Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting started in web analytics: career advice

I often get asked about tips & tricks to get started in the web analytics field. This post is a summary of various resources to get started.

Education or training?

Education is about gaining knowledge and competencies, such as mastering the concepts of statistics, marketing and technology in order to truly understand what web analytics is all about. Training, on the other end, is more about acquiring specific skills, such as hands on learning of how to use Google Analytics. Generally, employers will look for trained people, while employees will seek education as a way to advance their career. The balance between the two is important to increase and sustain your value in the market.

Getting started

There is no magic trick here. Do your homework! Read, learn, try. Network, get involved, share. Nowadays you can get started very easily and quickly. Google Analytics as certainly democratized the web analytics industry, but don't be a fool and think this is enough. Web analytics is not about the tool you use, it's about a whole lot more! Check out the Web Analytics Maturity Model for more insight on all aspects of web analytics. Expertise and experience can only be gained through time and expanding your horizons.

Getting out of the catch 22

A frequent issue for those starting is the field is finding a way to gain hands on experience while not being employed. Without access to a playground to put your newly acquired knowledge and skills at work, it's pretty hard to move on. Not enough experience to find a job, no job to gain experience. How do you get out of this catch 22?
  1. Your own site. Create a blog or a small site about something of interest to you. This is relatively easy and can be free. On the positive side, you have total control and you can touch on the three main dimensions of web analytics: marketing & business strategy, technology and analytics. The challenge here is to have enough traffic to make it interesting!
  2. Get involved with a non-profit or a local site. There are plenty of them, and they will generally accept some help. With local sites, the challenge might be the limited traffic and relative simplicity of the site, but it's a start.
  3. Crowdsourced analytics. the Web Analytics Association is working on a project that would allow WAA members and UBC students to volunteer work on a large-scale non-profit organization. More to come...

    Ressources to get started in web analytics

    • Google Analytics training: several GAACs (Google Analytics Authorized Consultant) are offering training
    • Vendor training: visit your vendor's website for information about product-specific training
    Social & networking events
    1. Web Analytics an Hour a Day, Avinash Kaushik
    2. Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton
    3. Always Be Testing by Bryan Eisenberg
    4. Check my full bookshelf for additional readings
      Forums & others

      Finding a job in analytics

      If you have other good starting resources to suggest, let me know!