I am no stranger to doing things myself; I’ve held two positions at startup companies where I was essentially the entire digital marketing department. From blog writing to analytics reporting, I’ve basically done it all. So it always confuses me when I learn that it’s not uncommon for marketers at larger companies to rely on analysts for their dashboarding needs.
Truthfully, I don’t blame you. On the one hand, if you’re not a numbers kind of person, analytics reporting is boring and not all that interesting compared to SEO research, paid media strategy, or creative campaigns. On the other, you probably think you’re helping marketing efforts by offloading analytics reporting to the analysts so you can focus on other initiatives.
I’m not going to tell you you need to learn to love analytics, but I am going to tell you that you’re hurting your marketing potential by bogging down your analysts with simple reporting requests.
Marketing dashboards are barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of analytics. As the analytics space matures, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science are becoming less experimental and more necessary for businesses to proactively and reactively interpret their data.
In other words, technology is adapting so that analysts can focus on answering questions like “why did web sales go down last quarter?” instead of questions like “how many site visitors did we have last week?”. To an analyst, the first question provides deeper insights that will have more impact on the business. The latter question is busy work that they would probably rather not bother with.
So why does this matter to you? Recall earlier when I said that you probably think you’re helping marketing efforts by offloading analytics reporting onto your analysts so you can focus on other things. Although this may seem true, in reality you’re likely wasting your analysts’ hours on reporting when they could be unearthing insights that would have a much bigger impact on marketing strategy than any dashboard could.
Getting marketers to be more analytical will require a cultural shift both at the company and industry level, and it will involve two parts: tools and training. Google Analytics is relatively simple to use, but there’s also Google search style analytics platforms like AnswerRocket that make reporting easy for even the most non-technical among us.
As for training, companies would be wise to include basic analytics training as part of the onboarding plan for new marketing hires and skill building opportunities for current employees. Whether it’s compulsory Google Analytics certification or an Intro to Analytics course at a local bootcamp, training is a necessary component to creating a new breed of data-savvy marketers.
By learning how to create their own dashboards and reports, marketers can let their analysts focus on unearthing the insights that will really make a difference in marketing strategy. Plus, why bother someone else when you can just do it yourself? As the saying goes: be a strong, independent marketer who don’t need no analyst.