Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!

WelcomingCircle I got an email the other day with this simple question: "How do break into the world of web analytics?"

Actually I get that question almost every single day. :)

The interest is not surprising. There is a ton of excitement about web analytics. Companies are starting to think innovatively about the web (no more unintelligent banner ads or digital "crimes against humanity"), and they are starting to understand the power of data to delight customers and drive accountability.

I've said repeatedly that if I look into the next xx number of years Analyst is essentially a recession-proof job. In our field specifically, good Web Analysts will continue to be in high demand, for any conceivable time period. [Therein you see one way to "break into" analytics, or anything really, you have to be good!]

If you want to "break in," or if you've already "broken in" (welcome!) but desire greater awesomeness, here are some tips on taking a step back, thinking things through, and being strategic about your approach. . . .

#1: Figure out the optimal career path for you.

This might seem odd. Not asking you to jump into JavaScript classes or make love to Yahoo! Analytics or start pimping your resume left and right.

Why before what. Always.

It only takes two minutes of talking to most current "Web Analysts" in the world to realize that they actually are:

    A. Web Analytics Implementers (they obsess about the latest tweak to the Omniture JavaScript code to eek out one more little bit of lemon juice)

    B. Web Analytics Data Reporters (99% of their effort is taking in requests and working with above folks and simply regurgitating data out)

Before I go on I must stress that both are much required roles, without A you've got nothing, and without B most corporations would not function (as they believe sending data out is all it takes to be successful).

But neither role is that of a Web Analyst.

Having been around the block several times in several roles on all sides (practitioner, consultant, team leader, vendor, advisor) I've distilled the web analytics field into four distinct roles. Each requires very different sets of skills, delivers very different career paths, and, of course, leads to different salaries.

So first really, really, really understand what your actual skills are, and then, second, identify which of of the four career paths (at least initially) is the right fit. If you do, there will be happiness (forget money, at least initially, and focus on happiness). If you do, there will be progress in your career as you start (and you can always evolve).

How?

Read this post and the step by step process: Analytics Career Advice: Job Titles, Salaries, Technical & Business Roles. For each path it outlines Career Prospects, $$$ (Salary) Prospects, Long Term Job Title Growth.

On page 392 of Web Analytics 2.0 you'll also find this summary of the four paths, in a simple 2×2 matrix:

web analytics jobs matrix

The numbers are there to give you a point in time perspective. They are there mostly to give you contextual guidance (between paths).

Remember:

    1. The best path for you is the one you have the aptitude for.

    2. Think of the four paths not as one point in the matrix, but rather as a dominant role with some (small) shades of the other.

    3. If you don't figure out what your best (dominant) path is, you'll be very miserable.

    4. Only one of the four dominant paths is that of a Web Analyst. The other roles are important in the world of web analytics, but they are not Web Analyst roles.

    5. You can evolve over time. Your choice is for the time horizon just in front of you – the next couple years.

So what is your dominant quest? Individual contributor? Team lead? And which facet are you going to focus on? Business? Technical?

Read the analytics career paths post (or a much updated version on Page 386 of Web Analytics 2.0) and figure it out, before you do everything below. And trust me when I say this. the process is not easy. Especially for people who won't be honest with themselves. But of course that is not you!

[Update: This blog post is overwhelmingly for those who want to become Analysts ("Business" in the matrix above). Hence I am a little biased in emphasizing analytical skills development and the acquiring of business problem solving skills from practical work. Technical skills are important, perhaps I am under-emphasizing them here. Please see Alex's dissenting view (to mine), it is important and please take it into consideration in your evolution.]

#2: Pick Your First Two Web Analytics Tools.

It might seem silly to close in this early on a tool, after all you barely figured out what your skills are. Sadly tools are so dominating in our world as the determining factor for so many things that it is wise to make this choice up front (for the first x amount of time).

For example, if you choose Omniture or WebTrends or ICoreNica as your tools. then your choice to get smart about them and smart about your career path will lead through training and certification via those companies. You can't have free versions or free education or books on the subject matter.  Let me hasten to add that these are wonderful tools; they are used by some of the biggest companies in the world who hire tons of people. So it is not features etc., it is how you are going to get your first job.

two stone paths

If you choose Yahoo! Analytics or Google Analytics or Piwik then you are a little better off in terms of your starting path. The tools are free. Anyone can download and implement them anywhere. There are books galore. There are very cheap trainings (YWA and GA) all the time if you desire. There are free sources like Conversion University (video, audio, more). So you can start on your own, tomorrow morning, get very good at the tool if you want to. DIY.

Important: Neither one of these paths is ultimately better or worse. Neither one of these sets of tools is superior or inferior, no matter what some silly vendors and some sillier consultants will tell you. Neither one will mean you will ultimately win or lose (see rest of this post). They are just different.

When you are starting out just make an explicit choice, simply because it will dictate your immediate next steps and, I cannot stress this enough, f o c u s!

I said two tools. Did you notice that?

Every Analysis Ninja I know (not implementers, not data providers, not excel cross data store integrators – all good jobs) is very, very good at Multiplicity (answering a complex set of digital business questions using the best – often non-clickstream source).

So in addition to becoming good at Omniture, Google Analytics, Baidu Analytics, pick one other tool from the Experimentation, Voice of Customer, Competitive Intelligence buckets of Web Analytics 2.0.

This will ensure two things:

    1. It will be a very, very strong signal to your future employers that you are not one of the numerous one-trick-clickstream ponies out there. You get the world we live in, you understand sophistication.

    2. You will start learning all of the awesome things I said above your skills / experience should signal!

If you can't make up your mind here are the simplest tools to pick up, primarily because they are easy to get into (and provide a lifetime of sophistication development). Surveys: KissInsights or 4Q Survey. Competitive Intelligence: Compete, Google Insights for Search, DoubleClick Ad Planner, Trends for Websites.

If you can't make up your mind do KissInsights and Insights for Search. It will teach you how complicated, hard, beautiful, datagasmic the world we live in is.

Pick two starting points. Start on day one knowing you are going to be a Ninja.

education books

#3: Get Educated.

Initial career path choice? Check. Initial tools focus? Check. Getting smart about it? Let's go!

Books:

    It might be old fashioned but I like starting with a book. Notice we are on #3 and I have not yet asked you to install anything! :)

    Buy two books.

    Get an overall web analytics strategy book, one that covers the ecosystem, the mental models to apply, key analytics techniques. essentially a "how to think" book. I would recommend my book Web Analytics 2.0 (in 5 languages!) or Steve's Cult of Analytics or Gemma's and Tristan's El Arte de Medir or Juan's Meta Analytics. [Important: If you have other suggestions that are current, please add them in comments. Thanks.]

    Get a really good tool book. For Yahoo! Analytics please get Dennis's book. For Google Analytics get Brian's book or Justin's book or Timo's book (in German). While some things (like UI) about tools change over time, these books are your best, structured bet at learning about the tool and the power at your disposal.

Blogs:

    There is no doubt that the most current knowledge exists in blogs (yes, yes I know that the fad of the month is Twitter & Facebook, for someone starting to build a career the most current distractions exist there :)).

    Pick two blogs.

    Pick one practitioner blog, someone who can teach you about web analytics (thinking, approaches, pure practitioner education, complete lack of generic stuff). There is a very long list in the blogroll on the right navigation of this page (and every blog post on this blog).

    Pick the blog of the vendor you've chosen previously. Every decent vendor in the world has an active blog teaching their practitioners how to use their tool. My favorite is the Omniture blog. It is the prefect balance between pimping (a little bit) and teaching (a lot).

    A list of my personal favorite top ten blogs are also in the right nav of this page (in the blogroll section). You'll notice they are a mix of Marketing, Design, Analytics, Critical Thinking blogs. A clue as to what I personally think it takes to be successful.

    Two blogs are not overwhelming. Really read both that you pick. Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Certification Courses:

    If you want to jumpstart your education (and this is in addition to the above, not a replacement) consider taking a course with Market Motive (Disclosure: I'm the co-founder), University of British Columbia or the University of California at Irvine or Universite Laval. If you chose GA earlier, consider taking the Google Analytics IQ certification exam (the educational materials are free, the exam is $50).

    My experience is that structured courses teach you how to think. None of them (okay except GA IQ) teach you how to use the tool. When you are starting out that is so important. Once you get sucked into s.vars and e.props and events and all that crap it is very hard to get your head to rise to a strategic thinking level, business analysis level, the things that really matter level. So if you can afford it, take a certification course.

    You don't want to spend two years on this (look for fresh content); find the fastest three or six month jump start (because you'll still have to do the above and below).

University / College Level Courses:

    For a career in Web Analytics you don't need a special degree (at least not yet). I've hired people with no college degrees, forest rangers, financial analysts, database programmers (as long as they have an analytical bent of mind). But if you don't have any exposure to Statistics then I strongly encourage taking an evening / part time course in Statistics 101. If an institution near you provides a course in quantitative or qualitative analytics (even traditional analytics such as direct marketing or market research) then that is also well worth the investment. It will absolutely jump start your career.

The trick will be how to make that massive investment as you'll have to read your two books (one time at least!) and two blogs (continuously) and take one course.  So here's my recommendation: Read the web analytics strategic book while taking the three/six month course. Start reading the tool book when you start using the tool. Start reading the blogs when you get to the below.

haka all blacks maori dance

#4: Play In The Real World.

This is where everyone messes up. People show up at interviews having just used Omniture with no experience of any other Web Analytics 2.0 tools. They show up with limited theoretical knowledge or just the UBC degree.

Ain't gonna happen. The job. Won't happen.

You can learn everything there is to learn about fishing in a book, or at a University. You won't actually get any good unless you grab that pole and sit for hours on end on the water.

A free very good tool is available for every element of Web Analytics 2.0. Go get a site. Your mom's. Favorite charity's. Your friend's business. Your spouse's sibling on whom you have a crush. Or. . . start your own!

The specific details on how to really, really practice (without permission from your boss or your company or Guru) are outlined here: Web Analytics Career Advice: Play In The Real World!

Do it.

It turns out the greatest thing you can pour into becoming awesome is your sweat.

And don't stop at website data analysis. Remember you want to be a Ninja because they earn more money, get any job they want and are 900% happier than the average human.

I love Romy Misra's approach. She is taking publicly available data, (bravely) publicly doing analysis using tools like Many Eyes and publishing her results on her blog! Here are two examples:

Impressive is it not? It takes effort. It takes love. It takes a deep desire to get good. And yes you'll get something wrong (Romy's example), but can you think of a better way to learn?

