Get Educated in Web Analytics

We having a saying here in the U.K.: “You hang around waiting for a bus for ages, then three come along at once.” Although there’s a perfectly viable reason that happens, I’m not sure the same theory applies to publishing books on Web analytics. Having said that, we’ve seen a number of new books on the subject this year, and no doubt more are in the pipeline.

Two of the most recent are “Actionable Web Analytics,” by fellow ClickZ columnists Jason Burby and Shane Atchison, and “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day” by Avinash Kaushik, Google’s current analytics evangelist. (I have to confess that though these books are permanently in my laptop bag, I have yet to complete them. So I can’t provide reviews. I hope to be able to in the future, though, and to chat with the authors.) Last week, I became aware of the first Italian book on Web analytics from fellow Web Analytics Association (WAA) board director, Laura Paxia, called “Web Analytics Strategies.”

It’s great to see new material coming on to the market that can help train and educate people about Web analytics. As anyone in our space knows, Web analytics’ growth has meant the demand for people outstrips supply. As consultants such as myself and others constantly tell organizations, support technology implementations with appropriately skilled resource, then demand is set to grow.

Then comes the question, “Where do I get my Web analyst from?” My response is usually, “Steal one from somebody else or train your own.” My preference is to train, because we need to grow the pool of talent rather than just shuffle the deckchairs and add to the wage inflation. It may be risky, but in my experience good analysts aren’t total mercenaries and are as motivated by the type of work they get to do and the kind of recognition they receive as by the amount they earn.

Another addition to the body of learning new talent can draw on is more educational courses, particularly from the WAA. The WAA-UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics has been going since 2005, and has already seen over 300 people take one or more of the courses on offer. More recently, the WAA launched a series of Web Analytics Base Camps in five U.S. cities, with others planned for cities around the world. These one-day workshops cover Web analytics fundamentals as well as issues such as campaign management and site optimization.

For more in-depth understanding, newcomers can also immerse themselves in the subject at an Emetrics Summit or some of the other conferences and workshops around the world. Check out WAA’s event section to see what’s happening when. The great thing about events like these is the opportunity to meet and network with fellow practitioners. You can learn a lot (or at least feel you’re not the only one with problems) just by chatting with other people in the industry at these events.

If it’s networking you’re after, check out a Web Analytics Wednesday near you. These events give you an opportunity to informally meet peers and colleagues and discuss industry issues or just catch up over a drink. If there isn’t an event near you, why not try to set one up?

If you’re new to Web analytics or looking to get into the industry, there are plenty of ways to get on the learning curve through formal education programs and informal networking sessions. If you’re responsible for a Web site or your business’ online channel and employ Web analysts or are looking to do so, then in addition to investing in the technology and the analyst, you must also invest in training and skills development to maximize returns.

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