Ten Minutes With…….. Matt Belkin

ShellTen Minutes With….. is a new series where occasionally I’ll interview interesting people on the topic of Web Decision Making. With my questions I am hoping to get to know the interviewee a bit better, for them to share thoughts about their company/work and finally glean insights that might be helpful to all of us in the industry.  I hope you’ll enjoy the series.

My first interview is with someone I find extremely interesting: Matt Belkin. Matt’s the VP for Best Practices for Omniture Inc. Most recently I met Matt at the Emetrics summit in Santa Barbara and I am always struck by his passion for our space, a passion that is contagious.

Those of us who participate in the Web Analytics Yahoo Group are quite familiar with Matt, he is an active contributor to the forum, jumping in to help out with all questions Omniture or opine on industry trends or occasionally shake things up (which I have to admit I enjoy tremendously). 

To me Matt is very much Omniture personified. You’ll find Matt’s blog on my blog roll or at www.omniture.com/blog.

I want to profusely thank Matt for graciously participating in the discussion and I hope like me you will benefit from the wisdom in Matt’s perspectives below.

1. How do you make yourself indispensable to a company?

I've been most successful by focusing my attention and efforts on initiatives that were strategically important for the company, and not being afraid to test the status quo. I'm constantly thinking of new ways to improve our products and services, and I'm always thinking in terms of the customer. This is a fundamental part of my DNA – I really couldn't change it if I wanted to. I think this, more than anything else, has been key to my success.

2. What are some examples of activities and surroundings that motivate you?

I love talking to people that are really passionate. It doesn't necessarily matter what subject they are passionate about, rather that they care that much about a topic. I am often amazed by the things you can learn from people that have no obvious connection to web analytics or the online marketing industry in general.

3. What did you really love about your last job?

The people. I worked at Macromedia and was lucky to work with some of the most creative and innovative folks I've ever known.

4. What is Omniture's biggest strategic strength?

Our people. So yes, if it's not obvious, I put a lot of stock in people. They are the lifeblood of your organization. You can't predict the future, competition will change, customers will evolve, new technologies will emerge – but with the right people, you can always adapt to this new dynamic landscape. In my opinion, that's the biggest strategic strength a company can ever have.

5. What is Omniture's biggest challenge, looking into the future?

I'd say there are two challenges: attracting and retaining the right people, and execution. We've done a phenomenal job on both fronts and just need to keep that momentum.

6. Omniture has great people and whether I meet them in London or SFO they seem to have the same type of energy, passion and drive. Could you share what you look for in Omniture employees?

Great question! I think many hiring managers make the mistake of looking for people with deep experience in the role you are hiring for, as opposed to understanding the candidate for who they are. I always look for people with passion, intelligence, and hunger for success.

The hunger piece is really important to me. I'll always hire a younger, less experienced candidate who is hungry for success than someone who has years of experience but is not really driven and passionate.

7. On my blog I talk about the challenge with the mass of metrics available in our tools, what is the analysis that you most wish Omniture customers did but something that most don't?

Ooo, tough question – there are so many possibilities. If you'd permit me, I'd actually like to address the question somewhat differently. I'm less concerned with the analysis that customer are not doing. Rather, I'm most concerned with the lack of action that results from the analysis itself.

I've been in many organizations where they torture their data constantly – which isn't such a bad thing if they'd actually take action from it. So if there was one challenge I encourage companies to address, it's applying their newfound knowledge to improve their business.

I think vendors have equal responsibility in helping customers do this, which is why the Omniture Best Practices group was founded in the first place.

8. There is a lot of hype around search engine marketing, typically we all measure conversion by key phrases or overall conversion. What other insightful analysis examples have you seen in terms of best practices?

There are many, but I'd mention 4 strategic concepts here – success allocation, portfolio optimization, cross- and multi-channel conversion, and n-dimensional segmentation.

With success allocation, we're moving beyond simple conversion analysis to understand the sequence of keywords that contributed to conversion over time. Since most web visitors use multiple keywords prior to conversion, I expect this concept will attract more attention going forward.

I also believe keyword portfolio optimization will gain more traction in the marketplace, as marketers seek to balance quantity, quality, and reach to maximize their success. Cross channel conversion describes how customers interact with multiple marketing initiatives (i.e. keywords, email, direct mail, etc). In my mind, the ability to understand this interplay between different marketing tactics and optimize for it is the essence of our industry.

Multi-channel conversion covers people using search but then converting offline, typically via call center. Once again, this is an area where we're just scratching the surface, but those that are doing it well are profiting significantly.

Lastly, n-dimensional segmentation. N-dimensional segmentation is really the process of slicing and dicing your data by limitless dimensions, in real-time. This allows you to quickly create highly targeted segments that you can leverage and profit from. In many respects, n-dimensional analysis is the future of online business optimization because it allows you to go beyond the first- and second-degree reports that most web analytics packages offer today and that will become commoditized as this market matures.