And Romy, and everyone similarly brave, is not just writing a blog. . . she is creating the greatest resume a person can create. Think about that.

Don't wait for your boss to allocate budget. Don't wait for permission from your mom. Don't wait to sign up for a project. Don't wait to be picked. Don't wait. Go and play in the real world. Now. And if you want to stay good, do so constantly.

a rewarding maze

#5: Find Your First Web Analytics Job.

By now you've probably spent three to six months investing in yourself. In the latter part of that journey you've likely practiced using the Romy method or the Avinash method or the iamawesomesoicreatedmyown method. You have a publicly available portfolio of your work, no matter how small or basic.

Time to find a job.

Look in the obvious places. Dice (315 jobs today), Indeed (809 jobs today with salaries estimated over $100k!), Craigslist (82 in SF Bay Area) et al.

But don't top there, try less obvious options. . .

Look in local locations. Washington Post Jobs in DC (11 jobs). You have a newspaper in town right?

Look at associations outside your core area. For example SEMPO's jobs site (31 jobs). Or the DMA career center (240 jobs with minimum salary of $100k!).

Look at non-profit entities (who have paid jobs). For example my favorite idealist.org (272 jobs – some tangential. 252 North America, 11 Europe, 6 Asia, 1 Africa, 2 LatAM).

With non-profits you also have an option of just writing to them and offering to implement Yahoo! or Google Analytics and helping them with insights. If you are interested post / read NTEN Affinity Groups.

And don't forget the obvious hidden places. . .

Look at web analytics consulting companies. There are so many of them, literally exploding with growth, and looking for even junior people (especially those with a "public resume") willing to work hard. Reach out to them.

Look at the Google Analytics, Yahoo! Analytics authorized consultants. Choose your local geographic location in the drop-down, visit their site, bada bing bada boom!

Look at web analytics vendors. The industry is stuffed with people who started as junior / senior consultants with analytics vendors. Omniture, WebTrends, IBM, Google, and everyone else out there.

I am not going to mention friends and family as your best network to get jobs. You know that already.

I am not even going to mention company websites. You know where to check them. With companies the challenge is that they often ask for pink elephants, but don't let that deter you. Ensure that on top of the resume you send them is a link to your above mentioned "public resume." It is a great way to show your actual hard work and give the company some room to shift from looking for pink elephants to an enterprising person with a visible track record of hard work and learning investment. If you don't have a "public resume" then you might be in less luck than optimal.

Lots of places, lots of jobs. But. . .

Be open to contractor to permanent positions. Just don't pick a slimy placement companies whose core earnings come from having you stay a temp. I have done contractor to permanent (both in taking a job myself and hiring Analysts) and it has worked out well.

Be open to starting below where you were before (if you are switching careers). My first web analytics job came with a downgrade in job title (ouch!) and $14,000 less in annual earnings (ouch! ouch!). I was confident it was the right move. Joined. Worked hard. Both things got fixed astonishingly quickly.

Be open to the type of company you'll work for. For profit, non-profit, universities, Fortune 10,000, Forbes 10, B2B, B2C, A2Z etc., etc.

Bottom-line: Look everywhere, but mostly focus on the non-obvious, and even for someone starting out there is a job waiting in Web Analytics.

That is it. Five simple steps to "breaking into" web analytics.

The hardest are developing a true Web Analytics 2.0 skill-set / mental model, and creating your "public resume" (body of work).

You'll be busy with that for most of your first xx months. So before I close this post, here is a bonus item. . .

Bonus: #6: Avoid Massively Over-Rated Activities.

Your time is precious. I feel obligated to spill two "secrets" that you might benefit from as you plan your career. Here are two over-rated investments:

    1. Spending four hours a day tweeting and getting into loads of "conversations."

    Prioritize your time. And remember, I am going to Bing you before I meet you for the interview. It will find your Twitter feed. I will expect massively more from you if you are invited (and if your Twitter / Facebook feed was sub-optimal you are not getting the call – benefits of a social world!).

    If you have time, at least early in your career, invest in yourself education and evolution (see steps above).

    If you have four hours a day to tweet, take three and a half hours and invest in your long term personal and professional goals.

    2. Attending five analytics conferences a year.

    Maybe one or two, regardless of who is paying (you or employer). And if you've attend a conference this year, don't go to the same one two years in a row. The content simply does not change enough.

    Also, think Web Analytics 2.0, think breadth. Try other conferences: Search, Affiliate, Direct Marketing, etc. Seek analytics sessions, broaden your mind rather than let it rot by staying in a silo.

I am sure there are others I'm forgetting. If history is any guide you are going to oblige me by sharing them via comments below!

I want to close by welcoming your interest in a career in Web Analytics. I am immensely excited at its potential to transform companies and lives. It is a rewarding career from any perspective: work, salary, satisfaction. It does take a special kind of person who is willing not just to do the work, but love the work and love the special joy that comes from a day's hard work. All you need is the will.

Ok it's your turn now.

If you are new to the field. . . did you find this five step guide to be helpful? Was there a step you were not aware of? Are you executing your entry plan as outlined in the above priority order? Are you trying something else? What did I miss?

If you are an old hand. . . what advice would you share with someone who is just starting out? Which step above do you think is most important? What surprised you about your own career? What did I miss above in my guide?

Please share via comments. Thanks.

Comments

  1. 1
    Abhishek Agarwal says:

    Avinash – This is the post I was looking for. And I feel truly lucky that in the beginning of my long term web analytics career, I found this post.

    I started reading about web analytics 15 days before because of my one of the long term goals to become and independent consultant in analytics.

    I would say that you cover almost all the things but I would like to know more about the path a person should choose to become an Independent Consultant in web analytics domain.

    However as you correctly said above that one just need to go in the real world and play, I'll definitely gonna try that approach with the friends and relatives websites.

    Many thanks for your awesome help.

  2. 2

    Thank you Avinash as always a great post and with a lot of insights.

    Something that help me here at Perú is that we develop an association of web analytics companies and professionals.

    First you feel not so alone, then you share knowledge and ideas with people that came from different backgrounds and experience.

    I will share your post with my students at University and in the association. It will help us a lot.

    Have a great day!

    – – – –
    Note: If you are in Peru… Daniel's wonderful group is: http://www.webanalyticsperu.com Join him. -Avinash.

  3. 3
    Randy says:

    Great article as always!

    One thing under #5 that I think can't be understated (which is also sort of covered under the University section) is getting ANY analytical job at a company that you know is doing lots of web traffic/commerce.

    For me, I got into web analytics through making friendships internally with other analysts from all departments, stating my desire and my interest in websites/technology, and when an opening came up for a web analyst, I slid right in. Because I proved myself as a "non-web" analyst first, I didn't need to have experience doing web analysis…I had already shown I could solve *business* problems.

  4. 4
    Alex B says:

    I think we disagree on this point, but I think you're glossing over the technical aptitude portion a bit too much.

    It's true that once you reach a certain point of web analytics ass kickery, that the technical becomes of little consequence in theory, but in practice, most implementations that I see are such a heaping mess that some knowledge on how one can help out there is enormously beneficial for a number of reasons.

    Mainly, I find Technical aptitude is the quickest way to demonstrate credibility. Solving trivial (to me) issues in client tracking has opened doors/allowed me to speak more freely once the time for hard conversations are required.

    I am not insinuating that one needs to be a developer, but really, learning how to use a packet monitor and learning to debug a web analytics implementation is NOT hard. It opens tons of doors, and, at least in Canada, there is such a lack of the skill set that it will literally allow you to walk into any analytics role available– allowing you to get that real job experience.

    I totally agree that the analysis part is where all the value comes from– but in many ways, one needs to prove themselves before. In some cases, one needs to prove themselves without being allowed to look at the data. Demonstrating an intimate understanding for how the technology works, solving problems without even having access to their data, and in general, making yourself valuable before you even open the dataset is, for me anyway, well worth the trouble.

    Finally, if I see numbers that are "too good to be true", I can actually walk through the steps required to trigger those values and confirm, without outside help, whether my data/conclusions are valid. Not knowing how your data increments and taking WA data at face value, can lead to some horrendous decisions.

    • 5
      Aditya Srivastava says:

      Alex, I am not into web analytics – but I agree with you on the part of proving yourself first ; that being a little technical helps.

      It is quite true especially in countries like India, where you may be an building architect, but the proof of your ability may be in proving that you can (at least)oversee a building being constructed :-)

  5. 6
    Jayesh Pau says:

    Your post forced me to put lots of energy in improving my analytic skills using the right path.

    This is a very well written post with great advice… and thank you for the suggestions of book.. will sure buy english version. enjoyed your awesome post.

    Thanks
    Jayesh

  6. 7

    Great post! When I've tried to recruit newbies this is very similar advice but much more succinctly written :)

    One sentence I particularly like: "And yes you'll get something wrong (Romy's example), but can you think of a better way to learn?"

    It's important for us to be confident enough to fail…to keep trying new things without fear. I think that's tough for many analytics folks but very important to the growth of the industry.

    Thanks! I'm passing this one along!

  7. 8
    Matt Smedley says:

    Great write up Avinash!

    For your #4 point (Play in the Real World), I'd add that the Analysis Exchange is a great place for budding analysts to cut their teeth on some real world projects.

    All the best,
    Matt

  8. 9
    Kris G says:

    This post reminds me of when I started getting involved with clickstream data as a junior online marketing specialist some years ago. Web analytics and using the tools we had implemented were not found in my job description, and nobody asked me or expected me to get involved in the numbers, but I took it upon myself to validate my own marketing efforts by tagging ads and seeing the results in Google Analytics.

    From then I haven't looked back! Using your blog and Brian's book I tripped and fell into what has turned out to be a pretty successful career just by using a little initiative. And even though I've furthered my career since then there's still a few steps I need to take to help stay relevant/competitive!!!

    Thanks again for helping me evolve my career :)

  9. 10

    I found myself nodding in agreement with every point, until I got to the list of "massively over-rated activities" and I went from agreement to "WHAT THE HELL IS AVINASH THINKING!?!?"

    I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of someone attempting to break into analytics and if I read point 6.1 "Spending four hours a day tweeting and getting into loads of "conversations." I take it as "wow, ok, I shouldn't even mess around on Twitter until I have a million followers like Avinash."

