This article was first published on April 29, 2015.
The web analyst profession has recently emerged out of the digital revolution, but remains mysterious and rather abstract for many. Well, we work with web analysts on a daily basis and know what’s on their minds… including the comments and questions that annoy them to no end!
1. Web analyst? What’s that?
Integrating into the company is not always easy for the web analyst. From day one, he or she might face suspicious looks and probing questions from co-workers unfamiliar with new “data-driven” practices. But if you’re here reading this article, you’re surely already familiar with this problem – you’ve probably already heard:
“That’s really a full-time job?”
“Oh, OK. So… you plug stats into tables all day, is that it?”
2. So… you’re a geek dabbling in marketing? I don’t need numbers… I’ve got strong intuitions…
This is surely one of the worst-offending phrases to a web analyst’s ear. His or her role is not to substitute numbers that take the place of intuition – it’s to help confirm and support (or refute) those intuitions. Taken together, Data analysis and intuition can be a powerful force for reducing the margin of error, and inspiring new intuitions.
3. Yeah, but you can tweak the numbers however you want, anyway…
“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”– Ronald Coase. Let’s admit it, this is pretty much true. But this is precisely why the web analyst’s job is important – he or she guarantees reliable, objective data analysis. Studying and interpreting data is a profession that requires honesty and impartiality – not brutality!
4. Uhh, no, I didn’t add this campaign in our analytics tool… Why? Was I supposed to?
No, no problem at all. You think numbers grow on trees?! No campaign set-up in the tool means no numbers. No numbers means no insights. No insights… well, you get it.
5. You want to define KPIs? First tag the site, then we’ll talk objectives.
It’s kind of like waiting to get a sunburn, and then putting on sunscreen… a real bright idea. Defining the objectives and indicators that will be necessary to tracking the evolution of these objectives must clearly happen before starting any production. Come on, people!
6. When you’ve got 2 minutes, can you please get me all the numbers for this campaign?
Campaign? What campaign? If the web analyst does not know about it, how do you think he or she can give you the relevant stats? And… in 2 minutes? Come on. That’s impossible, even for Jack Bauer. The web analyst must be involved from the very start of the campaign – this way, he or she will not only be able to advise you on the most relevant KPIs to use, for example, but will also be able to analyse campaign results for you.
7. I want to measure everything that can be measured.
Measuring everything with no precise objectives is not the solution. Defining KPIs is an early and essential step in order to find out what you want to know. Because the point here is not to collect as much data as humanly possible – it’s to target the most relevant data for each person, the data that matters most, the data that leads you to learnings on your implementation strategies, the data that enables you to adjust the resulting decisions. Too much data can lead to decision paralysis, which is why the web analyst must put the right filters in place.
8. You don’t have a performance indicator that sums everything up?
This is a recurring question, unfortunately, which illustrates the ambiguity surrounding this new-ish profession. Nope, sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is no: A performance indicator that sums it all up does not yet exist. We draw insights from cross-comparing and cross-calculating data, examining context, and identifying correlations between several indicators. In this way, it’s possible to get what we want to know from the data, to determine trends and factors in success or failure, for example, which then guide our strategic decisions in the most effective way.
We dedicate this to all the web analysts! Now it’s your turn – leave a comment to share the most annoying questions or remarks you’ve heard. Do tell!