in Web Analytics

Learning Web Analytics – The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

On the topic of web analytics careers, this is a reprint of an article about web analytics training that originally appeared at the WAA.  If you could start your career over, what would you do?

1. You are Not the First Web Analyst – You do not need to invent web analytics. Somebody has encountered the problem you have. Establish a great base of knowledge by buying books like Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, joining the Yahoo Web Analytics Forum and subscribing to every measurement blog you can find

2. Go to Emetrics NOW – Your world view is likely to be very myopic: all about your tool, your website, your business. You need perspective. The eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit will open your eyes, especially if you’re just starting.

3. Your Tool Can Do More Than You Think – Most people assume that what you get out of the box is the limit of your tool. This is usually wrong 99% of the time. You must not be afraid to ask your vendor about what else it can do.

4. Start a Blog or Business – If you don’t really, really own the numbers you’re responsible for, you’ll never really, really learn the data. Pick some side project, start a blog or a business, and measure the hell out of it. Trust me, you will learn a ton.

5. Automate Your Life – I’m repeating June here, but you simply must automate as much as possible. You will be stuck in Excel hell unless you can use technology better.

6. Test! Survey!
– Repeat after me: not everything you need to know is inside of your conventional web analytics tool. Say it again. Now, do it. There is NO excuse not to start gaining experience. If you listened to #4, then you don’t need anyone’s permission.

7. Learn Other Disciplines (like SEO and Paid Search) – You will be better at your job if you understand what you’re measuring. Start dabbling in paid search, SEO, affiliates, email, WHATEVER. Just stop focusing on measuring and start focusing on doing the things you measure.

8. Communication is the #1 Skill You Need – Measurement without action is failure. If you cannot communicate your findings and persuade people to act, you will not be effective. Learn to present. Master the executive summary. Be one with PowerPoint.

9. Be Not Afraid of Technological Terms – I’m not a technically oriented person. But, the very nature of internet marketing requires that you at least grasp the basics. The nature of web measurement requires that you grasp a step above the basics. Like it or not, you need to tackle this sooner rather than later.

10. Teach Early and Often – It is very easy for people to start relying on you to measure. Unfortunately, this can quickly become limiting to your career growth. Measure for manager and he’ll optimize for a day, teach him to measure and he’ll optimize for life!

PS: If you want to learn paid search, check out the ClickEquations Blog.  If you manage large paid search campaigns, check out ClickEquations.

Write a Comment



  1. Great post Alex!
    What I wish I knew when I started: that it would be so much fun!

    If I had known that before, I would have started sooner! :)


  2. LOL! I’ll take it as a compliment :)
    (and offer you a beer the next time our path cross at a conference!)

  3. @ Kian – I’m glad you found it useful. Feel free to share your favorite tips in the comments.

    @Farrhad – Good luck!

  4. Great article, thanks. Automation is one area I really must concentrate on, will take a look for any posts here that specifically mention it but any tips welcomed!?

  5. Alex,

    Really good article.
    I am switching careers from IT Business Analyst to Web Analytics.
    Any other advice you may have?

  6. Maybe it’s just me but this link wasn’t helpful. I am looking for resources to start learning about web analytics and I just observed tips on what they wished they would have learn, and not what they learned and how they learned it.

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