    I think it would be helpful if you wrapped some context around that statement, as I don't think you are saying not to spend time on Twitter. For me, platforms like Twitter, are extremely important components in career development, regardless of the current level you are at.

    More and more people are being hired based on trusted connections. Gone are the days where resumes and 'help wanted' ads ruled the landscape. Engaging in conversations on Twitter and other social network platforms CAN BE a great investment if done the right way and can connect you with people that can help turn you into a hero.

    Education takes many forms, not just universities, books, blogs, etc. Following the right people on Twitter can provide a rich source of educational opportunities.

    When people come to me asking the same question, one of the very first things I tell them to do, before defining a career path, before learning tools, before buying books, is to connect with the community and start having conversations.

    My industry influence, especially when compared to that of a giant like Avinash, is near zero but I feel really passionate about this point so I felt motivated to comment.

    -jason

  10. 11
    Landin says:

    Great post Avinash. Especially in analytics, there is always more to learn and different perspectives. Getting educated , no matter at what level, is one of the most important elements to become successful.

  11. 12

    Passion, is the main ingredient. Also one of the best resources I have is to think in another way: if I had my analytical tools in the real world, what would measure? What would my KPI's? When I see people enter a shopping plaza my log is activated and heat map and start to tell reasoning and purchase motives and bounce: D Besides, I think that the Internet is a reflection of the real world and not outside analytical.

  12. 13
    Kenneth Kwok says:

    Hi Avinash, another great article and totally agree with it.

    One additional point I want to highlight is that we are moving beyond web but into digital. Also joining local event and share thoughts with other professional always a good way to learn how to cut and dice the data.

    Hope to see you soon!

  13. 14

    Thanks for the post Avinash – it's a good place to point folks who ask those questions.

    That said, I had the same reaction as Jason to the point about Twitter. I read it as "Unless you can blow me away, don't even bother." I'm not sure if that's what you meant, but I actually recommend getting involved with the Twitter community for new analysts.

    In my personal experience, I have found Twitter to be a valuable resource and a great educational experience. When I joined, it really broadened my world, took me out of "my company does X, our business problems, tool Y challenges" and made me think more holistically. I am not lying when I say I learned more in four months than I had in four years prior.

    There is a lot that people can take from Twitter that can then be applied in an analytics career:
    * Reading useful material. Our field is so new that while there are books, blogs are often going to be the most up to date information.
    * Talk to people – debate, ask questions, answer the questions of others.
    * Be challenged! Not everyone on Twitter always agrees with you, and having to explain your point of view (concisely!) is a great experience.

    I think it depends on the person's intentions. If the only reason you're on Twitter is hoping a potential future employer will see you, that's probably not the right motive. If, however, you're there to build relationships, engage, read and learn, it can be amazingly valuable. It's not that different to everything else in life – if you're just doing it so someone sees you and is impressed, you're not going to get much out of it.

  14. 15
    Ian Williams says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I think you know my thoughts on this…Analytics may be recession-proof but its unlikely to be law-proof.

    The EU laws on cookies (requiring 'opt in' for tracking, chiefly), and the expected moves in the US, will certainly hamper our abilities to make the very best decisions, as well as damage the accountability/headline stats that have proven so effective for securing management support for our work.

    Having said that, analytics is great – and one that is truly win/win: serving better websites to better meet your customers' needs.

  15. 16

    Alex: First and foremost let me thank you for adding your comment and perspective. As a holder of opinions, :), I welcome criticism and different perspectives. Thank you.

    You are absolutely right that my blog post does not cover technical development, career path or aptitude at all. It is overwhelmingly focused on those who want to become Analysts, and hence my overwhelming emphasis on the "business side" of doing analysis.

    I do not hold technical careers in web analytics in any less regard. In the matrix you'll note they have long career paths with very high salaries. Additionally as I said in the post, analysis would not exist without it. But technically oriented careers are not Analysts. And we need thousands upon thousands of Analysis in this field. We are under-appreciated in companies, we are not paid enough, our work is not impactful not because we don't have enough data. I have been smacked around enough in life that I am so biased in favor of analytical skills (I can always hire someone to do a clean implementation – there are so many people out there).

    You are also right that some knowledge of technical underpinnings is important. If you are an Analyst you should know a little bit about data collection mechanisms, you should know a little bit about how to be a leader, you should know a little bit about how to bean effective communicator. I place technical competency on the continuum. Would you agree?

    -Avinash.
    PS: Note that I have some javascript and custom variable and sprop skills, but they are pathetic. And I can still be an effective Analyst in my company because you are never more than an email away to rescue my sorry butt when I need technical help! :)

  16. 17

    Jason/Michele: I appreciate the perspective of your enormous social media success. Thank you.

    In this post I am encouraging a balance.

    If you can spend four hours a day having "conversations" on Twitter, do a full time job to earn a paycheck for 8 (the least to feed a family), watch tv, spend precious couple hours each day with your family AND you are able to invest 10 hours a week in investing in yourself when starting a new career than more power to you (and everyone else).

    I am hopeful people will get their priorities right. Hence my emphasis in 6.1.

    Ian: Ahh… a challenge (not just from you but from governmental agencies! :)). I love it.

    Analyst is a recession proof and law proof career. Even that of a Web Analyst.

    Facts: Privacy is important. Government will worry about it and protect us. Companies will evolve their practices to ensure consumers are comfortable (or there really is no future for the web).

    Predicting anything, especially about the future, is a dangerous exercise. But let me go out on a limb and say that there will always be a lot of data to analyze about our digital existence. It might be 100% anonymous. It might only be about a fraction of "unique visitors." It might only be for certain countries or campaigns or something else. But it will still be more than on any other channel on the planet and we, people who work in web analytics, will continue to be in huge demand to bring accountability to marketing, digital adventures, businesses.

    I am confident about that.

    -Avinash.
    PS: We will revisit this post in two years to see how wrong (or maybe right) I was! :)

  17. 18
    Rick Curtis says:

    Avinash,

    Excellent post. You have shocked and awed with the number of valuable resources mentioned in here.

    Quick comment on the various career path options…. Back in 1995, there were lots of job postings for 'Webmasters' in the classified section of newspapers. The job descriptions listed graphic design, HTML, ASP programming, connecting to databases, updating content, managing security, providing status updates, etc…etc… The 'Webmaster' wore multiple hats.

    Now, if you look at an enterprise, there are entire teams doing what that Webmaster did in 1995. You have .net developers, front-end designers, graphic designers, project managers, DBAs, etc..etc… Specialization occured.

    We're seeing that happen today with the Web Analytics industry. As it matures and you work in larger enterprises, there is a demand for more specialized services and therefore more specialized roles around Web Analytics.

    Because web analytics is relatively new, this may not be as apparent in smaller organizations yet and it may be awhile before it does appear there.

    Rick

  18. 19
    Albert says:

    Thanks for this great wonderful article in "Web Analytics Career".

    I'm still far behind in this new analytic concept. Have to look more and complete the certifications as well.

  19. 20

    I'm very much in agreement with every points (including the twitter thing!).

    The first place I'll look is LinkedIn, not Twitter. In fact, one could be a silent reader of twitter, the Yahoo! discussion group and blogs and yet be a pretty amazing analyst – that is… someone social implication in the small web analytics community doesn't have much to do with his or her qualities as an analyst. Other, of course, than being outgoing, ready to help, and sharing hard learned experience :)

    That being said, a couple of us have started list.ly on different topics (I love this service!) to share useful resources. Here's a couple and of course, everyone is welcome to vote, add and share!

    – Blogs: list.ly/list/5o-analytics-and-conversion-websites
    – Jobs: list.ly/list/AI-web-analytics-career-resources
    – Education: list.ly/list/AE-web-analytics-academic-resources
    – Conferences: list.ly/list/AH-web-analytics-events
    – Twitter: list.ly/list/AW-measure-twitterati

    Stéphane

  20. 21

    @Stephane you missed my point. I'm looking at this from the point-of-view of someone trying to break into the industry, not a hiring manager. As a hiring manager, I don't give a crap about what someone is or is not doing on Twitter.

    My point was, Twitter is a fantastic place to connect with people and to educate yourself about the industry. If you are using twitter to connect and learn, that is what is important, not sure how that message got misconstrued into using Twitter to establish your credibility.

    -jason

  21. 22
    Loy says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thanks for this great article. What took you so long to write this one? This is what I wanted to kick start my career as Web Analyst.

    Thanks again,

    Loy

  22. 23
    Mario says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you for this.

    Recommendation for German Language Books is that of Marco Hassler.

    For Career and Development I like the podcasts on beyond-web-analytics.com where Corry Prohens is interviewed (Episode: 10, 33, 35) and the iqworkforce.com and Blog with lot about jobs. For gaining more practice the participation at the analytics-exchance can be helpful. Then I like the catalog of required knowledge of the WWA-Certification. Because it give a kind of map what knowlegde is important.

    And I learned a lot with your videos on youtube with Nick. Your videos and other web analytics videos are a good way for education. For example this one youtube.com/watch?v=bpDxGrSqA-E
    Before I read your Book I watched this video and its a very good start.

    Thank you

    Mario

  23. 24

    Thanks very much, Avinash, for this excellent post.

    I really liked how you said, "forget money, at least initially, and focus on happiness." My father said the same thing to me, "Do what you love, and the money will come." That is great advice, and hopefully that philosophy will lead to a lot more analysts out there who are incredibly passionate about what they do. One day these people will change the way everything works, forever, and for the better.

    Before I say anything more, let me begin by stating I am an official representative of Adobe Client Services for Omniture technology in social media venues. I am available to anyone for help and support with Omniture products.

    Here's one thing I wanted to add to your post: To any readers who pick Adobe SiteCatalyst (or other products in the Adobe Online Marketing Suite as well) as one of their two tools to learn first, I wanted to share a link to further information about training resources that Adobe offers:

    https://www.onlineregistrationcenter.com/registerlist.asp?m=313&sb=1&s=1&p=3&font=1&deh=1&rt=View%20/%20Register&group=1

    If you're committed to "pouring some sweat into being awesome", don't overlook the eLearning and Virtual Classroom courses – a more affordable alternative for motivated, self-teaching individuals who choose to invest their own money in their own improvement. That's what I would do. And after the class, if you can afford it, consider going for official Adobe Certified Expert exam in either usage or implementation, depending on which of the four paths you've decided to start in.

