totally cutting edge).

After more than a decade out in the workforce I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about my strengths, preferences and motivations when it comes to my career.  But I also know that career planning didn’t end when I left my college campus – it’s something I must always keep in the back of my mind.  I like hearing about how my peers are handling their own career choices, and I think it’s a productive thing for us to talk about with each other.

So I’m planning to write about career-related topics, now and then, in this blog.  Before I get started I’d like to acknowledge 4 fellow bloggers who’ve already written some great web analytics career-related material:

  1. Alex L. Cohen
    I appreciate Alex’s enthusiasm – right now he’s doing an interactive marketing tip-a-day for the entire month of November [really, Alex, even on Thanksgiving?].  Occasionally he writes about career-related issues, including this piece on how to write a good web analytics resume.
  2. Stephane Hamel
    As Stephane was contemplating his own impending career move he wrote this very compelling post on the importance of doing regular career self-evaluations.  I liked it so much I wound up using it in my presentation on career management at eMetrics.  Neither Stephane nor I can fly a kite too well, but luckily that’s not a requirement for our line of work.
  3. Avinash Kaushik
    Oh, what’s not to love.  I wouldn’t say Avinash has written about careers, though, so much as he’s written about the flip side of the coin – hiring.  I thought this post about whether to hire fresh blood or old hands was especially good, and you can see from the comments that many of his readers turned it around and talked about the issue from the job candidate’s perspective.
  4. Anil Batra
    Anil has compiled a whole collection of interviews with web analysts; as of this writing he’s accumulated 32 career-related posts.  I’ve really enjoyed reading the interviews – just to get a sense of who “we” are – but I think they could be equally valuable to someone who’s contemplating an entry into web analytics.

Read what these fine gentlemen have to say, and read my blog, too.  I think there’s still more we can and should talk about when it comes to careers in web analytics, and I aim to be a part of that conversation.

Originally posted at: http://june.typepad.com/june/2007/11/web-analytics-c.html

How to grow your web analytics skills (within your current role)

If you are an analyst looking to further develop your skills, what can you do (within your current role) to further grow and develop? Here are a few of my thoughts, though I am certain there are many others.

In no particular order …

1. Interact with others in the industry

  • Join Twitter, follow your web analytics peers. Twitter can be an amazing educational resource if you use it for something other than “I ate a ham sandwich today.” You get to hear about the challenges that analysts working with different business models or analytics tools face, what is going on in the industry, what the vendors are saying and perhaps new functionality they’re releasing.
  • But more importantly than reading what others say on Twitter: contribute. Voicing your views will force you to think them through. And everyone disagreeing with you (it will happen one day!) will be a great learning experience to see those other viewpoints.
  • Go to Web Analytics Wednesdays
  • Take the time to go to lunch/happy hour/etc with your peers within your company and “geek out”. While you may work in the same company, your responsibilities and experiences may still differ, and you can learn from the experiences, thoughts and views of others.

2. Take advantage of free learning opportunities

  • Attend free webinars. There are so many out there (you’ll find out about them through Twitter, blogs etc) and they can be a great resource
  • Attend free trainings (yes, they do exist. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from MicroStrategy about free one-day trainings.)

3. Attend conferences

  • This one can be tougher if your employer doesn’t support this. However, make an argument for why it is of benefit to the business. Trust me, the vendors give you plenty of information about how to sell their conference to your company!
  • If you can swing the cost, you do have the option to pay for it without your company’s support (or “financial assistance”) …!

4. Volunteer

  • Join the Analysis Exchange, a program that brings web analytics students, mentors and non-profit organisations together, to give more web analytics experience to the student and analytics assistance to the organisation.
  • Know a friend/family member/co-worker with their own site? Blog? Small business site? Volunteer your time to help them set up a free web analytics solution, and take time out of your schedule to analyse their site on a regular basis. Don’t know anyone? Why not start your own site? It doesn’t have to be big. It also doesn’t have to be about web analytics. But it will certainly give you a taste of analysing a different type of site, as well as some of the challenges of getting traffic!
  • Volunteer to work on things outside the scope of your standard role within your company. Is there a project out there that you think analytics could help with, but no one is asking for help? Volunteer it!

