Analytics Staffing

In my recent “Reality Marketing Series” columns, our fictional CMO has aligned his team to improve accountability and get more value from Web analytics data. As part of that effort, he established a 12-month series of mandates. One was to increase his Web analysis horsepower. That involved getting additional headcount and budget for teamwide professional development and services.

What’s the best way to allocate your Web analytics resources? There are several important decisions you’ll have to make.

Web Analytics Solutions vs. Web Analytics Professionals

Nowadays, most companies spend the greatest proportion of their Web analysis budgets on technology. But at spring’s Emetrics Summit, Intuit’s Avinash Kaushik noted:

Spending on Web analytics applications should be a fraction of Web decision making budgets: We should take spending away from vendors and pour it into people to analyze the data.

I completely agree. People are just as important as technology. The more the Web analytics space matures, the more it shows signs of repeating the mistakes of the CRM (define) craze. During that period, companies greatly increased technology spending, hoping to raise the productivity of their sales, marketing, and service organizations.

As a result, companies were able to amass massive amounts of data about their businesses. Unfortunately, they failed to allocate resources for the staffing, change management, and customer service resources necessary to turn that data into cost savings or competitive advantages. That’s a mistake we must avoid with Web analytics.

Marketers vs. Technologists

When it comes to what kind of people you should hire to fill out your Web analysis headcount, I prefer those with marketing, rather than technical, expertise.

The technical part of the job is relatively straightforward. All the major analytics software vendors have professional service groups. There are also numerous training programs to teach software developers the ins and outs of implementing and maintaining the tools.

To get ROI (define) on your analytics investments, you must take action. Analysis provides data about what people are doing and not doing on your Web site. To get the most out of that data, you need someone who is inquisitive, has marketing skills, understands your business, and cares about your customers and prospects. That’s a classic definition of a marketer, not a technologist.

In-House vs. Outsourcing

Finally, you must determine whether you’d like to hire an in-house analytics team, an outside consultancy, or both. As CEO of the largest analytics consulting practice in the U.S., I’m (unsurprisingly, I’m sure) biased in favor of working with consultants.

Of course, I have some good reasoning on my side. The field’s extremely young and there are few educational opportunities for Web analysts. The UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics, now offered through the University of British Columbia, is the only educational program I’m aware that teaches Web analysis.

In such a new field, only consultancies like ours are in a position of investing in people who are passionate about online marketing performance and willing to learn on the job. As a result, we’ve found companies ramp up analytics fastest when they work with outside consultants to establish roles, responsibilities, and best practices.

Questions? Comments? Know of another Web analysis educational program? Please e-mail me. Our field is young and I’m always surprised at how quickly it’s developing. Also, be sure check out Kaushik’s blog. It’s an incredibly smart and informative resource for information on Web analytics.

Nominate your favorite product or campaign for the 2006 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards, October 16 through close of business (EST) on October 24. Final voting begins on October 30.

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