Analyst skills for effective Web analytics

You’ve invested in Web analytics tools but feel the output from the tools is interesting but not truly helpful.  Rest assured you’re not alone.Communication

Many organizations discover the standard reports provided by their Web site analytics tools provide interesting high level information and lots of detailed drilldown capability but there’s a gap between “data” and “insight”.  They find custom-designed reports and targeted analyses are necessary so that:

  • Key reports or dashboards flag opportunities or issues at a glance.
  • Different, concise reports provide useful insight for different functional departments striving for different goals.
  • Specific key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined to measure progress towards goals.
  • Implications of the numbers are included in timely regular reports.

To be successful, organizations need both quality Web analytic tools and capable Web analysts.  Jupiter Research has found companies that effectively use their Web analytic tools to improve their business have one Web analyst for every 12-15 “individual consumers” of Web analytics.  One individual consumer is one person.  If a Web analyst is trying to meet the needs of 30-40 people, they’re probably mechanically cranking out reports, unable to provide timely dialogue, interpretation and insight to their business partners, which is necessary for improved business decisions and performance.

Effective Web analysts are business analysts, not Web technology specialists.  They have to be able to integrate Web traffic insights with other sources of Web visitor information, such as surveys or transactional database information.  To trigger meaningful changes from the insights gained from Internet data, they have to be able to help marketing, sales or service people properly interpret visitor behaviour, design new performance measurement programs, and build effective business cases for change.

What makes a good Web analyst?  A Web analyst is a business person first, analyst second, technology person third.  An effective Web analyst:

  • Is an experienced business person with a broad understanding of the organization and its business.
  • Willing and able to learn about new areas of business, new research techniques and new technology.
  • Understands the technical aspects of the Web sufficiently to increase the mutual understanding between business and technology groups, so that they work more effectively together to leverage Web analytic data.
  • Understands statistics and market research to be able interpret Web traffic data and responsibly integrate market research findings from surveys, usability studies and interviews.
  • Must be comfortable working with detailed and diverse sources of data and capable of effectively summarizing and presenting information.
  • Effectively communicates upwards with senior management as well as laterally with functional marketing, sales, service and technology groups.  Provides just the right amount of information with appropriate, relevant interpretation.
  • Thrives on being a manager of change, facilitating conflicting objectives, resources and viewpoints.
  • Has sufficient influence to encourage a supportive learning culture because:
    • Results from Web analytic data will not always be positive.
    • Web analytics flounders when numbers are used to punish past ignorance.
    • Web analytics flourishes in environments that celebrate new learning.

Where do I find a Web analyst?  If you have the opportunity, the best place to look for a person is within your own organization.  Grow your own Web analyst from the areas of marketing, sales or business analysis.  Organizational knowledge is more important than technical knowledge.  Online Web analytics training courses are now available through the University of British Columbia.  Any knowledge specific of a particular Web analytics tool can be acquired through a training course or consulting contract with your analytics tool vendor.  Outsourcing can help bridge the knowledge resource gap for requirements analysis, KPI definitions, report construction or ramp-up training.

If you have to hire, hire a business person with proven capability to challenge the status quo and effectively implement change; someone who thrives on data, loves problem-solving and is energized by continuous learning.

Contact us to define more concretely the Web analyst skills mix you need to meet your current and evolving Web analytics needs.