5. Read
6. Read
7. And then read some more

  • There are a lot of great books out there. Start with one. (A hint: If this sounds completely dull to you, and you can’t imagine anything worse than reading about analytics in your spare time, really take a look at whether you are in the right field …)
  • Read both corporate blogs (e.g. web analytics vendors: Omniture, Google Analytics, etc) and those of your peers
  • Ask your peers for their recommendations of books, blogs, journals, magazines, articles, etc
  • But don’t stop just at web analytics books. Start reading about related fields. Product development. Design. Usability. Marketing. Social media. Statistics. Even cognitive psychology!

8. Keep your eyes open to what employers are hiring for

  • Sure, maybe you’re happy where you are at your current company. Maybe you don’t feel you’ve extracted all the learnings you can from your current role. (That’s a great position to be in!) But keep your eyes open for what positions are out there.
  • Why? Seeing what employers want will allow you to keep a mental checklist of what skills you need to improve on, prior to your next promotion or job change. Better yet, think about what you want your next move to be, and monitor the companies that are hiring for that type of role. What are the requirements and responsibilities they have for it? This ensures you’re working towards filling those requirements in the future. You can’t grow into a position if you don’t even understand what it involves!

What other advice would you give?

[Originally published at MicheleHinojosa.com]

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started in Web Analytics

I remember what it was like to walk through the door at my brand new job, my very first job as a web analyst, wondering what I’d gotten myself into. In retrospect, what did I wind up learning the hard way? What would been helpful to know up front? What should I have been prepared to expect? With that in mind, here are 10 things I wish I knew when I started in web analytics:

  1. You will sit between the techies and the marketers. Figuratively, and maybe literally. Make friends on both sides of the fence.
  2. You will learn all about your business. Not just the stats part. Not just the web part. The work you do in web analytics will only make sense once you’ve put it in the general context of your business.
  3. Ahem, what is this thing you call a “Visit”? Know your standard web metric definitions by heart, and be able to recite them concisely for people who ask. They will ask.
  4. Dirty, dirty, dirty. Numbers won’t match, they won’t add up, they won’t make sense, sometimes they won’t even exist. Know how much dirt you’re willing to live with, then accept it and move on.
  5. You will learn to love the query string. You will come to see it as a beautiful haiku. You will know it backwards and forwards. You will repeatedly explain its usage to people who need to append campaign codes to URLs.
  6. CSV stands for “comma-separated value” … it’s a file format, every data analyst’s friend, and – inexplicably – it doesn’t even have to be comma-separated. Huh.
  7. Operators are standing by. Know the support hotline number for your commercial web analytics vendor of choice, and don’t be afraid to call. If you have one sticky note on your monitor it should be that number. Actually two sticky notes. The other one should say, “Patience is a Virtue.”
  8. Don’t fall into the “report monkey” trap. Manually-repetitious activities are not a good use of your time, so automate wherever possible. Strive to spend your cycles doing thinking fellers work, and leave robot work to the robots.
  9. You are not alone. Right now there are other web analysts sitting at their own desks, somewhere between the techies and the marketers, and they’re facing exactly the same issues that you are. You will meet them at Web Analytics Wednesday.
  10. Think long-term. From the very beginning, think about where you want your career to go and make every effort to develop in that direction. Your entry-level position in web analytics can/should/will lead to other things, so know what you’re targeting and go for it.

Originally Posted at: http://june.typepad.com/june/2010/03/index.html

 

Looking to fill your Web Analytics or Online Marketing position?  Post your open jobs on Web Analytics Job Board.

3 Roles in Web Analytics

Despite slow economy many companies are hiring web analysts. A quick search on Simplyhired.com, a site that powers the Web Analytics job board on my blog, shows that there are currently 2,007 open positions and indeed.com, another job sites shows over 4800 open positions. That is a huge number.

However, many job seekers I have talked to feel frustrated because most of the jobs have a laundry list of requirements and they don’t feel that they are a right fit for most of these open positions. A lot of “Web Analytics” job openings ask for many of the following:

  • Experience in online marketing
  • Experience in Web Analytics
  • Experience in – Google analytics, Omniture, Webtrends, Coremetrics etc.
  • Experience in implementing Omniture, Google Analytics, WebTrends etc.
  • Experience in A/B and Multivariate testing
  • Experience in Search engine optimization
  • Experience in search engine marketing
  • Experience with SQL
  • Experience in email marketing
  • Experience in Social media

The mismatch in what a company really needs and what they are asking in the job requirements is a cause of frustration on both ends. The issue really stems from lack of understanding of what web analytics is and what role a web analyst need to play in the organization.

