If you’re not hearing from your data analysts, it could be that everything is fine, your website humming along like clockwork. But that’s not really a safe assumption to make. The last time an analyst brought you news that there had been an unexpected failure in data capture, you might have been understandably frustrated, and some of that frustration might have ended up being directed at the analyst. How eager do you think that analyst now is to go looking for problems?
I’ve worked in digital media and marketing for almost two decades -- but I’ve only been on the data side for a few months, since joining Tracking First. There’s an astonishing amount to absorb! As I’m going through it in real time, I’ve decided to write down my observations. It will be fun to check back in a couple of years, to see how my perspective continues to change. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
I’m guessing that it might have been some time since you last played musical chairs, but you remember how it works: count the number of kids, set that number of chairs, minus one, in a circle, range everyone around the chairs, and start the music. They move warily along the perimeter, sometimes hanging back, sometimes rushing forward, until the music stops. At that point there may be shrieking, jostling, possibly shoving, and then the dust settles: all the chairs are filled, and one dejected child is left standing.
I got a chance to sit down recently with our CEO, Craig Scribner, to ask him a few questions about his past work as an analyst and about the factors that prompted him to found Tracking First.Click here to read Part 1, about founding the company.JR: You've worked as an analyst for most of your career. How do you see the role of data analyst changing?CS: With an increasing number of tools like ours, I hope to see analytics folks move away from being data compliance gatekeepers and become core players who provide insight.
I’ve worked in digital media for almost 20 years, with 15 of those years working for an online news publisher supported by advertising. I can tell you that 15 years of watching thousands of ad buys of all sizes and campaign launches of all types, and seeing the subsequent click results, gives you a sixth sense about which ad campaigns are going to generate a response and which will miss the mark entirely. Below are some of the typical traps that vendors fall into in their digital marketing. Almost without exception, these will make a campaign tank. If they seem obvious to you, take comfort that many other vendors are still repeating these mistakes. And rest assured: even though I know these truths in my bones, I still need to be reminded occasionally, too.
Manually managing 20 separate campaign code spreadsheets, and manually testing links in batches of up to a hundred at a time -- that was how Hilton’s senior digital analyst was spending her days. In the process of each campaign rolling out, she devoted primary resources to ensuring the compliance of other team members: making sure each marketer and e-commerce manager understood the rules about who was meant to use which codes, and managing permissions and exceptions. These tasks were made more daunting because of the company’s complex code structure, leading to a cycle of training, manually checking links, and fixing mistakes (hopefully pre-launch).
Too often, the analytics professionals you hired to provide insights and analysis end up spending their days plugging up holes and cleaning up spills. They came on board ready and willing to realize their potential and contribute to the success of the venture, and instead they’re doing work that manages to swing back and forth between tedious and frantic, and is anything but fulfilling. If they could spare a few minutes to look up from all the codes, they might wonder how they got stuck.
What is the optimal structure of the marketing organization of the future? That is the question I discussed today with a senior director for digital analytics at a Fortune 500 company. We agreed that the eventual answer is yet to be defined and could vary somewhat between large and small organizations. Even so, one thing is clear: the landscape is shifting quickly, with digital analyst roles proliferating and becoming increasingly specialized by channel. There is enormous variation in the new marketing structures currently taking shape, particularly in large marketing organizations.