eMetrics Summit Interview Series: Tim Wilson at Analytics Demystified

In anticipation of his presentation at eMetrics Summit in San Francisco, April 3-6, 2016, we asked Tim Wilson, Senior Partner at Analytics Demystified, a few questions about pursuing digital marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Check out his interview in relation to his eMetrics Summit presentation entitled, Digging for Buried Analytics Treasure.

Tim WilsonQ: Where does digital analytics sit in your organization and how does it interface with your business units?

A: I’m a consultant, so pretty much the whole company is made up of digital analysts. But, for most of my clients, digital analytics is within the Marketing organization, and the analysts have primary stakeholders elsewhere in the organization that they are responsible for supporting.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in 2015? What’s the most important goal/trend for digital analysts to keep in mind as they look ahead to 2016?

A: I’ve had it reinforced time and again in 2015: If you don’t have clear KPIs established, your analytics is destined to be ineffective. With clients/projects where we truly align on what success looks like up front, we’re able to use data to move the business forward. When that exercise gets skipped or glossed over, we rapidly head towards endless generation of “analyses” that are interesting but not actionable. Given that, I’m a proponent of being wary of the trend towards “more tools” and “more variables” — it’s relatively easy to think that, when the analytics isn’t delivering value, “more data!” is the answer, and, in my experience, it seldom is.

Q: What’s the latest analytics method/process/tool set that you have implemented and what advice would you give others?

A: I’m increasingly finding myself spending less and less time in the traditional web interfaces for Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics. For Google Analytics, I’ve really started using the free GA extension for Google Sheets — Sheets’ visualizations have improved drastically over the past year (sparklines and conditional formatting formulas!), and I constantly find myself building dynamic segments in the report configuration in Sheets. That whole last sentence might be Greek to a lot of your readers, but it’s undoubtedly getting fist-pumps from others. For Adobe Analytics, I’ve been spending more and more time in Report Builder, and I’m pretty excited about Analysis Workspace — it doesn’t have the power of Ad Hoc Analysis (yet), but it’s heading that way. In both cases — Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics — these alternative ways of getting at the data have given me tools for giving business users more direct access to data without having to get them over the hump of feeling like they have to truly learn an entire platform.

Q: What do you wish you could tell your five-years-ago self about this industry?

A: Learn R or Python. And tag management isn’t the panacea that it’s being presented as (five years ago).

Q: Sneak preview: Please tell us a take-away that you will provide during your talk at the eMetrics Summit.

A: As analysts, we fundamentally deliver value to the business in two ways, and it’s not: 1) reporting, and 2) analysis. Those are two words that mean 10 different things to 10 different people (and one analyst’s “analysis” is another analyst’s “report”…and vice versa. The two ways are: 1) performance measurement, and 2) hypothesis validation. Those are two completely different things (although they are related to each other), and the approach to each one is (or should be) quite different. Analysts need to be super clear in their minds which they are doing when, and they need to gently guide their stakeholders differently depending on the situation. I’ll not only explain the differences (which is somewhat self-evident), but I’ll provide tips for doing both of these well.

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Don’t miss Tim’s presentation, Digging for Buried Analytics Treasure, at eMetrics Summit, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 11:15 am to 12:00 pm. Click here to register for attendance.

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