Most of the companies looking for a “web analysts” are in one of the following three stages of web analytics staffing

  1. They don’t have any tool but they realize the need and are looking for someone who can help them with “web analytics”.
  2. They just installed Google Analytics or were sold one of the other paid tool but are not getting much value from their web analytics tool. They need an analyst to help them do “web analytics”.
  3. They already have a web analytics tool installed and have a web analytics team. Since the company is now using web analytics to made business decision they need to hire one or more analysts to support the growing demand.

Companies falling in the third stage know what they are doing and usually narrow down the requirements. They are usually clear on what kind of person they are looking for.

Companies who fall in stage 1 and 2 above are the ones who are usually not clear on the role of a “web analyst” and hence create this laundry list of skills. Hiring manger looks at few job openings posted by other to get an idea of what a “web analyst’ should do. She then includes all the buzzwords and sends the requirements to HR or the recruiting company. HR screens the resume and if the keywords shown above do not appear on the resume the resume is rejected. As a result, companies loose several good candidates while candidates loose many good job opportunities.

3 Roles in Web Analytics

If you are a hiring manager, you need to understand and thoroughly evaluate your need before opening the job req. This will help you remove the noise from requirements and find the best candidate for the job. To make your job easier I have categories web analytics work into 3 job roles.

  1. Implementation Specialist/Engineer

    If you are looking to implement a web analytics tool then you will need an Implementation Engineer. Implementation Engineer is usually the one who manages implementation of the web analytics tool and/or maintains ongoing implementation changes. This is a technical role. For this role you will need a person who has experience in implementation of the web analytics tool of you choice (Note: Tool Selection is a complex process and you should hire a 3rd party consulting company to help you with it if you have not already selected the tool). An implementation engineer generally takes the business requirements and converts them into technical requirements for the web development team to implement the code on the pages. Implementation Engineer works closely with “Web Analyst” (described below) web development and QA to ensure that correct data is collected. The right candidate for this role understands how internet technologies work. She needs to have a good grasp of JavaScript (most of the web analytics implementations require JavaScript tagging). She might also need to understand how to integrate various data sources together. For many companies, once the tool is implemented there might not be a daily need to make changes to the tool so it might make more sense to outsource this function to a web analytics vendor, agency building/maintaining your site or a web analytics consulting company instead of hiring a fulltime person.

  2. Reporting Analyst

    Are you doing web reporting or web analytics). If you are looking for someone to pull the data from your web analytics tools or other reporting application then you need to hire a reporting analysts. A lot of the companies confuse “web reporting” with “web analytics”(See my blog post titled Reporting analysts usually understands the interface of the various tools and can pull the data that is required by other stakeholder. A reporting analyst might need to have SQL skills to pull the data from databases. Some organizations might need a person who can make pretty scorecard and charts. For this role, it is good to have a person who has experience with the tools of your choice but don’t make it a deal breaker. If the candidate has worked on any of the web analytics tools then she can usually get trained in other web analytics tools. Determine what other tools do you have and what skills might be required to pull the data from all these tools, that you might need for you reporting and then write the job requirements.

  3. Web Analyst

    This is more of a business role and truly a web analyst’s role. This is a person who can make sense of the web data and drive insights to impact the bottom line. She will provide business requirements to the Implementation Engineer to work on and will use reporting analyst to get the data for analysis. Web analysts are inquisitive and analytical, they question the data to come up with the story that the data is telling. Web Analyst has the ability to understand and analyze various data pieces such as competitive, qualitative, web analytics, social media, financial etc and drive business changes. Web Analyst should also be able to run A/B and Multivariate tests to improve website performance. Depending on the size of your organization and A Web Analysts will not be afraid to stand in front of executives to explain and defend their findings. If you are looking to get actionable recommendation and drive business changes based on web analytics data then you need a Web Analyst.

Hope this will help you in properly wording your job requirements and avoid the frustration of not filling the positio

Read more: 3 Roles in Web Analytics – Web Analytics, Behavioral Targeting and Optimization by Anil Batra http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/08/3-roles-in-web-analytics.html#ixzz1G8UjaJ8W

Skills Required for a Web Analyst – Part II

This is the second part in the two part series of “Skills required for a Web Analyst“. You can read the first part at http://optimizationtoday.com/web-analytics/skills-required-for-a-web-analyst-part-i/.

