Web analysts are among the most sought-after people in digital. But what makes a great web analytics manager? What separates a rock star from a mere analyst? Adrian Kingwell, MD of Mezzo Labs, shares his insight.
2014 has been touted as the year of web analytics. Companies, at last, are hiring. They need experts. They need web analytics rock stars. So with salaries sky-rocketing, CVs are starting to look like bingo scratch cards with the names of every analytics tool under the sun splashed across them, in the hope of attracting some attention.
And it’s all because there is a shortage of good, honest, experienced web analytics managers.
So, how do you tell a good web analytics manager from a web analyst? Or from someone who is playing buzz word bingo? What qualities separate the great from the rest?
I have interviewed at least two web analytics managers per week for the past year and have spotted four key attributes that the best have.
1. Depth of knowledge
Much has been said about T-shaped individuals – people who have depth of knowledge in one specialist area (the vertical stroke of the T), and breadth of experience across different business disciplines (the horizontal stroke).
Depth of knowledge is the first essential characteristic of the web analytics manager. 90% of the CVs that come across my desk mention web analytics tools, but that often means logging in and pulling a few reports. Shallow knowledge.
By depth of knowledge, I mean a comprehensive understanding of the tool. Google Analytics is ok, but you really need Adobe SiteCatalyst, Webtrends or one of the other heavyweights to call yourself an expert. Can you correctly tag a page? Can you create a custom report in Webtrends or SiteCat? Do you know what your web analytics tool can do… and more importantly, what it can’t do?
2. Breadth of understanding
This is where the horizontal T stroke comes in. Can you translate business requirements into the correct technical solution? Specifically, I look for an ability to question. To get underneath needs and requests. To properly understand what the marketer is trying to do, and then to propose the right solution for that need.
Good web analytics managers have often had a previous job in the content team or in the acquisitions team. It is not essential, but it really helps them understand those needs. To have experienced the daily pain of your customer.
So I look for experience and the ability to question, and to get your head around business challenges.
The ability to focus is one of the most important indicators of future success. People who can focus are most likely to produce extraordinary results. People who don’t focus are more likely to make mistakes and let their team down.
Focus ensures that the details get nailed in analytics projects. This is one of the few professions where it pays to sweat the small stuff. “Good enough” is not something you want to hear from a web analytics manager.
Some insider knowledge: If you have a list of 20 tools on your CV, you can’t possibly be an expert in all of them. You’re telling hirers that you can’t focus. They don’t want to know what you have dabbled in – they want to know what you are *great* at. Winners hire experts, not generalists.
As I run a small analytics agency, it is essential that my candidates only want to work agency-side, and to work for a small one. Client-side or agency-side? Make your mind up **before** the interview – don’t say “I’m curious so am exploring the options”. And then I want to know **why** you have chosen that career path. Don’t fake your answer. Motivation comes from the heart, not from the head.
Then I need to see passion. Is this a job you do because it pays quite well, or do you do it because you love it? What excites you about it? What do you think is the next big thing in analytics? For great web analytics managers, this is not their job. It is their career.
Lastly, a word of warning. A lot of candidates ask “what training do I get”? This is a red flag to many hirers. It may signal an employee who only wants to get trained and then leave.
At Mezzo Labs, by the way, we give the best possible training that anyone could want: a constant supply of interesting challenging client projects, each one an opportunity to learn, practice and hone your analytics skills in the real world. You will be taught how to do each task by web analytics rock stars and they will coach you how to be great. You will learn by asking questions and doing. We may also put you on training courses, but usually so you can be certified.
So in summary, Depth, Breadth, Focus and Motivation are all key performance indicators. But at the end of the day there is one person who can make a great web analytics manager. And that’s you.