    And there's even more resources available. For full details, go to Omniture.com, and choose Services > Education at the top menu.

    Also, in agreement with some of the commenters above, I would encourage anyone who wants to learn to hop on Twitter and check out the "#Omniture" hashtag. Not so you can impress prospective employers, but so you can learn what you don't know. If you're scared to join the conversation at first, just listen. Or don't be afraid, and ask us your "newbie" questions – the people in the Twitter community are helpful and eager to welcome new friends. Sure, maybe it isn't going to get you a job just for actively tweeting, but it will connect you to other great people in the industry and may expose you to concepts from Web analytics verticals outside your expertise. If you're a Twitter user, my twitter handle is @Omniturecare. Please pick my brain, or just say hello any time. I know sometimes that learning curve may seem steep, but we want you to be able to master our products, so we are happy to guide you through the challenging parts. Just ask. I wish you the best of luck and would gladly help you get started by sharing any of the knowledge I possess.

    Thanks, Avinash!

    Jorgen Sorensen
    Technical Support Representative
    Adobe ClientCare

  24. 25

    Avinash!!!! C'mon man! Don't have them wasting their time with 2 web analytics tools. Tell them 1 tool and go out and really learn/understand SQL. That way, along with really understanding data, data transformations, joins, and queries, they can move easily from online/offline and use a million other database tools.

    One should focus most heavily on the transferable and nonperishable skills.
    Along with stats101 (201, 301),…), I would recommend taking at least a free online class on Linear Algebra. LA forms the basis – pun ;) – for stats/predictive analytics that are becoming more and more important.

    Even if one isn't going to use it directly, it eliminates the magical thinking about 'advanced' methods.

    Thanks man, you rock!

    Matt

  25. 26
    Lisa Mayer says:

    This blog post is 8 years too late for me! Starting out there was little in terms of guidance. There were books for webmasters but nothing on being a successful web metrics analyst.

    You've done a great service to our industry with these five pieces of wisdom and two very valuable warnings. Every newbie to our industry should start here.

    Lisa.

  26. 27

    Rick: I love it, this is so true.

    I have often, sadly, "blamed" a part of the current web analytics problems to the fact that it started with webmasters counting hits, rather than on the business (finance, marketing) side with people analyzing behavior and counting outcomes.

    But like you I am hopeful as I reflect on our evolution. I am thrilled when I see people evolving from just a IT / Javascript / Hits perspective to becoming savvy about business analysis. It is just a matter of time before our field will be looked upon with a different set of, fresh, eyes.

    Matt: I must not have phrased this optimally in the blog post.

    I am encouraging new entrants to start with two tools, but not of the same ilk. For example I am asking them to choose one clickstream tool (Omniture, Yahoo!, WebTrends, others). Then I am asking them to choose just one voice of customer or competitive intelligence or testing or any other different type of web analytics 2.0 tool.

    That should encourage them to think beyond clickstream on day one and get them to understand sources and types of data along with other types of metrics and analysis.

    Makes sense?

    -Avinash.

  27. 28

    Avinash:

    Interesting post, although I hope that anyone planning to add analytics would consider this post as only one of multiple inputs.

    On Anil Batra's webanalysis.blogspot.com/ blog he posts numerous interviews/videos of experienced web analytics professionals who give thoughts on what makes a good web analyst; the interviewees are largely in agreement that tooling is not the most important factor.

    Tools are by definition, and borrowing the phrase from another commenter, a perishable skill however one that is rather straightforward to validate:
    Have you used GA at a large client before?
    Yep.
    OK, check that box.

    If, on the other hand, an individual has an understanding of durable skills such as:

    Statistics/ Econometrics
    Linear Algebra
    Programming Languages Databases
    Exposure to GA, Omniture, Unica et cetera

    There is a different story . . .

    The sad state of affairs is that fortunate co-location with Omniture, GA, Unica or whatever tool which the consumer of the talent is familiar with/currently using is the number one job requirement for just about every role out there. That fortunate co-location trumps a durable skill set 9 times out of 10.

    What the interviews on Anil's website indicate is that a level of, as June Dershewitz puts it, 'curiosity' is one of the most crucial factors. This skill, is more difficult to #measure.

    An estimator I use to gain an understanding of a person's professiona vector can be brought out with a simple question:

    What is your continuing education plan?

    Michael

  28. 29
    Jorge Caballero says:

    Just MARVELLOUS !!!

    Thanks Avinash, You inspire me everyday and everypost

    From Spanish non-yet-ninja-analyst…but i´m coming!!!

  29. 30
    Prashant Kumar Pracheta says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thanks for posting again on Web Analytics Career. Your previous post was more on web analytics job roles.

    The five steps that you mentioned above are best steps regardless of the field. Web Analytics is booming and lots of acquisitions are going on.

    In larger organizations, Business people are focusing more on web analytics strategies because now each company is paying attention to Internet Advertising.

    How you are seeing the future of "Universal Tag" vendors like Tealium and Tagman? How it will impact web analytics in future?

    Prashant

  30. 31
    Josh Braaten says:

    Avinash – great post as always. I'd like to encourage your readers to also consider other careers other than being a web analyst that still require analysis ninja-ery.

    For example, I'm on online marketing manager and was hired for SEO. I know that great SEO requires great web analytics behind it, so I am constantly looking to improve my skills in that area as well. As a result, I've become the de facto web analyst as well. I get the diversity of SEO with the excitement of web analytics. Either way though, your tips are spot-on.

    Web Analyst might be a role, but becoming an analysis ninja is a calling and spans roles.

  31. 32

    Josh: An excellent point, and thank you for pointing it out.

    One of the evolutionary benefits of the web is that there are so many specialized roles available for people who want to do analysis. You can just be a Search Analyst or focus on Affiliates or Email or Merchandising Mix Optimization or Financial analysis of web data or… so many more thing.

    We don't have to just spend our lives in Omniture or Google Analytics! Hurray!!

    Prashant: I had replied to my personal perspective on tag management solutions in a recent comment. Please check that out.

    In a nutshell… As analytics solutions become ever more complex tag management solutions can be a real boon to those with massive web analytics implementations. Just look at the feature set of Tagman as an example. Pretty.

    But a TMS's is not the end of the story, you'll still find some advanced implementations require you to touch the pages / site / rich content. So be aware of that.

    Current Javascript tag and data capture functionality in most tools is 10 years old and has never been revisited. For the sake of humanity, while TMS's are awesome, I pray that web analytics vendors will optimize their tags, remove the gunk and move to technologies such as Async. Users, Implementators, Vendors,the Internet everyone will benefit.

    -Avinash.

  32. 33
    Grant says:

    Thanks for the post. I am interested in knowing when it's time to form a "analytics team" within a corporation. I have grown with my company from a tiny startup to almost 100million within 3 years, but I am still the only web analyst (or business intelligence analyst) who does majority of "analyst" job and a little bit of implementation, at least, I would create, sometime customize the google analytics code for our developer to place on certain places on the site since developers are not familiar with GA or tied up with other tasks most of the time. Does the need come from within organically, or do you purposefully build analytics roadmap, or business intelligence road map. I think I speak from a web analyst's perspective. At what size for a company to start "growing up" analytically?

    The other day I had a conversation with an executive about the difference between data guy and analyst, I get the feeling that the most important thing is how you think on behalf of business to grow the business as an analyst. It doesn't matter if it's a web analyst, or a business analyst, the soft skills needed can be gained through experiences or courses you mentioned, but it's the framework of thinking and the chemistry analyst forms with his team that makes the real impact.

  33. 34
    Mani says:

    That is one of the best articles about Web Analytics i've ever read. Some comments here are also helpful.

    Thanks!

  34. 35
    Ned Kumar says:

    vinash,
    An excellent piece and a solid reference for anyone in the #wa field.

    In addition to passion, curiosity, and a chronic willingness to continuously learn (tools, skills, knowledge), I think "going out and playing" is an absolute necessity if one wants to truly improve. I like this quote by John Masters – “This is so simple it sounds stupid, but it is amazing how few oil people really understand that YOU ONLY FIND OIL IF YOU DRILL WELLS. You may think you’re finding it when you’re drawing maps and studying logs, but you have to drill.”

    Also sometimes folks get too focused on the trees to the extent that they are not even aware there is a forest around them. It is always a good idea to step back often and reflect on what you are doing/learning as it relates to your context, trends, long-term personal goals and busines goals — and continuously adapt to ensure you are on the right track.

    Regards,
    Ned

  35. 36

    I have followed up Avinash's post for n00bs with a post on what skills could help an Analysis Ninja.

    michaeldhealy.com/2011/06/measure-career-development-beyond-analytics-ninjas/

    The path for people with little to no experience is getting well defined, the path for people who have worked for a while but want to know where to go next is changing rapidly.

    Michael

  36. 37
    Judit Villarreal says:

    Thanks Avinash, it is just an amazing post for me that I'm starting in Web Analytics, thanks a lot for the guide.

  37. 38

    Hi Avinash! 

    It's been three months since I started my own digital marketing agency in Mexico, with a strong focus on web analytics, and I find your post very helpful for guiding the development of the new web analysts that our local market demands. I'm definitely using your post for aiding my HR (recruitment, learning and development) processes :)

    In a recent interview with a candidate for a web analyst position, we talked about what we could work on together regarding career paths, excelling in online metrics tools (clickstream + voc + competitive intelligence) and options for continuous learning. It was a nice conversation :)

    It would be of great assistance if you could share some thoughts about what professionals / companies / agencies have done in other emerging markets to encourage professionals think about a career in web analytics.

  38. 39

    Good advice and nice track to understand the growth.

    In my opinion a successful person would have a good amount of technical background to understand/talk/implement(if needed). A good balance between business and technology is a key KPI :-)

  39. 40
    Himanshu says:

    Hi Avinash! Excellent Post. I have been looking for web analytics jobs for quite some time. But the type of requirements i see from companies looking for analyst is something i have never seen being taught anywhere.

    Few days ago i saw a job opening in British Gas for Web analytics position and they want someone who is proficient in working with relational databases, data warehouses,statistical testing methods and business intelligence software such as SQL Server, Business Objects etc. Now what is that.

    As long as i remember i have never seen you writing on data warehouses and SQL server or Business Objects or did i miss your post. What type of requirements are these and what it has to do with web analytics position.

    I thought getting Google Analytics certified will be good enough to secure a analytics job but it doesn't look like in the job market. There requirements are pretty different than what we people read on analytics blogs.