9. Web data has lived by itself for some time now but many vendors are expanding into abilities to either import in or export data out. From a philosophical perspective do you feel that Web is the "center of the universe" for company data or the future is that current business intelligence tools will continue to be "center of the universe"?

Well, I think there are really two questions here. First, I think irrespective of how you define the universe, there will always be the need for data interchange. That is why Omniture has invested so much time and resources to providing customers with multiple ways to import and export data.

Second, I think the lines between the Web and the company will only continue to blur, such that you can't really distinguish between the two. Rather, I think the notion of the "customer" will really be the only constant in this industry and companies will gravitate towards whatever solutions, technologies, and vendors best allow them to maximize their customer success.

10. I am sure you have many favorite clients but probably one closest to your heart. Could you share some reasons why this anonymous client is your favorite? What is it that they do that is unique? What can the rest of us learn from them and emulate?

I don't think I actually have a favorite client, per se. But I do have one in particular that I just started working with that I'm really excited about. This particular client is fearless and incredibly ambitious. They "get" web analytics and online business optimization on many levels.

One of the most appealing aspects is that they understand that success requires an equal commitment from us and them. They have an executive sponsor, they have business and IT resources, and they are putting forth someone to "own" analytics. This is where many companies fail – irrespective of sophistication – so it's great to work with a company that is so forward-looking in this regard.

11. What is the one thing about the future of web analytics that none of us know, but you do? : )

Ah, that's for me to know and our competitors to worry about : -)

Do you have any feedback for Matt or I? Did you have a favorite answer (for me, it is hard to pick just a couple but, the answers to question 6 and 8 )? Is there a question I should have asked but you think I did not? Please share your feedback via comments.


  1. 1

    I agree that question #8 is probably the best answer. Hopefully Matt will post some more in-depth information about those techniques on his blog, like he did for n-dimensional segmentation!

    As far as questions you did not ask that I would have liked to see, I am a fan of the seemingly-silly questions that you often see on blogger interviews. The ones that really get you closer to a person's personality. (For all I know Matt would have been completely unamused by this). Examples are:

    -Who would play you in the movie of your life and why?

    -What did you want to be when you were 10?

    -A fact no one reading this would know about you?

    -Or even simple things like hobbies!

    I always ask what someone's favorite food is and/or food-related questions like restaurant recommendations since food is my passion (after web analytics, of course)

    Maybe this is only something my "demographic" is interested in though ;) A very interesting first interview! Who will be next?!

  2. 2

    Jen: Questions 1, 2, 3 are all "fluffy". : ) The answers should, on paper, give insights into the person. (I was rather proud of question #2 because I am always curious what motivates people.)

    Matt gave insightful answers to those but maybe I should use your set of questions because they are more direct. Ok I'll learn and let's see if I can improve my journalistic skills.

    Keep your feedback and critique coming (this applies to everyone in the small band of Occam’s Razor readers).

    PS: Who will be next? You'll have to wait!! : ) I am open to suggestions.

  3. 3
    Sanjay Smith says

    Avinash: Great interview, ten mins well spent. I like Jen's questions as well. : ) My favourite question is 11.

    I would ask Matt this question: I am a user of Omniture and love it but so many people are completely overwhelmed by it and what are some of the things Matt's Best Practices Group is doing to address that? Could there be a lite version to start with to ease into full blown features?

    Thanks for starting the series.

  4. 4

    Pretty good interview.

    I kept thinking that Matt's answers about the people he'd hire sound just like yours.

  5. 5

    Avinash, thank you again for the interview opportunity. It was quite fun! I wanted to respond to a few of the comments, if you'd allow me.

    First, while I could spend hours answering Jen's questions, I share one factoid that's kind of neat. Specifically, in response to "A Fact no one reading this would know about you?". When I was 10 years old, I was interviewed by Dan Rather of CBS News as part of an 8 part series they were doing called "The Computers are Coming". I was actually featured in 2 of the 8 segments, including the closing clip of the whole series. It's nothing earth-shattering, but it is definitly something no one would know (until now) :)

    Second, to Sanjay's question, which essentially covers product complexity. I see this frequently when working with web analytics customers, even those that are using products from other vendors. Often times, people simply do not know where to start. For this reason, my Best Practices team offers a KPI and Reporting Strategy service that helps people hit the ground running and realize rapid time to value. We offer this as an optional service to Omniture customers because customer sophisticated can vary so widely, and many customers are already comfortable with the basics. If you or anyone else is interested in learning more, I'd be happy to share – we have overviews of each major Best Practice service we offer (there are 10 total and the list keeps growing) :)

    Cheers, Matt.

  6. 6

    Dan Rather has interviewed Matt.

    Avinash has interviewed Matt.

    So Avinash has interviewed Dan Rather.

    No, Dan Rather has interviewed Avinash.

    No, no, Dan Rather and Avinash are best friends.

    No, no, no……

    Damn six degrees of separation!! : )

    Matt, thanks for satisfying our curiosity.


  1. Measuring Analytics …

    Bonus Link: Avinash recently interviewed Matt Belkin, VP of Best Practices, at Omniture..

Add your Perspective