What other things do web analysts do? Besides blog and do WAA stuff… And ensure tool configuration/administration, date collection, data verification/validation, reporting, KPI generation, conversion optimization, deep site analysis, stakeholder guidance, outcomes evaluation and so on… Well the fun answer is “it depends” on a things like your boss, the organization you work and the holy org chart, your recognized skill set, and what you want to do. But as I talk to my colleagues in the industry, I’ve noticed some web analysts do a lot of different things. Here’s a few beyond the norms (or in some case maybe part of the norm, but not often discussed):
- Write business requirements. You may be writing biz reqs for the extension and maintenance of your own tool, or you may be asked to participate in the definition of the metrics strategy for product or site features. The analyst may define the attributes, capability, and characteristics that are necessary to accomplish given business objectives. Generally these biz reqs will be functional (the system must do this in this way and look like this) and not technical (but every so often you may need to justify why you keep saying “ah, page tags, not logs” or vice-versa or packet sniffers or hybrid). Fun! And time consuming!
- Participate in product development and usability discussions. A rich topic here for sure. As web analysis sort of fractures into those who study how the site routes visitors, navigational elements, information architecture, and into those who prepare AB and MV tests and report the results, it’s not uncommon for analysts to be called into to determine what should go where and what functionality should or should not exist on the site in order to drive business or conversion goals.
- Contribute to the keyword set. As I explained in my last post, web analytics is morphing into multi-channel analytics. Analysts are increasing leveraged to participate in and analyze the outcomes of SEO and SEM. Based on keyword data, I have a few friends who spend a ton of time selecting and managing the keyword portfolio and even the bids!
- Have a say in “strategy”. Analysis informs tactical decision making, which is guided by strategy (and analysis and decision making and strategy again). When fully leveraged, a web analyst has much to offer the strategic decision making process. Think about something as simple as using referrers to establish content syndication and affiliate partnerships… Cool.
- Guide the content agenda. For those who work in what my buddy, Alex Langshur (who runs a boutique consultancy in the public sector), calls “content-rich” and “mission driven” sites, the web analytics tool has utility as an editorial or content research tool. From understanding what keywords/phrases are driving traffic to determining whether the editorial plan is actually mapped to the information demands of site visitors, web analysts can have a lot to say, if asked. But be weary, the last thing an editor wants is some hot shot web jockey telling them what to write. That’s not what I’m saying to do, rather, some analysts work with content and editorial teams to ensure frequently demanded content topics are rounded out on the site, expanded on/developed, put on the content plan, or simply just known about, so the content folks can do what they do…
- Code. Yeah, some of us know how to do it, and many of us just don’t tell anybody. Because “that’s not what I want to do anymore” as my friend who works at a local agency told me the other night. My personal opinion is that code is better left to the coders, but any web analyst who can throw down with web development and talk about things like X-Forwarded From headers will only make themselves more valuable to the organization. Then again, some analysts would rather analyze data than futz around with overly esoteric tags and variables and the plumbing of web pages. Then again some of us love that.
- Direct IT. Those of us fortunate enough to have control over our web analytics technology already know they’ll be spending perhaps inordinate amounts of time with our good buddies in IT. They may be the audience for your business requirements, or you just may need to connect with them to ensure your technology is factored into the larger plan for next generation integrated, service oriented architectures.
- Due diligence on acquisitions. A fun one for you MBA’ers is when you get drafted into the acquisition or merger process, having to examine the target’s web traffic. You gain real insight into the core of their web business, and may even find things, I’ve heard, like page view inflation from not filtering bots on including things like favicon.ico to inflate page views. Heh!
And more! So yeah, it’s not all about spending all day just thinking about who comes to the site, why, what do they do, and do they complete their purpose according to specific goals. While that is all a big and important part of it, the role of web analyst can go far beyond tradition, if you are capable and you work for the right business that lets you excel!