Here are some of the responses from :

“To me, the Web needs three ingredients: clear business objectives, a communication strategy and the technology to support them. The best web analyst would be savvy and top of the line in all three… which is probably impossible to find. But everyone can rate himself on a virtual scale and see where they stand and where they want to be.”
Stephane Hamel, Web Analytics freelancer and creator of WASP tool

Curiosity and enthusiasm. I know these aren’t skills so much as innate qualities, but I believe if you can go a long way as a web analyst with curiosity and enthusiasm. If you are genuinely interested in what you’re doing, it shows.”
June Dershewitz, Vice President Semphonic

“Analysts work at various levels — the most fundamental level requires some understanding of basic statistics, such as linear regression, seasonality, and simple trend forecasting, combined with an understanding of how the web “works.” In other words, what do we know about browsing behavior, combined with cookie deletion probabilities, web server caching, and other artifacts of the web experience, to put our data into a reasonable context, from which we can draw useful conclusions?

Beyond that basic level, though, is an understanding of organizational politics, and some fluency in “managing your message” so that the analysis you’ve worked hard at creating actually influences managers in making better decisions. Otherwise, you’re just creating “doorstop reports,” that don’t help your organization, and don’t really justify your efforts.”
WDave Rhee, Analytics Country Manager, Germany, OX2 / LBi Group

“I think 2 of the biggest skills required to be a web analyst is to be able combine technical skills along with business/marketing skills in order to understand your customer’s goals and provide value to them. Secondly you have to be passionate about what you do, if you don’t like what you’re doing you will not give 100% effort.”
Manoj Jasra, Director of Technology at Enquiro

Skills Required for a Web Analyst – Part I

Web Analytics is one of the hottest career fields and it is becoming very hard to find experienced web analyst. One way to counter this shortage is to hire the people with the skills them could eventually make them a great Web Analysts and then train them in the Web Analytics.

So what are the skills that you should look for when hiring people who don’t have years of Web Analytics experience? This was one of the questions I asked when I interviewed a few of Web Analytics professionals (Note: these interviews were conducted about 3 years ago but the answers are still relevant). In this 2 part series I have compiled their responses, which should help you in understand what skills you should look for when hiring a web analyst. If you are trying to enter or switch to the field of Web Analytics then this should give you an idea of what skills you need.

Here are some of the responses:

I believe that an ideal Web Analyst should poses blend of Business and Technical skills. He should be articulate and understand the online business quickly.
Trinadh Rao, Country Manager Web Analytics Association, India Web Analytics Manager at Franklin Templeton

A great deal of tenacity and, being sharp enough to make the connection between right and left brain items.
Daniel Shields, Web Analyst at CableOrganizer.com

In my opinion a web analyst needs to understand the data and site dynamics of their particular website. Should have decent technical knowledge, good customer focus and attention to details. Should intuitively pick insight from an otherwise burgeoning deluge of data.
Jaisiri Chetty, Asst. Manager (Insight), Tesco.com

In terms of education any advanced course in statistics should work as a passport to Web Analyst job. He/She should be genuinely good at collating different industry information.
Apurba Sen, Product Manager at Rediff.com India Ltd

A sense of abstract thinking and Art (seeing the whole picture at once) is important for Web Analytics work.

I think what a lot of companies are asking for has nothing much to do with what is needed to be truly effective. In order to be effective as a Web Analyst you don’t usually need a degree in statistics or be trained as a rocket scientist (yet that is what all the job descriptions I’ve seen ask for – like a big long laundry list) you need the ability to understand what some one needs to measure, what the goals are, and a technical mastery to the tools, the web analytics platforms being used. The least important thing is to know the tools beforehand – because anyone can learn them fairly quickly who is not brain dead (yet this is precisely what most interviewers ask for first – knowledge of the tools)

The most important thing, in any job, is being effective in the job you’ll be hired for –being trusted, that you can deliver what say you can deliver on…and a lot of that is based on trust, on conveying confidence, conveying authority. The technical part is more like the icing the cake, as far as I’m concerned. I go for rapport, gut feeling, intuitive knowledge and visualization of what my clients want and need, and even what they don’t know to ask for, but which they still need…I try to give them…and this is not just at IBM, but all my work is done like this.