  40. 41

    Raghu: I appreciate the feedback.

    I am afraid that in an Analyst position I have held technical skills (as in javascript, html, et al) as secondary. My primary emphasis is their analytical savvy. I can always hire or rent technical skills (and much cheaper too! :)).

    Most tech savvy folks I have found make great tech savvy folks (much needed by the way) and great reporting squirrels. But this could just be my poor experience.

    Himanshu: From your description it sounds like they were looking for a Business Intelligence expert and not a Web Analytics expert. All the skills they describe are pretty standard for BI experts.

    Some companies are starting to switch away from using standard WA tools, like Omniture or Google Analytics or WebTrends and just warehousing the website data. Especially if their team is primarily BI based. This is usually a (time consuming resource hogging) mistake. I have written about it here, see #7:

    ~ 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big

    There are some rare scenarios where warehousing WA data for full WA analysis is ok. What is more prudent is taking just the needed WA data and putting into an existing corporate data warehouse to tie online to offline. This is cheap and extends analysis.

    I did want to highlight that you are misinformed in your belief that just getting Google Analytics Certified is sufficient to get a job. I would not hire anyone based on just that. I would look for all the skills highlighted in this blog post (experience with web analytics 2.0 spectrum, a practical resume, ability to take initiative, some statistical knowledge, business savvy etc).

    -Avinash.

  41. 42
    Steve says:

    As always Avinash you rock!

    Awesome post. I look forward to coming back and reading through this tomorrow.

    Your advice has put me in very good shape to date, I work in SEO, I actioned your tips from your books and has helped me greatly.

    Zero'ing in on core metrics and trying to keep things simple with analytics is at the core of my processes.

    I look forward to learning more about anaytics and CRO!

  42. 43
    Jennipher says:

    Great post. I do have a question though for someone in my situation. I'm a product manager and that is what I want to continue to do in my career. Analytics is so crucial for a product and company to be successful and I always strive to learn more and be part of the analytics discussions, goal setting and decision making.

    Now that I'm in a start-up having a dedicated analyst is not a luxury we can afford so I've taken on that role.

    Is there anything in this post you would modify for someone like me? Someone who does not want to be a Web Analyst necessarily but who wants to grow and be an expert for their field, like product management?

  43. 44

    Yes, you always rock Avinash, but I would not have found this incredible post if we both didn't waste your time on twitter today.

    :-0

  44. 45
    mvarga says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Your post, actually Your career guide would help a lot in my starting days. For all the newcomers – read this and take the free advise. It's worthy.

    Just to ad a small thing:

    You're right why, before what.

    But every analytics person has to have the guts to go one step further:

    How to use the 'why' to achieve the goal.

    I saw a great number of very talented mathematicians, statistical engineers and number wizards that just stop at the point of 'why', and agree with the HIPO (Highest income person opinion) about the 'HOW', although according to the data 'how' should be done different.

    Therfore, for all you necomers in analytics:

    Learn, love and listen to the data to find the WHY.

    But be brave, bright and boring to impose the HOW.

    This is the 3L (thriller) and 3B (tribe) rule i encourage to use my young colleges.

  45. 46

    I'm really interested by this blog. It's always a source of great information.

    This post is also useful and I hope this will help French companies to understand, like you already do, how useful web analysts can be.

    Thanks.

  46. 47
    Asmita Chavan says:

    Very Informative. Thank you!

  47. 48
    Kris says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Great post! I came a long way to be where I'm at and this blog post reminded me of my journey since I left Japan. A lot of the stuff you've said actually worked for me.

    I still remember what you've said about Business Intelligence and integration will be the key to the next level after getting into the role of web analyst. I took that to my heart and started opening up the world beyond online data, working closer with IT, CRM, PR, etc. Since then the whole world around a web analytics became even better, fun, and fascinating.

    Thanks so much for always reminding us of what it takes to be that ninja.

  48. 49

    Diane: Ha ha! Good one.

    I advocate moderation in the post. If you spend 4 hours a day on Twitter then reduce it to 30 mins and invest three and a half into yourself (your education / career / future).

    Far too many people believe that tweeting all day long is the path to wisdom, sadly it comes down to actually getting off Twitter and doing actual work!

    Jennipher: In your case (analytics key but not the career path) I would recommend going through steps 2, 3 and 4. In step three I would advice an emphasis on the Books part and, if you have continued interest, the Blogs part (you can skip the certification part).

    That should give you very very strong analytical skills that will come in handy in multiple facets of your PM job.

    Kris: Thanks for sharing your story! I am positive that others will find inspiration from it.

    I love reading your blog, when you write it, so please keep it up.

    Avinash.

  49. 50

    Very informative and useful article, as always!

    I recently started my own web agency and selling analytics as a service to clients is something we've been really struggling with, a shame considering I not only believe in it's real power to enhance results but also because it's something we love doing. Finding those jobs, #5 on the list, is really a very important thing as without it, you don't have sales and thus no income.

    I've actually discussed this with Avinash before and it seems the best way to sell the analytics service is by using evidence based scenarios. So, for instance with my company, we're looking to offer it to some clients as a free added value service so we can collect some good statistics to use when promoting ourselves to new business. It's a lot easier to sell the power of analytics when you can show how it's effected the bottom line of one of your previous clients.

  50. 51
    Doug says:

    This is definitely an information-packed post, as always. Very informative. As a business owner, I think something people should consider is, what is the ultimate goal of the company they're working for. Analytics and analysis, no matter how incredible, have to serve a true business purpose.

    For example, some companies need analytics to understand sales and, in the end, generate more sales and revenue. What good is an analyst that doesn't show how analytics can be used to help the business reach its goals?

    Just something to keep in mind.

  51. 52
    rt says:

    Great post and discussion (currently own WA 2.0, which has the same info, but went online looking for more in-depth analysis). I'm interested in the "Do web analysts need to be technical?" discussion. Here's my take:

    Web analysts don't necessarily need to be technical, but I think anyone following Avinash would agree that they *must* be quantitative. The problem with the industry, and part of the reason why Avinash's original insights were so valuable in the first place, is that it is still dominated by non-quantitative people. It seems that, as traditional marketing positions got axed in the wake of the dot-com era, conventional, brick & mortar marketing people instead became "online marketing managers," which is essentially a sexed-up name for web analysts. These are soft-biz types, psych majors, and so on. Problem is, these kinds of people don't make very good web analysts.

    Rather, good web analysts should have some background in math, statistics, and quantitative modeling. So, majors in math/stats, econ, finance, etc. Anything that prepares you to think about numbers and outcomes in a scientific manner. On top of that, they need to "get" the web. Deep technical knowledge isn't necessary at all, but a curiosity to learn basic technical skills while on the job is. These are all the fundamentals a great web analyst needs.

    But like I said, the problem is that the industry's rank-and-file is by-and-large filled with people lacking this background. As a consequence, the majority of people I've encountered (in the Silicon Valley, no less) are still getting by on guesses and magical thinking. Mid-size companies and vendors abound, employing people with 3+ years of experience that have no real testing method. It's just "well, that didn't increase conversion rate…let me try this and see what happens." Ask a vendor or agency how they do things, and that's typically what you get!

    Part of the problem is that salaries simply aren't high enough to attract the right people. Quantitative people are in high demand across many disciplines, and people with the right skills much prefer financial analysis or investment banking to a $40K web analyst role. Another problem is the soft-skill entrenchment of web analyst and marketing manager positions — people hire people with their own backgrounds. And it's very hard to introduce stats-sound analysis to teams that don't know stats. What the industry really needs is some sort of upheaval, where everyone realizes that they've been hiring the wrong people, AND decides to do something about it. Plus, once you get the right people inside, that respect thing will go up big time.

  52. 53
    Trisha says:

    @ rt — on 'Do Web Analysts need to be technical? discussion – well said!

    We actually recruit financial / accounting types, and then train them in web analytics.

    There are of course downsides to this approach as well – but we've found it's been more successful for us overall than in hiring those with marketing backgrounds.

  53. 54
    Steve says:

    In response to rt's comment – in my experience analysts from a statistics or maths background struggle to intepret data.

    Interpretation of data; the ability to deliver insight and actionable recommendation goes beyond quantative understanding. Quantative analysts are able to deliver comprehensive reporting, but often lack the interpretative skills to translate that data into recommendation. Simply put, they haven't been able to relate the numbers back to the individual users.

    The most effective web analysts that I have had the pleasure to work with haven't come from a pure quantative background, rather they have the 'soft-biz' experience to understand the channels utilised in online marketing and have a good grasp of complimentary skill sets to web analytics, such as usability. The quantative mind set alone isn't sufficient to make a good web analyst.

    Technical understanding isn't a pre-requisite to being a good web analyst. The ability to deliver actionable insight is.

  54. 55

    Maybe it is misleading to ask whether a analyst should be technical or more business focused.

    At best you need to have both: tec + business

    And a 3. + 4. thing that can not be overestimated: Honesty and critical thinking.

    Be honest about the things that you can know, and about the things you can not know. It is so easy to measure just the things that you put into the Experiment. (e.G. set up a big teaser on the best place on the page where everybody expects important content and by ninja analysis discover that it was clicked more than every other teaser on that page (what a surprise ;o))

    To rely on feelings and practical human sense is absolutely ok, if you know that there is no data and there will never be.

    Summary:
    It is both. Business to ask the right questions. And tec to find the right answers or discover that there is no answer.

  55. 56

    That is so true what "RT" states. Well said.

    I have to work extremely hard to find the balance of getting analysis to my clients that will work and get positive movement going and not completely making them look like they are hanging around with their pants down in front of their boss…

  56. 57

    RT, GREAT comment (saw that Avinash shared it on facebook/twitter).

    I definitely agree with you. I actually came from the finance research/investment banking world back to my first love and I never look back. Fortunately, I've been able to do some work for people that value it.

    But here's what I would say. Quant is one of two non-negotiable skills. The other being networked, business-aware thinking (as you mentioned). This is not a nice to have. This is a MUST. If ideas are not networked — if they don't see the issue or solution from many perspectives — they fail to deliver. It's too easy for math or statistics people to get caught up in the "vector" a trend, stat, model, or quant analysis implies, when the real story is the net vector is result of multiple vectors competing, multiplying, and diverting one another throughout the organization. Often, analysts are asked to look at a situation by one of many stakeholders involved, and they may approach the quantitative side to satisfy a claim or test an idea that particular stakeholder is after. Instead, the analyst MUST be able to separate from the local and think globally, making sure the right questions are even being asked in the first place.

