Web Analytics: The Best Job of All?

  |  June 21, 2005   |  Comments

What makes a successful, business-focused Web analyst?

A friend of mine recently pointed out a Web analyst's job shares many characteristics of the best jobs listed in a recent article on CareerJournal.com, The Wall Street Journal's executive career site. The article uses six primary factors to judge occupations: income, stress, physical demands, outlook, security, and work environment.

Web analyst didn't make the list, but a successful, business-focused Web analyst shares many skills and qualities of the professions that come out on top:

  • Accountant. A good Web analyst tracks the financial performance and return on investment (ROI) of the Web channel, including campaigns, affiliates, and other online initiatives.

  • Actuary. It's important to reduce the risk of undesirable things happening, such as rolling out a new site page or section that doesn't meet needs and reduces conversion and revenue significantly.

  • Biologist. Just as a biologist studies difficult and often unknown things, a good Web analyst may work with a company to help crack the conversion nut. A site may have had zero visibility in the past and need to break new ground to find answers.

  • Computer systems analyst. I don't really think of Web analysts as systems analysts, unless you classify the Web channel as a system. A level of technical experience is required to understand site performance. Things you see with Web analytics tools may lead you to identify system problems, such as slow download speeds.

  • Financial planner. The ability to forecast the financial outcome of potential site changes separates the good from the really good. Analysts must identify opportunities and make recommendations, then prioritize those opportunities based on the potential outcome of the site changes. They must monetize the opportunities and forecast the results.

  • Parole officer. A Web analyst is often required to hold people or initiatives accountable. Before people understand individual campaign performance, for example, they could spend money in the wrong place. The Web analyst as parole officer helps the Web team make better decisions and understand effects of their actions.

  • Software engineer. Understanding how sites are built and function is imperative. To work effectively with tool providers and make good use of customization capabilities, a Web analyst requires a solid technical understanding of the site.

  • Statistician. To truly interpret and derive meaning from data, a strong stats background is key.

  • Web site manager. Although the person in charge of analytics usually doesn't manage the entire site, often it's her responsibility to manage its metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Does this make a successful Web analytics professional the best job of all? Tough to say. It can rank very high in the six measurements, but based on the shortage of experienced people in the field, maybe it's the undiscovered über-job. Web analytics may not be terribly sexy. We hardly get the money or fame of an NBA player. But for the average Joe, it can be very satisfying.

With the strange mix of all of the above job characteristics, it also begins to explain the lack of qualified Web analytics professionals available on today's market.

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Jason Burby

As President of the Americas at POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. With more than 20 years experience in digital strategy, he is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports POSSIBLE's clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.

Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.

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