You know you’re effective when you’re allowed to work on the “big problems” in your organization. It’s a feedback loop. You need to get trust of higher ups so they’ll let you get the relevant experience that actually makes you valuable in the marketplace (so that you can “move up”). The paradox is, believing in your self first, is necessary in order to get any kind of trust and buy in so that you’ll be allowed to work on the big stuff.

You also need people to like you – and for some people, that’s easier to achieve than others. I won’t say that people that are disliked are not effective – they can be also, but they’re probably miserable and less effective than if they were liked.

But none of these skills is actually what is asked of you in an interview – yet some interviewers will make note of them, nonetheless and the one’s that do are the one’s to work for.
Marshall Sponder, Blogger at Webmetricsguru.com

More to come in part II.

Original Post: Skills required for a Web Analyst – Part I – Web Analytics, Behavioral Targeting and Optimization by Anil Batra http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/02/skills-required-for-web-analyst.html#ixzz1FkEREDmq

Starting a Career in Web Analytics

Web Analytics is one of the hottest fields these days. A lot of people are planning to switch careers and many students are looking to start their career in Web Analytics. This article is to help people who are looking for a career in this field.

Skills required to be a Web Analyst

First and foremost you need desire and passion to be a web analyst. Desire and passion will get you where you want to go. I believe (and this is my opinion only), if you have the desire and passion then you can acquire other skills. Not everybody will agree with me but again that’s my view.

Other most important skill that you need is Analytical skill. If you are a person who always looks at the problem from a different angle than most of the other people, you have what it takes. If you can put different pieces of the puzzle together to form a complete picture you have the skills to be a web analyst. If you can critically look at things, you have the skills.

Other Skills and education that will come in handy are
1. Business
2. Marketing
3. Statistics
4. Technical

You don’t need a college degree but a lot of employers look for it and I look at it when hiring a candidate. Business, Marketing, Accounting, Statistics and Technical degrees will be very helpful in getting you the job but I have seen Web Analysts having diverse educational background.

Learning about web analytics

There are several resources available to learn about Web Analytics. There are several blogs on Web Analytics where you can get all levels of information on this subject.

First and foremost you should join WebAnalytics group on Yahoo. This forum is a great source of information. You will find all levels of web analysts in this forum. This is a free for all forum, even if you want to stay on sideline and just read message, you can learn a lot. If you have any question on this subject, feel free to ask at this forum.

Books that you should read:

1. Web Analytics Demystified
2. Web Analytics An Hour A Day
3. The Big Book of KPIs
4. Web Site Measurement
5. Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics
6. Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer

Note: I just added a list of books on Web Analytics, you can check them out at Web Analytics Bookstore

If you are prefer to learn in formal way then I recommend, the course offered by University of British Columbia. You can learn more about this course at http://www.tech.ubc.ca/metrics/curric.html. (I am one of the associate instructors for this course). This course is offered in partnership with Web Analytics Association (WAA)

Reading blogs, articles and whitepapers is another way to expand your knowledge. Most of the blogs are of advanced nature, so I would recommend you familiarize yourself with the Web Analytics field (see above) before reading these blog. Two of the blogs that I recommend are Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik and Web Analytics Demystified by Eric Peterson, the author of the books mentioned above. Both of these blogs have a list of lots of other blogs on Web Analytics. The more you read the better you will understand this field. Also check out Post Rank for a list of Web Analytics Blogs.

Twitter: At twitter, you can find a list of web Analytics folks and topics by searching for #measure.  There is also a list of twitter users in the web analytics community at http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-view-on-twitter.html.

Gaining Practical Experience

Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics) has made it real easy for anybody to get a web analytics tool. This tool is completely free with all the documentation to help you get rolling. If you have a website, deploy this tool and play with it. This will help you understand how web analytics tools and reports work.
To gain further experience, tap into your network, I am sure somebody (a friend of a friend of a friend…) will allow you (especially if you are willing to do it for free) to provide reporting and analysis on their site (real site).

Another great resources is Analysis Exchange. Analysis Exchange has created a training ground for new analysts all around the world.

There are several companies who are looking for entry level analyst. You don’t need any experience, all you need is desire to learn and grow. They will hire you, train you and provide the support to help you grow in this position.