    We have a lot to tackle to bring this industry to its full potential. So good to see another person out there tackling!

  57. 58

    Trisha: Great approach. While I've not limited my recruiting to just Finance / Accounting "types" (I go for anyone who has analytical skills – soft or hard), I've had tremendous success training them on usage of web tools and data and setting them loose in the wild.

    Turns out anyone can learn what buttons to press in Omniture Site Catalyst, it is astonishingly hard to teach analytical skills on a job.

    Steve: You and me… two peas in a pod! :)

    Could not agree more with you. In post after post on this blog I've stressed the immense value of having business savvy, having digital marketing "in their blood." You can't analyze a business you don't understand, not matter how much of a "stats God" you are.

    Ulrich: If you are defining technical skills ("tec") as quantitative analysis skills then I agree with you 100%. I have personally come to value a lot less technical skills defined as: ability to modify javascript, code custom variables or evars, code a multivariate test into a web page etc.

    I am not devaluing the latter set of technical skills, I am just valuing them less in an Analyst. If they know enough to know what is possible technically (data capture / coding) then that is sufficient. If they are a very strong Analyst with quantitative and qualitative analytical skills then anything beyond technically sufficient is a bonus (a much appreciated bonus).

    If I want strong technical skills I'll hire a Web Implementation Specialist (permanent or consultant).

    -Avinash.

  58. 59

    Avinash: You are right – I didn't precisely express what tec means for me. For me this doesn't only mean quantitative analysis skills but also the knowledge about the way we gather the data.

    Just as you would expect a physicist to not only be able to calculate the derived results of a measurement, but also know the theory, possible technical problems etc… I would expect a web analyst to know how the web works.

    Examples:
    I could easily lower or increase a 'conversion rate' (e.g. sales per session) by changing the way I measure sessions.

    I could rely on logfiles for certain aspects (e.g. monitoring servers) and use tagging/javascript for other purposes. (e.g. monitoring users)

    But how do you tell what to use, if you don't know caching, proxies and spiders?

    In contrast I would not expect a seasoned programmer or admin that might have all the technical knowledge to be able to make sense out of pure technical facts.

    He/she might not know the business, nor anything about usability or maybe even a little psychology.

    To make it even worse – the analyst should be persuasive and influence positively as he/she will tell the rest of the team what they might want to change and he/she will have to get the budget and resources.

    I think it is fairly hard to become a good and effective analyst.

  59. 60

    Hi there, Avinash and all

    Joining this conversation very late, but a few points from my own experience running a cross-border team of 32 people solely focused on Analytics:

    – Having tried different options over the years, I am definitely in favor of a clear split between technical deployment professionals and online business/marketing optimization experts (analysts)

    – None has to be better than the other and both career paths are extremely promising (with plenty of excitement and growth ahead for deployment professionals too). But only this way can online business analysts develop a solid industry-specific or somehow truly focused expertise

    – Except for a few monkeys in the Bali zoo, nobody is good at EVERYTHING. I cannot easily believe in the analytical capabilities of someone who writes the code for API-driven reporting environments and builds JavaScript hacks at the same time.

    Regarding books, leaving mine aside (www.analiticaweb.es/libro) until the analyst is faced with the pains of corporate environments, I would add Argentina's Juan Damia's recent book (Meta Analytics, still waiting for a copy!).

    Finally, some recommended training in Spain, London, Amsterdam and Berlin, with the disclosure that I teach in all of them, run the Analytics 360 program and organize WSAB:

    MADRID

    – Specific Web Analyst training: Gemma's Master en Analitica Web (KSChool) http://www.kschool.com
    – Online Analytics training (Web & Social): WSAB (Web & Social Analytics Bootcamp 2011). This one is subject to a prior admission process http://www.wsab.es
    – Even wider, Integrated Analytics training: Analytics 360, Programa Superior by ICEMD/ESIC (top Marketing School in Spain). http://bit.ly/Analytics360

    LONDON, AMSTERDAM, BERLIN

    – WSAB (Web & Social Analytics Bootcamp): http://www.wsab.info

    There, my two cents :)

  60. 61
    harry white says:

    My experience is that structured courses teach you how to think. None of them (okay except GA IQ) teach you how to use the tool. When you are starting out that is so important.

    Once you get sucked into s.vars and e.props and events and all that crap it is very hard to get your head to rise to a strategic thinking level, business analysis level, the things that really matter level.

    So if you can afford it, take a certification course.
    ……………
    harry white

  61. 62
    Jeff Chan says:

    Hi Avinash, thanks for your career guide. I this it would be quite helpful for those who want to get started their web analytics career.

    I would like to translate it into Chinese and let more people to share your wonderful guide. May I?

  62. 63
    Steve says:

    Thanks for this post and all your other work Avinash. I just landed my first web analytics job and I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done it without your blog and books :)

    Thought it might be useful to add my perspective on things:

    Tools: Despite choosing to learn Google Analytics, I actually ended up with a company that uses Omniture. Since it was an entry-level role I think they were after web analytics experience with any tool, and although Omniture was preferred, my lack of any hands-on experience with it apparently wasn't a deal-breaker. You are very right about expanding beyond clickstream though; they were definitely after someone who had some knowledge of tools like Comscore, Hitwise, etc.

    Get Educated: This was obviously very key, especially since my current job didn't involve the internet at all. Being able to talk knowledgeably about web analytics and demonstrating that I'd put a lot of effort into teaching myself the subject was very important. Also name-dropping various authors, books and blogs went down well, your good self in particular raised a smile from my interviewer.

    Play In The Real World: I had managed to get access to the Google Analytics for some small websites run by some friends. Although they weren't massive sites, having some hands on experience was really helpful in making sense of the theory and gave me some useful stuff to talk about in the interviews.

    Also my Twitter presence, or lack thereof, never came up :)

  63. 64
    Trisha says:

    Steve, congratulations!

    How did you connect with your new employer? Did you respond to an ad (if so, where?), were you contacted by a recruiter … ?

  64. 65
    Steve says:

    Thanks Trisha, I responded to a job advert on the Guardian jobs site http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/

  65. 66
    Jean-Paul says:

    So true! I have been slowly making the switch over the years, from 8 years as a Marine Biologist to a Web Developer and now as a full time Marketing Analyst. It can be done and it is a very exciting and growing field. I have even started my own Web Analytics blog! ( http://www.lacount.net/blog/ )

    Cheers to the great article!

  66. 67
    HT says:

    Hello Avinash,

    What happened to the enhanced google analytics plugin on page 326 of your Web Analytics 2.0 Book? Is there something comparable for free analytics tools?

    The top 50% report for both keywords, and the new referrers report came in handy. Maybe I am just not as up-to-date. lol. Thanks

  67. 68
    Juan Damia says:

    Hi Avinash thanks for mentioning my book!

    The book is going right now from SF to your office. Let me know when you get it! This is the link from the book, analytics20.org/meta-analytics/

    Cheers mate!

  68. 69

    H T: I am afraid Juice does not support the plugin any more.

    But you have two alternatives:

    Look at the Intelligence reports in Google Analytics. They are trying to identify the unknown unknowns in your data, automatically. More here: Google Analytics Becomes Intelligent. Hello Insights!

    Set up custom alerts in GA. You can set up all kinds of alerts that will help you identify unusual things in your data. More here: Identify The Known Unknowns: Leverage Analytics Custom Alerts

    -Avinash.

  69. 70
    HT says:

    Avinash,

    Outstanding, thanks for the insight. I will get on it tonight.

  70. 71

    I thought it would help to mention that my wife, who is taking a statistics class, swears by the intro to statistics Youtube videos from Khan Academy http://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy#p/c/1328115D3D8A2566

  71. 72
    MattocG says:

    Cheers Adrian, will check the youtube link videos out any extra insight is great.

  72. 73
    Ramesh says:

    Excellent info on web analytics and 5 the step approach. The article has a great stuff for everyone. Thanks for sharing as it is really helpful for all specially for me…

    As I am looking for a career in web analytics almost all your articles are providing the enough info, so I request you keep on posting the latest news in analytics.

    I hope you will provide the more data on omniture & web trends next time ???

  73. 74
    Mike says:

    Avinash,

    Thank you for your wonderful post.

    I always believe that one should gauge how effective their online strategies are and this is possible with having an comprehensive knowledge on Web Analytics.

    I really want to make a career out of it but I don't know where to begin. Which book of yours should I read first? Web Analytics an Hour a Day or Web Analytics 2.0?

    Thank you and wish you all the best

    • 75

      Mike: If you have some experience in Online Marketing or Web Analytics then I would encourage you to jump to Web Analytics 2.0 directly. It is a much more current book (even if it has a slight learning curve).

      -Avinash.

  74. 76

    Avinash's post focus on personal skills as a web-analyst. My question / remark is more regarding the problems you encounter with customers who think they are right but in fact aren't.

    At this moment we're experiencing that some customers appoint an employee to do the web-analytics, in most situations without nearly any expericence with data, background of metrics, business insights etc. Of course on the long run customers will conclude that that's not the right direction or get disappointed that web-analytics not delivers the insight they hoped for (and therefore will not invest further). However, it takes a year or more before the customer discovers this.

    So my questions . . . how can we as consultants accelerate this learning curve of the customer or even beter "teach" in advance the customer not to underestimate web-analytics? This is extra complicated because customers don't let there employees/analysts down and your arguments as an external consultant are often "less true".

    Of course we can look for 'better' customers but the core problem is 'how to tell someone who thinks he can do the things by himself but actually is unexpericenced and blind".

    (I'm from the Netherlands and in general the US is 1-2 years ahead. I hope to benefit from your lessons learned).

    • 77

      Sander: The problem you've highlighted is a global problem, not simply one that the Dutch have to deal with.

      I would request a bit more context as to what the "problem" with the customer is before I could share specific ideas. But…

      If the problem is that the management team does not appreciate the value analytics can deliver (and hence won't fund your consulting!) then this post has some specific ideas you can use:

      ~ Lack Management Support or Buy-in? Embarrass Them!

      Ignore the provocative title, use the strategies.

      If the problem is that they get a lot of data today, but don't take much action, then you can prove your value by providing analysis:

      ~ Rebel! Refuse Report Requests. Only Answer Business Questions, FTW.

