Analytics Mission Statement and Team Structure

Analytics Mission Statement: “Bring data to the masses and make data-driven decision making a reality”

How do you build an analytics team? Tell your manager you need money to measure social media! No seriously, I heard it’s easy to hire people, everyone on the “interweb” is “social media experts”. For some of us, we have multi-channels analytics need, SEM, Display Advertising, good ole fashion Direct Marketing and a whole bunch of other internal data we need to deal with. Building a team could be quite daunting.

Before I starts the usual blah blah on how to do hiring, I want to share a story.  In the not so distanced past, I had my career review(here at the mother ship we take it seriously), the memorable feedback I received stand in my way of promotion is leadership. “You have excellent management skill, Meng; but you need to improve you leadership” said my manager.

What is Leadership? For me, leadership is to have vision, to anticipate future growth and direction of the company, have the courage to take calculated risk and execute. So…do you have the vision, courage and patience to bring ass-kicking analytics practices, insights and in turn “mucho mullah $$$” to your company? Do you have the courage to take calculated risk? Be the Hokage of your clan, leads your ninjas to bring insights to your organization against the corporate hacks, bureaucrats and simple-minded marketers (I kid, I kid, I am a marketer at heart). Have you been wrong many times? If you haven’t, it’s time you try something new because you haven’t been “A/B testing” everyday and doing your “MVT”. In fact, My A and B both sucks many times!

Our team has very rigorous process of setting yearly commitment tied to precise deliverable. Having a analytics mission statement help guides me to focus on the right thing and not waste resources. I know mission statement is corny, I don’t care, I am writing it anyway. My team’s mission statement is “Bring data to the masses and make data-driven decision making a reality”. Here are a few sub-objectives to bring more clarity to that mission statement:

  1. Build a sustainable data infrastructure (must..resist..the knock..Google Analytics) to measure multi/cross-channels digital marketing ROI. I have two types of audiences: a. the big bosses, you know, the gazillions Directors, GMs, VPs around here. b. the marketers and agencies. For the big bosses, we deliver “BI” and KPI, for the marketers, we delivers data (see #2). We build platforms and tools to enable marketing operation, reporting and analytics, share best practices and improve Go-To-Market efficiency. For example, we build our own data warehouse and segmentation tools, our own marketing process management workflow tool and execute our direct marketing, all in-house because scale is the challenge with everything we do here. Our scale is enormous in comparison to other companies, we collect petabyte of data, from which I need only a few drops of marketing traffic, a strict qualitative ROI model would’ve #failed as our primary objective is still mainly to build brand. We have our internal awareness and perception tracking system to measure traditional media such as TV ads and brand improvement. We use comScore and Compete for research, out of those insights we then have to build targeting capabilities, it’s useless if we can act on these finding.
  2. Knows where my team fit in and build efficient organization structure. I am part of centralized Business Intelligence and Customer Intelligence team, we serve both product management and marketing and I am on the marketing side.  On the marketing side, each marketing department from different business groups have their own marketing analytics people, they are our partners. The reason behind this structure is ..well, it’s your money, if you wasted it buying $20 CPC keyword because your relevancy and quality score sucks, well it’s your fault. Simple as that.
  3. Review and improve our processes, conduct researches on various marketing campaigns and channels, share best practices across different business groups. Publish training and information so that marketers worldwide can efficiently leverage our capabilities.

Now I have a better idea on what type of resources I need to deliver my commitment. I have databases to maintain so I need a SQL expert. I have campaign sites to tag so I need an instrumentation consultant. I need to pull data regardless of what all the expert say, so I need reporting robot. Lastly I need “Analyst”, my ninjas, the one who dig into the data and find the golden nuggets. I am ready to build a team. As you can see, my needs are very different from yours, so my team would be very different from yours even though we are in the same analytics field of work.

If you have a mission statement for your team, I would love to hear it. If not, maybe it’s time to create one.

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3 Roles in Web Analytics

Despite slow economy many companies are hiring web analysts. A quick search on, a site that powers the Web Analytics job board on my blog, shows that there are currently 2,007 open positions and, 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

What is a HiPPO?

web analytics hippo
Web Analytics HiPPO

HiPPO, as it relates to web analytics, is an acronym for “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” or “Highest Paid Person in Organization”, the term is widely used and made famous by Web Analytics guru Avinash Kasuhik (Not sure if he actually coined the term).

Many in the web analytics community believe that a person in Highest Paid Position is generally wrong because that makes random decision based on intuitions and instinct rather than data.

Creating a Culture of Web Analytics

All those who have worked at companies which never used or do not use web analytics to make decisions about site changes, know how difficult it is to create a culture of web analytics. It is very hard. Building a culture of web analytics is a grueling uphill task.
After working with various client I have found that reasons for not using web analytics vary from company to company, some of the common ones are:

  • Gut feel has always worked or at least it seems like it has worked
  • It is an additional step in the process
  • New skills are required to use web analytics. They feel they don’t have the required skills for using web analytics
  • Fear of accountability i.e. now I will be measured and I don’t like that
  • The reports that they got in past were pretty useless
  • They didn’t believe in web analytics data because they have no clue on how the data was collected
  • They don’t understand how web analytics can help them
  • They don’t understand what web analytics is

The first reaction of many newly hired analyst/analytics manager is to start talking about KPIs, reports, what web analytics can do etc. But before you start digging into the data and analysis and start to talk about KPIs, dashboards etc. you need to understand the root cause of why analytics has not been used in the past. Understanding and tacking those issues will give you a better platform to build the culture of analytics on.

Here are few things you need to do before jumping into KPIs

  • Identify various stakeholders, who could benefit from web analytics, in the company. You don’t have to have a comprehensive list of every person but some that you think could immediately benefit and you can immediately help is also a good list to start with
  • Get a meeting with them, individually or grouped together in groups based on their roles/departments etc.
  • Agenda of the first meeting should be to understand why they have not used web analytics in the past and what they would like to see from web analytics group. Don’t talk about KPIs yet. This meeting is about hearing them, if they talk about goals, metrics etc. then fine but don’t jump to discussing KPIs
  • Make sure they understand that there will be a follow-up and you are there to help them not to use numbers to find faults. You need collaboration. Don’t let other people’s opinion about HiPPOs put you in an offensive or defensive position
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting to go over you analysis of the past meeting, address any concerns/issues that are preventing them to use analytics

The goal of this exercise is to make people feel confident that you can truly help them make data driven decisions without jeopardizing their job. You understand their concerns and are willing to address them.

During this process you will also find out who all (groups/individual) are more willing than others to help you build your case and will provide you small wins that you can use to garner more support. If you have an executive support e.g. your bosses boss then leverage that to help you.

At the end,remember, every company is different. The culture is different, challenges are different, political structure is different so it is critical you understand all those elements. It is not going to happen overnight so be prepared for a long rocky journey.