Web Analytics Career Advice

The past couple of months I’ve been seeing more and more discussion about breaking into web analytics as a career.

There are plenty of articles out there with great career advice.
Jim Sterne recently put together a list of resources and links for starting a career in web analytics.

I don’t want to repeat what others have already said, but I do want to add some fodder for thought that I don’t seem to be seeing other people mentioning.

As I mentioned in my previous post about selling web analytics, web analytics is just a tool.
A means to an ends.

Think of a carpenter’s tool box – hammer, saw, screwdriver, drill, etc.
Yes, you need to be proficient using these tools to be a good carpenter, but the point is that you’re using these tools to make something!

Which brings me to my point.

In order to be successful in web analytics, you need to “make something with your tools”.

You should be using web analytics in order to provide value, specifically providing actionable information.

In order to provide information that is actionable, you need to have a good understanding and some real world experience in the realm you’re trying to improve.

While many online activities can be optimized using web analytics, here are some categories that are commonly optimized using web analytics.

  • Website Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Paid Search
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Online to Offline Marketing

Each of the above topics can and should be using data in order to improve the results.

A common “life-cycle” using web analytics to improve something is:

  1. What happened (make sure you’re measuring everything that needs to be measured)
  2. Why it happened (analysis of the data together with domain expertise)
  3. What’s next (domain expertise on how to make improvements)
  4. Start over again

For example:

What happened
The bounce rate on our homepage is 68%. Domain experience tells you that this is abnormally high and can/should be reduced.

Why it happened (analysis of the data together with domain expertise)
Looking at the homepage I see it’s way to busy. Two column layout with equal size columns makes it hard know what to focus on. No clear headline and multiple competing calls to action.

What’s next (domain expertise on how to make improvements)
Split test different layouts, calls to action, headline, amount of content.
Ideally you should be able to provide recommendations for the actual variations to be tested, and not just say you should test this.

So, if you want a career in web analytics, you need to become proficient in one or more of the above topics so you’ll know how to answer the questions “why it happened” and “what’s next”.

It’s not enough to just tell people what’s broken -
You need to tell them how to fix it.

As always, comments are greatly appreciated.

- Ophir

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About Ophir Prusak

Web Analytics and Optimization Expert

4 Responses to “Web Analytics Career Advice”

  1. Hi,
    This is Lokesh, I want to make my career in web analytics field, Thanks for wonderful explanation, it really game me one more dimension to think about the way an analyst should give recommendations.
    Thanks a lot.

  2. Nice write up Ophir. I like the toolbox analogy.

    I also think that if one can answer the questions you’ve posed they are thinking about analysis in the right way (at a strategic level). From a tactical standpoint I think those starting out should take some time to get comfortable with Excel – especially things like lookup and index formulas and more. For those of us doing the day to day analysis excel is where we spend a lot of our time.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Web Analytics Career Advice « Analytics Impact -- Topsy.com - October 14, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joe Christopher, website analytics, website analytics, SEO Goblin, Theo Steward and others. Theo Steward said: Web Analytics Career Advice « Analytics Impact: So, if you want a career in web analytics, you need to become prof… http://ezi.li/cAkSdU [...]

  2. Twitter Chatter: Web Analytics Career Advice - February 1, 2011

    [...] Web Analytics Career Advice You may have the tools but do you know how to use them?  A career in web analytics needs the knowledge to use your tools to explain the what, why, and what’s next to your clients. Related posts:Twitter chatter: Getting started in web analytics: career advice Getting started in web analytics: career advice So you want… [...]

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