A new year always spawns lots of “top tools” articles and blog posts. Being human, we like shiny new objects.
We should be on the lookout for ways to be more effective and efficient, but just because a tool is new and shiny with new features that leverage the latest doesn’t mean it’s better for you.
Don’t be a fool or be fooled by claims that sound too good to be true. Don’t pay for new capability you don’t need.
More might mean more complex. Often, less is more, because you can start using a simpler tool faster, and benefit quickly from the tool.
Strive for the right fit. Ask yourself how it will be better for you and your organization – the structure, process and learning that has been built up around an existing tool to make things work is typically undervalued.
For analysts, better tools are better if they can reduce repetitive work and free up time for more thinking (i.e. analyst brain work).
At this time, there isn’t a tool out there that can replace a human analyst’s brain.
Automated tools can replace simple reporting by an analyst, but not complete analysis and opportunity discovery. Tools help an analyst get the answers to their questions faster, but tools can’t ask good, relevant questions.
All too often we hear “What can Google Analytics tell me?”
Our answer is a question “Well, what do you want to know?”
If they don’t know, we ask …
“What do you want to know about your visitors? Your website? Your campaigns?”
It takes training, time and experience to master this practice and become a master craftsman. Focus on uncovering value, not delivering metrics, numbers, tracking or reports. Don’t be afraid to ask why.
If you want to boost your analytics know-how and avoid pitfalls that might make you look foolish, here are a few actions you might consider:
- Join the Digital Analytics Association (more) and ask questions of experienced members at local chapter meetings or in the only gated forums.
- Find local meet up groups, such as Toronto Data Science (more).
- Take training or courses, particularly one with follow-up discussion support for participants. For example, to help with application and context, our two courses on Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager coming up in February, have group and individual coaching options to help those who don’t have the support of a larger analytics team in their day-to-day work discuss the broader context of process and organization.
The toughest problems with practicing analytics don’t have anything to do with tools; the toughest problems tend to be organization and change management. The analytics tool part is easy by comparison.
Photo credit: growthebusiness.me