      Finally in most cases the education of a client can be done by helping identifying the gaps in their digital business strategy and helping them understand they are not measuring the right stuff. To do that I encourage your to create a Web Analytics Measurement Model with them.

      ~ Keys To Web Analytics Maturity: Structure, Process, Hyperfocus

      The process forces them to give you vital information you need, and it forces you to come up with measurement strategies that meet business needs. This is hard to do, but it will work like magic.

      -Avinash.

  75. 78
    Sridhar says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I do have experience in Pay per click marketing and on the Web Analytics for 3 years. Right now I'm working on Google Analytics and worked on Omniture for 8 months.

    Can you please let me know, which book I have to prefer to buy: Web Analytics 2.0 or Web Analytics An Hour A day.

    -Sridhar K

  76. 80
    Elias Garzon Lopez says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Congratulations for your great blog. I am just starting in this field and all the information provided has been very helpful. I am just starting with Google analytics and all the other great tools Google offer (insights, etc.) and planning on researching and "trying" others as you have suggested.

    I do have a question for you though? How do you see the potential of providing web analysis services for small & medium business?

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences and knowledge with the wide world!

  77. 81
    Surya says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I have a question for career shift as a java developer to Web Analytics.

    I currently work as a Java Consultant and am planning to change my career to Web Analytics.

    I am planning to join a online business company which will have IT development(Java) and also web analytics team ans slowly transform from java to web analytics after doing all the learning as mentioned in this article. Is this the good way or do you suggest me a better way?

    Thanks in advance
    Suyra

    • 82

      Surya: The only nuance I would add is to try and figure out which "cell" you want to fall into in part 1 of this post because that will have major implications on where you want to invest time/money in terms of your development.

      Given your background perhaps the technical part might make a lot of initial sense, then you have to see if you would like to go down the Individual Contributor or Team Leader path.

      There is more on each path here: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/web-analytics-career-guide-job-strategy/

      Good luck!

      Avinash.

  78. 83
    Venkan says:

    Thank you Avinash for insightful information on web analytics. I have been working on analytics/ statistics for sometime now. I have ordered your book. Hope it gives me a new direction.

    Thank you again.

  79. 84
    Simran says:

    Hey Avinash,

    Thanks for a great breakdown on how to get 'into' the world of web/digital analytics. I have been a traditional marketing analyst — having worked mostly on product and pricing, churn reporting, elasticity studies, direct mail and OBTM campaigns (using SAS and Basic SQL) and have decided to get into web analytics. I am excited about the learning and challenges that lay ahead.

    My question to you is: Which book should I buy as an introduction to web analytics — web analytics 2.0 OR web analytics an hour a day?

    I have no background in Computer science (BS and MS in Industrial Engg.). So, please advice accordingly.

    Thanks,
    Simran

    • 85

      Hi Simran,

      Buy Avinash' book Web Analytics 2.0. It's great and nice reading. Very good conceptual approach. And buy also Advanced Web Metrcs from Brian Clifton. Good explanation of Google Analytics.
      Succes!!!

      -Sander

  80. 86
    Ben says:

    I just successfully EXITED web analytics!

    Awful career path…

    It's not exciting. It's not fun. It's not a real discipline. Most people don't know how to do it, so it's a trap.

    And nothing is worse than getting this kind of question, which is often: how many clicks did this link get?

    or: how many downloads did this pdf file get?

    or: how many visits or page views did this page get? Really…and you get paid $80k or more to answer these ridiculous questions.

    Mundane, meaningless, pointless. Goodbye and good riddance to web analytics forever.

    Now I get to go do something that has more meaning to it. If i wanted to, I could get a Ph.D in it. That's a discipline.

    There are only so many different ways to look at a website. It's a thing, not a human, not an animal. It doesn't have emotions or thoughts or feelings.

    So…how many clicks does this link get?

    • 87

      Ben: 42. http://goo.gl/Tjhwz

      The answer to your last question.

      I'm sorry your experience in Web Analytics was not more fruitful. On the bright side, companies that ask the kind of questions you mention in your comment don't survive for very long. So you might see them on the other side of the exit door in the near future. :)

      All the best with your new career choice!

      Avinash.

  81. 88
    Eric Fettman says:

    Avinash, thanks for the post. It's a useful framework as I think about my own path, and it makes me feel better for not spending more time on Twitter or at conferences!

    If it's OK, I'd like to mention googleanalyticstest.com as a free testing/training resource for folks on the Google Analytics track. The site is useful not only as preparation for the GA Individual Qualification, but also as a learning framework for GA implementers and reporters, and, if I can say so, even somewhat for actual analysts. I was most pleased when one participant commented that the tests required "lateral thinking", since this is the site's overall objective.

    Just as some background, I am the site's developer and admin, and I have worked with a great team of content contributors and reviewers to generate 229 questions and thorough answer explanations across 30 specific subject categories within GA.

    I hope this is not too tangential to the post or otherwise inappropriate. The site has received a great deal of positive feedback, so I thought it might be a helpful resource for some of your readers as well.

  82. 89
    Sunetra Ray says:

    One of the best career guidance post I have read online.

    Thanks Avinash!

  83. 90
    Lubabah Bakht says:

    It's a good post I suppose. But your post does not help me identify where to invest next in my web analytics career.

    My undergrad major was in international relations (poli sci with minor in eng lang & lit) so it's difficult for recruiters to picture me as a web analyst. I have the GAIQ (which was a breeeze…a lot less complex than AdWords), quantitative and qualitative stats knowledge, completed one of MM's programs, member of various associations, wrote a whitepaper on analytics basics, provide SME clients with actionable recommendations, read your book, and follow more than 2 blogs.

    But after several calls with recruiters, I failed at landing myself a job. None of my current small clients can afford Omniture so I have always worked with Google Analytics. But recruiters I've talked to want someone with Omniture experience too. GA is not good enough. I've begun to think it's more of snobby thing. I faced the same problem as Himanashu in regards to business objects, SQL, C++, Java, and the list goes on.

    Of course all this is compressed at the very end of the job description after all the details about actionable recommendations, execution of best practices, data visualization, etc. It sucks. I have half of the skills and qualities but each time I receive a "no" because I haven't yet acquired the tech skills, paid analytics platform experience, or the 10 years of experience.

    Many job descriptions state they are looking for a candidate with over 5-10 years of experience. I've begun to question whether it was to even go to university. Quantity of experience is measured but rarely quality.

    I’m beginning to question if my degree was really worthwhile even though I truly enjoyed my undergrad studies. In hindsight, the smart move may have been to commit to the industry and drop out of my 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) year in university instead of spending my time learning about political systems and researching about Northern Uganda’s armed conflict. Maybe then I would have a few more years of experience that companies’ demarcate as value of a web analyst expertise even if the quality is outdated.

    Anyways, I will continue trying to be a proven genius and try to learn everything.

    • 91

      Lubabah: I'm sorry that you've had a harder time getting your perfect job in the digital analytics space.

      From your note you clearly have all the foundational skills, especially on the education side – be that your university education or your analytics education. My first thought was that you might be in the danger of being overqualified soon! :)

      Recruiters in large companies do ask for Omniture/WebTrends/CoreMetrics specific experiences. Unfortunately you do have to have it for many jobs. These vendors do offer tool training directly from them, perhaps that might be an option.

      But in the end there is no alternative to actually using them. Perhaps the job you want is with an Agency or even a Vendor (like Adobe/Omniture). Both are great avenues to learn more about different products, but also to work your heart out with complicated clients. I'm not sure if jobs are open with Agencies or Vendors in your geographic space, but that's something to look into.

      From your note there might be a geo specific element at play (as was the case I believe with Himanshu). In the US in a number of regions a person with your skills will be able to find the type of position you are looking for (and without BO and BI and all that). There is not much people can do about their location (I love the Silicon Valley and will likely never move!). But wanted to share that that could be a possibility. If it is then perhaps going with one of the Agencies (say a GACP) who have a distributed structure might be solution if you are willing to do some travel.

      There is no right educational profile for Analytics. I've hired forest ranger undergrads and English majors etc. As long as they have analytical skills (not reporting, analytics) then that is all I need. Their diverse background (like yours) actually made them unique.

      I realize that my reply is not a "here's how to fix your problem" answer, but hope the context is of some value.

      I wish you all the best!

      -Avinash.

      • 92

        Hi Avinash,

        I'm excited to provide an update to my previous post that I joined as a Digital Marketing Analyst at the world's favourite currency website!

        I did not pursue vendor training. However I did include my final project for Market Motive Masters in my application and then included a DMMM in the follow-up interview.

        It's a new position the company just opened up recently. I think my two month old daughter brought a bit of luck as well :).

        Thank you for your guidance to us underdogs!

  84. 93
    William Moss says:

    Wow, what a great write up.

    This is exactly what I needed. Informative and also inspiring.

    I will have to buy your book now.

  85. 94
    William Moss says:

    Are the courses offered at Market Motive covered by Veteran benefits like the G.I. Bill? If no, might be something to consider if you haven't already. Service members are very interested in this field.

    • 95

      William: The Vocational Rehabilitation funding can generally be used for courses taken through Market Motive.

      For the GI Bill, Active Duty Military Tuition Assistance and other programs we are working with partners who will bring the Market Motive curriculum to market so that it will work under those programs.

      Avinash.

      • 96
        William Moss says:

        Thanks Avinash,

        Unfortunately I do not qaulify for that fund. I won't let this stop me however. It is not a matter of will, but when. I have started a campaign on Indiegogo today to help me fund my tuition into UBC Analytics program then onto to UCI's web intelligence. I know the curriculum will be great with you sitting on the board.

        Best,
        Will.

  86. 97
    Kris says:

    Thanks so much for this piece.

    I was hired as a Social Media Marketer for my company last year, but my role has evolved in the last few months to focus more on digital marketing, direct response and web analytics. I took a dive and started using Google Analytics 6 months ago, and I'm really enjoying web analytics. I feel like I do detective work and investigation to understand root causes of business problems, which is something I enjoy.

    Looking forward to following your blog and developing my expertise in this area.

  87. 98
    Babita Rani says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you very much for the wonderful tips in your blog.

    I very new to web Analytics, but by reading your blogs I got a clear direction where should I begin.

    I have decided to start it from the books you have recommended and I am reading book written by Brian Clifton.

    Thank you for the life saving post.

