Are You An Analytics Jedi, Apprentice Or Ostrich?

If you’re excited by data, you’re doing it right. Obviously I joined the Google Analytics team because I believe that statement (and am passionate about the product).

But beyond that, I have thoughts at the industry level too. Data needs to be in the DNA of all marketing and PR professionals: agency-side and client-side. More than it is today. Far more.

My subjective analysis from the last 5+ years as a consultant at various agencies and with clients across verticals is this: there is a growing digital divide when it comes to web and social analytics.

There are basically three types of people:

1. Analytics Jedis

These are the practitioners that really get metrics. In fact, they’ve been making data-driven decisions for years and iterating their marketing programs to achieve sustainable returns. None of this stuff is new to them. They submit clear dashboards to key stakeholders and have educated those stakeholders about metrics, differences between outcomes and KPIs, how they conduct analysis to inform tactics, etc.

Jedis are focused on the critical few and understand the importance of simplicity in reporting. They also don’t have shiny object syndrome when it comes to whatever the day’s fluffy metric de jour is and don’t feel like they have to report on something simply because it’s new. Instead, they calmly and rationally add defensible metrics that matter to their mix.

2. Analytics Apprentices

These practitioners know they need to embrace analytics, and are making the effort to learn. They’re testing and tinkering with tools and starting to report / analyze to see the bigger picture of how analytics across platforms and tactics work together. Ideally, the Jedis on their team help push them to the next level. With time and additional encouragement, apprentices are positioned to lead their organization, be the ones establishing measurement processes and confidently educating clients, teammates and superiors.

3. Analytics Ostriches

Unfortunately, there is still a group that either ignores data because they think it’s too difficult to use (it’s not) or they are still tentative about digital marketing tactics overall. Jedis and apprentices have their work cut out for them to educate the ostriches.

Hopefully in time and with the right coaching, ostriches will get more comfortable with data and making informed decisions beyond gut feel for their marketing initiatives. I know to readers here (you guys are an educated bunch) that making decisions on the web based on gut feel sounds crazy. It is. But as hard as it is to believe these folk still exist, and it’s all of our jobs to help bring them forward. It improves the industry as a whole and makes us all better, more accountable marketers.

This really matters…

In time we won’t have any online marketers or entrepreneurs not fluent in digital measurement. The confusion exists today only due to the transition of our industry into one that’s purely digital. As the living artifacts continue to die off, this trend will continue to accelerate.

In the meantime the world belongs to the Jedis: they have defensible, metrics-driven rationales for their strategies. They’re able to clearly show superiors how their programs are working and, due to this, are consistently given increases in budgets. They’ll win the biggest and best clients as the industry becomes more educated and is interested in outcome-oriented programs and agencies (vs. those who just focus on KPIs).

Or, as The Times elegantly states:

Good with numbers? Fascinated by data? The sound you hear is opportunity knocking.

image credit: Shutterstock