The Harvard Business Review blog featured a post earlier this week entitled “What Separates a Good Data Scientist from a Great One.” While they were talking about business analysts and statisticians, the qualities they identified certainly apply to web analysts as well. Here’s our take on how the same characteristics move a web analyst beyond merely proficient to truly great:
1. A sense of wonder. Like any good scientist, web analysts are curious. They want to know more than what happened to website traffic in the last 30 days: they want to know how and why (or why not).
2. A certain quantitative knack. Great web analysts see things others don’t. They pick up on shifts in traffic patterns, engagement and conversion that aren’t immediately obvious to a casual observer. In the case of web analytics, we’d argue that a solid understanding of each client’s web patterns, their industry patterns and larger economic patterns plays into this characteristic. When you know what’s typical, even small anomalies can seem to jump off the page.
3. Persistence. Getting to “why” can take time, patience and a certain amount of sheer bull-headedness. As an example, a relatively new analytics client once asked us why web traffic grew dramatically in one year and slowed the next, in spite of improvements to the site and a heavier emphasis on marketing. None of the obvious data points explained the shift. It took going through 36 months of visitor statistics on a city-by-city level to uncover activity that artificially inflated traffic and decreased engagement in the previous year.
4. Technical skills. Technical skills can be defined as understanding the tools of your trade (and that’s why two True team members recently received Google Analytics Individual Qualifications), but more than that it’s the ability to take what they’ve learned from a client’s data in the past and use it to develop strategy to impact site traffic – and achieve the client’s business goals – in the future.
Author: Pam Long[Google+]