    Regards,
    Babita

  88. 99
    Sheik says:

    Avinash,

    First of all thank you very much for such a detailed guidance to the people looking for Web Analytics career, I dont think there is any other place to find such details. I am writing this message to seek your suggestion.

    I spent almost 12 years in IT industry, started career with IBM Mainframes and slowly transformed into a typical IT delivery managers. Off late, I started feeling that my career is not in right path because of the simple reason that any work that I am doing doesn't excite me and I strongly feel that I am not learning anything at all. I have a fear that I may become unemployable very soon if I continue to do what I am doing now.

    I recently started exploring something in web world on my own interested, read little bit about web designing, hosting etc…finally, I found the "Web Analytics" topic. I haven't read much yet about this, but by looking at the high level details, I felt this may fit good to my long term career path because I thought I can bring in my IT experience into picture while executing the web analtyical skills that I may learn to make myself as successful in this field. The only hesitation I have is I don't have any exposure towards any web technologies so far, also spent 12 long years in IT field already.

    So, sincerely requesting your suggestion and guidance please.

    Thanks&Regards

    Sheik

    • 100

      Sheik: I'm afraid there is no real alternative to actually working on education and getting some experience. Please see section two and four in this post. That should have more than enough information to get going.

      I can completely understand how daunting it is to start again after 12 years in the space. Perhaps a "short-cut" might be to consider a Individual Contributor role on the Technical side. See the matrix in part one of this post. You already have a lot of technical experience, it might be a smoother transition into the technically oriented analytics roles.

      -Avinash.

  89. 101
    Archana says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I am looking to make a career in Web Analytics. I have 2 years experience in Webtrends and will be getting my GAIQ certification shortly. I came across a course on Digital Marketing which has 'Google Analytics' as one of its modules. Would like to know if it makes sense to do the entire course?

    Also, does GAIQ boost my chances of getting ahead in Web analytics?(referring to your comment on having knowledge of two tools) or should I do something else instead

    Thanks,

    Archana

    • 102

      Archana: I'm afraid it is very difficult to make any recommendation with the limited information in the comment. Additionally, each person's circumstances, current skills, local opportunities and desired jobs are so very different.

      As you decide your next steps please see the recommendations in Step 3 above. And you should know that in the end people get hired/promoted, or not, based on the knowledge acquired in Step 4 and not Step 3. Certifications mean little without Step 4.

      I hope this helps a little.

      Avinash.

  90. 103

    Just the swift kick in the behind that I needed to call up some colleges and enroll in a Statistics refresher class. I took Statistics 8 years ago in college, I loved it, and it has served me well. But I need a touch-up.

    I guess that's one thing I'd add to your list. Even the seasoned veterans need to get back to the basics from time to time and take refresher courses on the fundamentals of what we do. We are never "above" that, or "too advanced," to get schooled on what got us here in the first place.

    Plus, statistics is fun.

  91. 104
    Savvanah says:

    Very helpful information Avinash. Currently, I am finishing my Web Analytics course this quarter as this was one of the minor courses of MS in Predictive Analytics at Northwestern University.

    I first discovered your article while reading your book Web Analytics 2.0, which is our primary prescribed book along with Brian's Advanced Web Metrics book. I am new to this web Analytics space and looking for a direction to build up my career. I have a strong background in basic and advanced statistics but I am feeling overwhelming when I try to focus which direction I need to go.

    I really lack professional experience and I think I need some sort of experience to begin with. Do you have any suggestion for me? I will definitely try to follow your five steps that you mentioned in your article. But besides that do you have any additional suggestion for me?

    Thanks!

    • 105

      Savvanah: I would underscore the advice in this post, it should be relevant in your case as well.

      One of the things I did when I was doing my Masters was to take a gig at the Office of Career Services that allowed me to practice my database design and front end development skills. Until that point I'd never done either, only attended my MIS classes. But that early experience was one of the reasons I got my first job out of MBA school!

      Perhaps there are such opportunities you can seek out at Northwestern at various departments. In addition to of course looking at the options mentioned in the post above.

      Avinash.

  92. 106
    Rajat Khatri says:

    Dear Avinash Sir,

    As I'm reading more and more about you and your posts, my determination of turning my Career to "Web Analyst" from a "Business Analyst" is getting stronger and my respect for you as a Mentor is increasing.

    This post in itself is "Course" – a step wise guide of how to become what one wants to be. I had experience of working on Indextools and Webtrends but never realized why companies are not considering it. Reason was, for the few years I totally ignored # 3 and 4.

    From right now (yes this very minute), I'm focusing on #3 and 4 to land up in my passionate job before 1st April'14.

    Looking for your blessing and guidance as always.

    Regards,
    Rajat Khatri

  93. 107
    Brian Mukisa says:

    Hello Avinash,

    Thank you for your leadership.

    I'm from Uganda, Africa. I have a Masters degree in International marketing from the UK. Spent 10 years in very traditional Sales and Marketing-no data or online customer experiences In Uganda. First in a traditional Newspaper business then rose up-to Head marketing in financial services. I realize, in my market set-up, i have hit the ceiling. I now aspire to career fast track in Digital Marketing as a specialist first in Data Analytics . In my country, Uganda, there is no career employer for me, so i have to try overseas.

    I don't have any analytics, statistics or Maths skill background and therefore look more to the 'Business and Team leader' Quadrant. Your post is the inspiration i need, i also note the the original post was written in 2011, please clarify on the updated list of some of the first 2 current tools and what advise me if my career ambitions are realistic, if i want to fast track my skills and get a gig out of Uganda. I plan to be part of Growth team for a major Mobile company like FaceBook or Google before in run my own Analytics company or Digital Venture in Africa .

    Many thanks again.

    Brian

  94. 108
    Duston Webb says:

    This is a fantastic article for anyone who wants to be a successful web analyst.

    Kudos to the writer. Great site for information for all of us who want to become masters of marketing!

  95. 109
    gurpreet singh says:

    Hi avinash:

    Thank you to give your time to put up such wonderful article.

    I have a few queries if you may give your kind attention to:

    1. I have been a software engineer for 3.5 years now and I have worked on web based technologies like html, javascript, java, php, mysql. How does my experience in these technologies will help me if I pursue a career in web analytics?

    2. I am from Delhi, India. Do you have any knowledge of good authenticated institutions or centers where I can learn web analytics (apart from learning online)?

    3. What is the current situation and future of web analytics in India?

    • 110

      Gurpreet: Apologies for the delay in replying.

      Your current experience might make a transition to the technical path quite easy. You just need to find an opportunity where you can get some initial experience and training. Many Agencies are willing to do this, some of the initial learnings you can also do by yourself (for Google Analytics: https://analyticsacademy.withgoogle.com/explorer).

      If you get some experience on the technical side, it will set you up for a future transition to the business side once you prove yourself (and if that is something you are interested in).

      I'm afraid I don't know any certification courses in India. But you can see several online ones listed in this post.

      I also am not familiar with the situation of web analytics in India, though with digital booming everywhere I can't imagine a more future-proof career in any place with an internet connection.

      Avinash.

  96. 111
    Payal says:

    Hi Avinash,

    This is a wonderful article I have come across. Thanks for writing this.

    I have a quick question. I have 7 years of experience in Manual/Functional testing and have worked mostly in Insurance and Airlines projects. I do not have much knowledge of different technologies. So, do you think I can switch my career to Data/Web Analytics? If yes, which will be a better option to go Technical or Business.

    Waiting for your reply.

    Thanks.

    • 112

      Payal: Insurance and Airlines are huge industries, and digitizing all facets of their existence (not just selling) very rapidly. In as much they provide great functional areas to invest in building careers.

      Many people in digital analytics have differing backgrounds, hence your background should not be an issue. It will mean you will have to start from an earlier starting point and invest more in your learning and gathering experience. The post above outlines how to go about doing this.

      The technical side might be an initial optimal on-ramp, and it would not preclude you shifting to the business side in the future if your display interest and competence.

      Avinash.

  97. 113
    Grietje Goedkoop says:

    Avinash, thank you for this article. Besides the valuable tips and advice, It confirms that I have made the right decision!

    Grietje

    The Netherlands

  98. 114
    sandy says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Really a nice article. I have been in digital marketing from last five years and mostly PPC (adwords, BIng/Yahoo, Facebook etc) from last three years.

    I want to get into web analytics and also recently completed basic analytics training in SAS. I am not sure if companies use these tools in data analysis in the web analytics world.

    Being a paid search specialist, there is plenty of scope for campaign analysis in my job and I love that, but I want to get into web analytics as I think i will get to play with more data (through all mediums like SEO, display, email marketing etc.) and it will help to focus on the data analysis. What do you think of my switch from Paid search to web analytics?

    Should i also learn R or SQL with advanced excel stuff to get the edge?

    • 115

      Sandy: I would encourage you to please check out the post again. Pick which side of the house you want to play with (business or technical and individual contributor or team lead). Then use the rest of the post to create a custom education/practice plan for yourself.

      In some of the positions in our space, you will need skills in R or SAS or other solutions. Typically, they won't be required in your starting positions, or for the first little while as you master the web analytics solutions and their immense capabilities.

      As always, please see the local job listing to optimize your education / job search plans.

      Avinash.

  99. 116
    Devanathan G says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thanks for the post.It was very useful.

    It would be great if you can guide me through and suggest me to lead the way in Web analytics.

    I would like to share my experience and based on that please provide me some tips to choose the right career path.

    Overall I have 4yrs of work experience within which I have 3.5yrs of work experience in conducting syndicated/secondary research and recently moved on to social media with 0.5 yrs of work experience. I'm currently working in social media research and would like to move on to next level in my career.

    So while thinking about it I found your blog most promising and it would be really helpful for me if you can guide me through to the next level. Now after going through your blog I'm highly interested in moving on to Analytics. So what are your suggestions and ideas.

    Waiting for your reply at the earliest.

    Thanks and regards,
    Devanathan G

    • 117

      Davenathan: The best option might be to seek some folks who are local to your area and employed in your field and do informational interviews with them. It might be the best way to get very relevant guidance because they will also spend time understanding your strengths and opportunities.

      I'll share some general guidance… Your experience thus far seems to be on the qualitative analysis side of our world. This is great. Complementing it with the quantitative analysis side of the house might be the optimal next step. With that recommendation as the base, I would encourage you to start with step two in this blog post.

      All the best!

      Avinash.

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